The starting point for the walk up Arenig Fawr used to be on the railway line between Trawsfynydd and Bala, but there’s just the road these days. This is an out of the way hill, with no easy way to get to it unless you drive. Ideally, you could include it in a cross-park trek without a vehicle. On a clear day this has to be the best viewpoint of the entire park. You feel like you’re in the centre of the park, which for all intents and purposes, you are.
Even though you’re in the centre of it all, you’ll feel suitably distant from the crowds. Fighting to the summit of Yr Wyddfa on a cold, grotty Saturday afternoon doesn’t compare to this remote walk.
Difficulties Route finding.
Start / End Arenig
Facilities Parking in lay by.
Public Transport None.
The Route starts on the road to Arenig from the A4212 Trawsfynydd to Bala road. This is definitely an area known to most Welsh people, or at the very least those that speak the language. If you’ve seen graffiti encouraging you to “Cofia Treweryn” – Remember Treweryn, then this is why. In the early 1960s, the Liverpool Corporation flooded a nearby valley and thus destroyed a whole community. Most welsh MPs signed a petition against this, but it still went through, and had a profound influence on the politics of the region from that point onwards. It is rather ironic that North Wales has always had such a strong link with Liverpool, with most Northwalians relating more to the current city of culture, than their own capital. A quick glance at a Liverpool street map will quickly show the connection, with names like Gwladys Road and Rhiwlas Street. However, an equally quick Google will show that they are due for demolition under the regeneration of Liverpool.
There’s limited parking at the junction at SH816 393), if there’s no parking then there’s plenty at the old quarry (SH829 391). Follow the minor road for a while, including through the tiny hamlet of Arenig. This used to be a station on the Trawsfynydd – Bala railway and was closed when Capel Celyn was flooded, but would not have lasted the Beecham closures. The station itself would have been at the abandoned quarry. If you’ve travelled from the Trawsfynydd side, then you’ll no doubt have seen the still impressive viaduct.
About 2.5km from the start, you’ll come to a track to your right that seems to double back on the road. This is a good track that takes you up to the bothy at Llyn Arenig Fawr. This is a typically altered body of water surrounded by sheer heather coated crags, and probably only deepened by the dam. The bothy is much more interesting, but tiny. Anyone who’s visited a bothy will be surprised at the size of this one. A tent will definitely accompany me when I visit this one on an overnighter.
An easy path drops behind the bothy, over a stile, and towards a rather dodgy footbridge that looks like a metal ladder. We chose to walk through the stream instead! The path from here to the summit is reasonably straightforward, but not on the map. It first follows the obvious shoulder to the south of the lake, before levelling out and then contouring reasonably gently around the hill towards the summit, rather than taking to the crest.
There’s a decent shelter on top, and a memorial to an American Flying Fortress that crashed here in 1943 and the 8 that died. This links to a photo of the airmen. If you’re lucky, then the views are superb, if a little distant, due to your central location. If not, then get the compass out as you’ll most definitely need it for the next few legs.
A faint path leads you towards the southern summit, beyond which the path peters out. You can handrail the fence if weather is poor, or follow the easy slopes towards the col before the minor summit at spot height 712 but keeping slightly to the right. Alternatively, there’s a path on the eastern side of the fence that takes you over this minor summit (probably a nuttall) before descending further along. You’re aiming towards the track end at SH 819 355, which is a large patch of bright green grass that’s easily visible on descent, and has a faint path leading most of the way there. After contouring and losing height only slowly, you’ll reach a broken wall near the col and you can follow this down to the track head.
It’s important to find this track head, as it’s where the easiest path across to Moel Llyfnant lies in a particularly wide, boggy col. If all else fails, you can follow the fence that takes you down to the col a few 100m away from the track, and then work your way back. Head first along the direction the track would travel if it continued over the col, before veering right and follow a faint, straight track across. The path is boggy, but only really threatens for a short section in the middle. A bit of deft tussock jumping should see you safely across.
There’s barely a path up Moel Llyfnant, but following the line of stones that used to be a wall directly ahead will take you on the right track. The wall forms a side of a strange encloure, being so remote. There’s also the remains of a hut in the centre, but no name which you often get for abandoned farmsteads. We took a more direct route (as you can see from the route map), but following the wall to the skyline and then the ridge to the summit is surely the better way. Ours was to the left as you approach the mountain and particularly steep once we got there.
It’s a grassy summit, but a worthy climb. It’s not particularly far from the col to here and well worth including to round your day off. Descent is to follow the fence roughly north, but to continue in the same direction once the fence changes direction (towards Foel Boeth). There’s a faint path here, but if in doubt you need to be heading on a bearing for the track at SH806 361, or the stream above. The track is very obvious, but only once you’re literally upon it as it’s hidden in a valley.
This track can be easily followed to the old farmhouse at Amnodd Bwll that’s worth a peep in the window. It’s unfortunate that such buildings have fallen into disuse. It would probably make a much better bothy than the Arenig Fawr bothy. The forestry track is taken towards Amnodd Wen, another abandoned farmstead. The latter is in a ruinous state compared to Amnodd Bwll, which looks in reasonably good repair. The forestry was being cleared when we walked past, and heavy machinery was operating with no way to get past. You’ll have to wait where the operator can see you and they’ll hopefully wave you through when it’s safe to do so.
Just past Amnodd Wen, the path splits. Take the right hand option. Follow this track, that soon becomes a boggy track, alongside the wall to the left. Veer left downhill, before the path again levels out and becomes particularly wet. Your best option if it’s ankle deep is to try and climb to the wall on your left as soon as practicable as there is a narrow, but dry path along this. Once you reach the stile at end you can relax as the path is now invariably good and leads you down to the minor road you were walking on in the morning. Make sure you don’t venture onto the old railway line that follows the track along its left and you’ll have no problems.