Route Summary: Classic circular route in the Carneddau from Bethesda.
Classic circular route in the Carneddau from Bethesda.
Distance: 17.6 Kms
Ascent: 1110 metres
Time: 6 hours
Start and Finish: Bethesda
None on route. Pubs and shops in Bethesda.
Hazards: Navigation on sections, some scrambling and boggy sections
Frequent buses from Bangor.
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav: Very limited - suggest starting in the village.
- Yr Efail Swynol The Enchanted Forge Holiday Cottage - 2km
- Abbeyfield Hotel - 5.1km
- Baytree Lodge - 7.8km
- The Management Centre - 7.9km
- Bangor University Accommodation - 8km
Pubs and Food :
Activity Providers :
Carnedd Dafydd and Llewelyn Circular Walk from Bethesda
Walks up to Carnedd Dafydd and Llywelyn more often than not set of from Ogwen. Far too often straight up Pen yr ole Wen, where a better route is the scramble up the High Carneddau from Glan Denau. Those wanting a quieter route to these can do worse than setting off up Mynydd Du from Gerlan, though the mountaineer’s route would have to be via Grib Lem. It was far too icy and windy to attempy today, so we plumped for this route instead.
The route starts from Gerlan, which is one of Bethesda’s partlets, and a total pain to park. While we set off from Gerlan, we can only recommend ascending directly from the village.
1 From the Gerlan Road continue along the road, pass a junction to your left (that’s the return route) past perhaps the strangest football pitch we’ve ever seen, Passing the farm at Gwaun y Gwial (ignoring the footpath signs here) and continuing right along the track. You’ll need to keep an eye out for the footpath to your left near the farm.
2 Follow the track, with this initial section being annoyingly boggy, providing an unwelcome delay as you try and approach these hills. It is at least easy enough to follow, with a few way posts and openings in the walls making the approach straightforward if rather soggy.
3 It levels out as you begin to enter the valley, and the track narrows to a mountain path which makes the going much better. It’s actually too comfortable, and you should try and head off right up the grassy ridge of Mynydd Du as soon as possible. If you wait then it becomes a steep grassy slog, before becoming impossible. We followed the steep grassy slog by zig zagging up to the ridge.
4 Once on the ridge, the walk up and over Foel Meirch Is still a bit of a pull, but straightforward enough along a largely pleasant grassy ridge. The final section is steep, and you’re probably best tackling it head on than skirting and looking for ways around. There are some excellent views here into Cwm Llafar, but you’ve still got a right pull up Carnedd Dafydd left to come.
5 The next section initially involves some clambering over boulders, and a few sketchy paths, but aim roughly towards the summit and if you’re lucky, you’ll manage to find the main path, otherwise you’ll have a bit of boulder clamber ahead. Either way, beyond the boulders the going becomes easier as the path threads its way through good scree and soon to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd. There’s a couple of shelters here, in case the wind changes direction, and extensive views of all the highest summits in Snowdonia.
6 The ridge walk to Carnedd Llewelyn is arguably one of the best high level walking in the UK, and a personal favourite. It’s neither too rocky, or too grassy like the rest of the Carneddau, and is especially good in winter (with proper skills and prep of course!). There’s a final steep pull to the summit, which is thankfully reasonably short.
7 The descent to Foel Grach is largely clear enough, descending in alternating flat areas with steeper sections of descent in between. You’ll soon be at Foel grach, shelter.
9 Continue on the ridge towards Garnedd Uchaf (always was, always will be. Also known as Carnedd Gwenllian, though we would certainly favour changing this name back and that any name changes are due to corrections in spelling or naming rather than on a whim). The descent path contours left below this summit, and can be tricky to find initially as the path is rather faint in places. You can just about see it on the right of the image below.
10 Once found, the frequent and well placed standing stones make this reasonably easy to follow with care (visible in the photo below). Though you will end up stopping at numerous points scratching your head and looking for the next one! Advice here is to take time and find it, rather than just setting off. We’re sure that someone is adding to these standing stones, or re-erecting fallen ones.
11 After passing beneath Bera Bach and Drosgl, the track turns right while we need to continue in the same direction. You’ll need to follow a faint path across the moor to the minor summit of Gyrn Wigau which provides a view back across the entire walk.
12 From Gyrn Wigau, continue downhill on an easy grassy path.After around 1km, cross the wall by the stile – you can follow the path left to the valley for a slightly longer route – and continue to head downhill.
13 You’ll soon reach a good track at SH639 665 – ignore the stile to the and follow the farm track left, which soon becomes a minor road and brings you back out in Gerlan.
Hard Walk Hillwalking