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Tanat & Efyrnwy / 3 days / 33 miles (53km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 14 Apr 2006
Start / Finish: Penybontfawr on the B4391/B4396. Good roadside parking on the B4396 a short way from the road junction. Also a free car park and public toilets.
Maps: Explorer 239: Llyn Efyrnwy.

Day 1Rhialgwm & Pont Llogel12.5 miles / 2910 feet (20.1km / 886m)
Day 2Llyn Efyrnwy & Waen Llestri9.3 miles / 2420 feet (15.0km / 737m)
Day 3Blaen-y-cwm & Llangynog11.5 miles / 1120 feet (18.5km / 341m)

A circuit in the Upper Tanat and Efyrnwy valleys from Penybontfawr, a good trek to escape the crowds on a fine Easter weekend and we had only one encounter with other walkers in the whole three days. The route includes most of Pererindod Melangell (PM), a waymarked walk from Pont Llogel to Pennant Melangell and Llangynog, see below*.

The route uses small sections of Owain Glyndwr's Way (OGW), which has been improved from the route shown on the OS map to eliminate some of the road walking from the original line, and the waymarks are up to date on the ground. The forests are walker-friendly and their tracks shown on the map are generally accurate.

Day 1 - Rhialgwm & Pont Llogel

From Penybontfawr the Fford Goed lane climbs S and becomes a bridleway that climbs steeply through the forest to emerge at a stile where the Llangynog hills can be seen. Turning L and climbing to the corner, the bridleway reenters the forest and meets a forest track which gives good open views to the S. Beyond the forest and just after a small stream, a bridleway curves around towards Clawdd Mawr with its preserved rampart and the heathery summit of Rhialgwm appears ahead. At the forest corner we followed a path near the edge of the trees which becomes a track around the summit area, making the easiest approach to the trig point from the S side. There were extensive views in all directions to the distant hills.

Llangynog hills from Rhialgwm ascent
Llangynog hills from Rhialgwm ascent (14 Apr 2006__09:37:52)
The Berwyns from Rhialgwm
The Berwyns from Rhialgwm (14 Apr 2006__11:03:14)
The Arans from Rhialgwm
The Arans from Rhialgwm (14 Apr 2006__11:03:34)

The track descends to the forest and drops SE through the trees, and as it bends R, the footpath continues the descent steeply down to a byway track. Reaching the B4396, another track enters the forest on the opposite side of the valley and emerges on the B4393 near Fronheulog. Walking SW a short way we joined OGW, which now follows a much better route over Boncyn Bwlch-glas and Yr Allt Boeth to Pont Llogel church and the river. Pont Llogel has portaloo public toilets and litter bins.

Rhialgwm from Owain Glyndwr's Way
Rhialgwm from Owain Glyndwr's Way (14 Apr 2006__13:48:05)
The Afon Efyrnwy at Pont Llogel
The Afon Efyrnwy at Pont Llogel (14 Apr 2006__15:14:07)

Over the bridge, a good footpath follows the river W to a lane and a PM waymark, but our plan was to ascend into the Dyfnant forest for a pitch. A short way R along the lane we walked up the driveway into a caravan park, where we forked L off the public footpath line onto a forest track on the R of the Ceunant y Glo. This is mostly flanked by dense tangled brambles but we found one easy close approach to collect excellent water. The track crests a high point and dips to a fork where we turned L and climbed S on OGW to a track junction. At the next junction we turned L towards the Lookout Tower marked on the map, but the next grassy side track does not reach the summit which now seems inaccessible in the trees. We found a good flat spot beside the track for the pitch.

Day 2 - Llyn Efyrnwy & Waen Llestri

It rained quite hard in the night but all was calm and damp at dawn with a bright sky. Returning to the track junction, we picked up OGW and we would follow it to Llyn Efyrnwy. The route deviates from the map in a few places and has been facilitated by duckboards on the boggy bits, though these are often not quite long enough, and a certain amount of bog hopping is still required in the forest. The first interesting encounter is at Dyfnant, where the path is indistinguishable from a stream but shallow and no problem.

