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All the Walking Routes up Cadair Berwyn

By Dave Roberts   

on February 22, 2019    5/5 (2)

Posted as a walk in – Berwyn Hills, Europe, North Wales, Wales

All the Walking Routes up Cadair Berwyn

Facts and Figures about Cadair Berwyn

Cadair Berwyn Facts: 
  • The nearby Moel Sych translates as ‘dry hill’ – which we’d say it certainly isn’t!
  • Moel Sych was thought to be the highest summit in the Berwyn at 827m until Cadair Berwyn North Top was found to be the same height. While this would be confusing, the current Cadair Berwyn summit was then found to be 3m higher than either and crowned the highest summit.
  • The Berwyn hills were famous in the 70’s for the Berwyn Mountain UFO Incident
Where is Cadair Berwyn?

Cadair Berwyn can be found in the Berwyn Hills in North East Wales.

How High is Cadair Berwyn in metres / feet?
830 metres
How long will it take to walk up Cadair Berwyn ?

It varies – the Pistyll Rheadr rotue can be completed in both directions in 3 -4 hours, while some of the other routes are so long that they may take 4 hours just to walk to the summit.

How Far is it to the top of Cadair Berwyn? 

The routes vary from just over 4km for the Pistyll Rheadr route to over 12 km for the Cwm Pennant and Cwm Llynor walks.

How hard is it to climb Cadair Berwyn 

As far as mountain walks go, Cadair Berwyn isn’t a tough walk but can be tough if the ground is boggy and tough to navigate in hill fog.

What’s the best walking route up Cadair Berwyn?

We like the full circuit from Llandrillo, up Moel Pierce and back down via Cwm Pennant. The Pistyll Rheadr rotue is also good!

Which is the easiest walking route up Cadair Berwyn ?

The Pistyll Rheadr Route as it’s significantly shorter than any of the other walks.

Map showing all the routes up Cadair Berwyn

View the full route map

All the Walking Routes up Cadair Berwyn Introduction

Cadair Berwyn is the highest point in the Berwyn mountain range, though the current summit was for years a crag between Moel Sych and the old summit at Cadair Berwyn North Top until the OS surveyed it and found it was 3 metres higher than either! It’s likely that any walk up will also include these summits as well as the summit of Cadair Bronwen if approaching from the north. There are a number of other minor summits on the radiating ridges to the east, but strangely none on the western approaches.

The Berwyn hills are largely bog and heather, but the summit of Cadair Berwyn is thankfully broken by the impressive crags of Craig Berwyn to the north and Craig y Llyn to the south along the eastern edges of Moel Sych. These hills, make no mistake about it, are seriously bleak under the wrong conditions. If you do go up when it’s wet and damp over the autumn and winter months then we think these mountains are simply Novermber epitomised in mountain form. Visit in the summer and under winter conditions to see them at their best (and least boggy!)

Whilst they have a reputation for being boggy, some of the routes outlined below shouldn’t pose too much of a problem even in the wettest conditions. Despite not being in the national park, or part of an AONB (though with any luck, it will be incorporated into the Clwydian and Dee Valley at some point) there are excellent boardwalks over the wettest parts of the most popular tracks.

You’ll also need to factor in some extra time if you plan on bagging Moel Sych or Cadair Bronwen as many of the routes bypass these neighbouring summits. On the plus side, neither is a major diversion and make a fine addition to the days’ walking.

Keep yout eyes peeled for the Wayfarer memorial at Pen Bwlch Llandrillo. This is in memoriam to WM Robinson, who wrote about and popularised outdoor activity and off-road cycling way back in the 1920s under the pen name – Wayfarer.

Why is it called Cadair Berwyn? This simply translates into Chair of the White Summit, presumably as the ridges give the mountain a chair like appearance especially when seen from the south east,  and that these hills tend to hold snow in winter owing to their height and distance from the sea. Cadair = Chair, Bar = Summit, Wyn = white.

What pubs are good for Cadair Berwyn? Llandrillo – when we last visited the Dudley Arms pub we had a friendly welcome and can’t recommend them enough. For approaches from Pistyll Rheadr – Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant has The Hand, Wynnstay Arms and the Plough Country Inn. Llanarmon-Dyffryn-Ceiriog also has a couple of pubs – The Hand and the West Arms, if travelling from the east you will be passing through one or the other. They also make a good base for the Berwyn hills, make a weekend of it!

Here are a selection of routes – with almost any ridge or valley a potential ascent we can’t outline every single one, but these are the most popular.

