#172 – The North-western hills of the Carneddau

The North-western hills of the Carneddau

The North-western hills of the Carneddau

The route

The route

The mountains of the Carneddau in North Wales seem to be a regular theme in this blog, and no wonder – the pointy mountains of the Glyderau and Snowdon ranges attract more interest and consequently more crowds, but the high plateau of the Carneddau is a wild quiet place, largely avoided by walkers apart from those who are already converts.

Starting out near Rachub

Starting out near Rachub

The western slopes of Llefn

The western slopes of Llefn

The bottom of Bwlch ym Mhwll-le

The bottom of Bwlch ym Mhwll-le

On the way up ….

On the way up ….

…. but still a way to go

…. but still a way to go

On the south slopes of Llefn, heading towards Gyrn

On the south slopes of Llefn, heading towards Gyrn

Last September Chris and I had a wander round the area above Aber Falls (see post #161). A new approach route usually throws up new hills, and we had looked up towards Gyrn and contoured round below Moel Wnion. This time we approached those hills from the old village of Rachub to the west – The first obstacle was the deep ravine of Bwlch ym Mhwll-le but instead of losing height to regain it again, we took a crafty diversion up the ravine itself, lining us up for an easy walk to Gyrn.

Gyrn, looming closer now

Gyrn, looming closer now

Looking back towards Llefn

Looking back towards Llefn

Heading for the top ….

Heading for the top ….

 …. But more uphill first

…. But more uphill first

The summit of Gyrn – small, but enough room for a border Collie

The summit of Gyrn – small, but enough room for a border Collie

Looking east from Gyrn towards the Carneddau Plateau

Looking east from Gyrn towards the Carneddau Plateau

Having already cheated a bit at the bwlch, it seemed logical to contour round the lesser hill of Llefn, and to strike out directly for Gyrn. It’s hard to judge the scale of these hills with no reference points nearby, and although Gyrn had appeared to be a good distance away, we soon found ourselves heading for the summit. The top is surprisingly small, but there was enough room for Border Collie ‘Mist’ to stretch out – by comparison, the views to the Carneddau Plateau were massive.

Moel Wnion – next on the list

Moel Wnion – next on the list

Sheepfolds just below Gyrn – a good place for lunch

Sheepfolds just below Gyrn – a good place for lunch

Heading up Moel Wnion, with Gyrn behind

Heading up Moel Wnion, with Gyrn behind

The summit of Moel Wnion ahead ….

The summit of Moel Wnion ahead ….

…. with a tumbledown shelter

…. with a tumbledown shelter

From the peak of Gyrn there was also a good view across to Moel Wnion, the main objective of this trip. A conveniently placed set of sheepfolds on the way made an excellent windbreak for lunch, then it was on to our last summit. Moel Wnion is the complete opposite to Gyrn, with a broad featureless top apart from a tumbledown shelter.

Retracing our steps down Moel Wnion

Retracing our steps down Moel Wnion

Heading down ….

Heading down ….

…. and back towards Rachub

…. and back towards Rachub

The easiest way to return to Rachub from Moel Wnion was to reverse the route of ascent to join a good track that pointed us back to the start, with the bonus of great views looking upwards to where we had just been. The day had the feel of spring after the gale force winds of the previous month, and as we returned I was already plotting another trip out – a walk in the Carneddau is a bit like eating a Chinese takeaway, satisfying at the time but soon leaving you hungry for more!

Looking back to (l to r) Moel Wnion, Gyrn and Llefn

Looking back to (l to r) Moel Wnion, Gyrn and Llefn

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s. I was out again the next day, at the opposite end of the Carneddau – read about it in two weeks.

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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9 Responses to #172 – The North-western hills of the Carneddau

  1. That looks great – I’ll have to look up Rachub as I’m not familiar with it. That bwlch route looks fantastic!
    Carol.

    • Rachub is about 2 kms north of Bethesda, Carol – parking is a bit sparse, similar to Gerlan. Lovely quiet hills!

      • I liked the Gerlan side of the hills – I’ve done a few walks from there. The parking was pretty sparse though. Still, at least I have the advantage of being available mid-week – that should help.

  2. LensScaper says:

    A beautiful day for it. Not the place to venture out in mist – I imagine that without modern technology it would be so easy to get completely lost in that featureless landscape

  3. Gwen Evans says:

    Thank you Pail for having the courtesy to use the correct names Carneddau, Glyderau, Rhinogydd etc.

    • Diolch yn Fawr, Gwen.
      I think it’s important to make an effort in these things, and it’s polite in someone else’s country. I remember how we used to laugh at Southerners trying to pronounce the names of the villages where I come from, then my mates would go to the Welsh or Scottish hills and totally mangle the names.
      I try to get the pronunciation right as well – my wife Chris was brought up in North Wales, and she won’t stand for any lazy pronunciation on my part. I love the sound of the language, though I’ll probably never be conversational in Welsh – my vocabulary of place names, etc isn’t bad though, and I’ve even got ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ memorised – current project is ‘Calon Lân’ 🙂

  4. Wonderful – looks just like my sort of hills, with sweeping, expansive views 🙂

  5. Pingback: #173 – | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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