|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 28 Sep 2015
Start / Finish: Dolwyddelan.
Maps: Explorer OL17 Snowdon & 18 Harlech and Bala or Harvey Superscale Snowdonia.
|Day 1||Yr Arddu & Llyn Edno||6.6miles / 2123 feet (10.7km / 647m)|
|Day 2||Ysgafell Wen, Moel Druman & Cwm Lledr||8.3miles / 1081 feet (13.4km / 330m)|
Another 2-day circuit around the hills forming Cwm Lledr, this time exploring the lower cwm on the eastern side and returning via Dolwyddelan Castle.
The Ysgafell Wen ridge is superb for backpackers: great mountain views, rocky knolls, grassy pitches and bejewelled with lakes, yet little trodden and often walked in solitude, due no doubt to the difficulty of devising satisfactory circuits for the typical day walker. We have done several longer backpacks in this area but this route was a short one to take advantage of a fine sunny weekend and we saw nobody until the afternoon of the second day when a group appeared on the mine track from the Crimea Pass.
We set off westwards on the road hugging the railway line in the calm cold morning air and ascended onto the wooded path to Bertheos, the dew soaked vegetation festooned with a myriad of spider webs. Crossing the Afon Lledr at Pont y Coblyn, a well waymarked footpath starts at a stile hidden in the bushes and ascends to the minor valley road to Blaenau Dolwyddelan. At Coed Mawr the temperature was rising quickly in the sunshine as we began the ascent on the good track towards Bwlch y Rhediad.
Leaving the track at its highest point we turned south-westwards for the ascent of the long NE ridge of Yr Arddu, soon crossing a stone wall. The points plotted in the route file are a guess, we just aimed for the rocks on the skyline and chose the best line through the rough moorland grasses. At a ruined wall fragment higher up a bit of a path appeared from nowhere and eased the remainder of the ascent considerably as the terrain changed to a landscape of rock, rough grasses and stunted heather, a delightful wild summit to linger for a bite to eat and a grand view of the surrounding mountains.
The faint but discernible path continues towards Llyn Edno visible in the distance, passing a pool and soon fading out. We veered towards Moel Meirch, descending the often wet and trackless terrain towards the nascent Afon Cwm Edno and climbing to join the thin ridge path.
Llyn Edno is one of the great treasures of this area, a visual delight with shores rough and seldom trodden, its only disadvantage to the backpacker being the difficulty - or maybe impossibility - of finding a good tent pitch.
We crossed the wet environs of its eastern shore and climbed to the Ysgafell ridge to find a good grassy pitch with the added benefit of a grand mountain view and a good breeze to keep the midges at bay. A clear evening gave a good view from the tent door of the sun setting behind Moel Lefn.
A clear night in the glow of a near-full moon produced a chill in the air and made a hot morning brew most welcome. One of the three lakes of Llynnau'r Cwn, that we refer to as #1, was shimmering in the early light from the pitch as we struck camp and headed towards its shore with the Hebog ridge in the distance.
Traversing the far N top and N top of Ysgafell Wen, Cnicht and Llyn yr Adar come into view, often beloved of campers and especially DOEers, followed by Ysgafell Wen main top, Llyn Terfyn and the splendid Llyn Coch.
A short climb gains the summit of Moel Druman and a grand view over Llyn Conglog towards Moel yr Hydd and the Moelwynion. The onward descent passes a sizable but nameless llyn en route to Iwerddon.
We took the thin traversing path below Allt-fawr towards Iwerddon and at the bwlch we dropped down towards some sheepfolds to walk northwards in the trackless lower cwm below Iwerddon and Moel Dyrnogydd. From the upper slopes we had surveyed the landscape and spotted the airshaft protrusion above the Blaenau tunnel, and we picked our way along the best looking line in the wild landscape towards a prominent long rib of rocks. Just after crossing the rib we were clearly a lot higher than we thought and we dropped steeply down to join the valley fence to the airshaft and mine workings close to the familiar mine track from the Crimea Pass.
As we stopped here for a meal break, a farmer appeared on a quad-bike and deployed his border collie to round up the few scattered sheep, a surprisingly rapid operation as he and the sheep quickly disappeared down the valley. A group of walkers came down the mine track and stopped for a quick break at the airshaft, the first people we had seen on the trip.
We took the mine track northwards, snaking down to skirt the Afon Lledr and cross the railway line at an underpass and continuing through Hendre farm north-eastwards to join the minor road. We retraced the inward route to Pen-y-rhiw farm and followed the public path via Dolwyddelan Castle to the road just outside the village.