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Date: 02 Sep 2014
Start / Finish: Tal-y-bont on the A496. Free car park and toilets.
Maps: Explorer OL18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Y Bala.
|Day 1||Afon Ysgethin, Llyn Erddyn & Diffwys||7.0miles / 2503 feet (11.3km / 763m)|
|Day 2||Y Llethr & Moelyblithcwm||7.0miles / 685 feet (11.3km / 209 m)|
A 2-day circuit of the southern Rhinogydd mountains around the Afon Ysgethin valley.
The outward route follows the Afon Ysgethin to Pont Fadog and a section of the Taith Ardudwy (The Ardudwy Way) along the southern flanks of the valley and ascends to the cirque of mountains at the west ridge of Diffwys.
The return from Y Llethr descends via the south-western slopes of Moelyblithcwm to the Llyn Bodlyn track on the northern flank of the valley.
On this trip we took enough food for three days to give a possibility of an exploration of the lakes around Rhinog Fach, the choice being made on the second day depending on the weather and the terrain of the proposed line of the route, but the dull dank conditions of that second morning decreed that the intense effort required would not be worthwhile and we descended directly from Y Llethr. The first day was excellent though with sunshine and good clarity.
From the car park we took the well used riverside path along the Afon Ysgethin, an excellent start to a backpack with sunshine glittering through the fine native woodland. The path ascends above the river and arrives at the lane above Pont Fadog, a bridge carrying an old drover route and bearing a central stone dated 1762. We crossed the river here and shortly joined the Ardudwy Way to ascend onto the southern side of the valley. There was a good view across the valley to Moelfre and the iron age fort of Craig y Dinas.
We crossed the outflow of Llyn Erddyn and left the track for a closer inspection of the lake, a gin-clear expanse of water below the ridge.
The occasionally wet line of the track ascends gradually to meet the better track coming up from Pont Scethin, part of the old coach route from Harlech to Bontddu. It is hard to imagine coaches negotiating some of the gradients in these hills, but the track ascends to the ridge line at a very civilized angle for the walker, passing the prominent marker stone with the inscription 'Courage Traveller', erected to Janet Haigh who walked this path regularly into old age.
As we gained height the hills of the Lleyn Peninsula came into view across Bae Tremadog beyond Moelfre.
We traversed the west top of Diffwys, unremarkable except for being a distinct Nuttall top, and climbed onward to the trig point atop the Diffwys main summit. There were good clear views of Y Garn close to hand across the wooded environs of Llyn Cwm-mynach and farther still Rhobell Fawr and the Arans. The Cadair Idris ridge was also in view across the Cwm-llechen valley and Mawddach estuary.
We descended the north ridge to the bwlch at the foot of the crags and hunted around beyond the bogs and broken rocks for a pitch, finding an excellent patch on grass. A short way from the pitch was a good aerial view of Llyn Dulyn in the quite low evening light. Enough breeze was being funnelled across the bwlch to keep midges at bay and we ate outside, soaking up the mountain atmosphere under the gaze of some sheep and wild goats.
Despite the promise of a crystal clear sky in the night with a superb vista of the stars and the Milky Way, we opened the door at dawn to dank grey leaden skies and a dew laden landscape drained of colour and vitality. We were just in time for some impromptu entertainment nearby in the form of the Sheep vs Goats yodelling contest, each entrant sounding louder and sillier than the last.
After breakfast and striking camp, the outlook was marginally less grey and at least the summits were clear of mist, enough to capture a few pictures as a record of the day. We traversed the knobbly spine of Crib-y-rhiw and ascended to Y Llethr, the highest Rhinog, and sat in the lee of the wall sheltered from the chilly wind and contemplated the next move.
From experience we knew that the day would not improve for long enough, if at all, to merit the intense effort of an extra day exploring the rough Rhinog terrain farther on. Walking around the rim of the summit plateau I was also more than a little dubious about the proposed exploration route. We returned to the ladder stile at the last wall, crossed to the southern side and followed the long wall south-westwards down Moelyblithcwm and dropped down onto the Llyn Bodlyn access track. This good track makes an easy return towards Tal-y-bont, briefly rejoining the Ardudwy Way, and continuing to the final slopes above Pont Fadog, a short footpath branching off left to descend to the lane and the Ysgethin riverside path.