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Snowdonia Walk
Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns

Nat Park - Snowdonia - Rhinogs

County/Area - Gwynedd

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 15.0 miles / 24.4 km    Ascent - 3600 feet / 1091 metres

Time - 11 hours 10 minutes    Grade - mod/hard

Start - OS grid reference SH713306
Lat 52.85746 // Long -3.91293
Postcode LL41 4YE (approx. location only)
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns Photo from the walk - Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns Photo from the walk - Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns Photo from the walk - Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns Photo from the walk - Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns Photo from the walk - Rhinog Fawr and nearby tarns
Click thumbnails for larger images.

This is a Snowdonia walk which is geared more towards visiting some of the remote but attractive llyns (tarns) in the Rhinogs, rather than "ticking off" summits. To illustrate the point, five llyns are included - Llyn Du, Llyn Morwynion, Llyn Cwm Bychan, Llyn Twr Glas and Llyn Pryfed along with one summit, Rhinog Fawr.

If you are using Trawsfynydd as a base, you do not need a car to do this walk. To make the walk a fifteen, rather than a nineteen mile one, you can take the X32 bus from Trawsfynydd four miles south to Bronaber (grid ref.SH713306). Taking the bus also saves four miles of unwanted roadside walking. On alighting from the bus, you need to turn off the busy main road down a secondary tarmac road that leads through fields to the bridge of Pont y Grible (grid ref. SH708305). This part of the walk is a bit of a dull trudge, but Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr loom on the horizon, reminding you of more interesting things to come later on.

Over the bridge, follow the road for a couple of miles, eventually passing the car park (grid ref. SH684302), shortly after which you need to take a signed footpath to the right through the forest. The waterfall of Pistyll y Gwyn soon comes into view on the right and, a few minutes later, you go straight ahead at a crossroads before continuing through the forest. The path then exits the forest through a gate and continues to open fellside with Rhinog Fawr now seen prominently on the left.

The key to the next stage of the route is to turn off this path before it gets to Bwlch Tyddiad (the highest point of the Roman Steps). To do this, you need to locate a narrow path on the left, which snakes its way up through heather, rocks and bilberry plants and leads to the pretty mountain lake of Llyn Du (Black Lake), overlooked by the shattered rocks and crags of Rhinog Fawr to the left of it. If you are lucky, you may see some wild goats, in the far distance, anyway.

Follow the north shore of Llyn Du, which involves some basic scrambling over rocks. At the far end of the lake, continue to follow the path ahead which leads all the way to the summit of Rhinog Fawr, first passing alongside a dry stone wall beyond the tarn. It is inadvisable to stray from the few paths that exist around here as you could find yourself in uncomfortable terrain with ankle-twisting rocks beneath the heather. The summit of Rhinog Fawr, marked by a solid cairn, offers a fine view across Bwlch Drws Ardudwy to the other Rhinog mountain with "Rhinog" as part of its name, Rhinog Fach.and Y Llethr, the highest peak in the Rhinogs. A wind shelter, a short distance below the top, offers some shelter if the summit area is too blustery.

While as a first choice, I prefer a "round trip" rather than a "there and back" on a walk route, at this point, the route repeats itself in reverse from the top of Rhinog Fawr back down to the turn off shortly before Bwlch Tyddiad. Here, turn left to reach the bwlch. Near to Bwlch Tyddiad, Llyn Morwynion (Lake of the Maidens) can be seen nestling in a hollow to the north east - though you may need to wander off the path to reach a viewpoint overlooking the lake to see it You could make a direct approach to Llyn Pryfed from here, but that would involve venturing into some of the roughest terrain in the whole of Wales. If that is not considered a desirable option, especially if mist appears to be about to descend, then you should follow the Roman Steps down to Llyn Cwm Bychan. This path offers no difficulty from a route finding point of view, the only turn off being a path on the left that leads to another of the remote Rhinogs lakes, Gloyw Lyn (Gleaming Lake). However, that lake is not included on this walk.

At Llyn Cwm Bychan, you pass through a gate and on to a tarmac road where you turn right for a short distance before following a sign for Clip to the left. This route is mostly pathless to begin with as you walk up a grassy fellside but the right general direction is clear. As Llyn Cwm Bychan becomes ever more distant behind you, a path is reached and followed all the way to the bwlch (col). The walk returns to this point later for the return to Trawsfynydd. However, this is a walk designed to include some of the remote but pretty mountain lakes of the Rhinogs and two of them are within easy walking distance from the bwlch. A half mile walk to the south east leads to Llyn Twr Glas (the lake of the blue/green tower). A few minutes walk further on brings you to Llyn Pryfed (Lake of the flies), a longer lake with varied shoreline of headlands and bays. ?As neither of these lakes are en route to a main summit, they appear to see few visitors.

To conclude the walk, retrace your steps to the top of the bwlch, turn right and follow the path down to the east and cross the Afon Crawcwellt (stream). Then continue to the secondary tarmac road to the west of Lake Trawsyfyndd, returning to the village by crossing the footbridge.

Other walks nearby

Walk 2544 Rhinog Fach circular - moderate - 8.0 miles/13 km

Walk 1036 Rhinog Fach & Y Llethr from Craigddu Isaf - moderate - 9.0 miles/14.6 km

Walk 2713 A traverse of the Northern Rhinogs - mod/hard - 14.0 miles/22.8 km

Walk 1191 Rhinog Fawr & Gloyw Lyn from Cwm Bychan - mod/hard - 5.0 miles/8.1 km

Walk 1194 Bwlch Drws-Ardudwy from Cwm Nantcol - easy - 4.5 miles/7.3 km

Walk 1173 Moel Ysgyfarnogod - moderate - 6.5 miles/10.6 km

Walk 1646 The Precipice Walk near Dolgellau - easy - 3.5 miles/5.7 km

Walk 2811 Rhobell Fawr and Ddualt from near Rhydymain - moderate - 8.5 miles/13.8 km

Walk 1499 Rhobell Fawr and Dduallt from Llanfachreth - moderate - 12.0 miles/19.5 km

Walk 2551 Rhobell Fawr from near Rhydymain - moderate - 5.7 miles/9.3 km

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