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Cader Idris, Tyrrau Mawr and Craig-y-llyn via Fox’s Path Llwybr Madyn and Ffordd Ddu

By Dave Roberts   

on February 15, 2023    No ratings yet.

Cader Idris, Tyrrau Mawr and Craig-y-llyn via Fox’s Path Llwybr Madyn and Ffordd Ddu

Route Essentials

Route Summary

A long, satisfying traverse of the Cader Idris range

See the end of the article for local information about parking, public transport facilities, pubs and cafes.

Distance

23 km

Ascent

1117 m

Time

8 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Start Location

Tŷ Nant Car Park (SH 697 153)

Difficulty

Epic Walk, Scrambling, Scrambling Grade 1

Hazards

The Fox’s path is steep scree in places and isn’t the most pleasant path.

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?
Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need. 

Cader Idris, Tyrrau Mawr and Craig-y-llyn via Fox’s Path Llwybr Madyn and Ffordd Ddu Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

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Cader Idris, Tyrrau Mawr and Craig-y-llyn via Fox’s Path Llwybr Madyn and Ffordd Ddu

This walk up Cader Idris and Tyrrau Mawr sets off via the Llwybyr Madyn or The Fox’s Path, which can start either from the Gwernen Lake Hotel, or the Ty Nant National Park Car park and walk along the valley for a couple of extra kilometres. The path, despite being signposted by name at the roadside, isn’t listed by the Parc Eryri as a route alongside the Minffordd, Pony / Pilin Pwn and Llanfihangel-y-penant path, and neither is it named on the OS maps. We reckon this is largely due to the rough scree section, which as a result means this route is relatively quiet in comparison to the Pony and Minffordd paths.

It then continues across the minor summits of the Cader Range – Craig-las (Tyrrau Mawr), Craig-y-llyn and  Braich Ddu (Craig Cwm-llwyd). You’ll hardly see a soul once you set off across these rolling green hills, which contrast wonderfully with the rugged start of the walk up Cader. The route finishes with a yomp on the country lane back to the start, but don’t let this put you off as it’s still a wonderfully scenic section despite being along tarmac. 

Cader Idris and Craig-las (Tyrrau Mawr), Craig-y-llyn via Fox’s Path Llwybr Madyn and Ffordd Ddu Route Description

1 The route starts off from the Ty Nant Car Park and a good path, waymarked for Llyn Gwernan, leads through a campsite and this permissive path is well signposted along the valley bottom with white signposts. This path continues through woodland before you take a right along a boardwalk to join a country lane.

2 Pass though the gate to join the road and continue left along the minor road for a couple of 100m, which takes you as far as the Gwernan Lake Hotel where the Fox’s Path oposite.

3 The path up is easy to follow as it climbs gently towards Llyn Gafr, climbing a gentle 200m over 2km before reaching the lake.

4 Llyn Gafr marks the start of more rugged terrain, compared to the more verdant lower sections. Don’t be too tempted for a break just yet, as Llyn y Gadair is not too far away and makes an even better spot to enjoy a halfway snack. The path steepens as it ascends towards Llyn y Gadair, where you’ll be treated with an incredible view towards Cader’s rugged northern crags and the rather shapely Cyfrwy,

where you’ll be met with the full majesty of Cader Idris, and slight puzzlement as to how you’re meant to reach the summit! It’s far too easy to stay and admire the view. Just be aware that you’ve another 300m or so to climb, with most of that straight up.

5  The next section requires some care, as it’s the steep scree section. The path continues to the left of Llyn y Gader towards the steep stubby ridge that the Fox’s path follows. It starts steep and doesn’t improve much until it tops out. Keep left for an easier line, but not much easier. In our opinion, it’s a lot worse than the scree path between Llyn y Cwn and Glyder Fawr. As is usual with these sort of paths, you may find an easier line, and you may find a messier one. Best of luck.

6  The scree eventually relents as you turn right to end up on a good path high above Llyn y Gader with the pointy summit of Penygadair dominating the view 

You’ll eventually top out – if you’re lucky – and with relief you can turn right and head towards the summit. It can be indistinct in mist, so take care.

7 From the summit, which has a covered shelter that provides welcome shelter on foul days, the walk continues down the Pony Path / Llwybr Pilin Pwn. The path takes you reliably and quickly down to the bwlch at Rhiw Gweredydd, an absolute pleasure compared to the route you ascended. At this point, you can follow the Pony Path back to the start for a shorter option, or continue on towards Tyrrau Mawr. This section, until just past Tyrrau Mawr is also part of the Cambrian Way Long Distance Trail, and can be used as an alternative descent if you wish to cut the walk short at that point.

8 From the col, follow the fence line initially towards the minor summit of  Carnedd Lwyd which is easy to spot as a number of large cairns directly ahead. Pass over this ummit, and follow the grassy path on towards the nondescript summit of Craig-las (Tyrrau Mawr). Craig-las is the name of the summit, but the hill is knowns as Tyrrau Mawr – just like Cader Idris’ summit is Penygadair.

9 From the summit of Tyrrau Mawr, the path drops relatively steeply to a grassy col. The Cambrian Way descends right from here, but we need to continue on to Craig-y-llyn. The going is rough in places, but not overly difficult with a fence to follow to aid navigation. There’s a final, grassy pull to the summit which has plenty of views, but again not much in the way of a summit.

10 The Craig-y-llyn summit ridge continues from the highest point, to what is the summit of the actual Craig-y-llyn. There are plenty of views, especially right towards the Mawddach and Abermaw and down to the muky Llyn Cyri (which refers to a mountain ash and not the country’s favourite spicy dish)

11 The final section of the ridge walk holds some pleasant surprises, as after the initial descent from Craig-y-llyn you’re treated to some wonderful views back across the mountain’s crags, Llyn Cyri and the distant Llynnoedd Cregennen. Continue along the ridge, following the faint path with the fence to your left, and for the final section, a forestry plantation before the faint path tops out on the summit of Braich Ddu (Craig Cwm-llwyd). The summit, again, has little going for it, but the views more than make up for that. Continue to follow the fence downhill, and towards the good track that crosses the hillside.

11 This track is known as Y Ffordd Du that was a drive-able road at one point. You can spot sections of tarmac as you descend, and while it’s part of the NCN Lôn Las Cymru, we’d seriously say this is mountain bike territory only! This makes a most pleasant descent, and the track is very good going. I recall seeing an image from the 1930s of a car on this path – but can’t seem to find it again! You’ll need to follow this path for around 3km before reaching tarmac. The views across the Mawddach and up the coast are stupendous.

12 When you reach the minor road you’ll need to turn right to return to the start, which is 5km away. Ideally, you’d return via Llynnoedd Cregennen and Kings via bridleways, but that makes this already challenging route longer. Despite being a rather long section, the views back up towards the ridge you just crossed, make it tolerable enough.

Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Route Summary:

A long, satisfying traverse of the Cader Idris range

This walk includes the 3 Washis of Craig-las (Tyrrau Mawr), Craig-y-llyn, Cadair Idris – Penygadair

This walk includes the 3 Hewitts of Craig-las (Tyrrau Mawr), Craig-y-llyn, Cadair Idris – Penygadair

This walk includes the 3 Nuttalls of Craig-las (Tyrrau Mawr), Craig-y-llyn, Cadair Idris – Penygadair

Route Start Location: Tŷ Nant Car Park (SH 697 153)

Distance
Ascent
Time
23 km 1117 m 8 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Epic Walk, Scrambling, Scrambling Grade 1

Summits and Places on this Route

Facilities

Toilets at the car park and the Gwernan Lake Hotel isn’t too far down the road. There are campsites nearby, and the YHA at Kings.

Hazards

The Fox’s path is steep scree in places and isn’t the most pleasant path.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking :

Parking available at Tŷ Nant Car Park (SH 697 153)

Public Transport:

None to the start of the walk, though a bus service the 28 Dolgellau – Tywyn can be used to get to Arthog or Pont Abergwynant and add around 4km to the trip. Setting off from Dolgellau adds around 6 and you could extend the route to go via Cau Graig

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?

Recommended Maps

Guidebooks:

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Dave Roberts

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