Carnedd Llywelyn is the second highest mountain in Wales at 1064m in height. As is fitting for a mountain of that status, has a wealth of varied routes to the summit. As half of them involve approaching from Carnedd Dafydd, we have decided to devote this article to both princes of the Welsh Mountains. After all, we’ve identified around 13 distinct routes or approaches to these majestic mountains and we could probably have added a few more. For good measure, Yr Elen is also comprehensively ascended as we cover both direct routes up that outlying mountain.
Why are they Called Carnedd Llywelyn / Dafyddd? They were certainly named after a couple of the welsh princes, but which ones? Some sources suggest Llywelyn the Great who was a Prince of Gwynedd and his son and successor – Dafydd ap Llywelyn, the first Prince of Wales. However, it may also be the last princes of Wales who succeeded him and were also called Llywelyn and Dafydd. So that gig didn’t last particularly long. The neighbouring Yr Elen was probably named after Eleanor de Monfort, the consort of Llywelyn (ap Gruffudd). It was decided that his daughter, Gwenllian should also get in on this mountain name malarky, and so there was a campaign to rename Garnedd Uchaf as Carnedd Gwenllian – which is labelled as both on the maps. A nice gesture for a tiny interest group, but just confusing for everyone else!
What pubs are good for Carnedd Llywelyn / Dafyddd? Ogwen might be the walker’s paradise, but is seriously let down by the lack of a pub! The nearest pubs would be the Bryn Tyrch in Capel Curig or the Douglas Arms in Bethesda (which we’ve yet to have found open after a walk!) To the north, there are no real walker’s pubs. The Bull in Llanbedr y Cennin is a cosy pub, as is the Ty Gwyn Hotel in Rowen – which are on the way to Cwm Eigiau??
Recommended Carnedd Llywelyn / Dafydd Maps Annoyingly, they’re cut in half on the OS Explorer 17 Leisure map, meaning you need to take two maps or unfold the map on the mountain (not for the faint hearted in any breeze!) We’ve printed a bespoke map covering the Carneddau in order to make our life easier. An alternative is to use the BMC mountain Map which is a cross between the OS Leisure maps and the OS Landranger.
Carnedd Llywelyn / Dafydd Weather Forecast: Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather
Here are all the Routes up Carnedd Llywelyn and Carnedd Dafydd.
Note that distances are given to that named summt only. You’ll need to add 3km, 160-180m asscent and an hour to walk between Dafydd and Llywelyn in either direction.
Height Gained – 760 metres, Distance – 3.5 km, Time –3 hours.
This is the direct ascent from Ogwen that is one of the most unsympathetic routes going. It’s straight up and walked by many as they are unaware that it isn’t the only option up. That’s the superior route from Glan Denau – up next!
Height Gained – 760 metres, Distance – 4.4 km, Time –3 hours.
The scramble up Pen yr Ole Wen’s eastern ridge is the superior route up from Llyn Ogwen. With only a short section of scrambling, it’s more of a walk than a scramble.
Carnedd Dafydd via Crib Lem
Height Gained – 860 metres, Distance – 6 km, Time –3 hours
Whilst the above scramble is one of the superior routes onto the Carneddau, Crib Lem is the best scramble. With a decent walk in up Cwm Llafar, it’s impressively set with the backdrop of Ysgolion Duon dominating the walk.
Height Gained – 830 metres, Distance – 5.5 km, Time –3 hours.
This approach shares the initial sections with the Crib Lem route, but then takes on a blunt grassy ridge. This is a decent enough walk, but has more going for it as a descent route.
Height Gained – 890 metres, Distance – 6.2 km, Time –x hours.
This walking route is included largely for completeness, this is a rough route that follows a parallel route to the Foel Meirch on the western side of this flank of Carnedd Dafydd. Would make an uncomplicated winter approach, but one for the off path connoisseurs only.
Height Gained – 920 metres, Distance – 9 km, Time –4 hours.
It’s the grand approach up Cwm Caseg that makes this walk worth doing. There’s a path of sorts, though it often disappears when you need it most. The final ‘scramble’ up to Yr Elen is hardly more than a step walk, but still a worthwhile route for those seeking a quiet walk.
Height Gained – 855 metres, Distance – 5.7 km, Time –3.5 hours.
This is the first section (or last) of the Cwm Llafar Horseshoe route that initially has some rough boggy ground to cover, but soon improves as the route gains height and rises out of the bog. A pleasant grassy ascent to start with, changing to a scree path higher up Yr Elen. A bonus ridge walk takes you to Carnedd Llywelyn.
Height Gained – 930 metres, Distance – 9.8 km, Time –4 hours.
We’ve praised Cwm Caseg previously, and this is another walk up this grand cwm. It takes in a rarely walked grassy ridge that needs a bit of a slog to reach, but the summit of Carreg y Gath is at least a decent viewpoint. Definitely a different approach and beats the more often walked Aryg Ridge for interest.
Height Gained – 8300 metres, Distance – 6.6 km, Time –3 hours.
This is a pathless ascent that ascends a blunt, but grassy ridge to join the Carneddau roughly half way between Dafydd and Llywelyn. We’d recommend this as a descent in conjunction with the following route.
Height Gained – 780 metres, Distance – 5.6 km, Time –3 hours.
This route has a bit of a scramble as you ascend Craig yr Ysfa. This can be started directly, or by completing an ascent of Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach from Capel Curig first.
Carnedd Llywelyn via Creigiau Eigiau
Height Gained – 700 metres, Distance – 7 km, Time –3 hours.
This is a wide ridge that approaches Foel Grach from the east, and can be ascended either via Creigiau Eigiau or via Cwm Eigiau. We’ve detailed the walk via Creigiau Eigiau, a summit of dubious provenance with only 20m reascent.
Height Gained – 1300 metres, Distance – 25 km, Time –10 hours.
While this is arguably a variation on the route via Craig yr Ysfa, adding on the satellites of Pen Llithrig y Wrach and Pen yr Helgi Du, it’s still a route that stands alone.
Carnedd Llywelyn from the North – Aryg Ridge.
Height Gained – 920 metres , Distance –10km, Time –3 hours.
The Carneddau become so expansive to the north that there’s just too many permutations. You can reach Carnedd Llywelyn from the Aryg Ridge from Rachub or Aber, via Llwydmor from Aber or via the Drum ridge and Foel Fras from Aber or Llanfairfechan.All the walks up