The welsh language is bewildering for an english speaker, on first sight. Like scots gaelic, it looks like an ‘alphabet soup’ of consonants, but unlike gaelic it is a logical language where every letter has a sound and every letter is used. It also translates fairly logically as well, especially where place names are concerned. So, Mynydd means mountain and Mawr means big, so we have Big Mountain. Simples!
Although Mynydd Mawr seems to live up to the title on the approach from Beddgelert, the mountain isn’t really that huge – at 698 metres altitude it is much more at home amongst the hills of the Nantlle Ridge than the higher hills of the Snowdon range, the Carneddau or the Glyderau. That being the case, one of the best start points for Mynydd Mawr is the village of Rhyd Ddu; the village is not only the start point for the Nantlle Ridge and Mynydd Mawr, but is also the home of the excellent Cwellyn Arms.
However, the visit to the pub has to be earned, so off we set in great weather conditions. There are possibilities for a circular route, but I was recording the route for Walking World, and wanted to keep things simple for anyone downloading the walk. This meant that a linear route was going to be an easier option. The route starts out through forestry land (not my favourite) but before too long we were out above the trees.
Out above the trees also meant a change of gradient, from ‘fairly level’ to ‘getting steeper’. The view above was a steep upward slope, though the views back towards yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) were good for adding some variety. Then, all of a sudden, we popped out onto the small subsidiary summit of Foel Rudd. From here we had a view, at last, of the summit of Mynydd Mawr.
A broad ridge leads round in a wide arc with some long drops on the left down to the Nantlle road. Not far beyond is the summit, with the remains of an ancient burial cairn, its stones now plundered by walkers to build shelters. Pick a good day, and the views are outstanding. Being a linear route, our return route was familiar ground, but the views weren’t – the constantly changing outlook made the route look like a completely different walk. And being a relatively short walk, it didn’t seem long before we were back at the waiting Cwellyn Arms.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock