Beddgelert to Capel Curig Via Cnicht and Allt Fawr
|33.32 km||1555 m|
Activivity Type: Epic Walk
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Summits and Places on this Route
Beddgelert to Capel Curig Via Cnicht and Allt Fawr Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
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Beddgelert to Capel Curig Via Cnicht and Allt Fawr
Having planned a totally different walk, and missing the bus due to a disagreement with Katy. Katy is a cider by the way, rather tasty and a tad stronger than anticipated. So instead of walking into the deepest wilds of Rhobell Fawr and Dduallt, I found myself in the back of the Padarn Bws to Beddgelert, holding on for dear life and with no real idea where I was going. Other than to Beddgelert, obviously.
On setting off down towards the Aberglaslyn Pass, i considered walking down towards Ffestiniog and even the Rhinogydd beyond. Instead, I decided to try and complete a walk from Beddgelert to Dolwyddelan that was attempted a few years back, but while technically completed, we missed out the final stretch of wild hillside between the Crimea Pass and Dolwyddelan.
The route sets off steady enough from Beddgelert, along the Aberglaslyn Pass and the Welsh Highland Railway and to Nantmor. From the Cwm Bychan car park (with toilets) you have to follow the main road into Nantmor village as the WHR now occupies the trackbed. Finally, a few kilometres on a country lane brings us onto the pull up an ancient byway that brings us to the flanks of Cnicht and the obvious track.
From here, you’ve a couple of options. The more popular option is straight up Cnicht. It looks fearsome, but if you’re a seasoned hill walker then the single avoidable scramble is a welcome break, and any exposure more obvious on the descent. Another option is to follow the track towards Bwlch y Battel – and take the grassy and blunt ridge up from there. If it’s busy, then this quieter route might be worth an explore. It brings you out not far below the summit, and exactly at the scrambly bit, so you miss nothing.
The final section of path is steep and loose in places, but poses no major problems. The very final section does involve a rocky step and some very easy scrambling, before you find yourself directly upon the summit and some extensive views. Usually. The morning cloud forecast to clear by now was yet to do so, so i waited around until it did, and was treated to at least some sort of view, more so as I left the summit and towards Llyn yr Adar and Ysgafell Wen.
The central Moelwyn plateau is an unusual place. Cnicht is at one corner, with Ysgafell Wen and Allt Fawr at other ends. In between are a myriad of lakes and minor summits. It took me a couple of visits before working out which Ysgafell Wen summit I’d scaled. It’s also, once you’re off Cnicht, quiet. There may be people at Llyn yr Adar, usually wild camping, occasionally in droves. It’s a wonderfully complex place to navigate in mist, with some paths difficult enough to keep to in the clear.
On the original trip, Llyn yr Adar was as far as we made it. Exhausted. Today, there was no way I was going to end my day so soon. Just a sign of how important increased fitness is in this game.
Instead, I continued towards Ysgafell Wen, past a known stream, and continued on to the true summit. This is a rocky pinnacle, a good spot to have lunch and take in the scale of these hills which stretch uninterrupted to Moel Siabod. Of course, every spot was a potential pitch now, but this was too soon as well as a spot I’d bivvied in the past.
So instead, it was onwards past the tiny lakelet of Llyn Terfyn, the larger Llyn Coch and the significantly huge in comparison Llyn Conglog and it’s un-named companion, and onwards to Allt Fawr. I kept to the right of the fence, and of course found myself on the lower of the two tops, the reaching of which entailed the tentative crossing of an electric fence. With the views onwards into Eryri, across all the major ranges, this was to be my spot for the night. Finding a sheltered spot below the summit, the views speak for themselves. The views are also good into the south of the park, but you’ll be drawn to look north.
The following morning I followed the faint path that sets off directly north from the summit. This could be tricky in mist as it does end in an occasional drop here and there. The grassy ridge continues to provide easy walking, as far as Llyn Dyrnogydd where the path becomes less distinct and some route finding will be needed to find the best route to the road to avoid some steep sections.
On the descent, I’d been eyeing up the new access road for the Antur ‘Stiniog mountain biking routes, and decided that it offered an easy way into these hills. With it being absent from my map, this was a gamble, and on reflection one that I probably lost. You can see on the map, that it just took me on a huge loop, before I was forced to cross some peat bogs and then a barbed wire fence to ascend Moel Farlwyd. A much better approach is to cross the fence onto this access land from the road (keeping to the left/north of the obvious boundary fence.
Once on the right side of the fence, a faint path sort of takes you towards the summit before contouring idly just below it. I followed the path, I had to get to Capel Curig by 2 pm and I’d just my lunchtime getting back on route. It’s then down to the col below Moel Penamnen, which looks shapely from this direction with it’s steep western face falling down into the twin reservoirs of Llynnoedd Barlwyd below. Make the most of it, as it doesn’t look as shapely from any other direction and you’ll soon have to find a way up that slope.
While there is a fence, i found a steady route by zig zagging to the left of it and rejoining it as it disappears behind a knoll. You’re now just below the summit, and the path takes you off along the fence to avoid a boggy area, but you could easily cross this and take a much shorter route if you choose. I followed the fence, crossed at the corner and found a clearer path that then veers right and on to the top. The only thing going for this top is the view, and the cairn with about six stones.
To descend, the same path was followed in a northerly direction towards a stile, which follows a blunt ridge north, veering north-easterly, across some damp grassland and a footpath at the col below Pen y Benar that leads to the forest. This path is steep in places, and was blocked by felled trees towards the bottom. Of course, there’s a sign here warning walkers that the path is closed, not much use to someone who’s crossed hills to get to the path, and no notice at the top. So I had to clamber over these, and eventually got to the minor road in the shapely Cwm Penamnen, part of the ancient roman road of Sarn Helen. You’ll pass some now ruined houses, a sign that this was once a busier thoroughfare rather than a cul de sac.
This continues easily into Dolwyddelan, which has a good pub and a well stocked Spar shop for supplies. It’s also a bit off the beaten track, unless you catch a train, and it’s much easier to get back to Beddgelert by crossing over to Capel Curig. If you wanted a much longer trip, then you could even return to Beddgelert via Bwlch Ehediad and Nant Gwynant.
The track to Capel is a steep lane that will be found to your left just after you pass the Castell Elen Hotel, marked unsuitable for motor vehicles after a few 100m. This sets off very steeply to start with, but eases off soon enough. You’ll need to keep your eye on the map, and ensure you take the correct turnings on the forestry tracks. There’s a proper wooden signpost at one junction indicating Capel Curig, but beware of other signage on other junctions that may take you astray!
Unfortunately today, this ancient byway seemed to be swamped by off-roading 4x4s. While the forestry tracks are fine for that sort of thing, the track that crosses beyond the forestry is more delicate and prone to damage. However, it’s usually a pleasant stroll, shared by a handful of people and usually a mountain biker or three. Today, there were the usual mountain bikers, and then three or four huge groups of students and school kids drawn out by the fine weather.
The path descends steeply, though not as steep as the Dolwyddelan side, and brings you out near Pont Cyfyng. You can catch a bus here back to Beddgelert, or take in one of the pubs. The nearest of which, Ty’n Coed, providing me with much needed hydration today.
All in all, a satisfying linear walk, with a good balance of high walking, easy tracks and some trickier sections which all add to the variety and enjoyment of such a walk….
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