|Height Gained 1,120m||Distance 28km||Time 7 hrs 33 min||Download Route|
Distance, Ascent and Time 22.5km, 1180m and 8 hours
Difficulties Route finding.
Start / End Car Park Cwm Nantcol SH615258
Public Transport None
The Rhinogydd, despite their difficulty, are reasonably accessible from many points. Trawsfynydd to the north east has always been a favourite starting point, but an arguably more scenic approach is from the opposite side of the mountain at Llandecwyn. It has the advantage of a return via the Cambrian Line Railway.
Starting at Llandecwyn station, a minor road takes you swiftly enough to the village where you need to cross the main road and follow the steep lane directly ahead. This, after a bit of sweating and grunting, brings you hotly to llyn Tecwyn Isaf at the bizzarely named Bryn Bwbach. Follow the road left around the lake and ignoring the junction and instead taking the footpath through the trees soon after. If you miss this, then don’t fret as the road and path both take you around to the track up to Caerwych farm, though the walk through the woods is the superior option.
The track to Caerwych is good, and if you’ve ever walked the Rhinogydd before, you’ll be wise enough to appreciate that knowing what’s ahead. Ignore the fork to Coetty-mawr and keep left to Caerwych. On reaching the final houses, where there were tipis when we walked past, leave the track for a less clear footpath right and uphill.
You now need to put your navigation head on and make sure that you keep to the path. Keep the crags to your left and all being well you should find yourself walking on a path up a rocky valley above a stream.
At the top of the valley, the gradient eases onto a flattish area that’s a little wet in places. The path vanishes and is initially not at all obvious, but a bit of careful map work (check 1:25k map) will get you up onto the area of moor under Moel Ysgyfarnogod called Bryn Cader Faner.
There’s a treat here. Just off path is a wonderful stone circle that shares it’s name with the hill. It’s worth the five minutes or so it takes to walk out and back. There are also uninterrupted views north into Eryri, making this a good spot for lunch.
There’s a good track from here, if wet in places, that takes you to Llyn Eiddew-bach and a view across to the larger Llyn Eiddew-mawr. In drier conditions you can cut across from Bryn Cader Faner directly, but the ground’s boggy and heavy going. The track now heads deep into the hills and, apart from one patchy section on the uphill, becomes a pleasant green ledge of the sort you usually only see when cartoons try and illustrate mountain roads. I’m unsure of how far this has been modified by man, seeing as these ledges are a typical feature of the area, but this is too perfect.
Apparently, lorries of a sort were able to travel up this at the beginning of the last century to the manganese mine near Llyn Du. It certainly wouldn’t take a lorry all the way up today but it’s a welcome breach of these hill’s few defences.
Llyn Du is one of the many tiny tarns you’ll pass between here and Rhinog Fawr, the highest point on this trip. The next few kilometres are tough, make no mistake. If you keep to the path then the navigation isn’t too bad, but the path does and I guarantee it will totally vanish when you don’t expect it to. It wends it’s way through weaknesses in the rocks that aren’t always obvious and sometimes in the opposite direction to that which you think you’re travelling. What’s worse is that if you do miss the path, finding another route off can be next to impossible. A reasonable route that is. There are wide expanses of rock that end in sheer drops. Never large enough to merit a mention on the maps, but more than sufficient to prevent you from proceeding without a rope.
I’ve mentioned the route in some sort of detail here and here, and today was barely a variation on that. It may have been, It’s difficult to say. I know that we found the hardest and most essential descents, while probably taking a variation where it wasn’t as critical.
Heading towards Bwlch Tyddiad and the so called Roman Steps (as fake as Beddgelert), there are plenty of wild camping spots. One option hereabouts is Llyn Morwynion, but it isn’t one you pass and neither is it easily attained. However, on the last section as you leave the Rhinog Badlands there’s a wall down a reasonbly inclined gully (positively flat by Rhinogydd standards) that leads to the lake. Today though we decided to push on and camp at the second Llyn Du of the day on the flanks of Rhinog Fawr.
I am yet to get a view from this mountain and today was no exception. Following the wall in order to approach the summit from the west made it an easy ascent, but it is one of the more difficult hills to navigate in mist, with the path threading and often steep and loose on the more direct ascent from Llyn Du. The views from here are superb and being centrally placed, your vista is of the entire park, so I’ve been told.
Continuing from here, you could easily continue onto Rhinog Fach and on to Barmouth. A descent down the western flanks of the mountain was our adventure for today. There’s no obvious path on the map, but you can follow the wall you ascended from for a while. Eventually, you do set off cross country, no mean feat here, but don’t take the direct route to Foel Ddu as there is just no way across the wall. You need to find the right of way (no sign of a footpath) that joins Gloyw Lyn with Cwm Nantcol and follow it downhill for a short distance. You then need to contour across the wet hillside to join the footpath at SH638 284.
Beyond this is a good green track that descends pleasantly across Mynydd Llanbedr and reaches the Nantcol road at Cefncymerau Uchaf, with cattle your only problem. The road then ambles gently through Pentre Gwynfryn and into Llanbedr where you’ll hopefully have time for a pint or two before the next train back.