Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewellyn & Carnedd Dafydd
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Walk Route Description
This Snowdonia walk features three of the Welsh mountains that rise to over three thousand feet above sea level in a roughly circular route - Yr Elen (3,156 feet), Carnedd Llewellyn (3.491 feet) and Carnedd Dafydd (3.425 feet). In the early stages of this walk you need good navigational and map reading skills.
Although Idwal Cottage offers a more direct approach to the Carneddau, by starting at the Welsh town of Bethesda to the west, a round trip is more easily achieved. This walk could be done in either a clockwise or an anti-clockwise direction. Having done the route in each direction, my own preference is for a clockwise approach. The main reason is that you are spared the long, steep haul up to Carnedd Dafydd's summit plateau from Foel Meirch which can seem an interminably long slog, although its only about eight hundred feet, which is not a huge amount in the context of the overall height gain of this walk.
There is no car park in Bethesda, but the best option is to leave the car by one of the roadsides to the east of the village. The walk-in follows pathless terrain across a grassy valley, following the course of the Afon Caseg (river) with the objective of climbing Yr Elen first via Cwm Caseg, home to the tarn of, fittingly enough, Ffynnon Caseg. Typically of the Carneddau, it is necessary to walk across long grassy stretches to reach more interesting terrain later on. The less interesting phase is well worth it once the climb up Yr Elen starts gaining altitude in earnest and the jagged ridge leading to the summit is reached. The route heads up Yr Elen with the oblong shaped Ffynnon Caseg below to the left. Yr Elen is an "outlier" if doing a long traverse of the Carneddau end-to-end, but it fits in neatly as part of a circular route such as this.
The summit is a mixture of grass and rocks with the highest point not being immediately obvious as there is no trig point or cairn; rather unusual, given that this is one of the highest peaks in Wales. The ridge of Mynydd Du, leading up to Carnedd Dafydd, can be seen across Cwm Llafar to the south west from the summit area. An obvious path now descends down into a dip, passing near the edge of Cwm Caseg to the left before rising steeply again up a rocky slope to lead to the similarly rocky Carnedd Llewellyn summit plateau. A wind shelter appears near the summit of this, the fourth highest mountain in Wales, and it offers some respite in the event of adverse weather conditions.
The Glyderau appear to the left on the descent down to the next dip, Bwlch Cyfryw-drum, before the gradient climbs more gradually along the Cefn Ysgolion Duon ridge to Carnedd Dafydd, the third and final summit, and the third highest mountain in Wales after Snowdon and Garnedd Ugain. In common with Carnedd Llewellyn, there is a wind shelter and a large cairn. This is a good spot to stop for a break before tackling the steep rocky descent. The minor top of Foel Meirch is passed on the way down before passing along the Mynydd Du ridge. There is one section where there are boulders to clamber over before Mynydd Du. The easiest way of regaining the start is to join the path following the Afon Llafar. This leads out to a lane which can be followed back into Bethesda.
Editor's Note - when preparing this walk for publication I assumed a start in Gerlan (where there is some limited parking). The maps and GPX file have been constructed on this basis. From the start point walk southwest to the road junction at grid ref. SH633662. Turn left here and continue along the lane and track out into open country and the valley of the Afon Caseg. This avoids some wet ground. On the return leg descend the Mynydd Du ridge and pick up the path going northwest roughly parallel to the Afon Lafar. This path leads back to a lane which is followed back to the start.
Other walks nearby
Walk 3051 Yr Elen from Gerlan, Bethesda - hard - 6.5 miles/10.6 km
Walk 3052 Yr Elen & Carnedd Dafydd from Gerlan, Bethesda - hard - 9.0 miles/14.6 km
Walk 2558 Carnedd Dafydd & Pen yr Ole Wen from Bethesda - mod/hard - 8.0 miles/13 km
Walk 2833 Moel Faban, Gyrn & Moel Wnion from Rachub - easy/mod - 5.0 miles/8.1 km
Walk 1074 The Glyder Traverse - very hard - 12.0 miles/19.5 km
Walk 1315 Drosgl and Gyrn Wigau from Rachub - moderate - 7.5 miles/12.2 km
Walk 1453 Elidir Fawr, Mynydd Perfedd & Marchlyn Mawr reservoir - moderate - 6.0 miles/9.8 km
Walk 1088 The Traverse of the Glyder Ridge from Ogwen - hard - 5.5 miles/8.9 km
Walk 1186 Y Garn from Ogwen Cottage (Route A) - mod/hard - 4.5 miles/7.3 km
Walk 3019 Y Garn & Carnedd y Filiast from Ogwen Cottage - hard - 8.5 miles/13.8 km
Recommended Books & eBooks
Snowdonia: 30 Low-level and easy walks - North
Guidebook describing 30 walks in Snowdonia, Wales. Routes are mostly low level and on clear paths and showcase the region's beautiful scenery and rich history and culture. Part of a 2-volume set, this northern volume includes the Snowdon area, the Ogwen and Conwy Valleys, Betws-y-Coed, Beddgelert, Ffestiniog and the coast.
The Cambrian Way
Guidebook to the Cambrian Way, a challenging three-week mountain trek through Wales from Cardiff to Conwy. The 470km un-waymarked route is presented from south to north. Often sticking to long, beautiful ridgelines, it crosses wild and rugged terrain and visits many of Wales's highest mountains, including Snowdon.
The National Trails
This inspirational guidebook looks at each of the UK's 19 National Trails, with information that allows ease of comparison and contrast, inspiring you to find out more and to take up a long-distance challenge. Some Trails are short and easy, others much longer, many have strong themes - they may follow a coastline, or traverse ranges of hills.