Cadair Berwyn From Llandrillo – Cwm Llynor

Height Gained – 850 metres,  Distance – 12 km, Time –3.5  hours.

This approach from Llandrillo is a typical Berwyn route. It’s long and sets off on an excellent old drover’s road that once joined the farmers of Meirionnydd to England. Once it reaches Pen Bwlch Llandrillo the walk changes as you set off cross country over the peaty summits. Arguably, there’s more boardwalk than actual good path. Which on the plus side does ensure that you don’t get too bogged down. This route also includes Cadair Bronwen before ascending to the summit of Cadair Berwyn from Bwlch Maen Gwynedd.

Cadair Berwyn From Llandrillo via Moel Pearce

Height Gained – 740 metres,  Distance – 8.5 km, Time –3 hours.

An alternative approach from Llandrillo starts off on the same drover’s road as the first route before setting off towards Bwlch Maen Gwynedd on an old track. It misses out the summit of Cadair Bronwen and peters out before reaching the bwlch, but it’s a shorter alternative to the first route. Alternatively, you could use both routes as a circular walk.

Note that you can also reach Bwlch Maen Gwynedd via this route from Llandrillo that follows the valley up Cwm Clochnant

Cadair Berwyn via Foel Fawr

Height Gained – 700 metres,  Distance – 8 km, Time –2.5 hours.

This route goes to show that you can practically ascend any valley and broad ridge on the Berwyn range’s western flanks, but we question whether or not you should! This route crosses some boggy ground and provides an option for descending back to Llanrillo, but the routes above would be our first choice for a quick return to Llandrillo. For the more epic descent, see the next route!

Cadair Berwyn From Milltir Gerrig / Cwm Pennant

Height Gained – 770 metres,  Distance – 13.5 km, Time –4 hours.

This is a long return to Llandrillo, but also provides an approach from Milltir Gerrig on the B4391 between Y Bala and Llangynog of around 6km and 400m of ascent. This ridge also provides the probable approach to the summit of Post Gwyn, What sets this route out is that it literally is more than half along boardwalks, all the way to the 706m spot height. Normally there would be some sort of names, but none of the features have been named until you reach the summit of Moel Sych. This route is quite long and we’d suggest it as one of the best descent routes if you’re doing a loop from Llanrillo.

Cadair Berwyn via Pistyll Rheadr

Height Gained – 550 metres,  Distance – 4.5 km, Time – 2 hours.

This is technically two routes – the track via Llyn Lluncaws and via Trum Felen. The stats for both are roughly the same and odds on you’ll go up one and down the other. This is without a doubt the most scenic of all the routes, and the one that makes it feels most like a mountain despite boasting the least amount of ascent.

Cadair Berwyn via Mynydd Tarw and Bwlch Maen Gwynedd

Height Gained – 620 metres,  Distance – 7.5 km, Time – 3 hours.

The eastern approaches are equally wild, but without the convenience of a village to start from. You can set off from one of those nearby, but that adds a lot of unwanted distance. If you do get to this side of the Berwyn hills then you’ll be rewarded with undulating ridges and if you agree that a Nuttall is a summit (and not a molehill) then you’ll be able to bag around 10 summits if you then descend via the Godor ridge. You could approach this ascent from Cwm Maen Gwynedd, ascending to join this route just after the minor summit of Tomle.

Cadair Berwyn via Godor

Height Gained – 510 metres,  Distance – 6 km, Time – 2.5 hours.

Another eastern approach, with the advantage that it gets right up to Cadair Berwyn’s rugged face, ascending steeply between Craig Berwyn and Craig y Llyn. While the OS Map may suggest a craggy final section, even a scramble, it’s just steep and grassy. You also get a view across Llyn Lluncaws, which is uniquely the only lake in these mountains.

Cadair Berwyn from Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog

Height Gained – 700 metres,  Distance – 13.5 km, Time – 4 hours.

This is the old drover’s road that takes you via Pen Bwlch Llandrillo up the Nant Rhydwilym. It joins our first route, the approach via Cwm Llynor route from Llandrillo at Pen Bwlch Llanrillo.

The route is popular with mountain bikers and is still technically a ‘road’, with a sign denoting distance at one point! It’s also popular with responsible 4×4 drivers, but also unfortunately with the irresponsible variety. Descent would probably be by the Mynydd Tarw Route which can be modified to join the minor road a few kilometres outside Llanarmon DC.

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Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Recommended Maps

Cadair Berwyn Guidebooks:

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Dave Roberts

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