Dam at Llyn Efyrnwy
Dam at Llyn Efyrnwy (15 Apr 2006__09:30:46)
Reflections in Llyn Efyrnwy
Reflections in Llyn Efyrnwy (15 Apr 2006__10:10:25)

At Llyn Efyrnwy, the RSPB centre was not open until 10:30, but there are excellent public toilets at the dam and litter bins. Crossing the impressive dam and turning R a short way down the road, an access road forks L to the church and hotel which commands a fine elevated view of the Lake. Beyond the buildings a PM waymark on a gate heralds the wilder section of the walk, which climbs the cropped grass past the clay pigeon shooters area to enter the forest. Emerging at the far side before Bwlch-sych farm to the piercing cry of peacocks, a hand-written notice at the boundary proclaims: 'ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NO DOGS'.

The farm track goes between the buildings and turns R down to a gate at a ford. The PM turns sharp L here and climbs beside the Afon Barog with its attractive cascades and falls. Passing a small lake not marked on the map, the path swings L beneath a rocky outcrop and R towards a waymark post, but it is better to keep to higher dry ground well to the R of the post. The forest edge is reached near Waen Llestri, where we turned R to the preserved burial chamber at the highest point, though the top rock has been dislodged to one side. It was a long way further to the next high ground and we decided to pitch quite early here. Descending SE to the infant Barog, we collected very good water only a short way down.

Lake on Afon Barog
Lake on Afon Barog (15 Apr 2006__12:20:50)
Pitch at Waen Llestri and Rhialgwm
Pitch at Waen Llestri and Rhialgwm (15 Apr 2006__15:11:36)

Day 3 - Blaen-y-cwm & Llangynog

Brief showers at dawn left a veil of mist on the distant tops as we set off W along the generally wet forest edge. The forest itself has been felled here and is a desolate wilderness of barren pale ground and stumps, but the views are now open to the N. A stile on the R marks the PM as it enters the forest and joins a track. As the track curves R, watch out for a PM waymark post pointing into the trees which, after a very wet section, becomes a good path that reaches open ground and gives a grand view of Cwm Llech. An attractive small waterfall lies upstream of the footbridge on the Afon Goch and further waymarks lead to the track high above the Afon Goch flanking Pistyll Gyfyng. We spent a while exploring the rocky outcrops at the head of the precipitous waterfall but there was no easy way to get a good vantage point.

Cwm Llech
Cwm Llech (16 Apr 2006__08:32:53)

Taking the narrow lane to Pennant Melangell church, this is the end of the PM and has superb old yew trees as per tradition. A little further up the lane on the R is the stile and waymark for the bridleway, now officially diverted. At the top of the rise is the permissive path to the superb Pistyll Blaen-y-cwm, which was flowing quite well but the rain came down as we arrived making a good picture impossible. Very few people come here and the intermittent paths through the tangled area of gorse bushes and rocks are becoming overgrown, making progress a frustrating and very prickly business at times.

Melangell church lych gate
Melangell church lych gate (16 Apr 2006__09:26:31)

Returning to the church, the sun maddeningly came out and the rest of the day was fine. We took the quiet narrow lane to Llangynog (public toilets, litter bins) and then the equally quiet lane on the N side of the Afon Tanat back to Penybontfawr.

Craig Rhiwarth
Craig Rhiwarth (16 Apr 2006__12:43:14)

Pererindod Melangell waymark

*Pererindod Melangell

The name of the walk 'Pererindod Melangell' roughly translates from the Welsh for 'Melangell's Pilgrimage'. The legend of Melangell derives from two seventeenth-century transcripts of a lost medieval Life of the Saints. A prince named Brochwel was hunting at a place called Pennant and his hounds chased a hare that took refuge in a thicket. On pursuit, the prince found a virgin praying, with the hare hiding under the folds of her garment. The hounds were urged on but fled howling, their huntsman raised his horn to his lips and was unable to remove it.

The virgin informed the prince that she dwelt at this place, and that she had fled here for refuge. So impressed was the prince by her godliness that he granted the valley to her and here she founded a religious community.