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Northern Arans / 2 days / 16 miles (26km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 30 Jun 2008
Start / Finish: Llanuwchllyn.
Maps: Explorer OL23 Cadair Idris.

Day 1Aran ridge & Gwaun Lydan7.4 miles / 2960 feet (11.9km / 902m)
Day 2Foel Hafod-fynydd & Esgeiriau Gwynion8.8 miles / 1740 feet (14.2km / 530m)

A 2-day circuit of the northern Aran mountains, following our familiar approach up the northern ridge and touring the eastern summits of the range, and returning via the very seldom trodden north ridge of Esgeiriau Gwynion.

Snatching a couple of good days in a generally unsettled weather stream again gave us some dramatic skies and excellent local clarity.

Day 1 - Aran ridge & Gwaun Lydan

Conditions didn't look promising at all in Llanuwchllyn as we waited for the light rain to stop and hoped for an improving day. We have never seen any other walkers in this village but today there were many young people emerging from the side street in groups and laden with backpacks, probably a D of E award event or similar. We are always amazed by the size of packs these kids carry, some of them nearly as big as themselves, and they have bulging stuff strapped on the outside as well. One day some of them may return to the hills and learn how to enjoy them lightweight style, but in the meantime good on them for getting out there and having a go.

A short while later it brightened up and we set off up the north ridge, a long approach with the advantage that the sun had time to clear the grey mist from the summits and present a tapestry of blue sky and turbulent clouds. The first cairn on Aran Benllyn lies on a small rise and is easily mistaken in mist for the top, but the true summit further on is obvious.

The cloud clears to reveal Dduallt and Rhobell Fawr
The cloud clears to reveal Dduallt and Rhobell Fawr (30 Jun 2008__11:46:09)

The gusting wind on the ridge was surprisingly cold but the views were fine as we traversed Erw y Ddafad-ddu, which marks the only feasible route off to the east from the central section of the ridge, and climbed to the trig point of Aran Fawddwy perched on the cliffs above Creiglyn Dyfi. From such a lofty viewpoint on a clear day there is good sport in trying to identify the heathery summits of the Hirnants between here and the obvious more distant Berwyns, and you really need to know your hills!.

Creiglyn Dyfi from Aran Fawddwy
Creiglyn Dyfi from Aran Fawddwy (30 Jun 2008__12:53:31)
View east from the Aran ridge
View east from the Aran ridge (30 Jun 2008__13:22:17)
Aran Fawddwy summit
Aran Fawddwy summit (30 Jun 2008__13:39:43)

From a small subsidiary cairned rise south of the main summit the path curves down east to Drws Bach and the memorial cairn, giving good views back along the cliffs towards Creiglyn Dyfi and southwards to the shapely Gwaun y Llwyni.

The Aran cliffs and Creiglyn Dyfi
The Aran cliffs and Creiglyn Dyfi (30 Jun 2008__14:17:03)
Gwaun y Llwyni
Gwaun y Llwyni (30 Jun 2008__14:18:16)

We left the main path lower down to contour across to the bwlch below Gwaun Lydan, passing the headwater streamlets of Pumryd Fawr for water. A short climb gains the small summit cairn of Gwaun Lydan , a small elevation that gives remarkable views of the surrounding hills, but the clouds were rapidly gathering again from the SW as we returned to the bwlch to make a timely pitch shielded from the force of the wind. Just as the pitch was complete the main ridge was engulfed in grey mist and the light rain started.

Day 2 - Foel Hafod-fynydd & Esgeiriau Gwynion

A great way to start a morning after all that mist - sunshine bathing the tent with the main ridge catching the early rays. From the bwlch we slanted down steeply into the Llaethnant valley towards the infant foaming white Afon Dyfi and forded it where a fence comes down to the water edge. This is a splendid wild area, virtually untrodden and affording a grand prospect of the cwm and cliffs above, leaving a steady climb to gain the shore of Creiglyn Dyfi directly below the precipitous drop. The short climb up the west ridge of Foel Hafod-fynydd opens out the whole line of cliffs and is the best overall viewpoint to appreciate them.

Creiglyn Dyfi and the Aran cliffs
Creiglyn Dyfi and the Aran cliffs (01 Jul 2008__08:38:20)
Light and shadow on the north ridge slopes
Light and shadow on the north ridge slopes (01 Jul 2008__08:51:21)
Erw y Ddafad-ddu
Erw y Ddafad-ddu (01 Jul 2008__08:55:35)

The west ridge of Foel Hafod-fynydd descends towards Ceunant y Briddell where the stream is easily forded, leaving a very steep climb on grass to the plateau of Llechwedd Du. There is a grand overall retrospective view of the Bwlch Sirddyn area and neighbouring hills.

Foel Hafod-fynydd and Bwlch Sirddyn
Foel Hafod-fynydd and Bwlch Sirddyn (01 Jul 2008__10:35:40)
Ceunant y Briddell & Gwaun Lydan from Llechwedd Du
Ceunant y Briddell & Gwaun Lydan from Llechwedd Du (01 Jul 2008__10:35:58)

The summit of Llechwedd Du is marked by a small cairn of white stones and the summit plateau is a broad peaty affair dotted with mushroom shaped hags. There is a faint path N along the fence passing the cleft of the Nant y Fuddai and just after this we crossed it to head for the summit of Foel Rhudd, marked by a short wooden post and otherwise unremarkable. A fence leads westwards to Esgeiriau Gwynion, the dominant height of the group with excellent views from the tip of its SW ridge.

We followed the north ridge on a vague intermittent path, crossing a minor subsidiary top, and descended to meet a contouring farm track and fence above Coed Talardd. It wasn't at all obvious how to tackle the remaining slope, but we turned R along the track a short way and where the fence turned downhill at an external corner, we descended alongside it towards the trees and easily joined the farm track at the valley bottom. A short walk L along this track leads to the buildings and road at Pont Talardd. From here we followed the narrow lane to Llanuwchllyn, cutting off the final corner via the footpath down through the wood to Pont y Pandy.