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Walk 2820 - printer friendly version

Carneddau traverse from Llyn Ogwen Walk

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 14.0 miles / 22.8 km

Ascent - 4200 feet / 1273 metres

Grade - mod/hard

Start - OS grid reference SH667605
Lat 53.124954 + Long -3.9935433
Postcode LL48 6SR (approx. location only)

Of the fifteen mountains in Wales that exceed 3,000 feet in height, this walk includes seven of them. The essentially linear nature of the route means that suitable transport arrangements need to be made in advance to reach the start point and return from the finish point, two cars being one possibility. The most difficult stretch of the walk is the ascent of the first summit, Pen yr Ole Wen. Thereafter, however, this is ridge walking par excellence with the only other noticeably steep section being the return walk back up Carnedd Llewellyn after visiting the outlying peak, Yr Elen. Despite the height of these mountains, walkers tend to be rarely seen even in good weather conditions, as Snowdon is the main walkers' magnet in the region.

The start of this Snowdonia (Eryri) walk is at the eastern end of Llyn Ogwen where roadside parking is available off the A5. The north face of Tryfan dominates the view to the south while a path to the north of the road leads across a stream and this is the way to go. Indistinct in places, the path goes past a farm on the left before climbing steadily up the felllside, with the rocky hulk of Pen Yr Ole Wen on the left and the Afon Lloer on the right. When the tarn, Ffynnon Lloer, comes into view in the cwm ahead, the path bears left and drops down slightly as it skirts the cliffs and crags of Pen yr Ole Wen on the left. At first sight any semblance of a way upwards appears to be barred by a series of cliffs, buttresses and crags; however, this route follows a breach in the mountains defences to the north of Pen yr Ole Wen and the west of the tarn. A grassy rake to begin with leads to a slope that gets steeper towards the top. It is hard work gaining the necessary altitude at this stage, with loose stones and a need to take care but this section is relatively short and, once the ridge is gained, it is an easy stroll round to the left to gain the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen. The Glyders and the Snowdon range dominate the view across the Ogwen Valley while, to the north-east, there is a view of the next part of the walk towards Carnedd Dafydd and this is the way to go next, reversing the descent down the ridge and heading along it, passing a sizeable cairn on the way. The going is now much easier after the steep climb up from the cwm and the next summit is soon reached. At 3,425 feet, Carnedd Dafydd is the fourth highest mountain in Wales and a cairn and wind shelter mark the top. To the north-west, the view looks down on the ridge of Mynydd Du and Bethesda is seen way below with Anglesey beyond. The next two summits on this walk, Yr Elen and Carnedd Llewellyn, are seen side by side to the north-east. In May 2012, a patch of snow could be seen on the flank of the latter.

In good visibility, route finding is easy as you follow the ridge due east initially, then north-east above cliffs and rock outcrops on the left. The path offers a fine view down into the Cwm Llafar valley before it winds its way up to Carnedd Llewellyn (3,491 feet) where, in common with Carnedd Dafydd, there is a cairn and a wind shelter; this is the third highest summit in Wales. Cross the summit plateau due north-west and the next objective, Yr Elen, involves an "out and back" detour in which the height to be regained on the return stretch represents the last real climb of the day. Yr Elen has a small grassy summit area with a small cairn near to the edge of a very steep slope going down to Cwm Caseg featuring the long and narrow mountain lake of Ffynnon Caseg.

On the return route, there is no need to go all the way back to the top of Carnedd Llewellyn as the lie of the land enables a traverse along a grassy shoulder to the left. The last three summits of this walk offer a very different prospect to those done earlier in the walk as you head north-east. Now it is easy, striding-out country with gentle slopes down and up again though there are scatterings of rock outcrops to maintain some interest amid peat bogs, small pools and rough grass. The last three summits of the walk are a similar distance apart from each other. Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf and Foel Fras appear rather like links in a chain and must seldom, if ever, be climbed for their own sakes rather than as part of a sequence. Foel Fras has a dry stone wall running along its ridge to the right and the summit area is scattered with rocks topped by a triangulation pillar.

The last stage of the walk involves descending from Foel Fras down a grassy slope and wild ponies may be seen in this area. At the next col (Bwlch y Gwryd) descend left to reach the Llyn Anafon reservoir, and from the reservoir, a clear wide track leads down the remote valley of the Afon Anafon (river) with the rock outcrops of Llwytmor seen on the left. The track leads to a tarmac secondary road after a couple of miles and the route loses even more height before the road bends left round a corner to reach the car park on the other side of the Bont Newydd bridge.

Walk 2820 Route Map

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