Brown Clee Hill is Shropshire’s highest hill, but is still a reasonably easy walk. The Shropshire hills are a...
The Full Nantlle Ridge with none of this returning to the start nonsense!!
Distance: 14 Kms
Ascent: 1050 metres
Time: 6 hours
Start and Finish: Rhyd Ddu to Nebo
Facilities: VERY decent pub and tearoom in the village, WC at car park.
Sherpa Buses and WHR to Rhyd Ddu. Could use buses from Caernarfon or Porthmadog to plan this walk.
Parking: Snowdon Car Park.
Parking Post Code for Sat Nav: LL54 6TN
Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton,This is the go-to guide for anyone wanting to scramble in Snowdonia.
The Nantlle Ridge Linear Traverse
The Nantlle Ridge in Snowdonia can be walked as a circular route from Rhyd Ddu, but it’s much more satisfying to walk the Nantlle Ridge Linear route. You’ll need to use two cars or book a taxi if you need to return to the start. Alternatively, you can base yourself in Caernarfon or Porthmadog and use a bus either end. Either way, the Nantlle Ridge is one of the best ridge walks in Snowdonia. Some sections are a Grade 1 Scramble, but only just. There’s nothing that should worry a seasoned hill walker with a head for heights as there are a few sections with some exposure.
The Nantlle Ridge Traverse
The walk, like always for the Nantlle Ridge, starts from Rhyd Ddu car park. On the opposite side of the road there’s a gate for the Lon Gwyrfai that you need to pass through, and then follow a path along the boggy field. This takes you towards a cottage in trees, continue to follow the track and the signs to arrive back at the main road.
You may ponder why you’re now on the road. Bear left and enter the next field to continue on the footpath. Shortly, the path takes an obvious uphill right, which is unmistakeably the way up Y Garn. This is yet another Garn, and may often be called Y Garn II in lists to distinguish it from Y Garn in the Glyderau (there’s a Garn III in the Rhinogydd). Thinking about the other hills named Y Garn might put you off the slog ahead, or maybe not.
In an hour, or a little more, the path eases off and the worst is behind you. Right takes you to the summit of Y Garn, which isn’t more than the end of the ridge, but is a fine viewpoint. You’ll also more than likely feel like you’ve deserved a break after all that steep climbing too, and you’ve even got the choice of two summit shelters to do so.
Route finding on this section of the Nantlle Ridge isn’t hard, at least not until you arrive at Craig Cwm Silyn. Follow the ridge. Mynydd Drws y Coed is the highlight, being a grade 0.5 scramble, with a couple of exposed walking sections. But the scrambling is over all too soon, so make sure you take your time and wander off to your right to peer into the cwm far below Craig Marchnad.
The summit is almost a disappointment, being so grassy – but it makes another decent spot for a break. That’s the problem with the Nantlle Ridge, so many summits to climb and it feels downright rude not to stop on each one and give the summit the time it deserves. The next ones upon you soon. Steeply down, then steeply up to Trum y Ddysgl, where there are invariably people stopping for their third lunch of the day. The flat, grassy summit being easy on the feet. You can descend to Rhyd Ddu from here (see other route), but it’s much better to walk the lot if you can manage it. Feels complete.
Down again, through the interesting col between Tal y Mignedd and Trum y Ddysgl, with it’s notch to negotiate and much more exposure than you’d expect. Tal y Mignedd is the one with the obelisk. So you can’t miss it. It’s also easily attained, and there’s a wall to lead you most of the way up.
Make the most of the grass, the walk roughens up again soon. First the steep, loose descent to Bwlch Dros Bern. Reachign the col is a relief, and today i was meant to camp here. It was far too windy, and i decided i wanted to ascend all the summits today. Last year i’d have descended to a campsite at this point, it shows that the fitness does *Eventually* build. I did find a nice, sheltered spot in the bwlch though, but the lack of water nearby meant i had to plod on. The climb of Craig Cwm Silyn can be difficult to find, but if you know to contour right for a short while you’ll not go far wrong. Only near the top does the path vanish in the rocks, but perseverance should see you on top.
You can relax now. That was the last real climb you’ll do on the Nantlle Ridge. After a 5th break on the top, or if you’re feeling picky there’s two tops near each other so possibly 6th, the walk across to Garnedd Goch is along a wide, stony ridge. There’s a faint path, and this would be easy to miss in mist. Fortunately, there’s a stone wall that can be used as a handrail about half way across. This can be followed all the way to the top of Garnedd Goch, which is really an insignificant bump on the ridge, but being on the edge gives it views down across Pen Llyn.
The wall dips steeply down the slope, i found that by following the side opposite the summit was best idea. The ground is rougher and heathery now, the lack of clear paths a testament to the few walkers that make it this far. Most have already scurried back to their cars in Rhyd Ddu. You can plod on, and i was surprised to bump into a few people at this far end of the ridge. What i’d hoped to bump into was a river, so i descended a couple of hundred metres to a river – that was dry! I couldn’t descend much further without entering farmland, and the ground areound me was too heathery to camp in, so i reascended and aimed for the river shown at Bwlch Cwmdulyn.
This is a clear notch in the walk, but there wasn’t any water. There was no way I was re-tracing my footsteps to Bwlch Dros Bern now, so i decided that i’d had a good day’s walk and that’d be it. Crossing from Bwlch Cwmdulyn to Mynydd Graig Goch was easy and flat, but with some very boggy areas – but mainly dried up today so were easily avoided. You need some decent compass skills in mist to cross the plateau, but the wall that crosses the summit means you can’t overshoot without hitting it.
Mynydd Graig Goch is a remote outpost of Snowdonia, sharing more with Bwlch Mawr on the opposite side of the wide Dwyfach valley than it does with the walk you started. Now that would be an intersting continuation to the walk. The summit is bouldery, and shelter can be found. The eagle eyed might spot the little shelters built below the summit, in the rocks, probably for shepherds in the past – I was hurrying too much today to investigate.
I was relaxing now, being the end of the walk and it all being downhill. I’d not reckoned on the Great Wall of Nebo that blocked my progress. Walking downhill did not reveal a stile, so near the summit the wall hits a large crag. I crossed here – using the rock for balance. Another thing it has in common with Bwlch Mawr – the only other local summit I’ve had to clamber over a stone wall to get to or from.
Once this was passed, then it really was downhill. No path, or an intermittent one at best, that becomes clear near the bottom. Again, in mist you’d be aiming for the stone wall ahead before turning right and downhill to Llyn Dulyn – not to be confused with Dulyn in the Carneddau. It was a lovely spot, and a couple of elderly gents were here – much the worse for wear – making the most of the setting. They told me that the flag on the gate was theirs and i wasn’t to take it.
A track leads down to Nebo from here, or just a little further to Llanllyfni where there are many bus services (but tonight it was taxi time!)Hillwalking ridge walks