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Walk 1150 - printer friendly version

The High Carneddau Walk

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 10.0 miles / 16.3 km

Ascent - 3300 feet / 1000 metres

Grade - hard

Start - OS grid reference SH672604
Lat 53.124181 + Long -3.9860346
Postcode LL57 3LZ (approx. location only)

The High Carneddau form the largest area of high ground in England and Wales. The scenery is varied. Outwardly the landscape consists of broad rounded mountains but on closer inspection any walker will soon discover an amazing diversity within this relatively untamed area of Wales. This walk explores the high peaks located in north-western sector of the Carneddau and because of the terrain should only be attempted by experienced mountain walkers with the correct equipment.

Rather than park alongside the A5, I prefer to leave the car at Gwern Gof Uchaf farm where a small charge is made (grid ref. SH 672604). Take the footpath from the farm west to cross the A5 at Glan Dena. Follow the track to Tal y Llyn Ogwen farm where a footpath sign directs you north alongside Afon Lloer to climb into the mountains. This first section of the walk is rather tedious although an improving view behind you does help to the lift your spirits.

Shortly after crossing the two thousand foot contour you reach Cwn Lloer with the dark waters of Ffynon Lloer nestling beneath dramatic crags and cliffs. A suitable place for a rest, you can look back to Tryfan, usually busy with walkers and climbers, and wonder why there are so few people on your side of the valley. The next objective is to use the east ridge to gain the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen. The path is indistinct at first with a short scramble necessary in the early stages of the ascent. However the path quickly improves and height is gained quickly amidst superb mountain scenery and arrival at the summit is far sooner than you might have imagined.

Pen yr Ole Wen has a fairly flat summit area and to get the best views it is necessary to wander roughly south, from where the Glyders can be seen in all their glory. Turning north, you follow the main path which keeps to the high ground. Nearly three miles long, this ridge walk stays above 3000 feet on its journey to Carnedd Llewelyn. Away to your right there are superb views into Cwm Lloer whilst on your left the beautiful Nant Francon leads your eyes to Anglesey. The first notable landmark you reach is Carnedd Fach, which appears to be a man-made cairn.

At times the path is strewn with rocks although there are some sections where you can make good speed. Ahead lies Carnedd Dayfdd, the second major peak of this walk. The summit is a mass of rocks and the views excellent, especially along the ridge to Carnedd Llewelyn and the outlier of Yr Elen. Pressing on along the ridge, you have the tremendous cliffs of Ysgolion Duon on your left, plunging over a thousand feet into the Llafar valley. The ridge narrows with the best views to your left as you ascend to Bwlch Cyfryw-drum. Ahead is the last ascent of the day as you follow the stony path to the highest point of the Carneddau - Carnedd Llewelyn (3490 ft - 1064 m).

As can be imagined, the view are extensive covering most of the major peaks of northern Snowdonia (Eryri). However because of the domed shape of the summit, it is better to wander around to ensure you get the best of the views. Care is needed leaving the summit especially in poor visibility. The path is clear enough and leads just south of east along a narrowing ridge which connects Carnedd Llewelyn to Pen yr Helgi Du.

Descending rapidly, the path twists and turns with amazing views down the crags to left into Cwm Eigiau and the right to Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir. Eventually you reach a section where a short scramble is necessary, which might present problems if the rock is wet and slippery. However using your bottom as a brake, descent can easily be controlled! Reaching Bwlch Eryl Farchog you can stay in the mountains and ascend Pen yr Helgi Du or do as we did and drop down to the shores of the Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir.

Initially the descent to the reservoir is over an awful path that has suffered from erosion. This improves and you have straight forward "yomp" down into the valley using the tarmac access road to the reservoir. Reaching the A5, turn right for a short way, then take the track into Gwern Gof Isaf farm, where the path back to the start of this walk is easily found. This level section along the route of Telford's original road to Holyhead, gives you time to contemplate on the day's walk.

Walk 1150 Route Map

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