Walk the Carneddau from Ogwen to Aber
A traverse is the best way to enjoy the Carneddau, despite the problem of returning to the start.
|22.46 km||1110 m||8 hours|
Activivity Type: Strenuous Walk
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Summits and Places on this Route
There are a couple of cafes at Aber
Navigation can be notoriously difficult in mist.
Free roadside parking in the lay by in Glan Denau, but can quickly fill on busy days.
Some Sherpa buses to Ogwen fom Bangor, Bethesda or Capel Curig. Lots of buses from Aber to Bangor/Llandudno. However, returning to the start with public transport is impractical.
Walk the Carneddau from Ogwen to Aber Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
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Walk the Carneddau from Ogwen to Aber
This Snowdonia Ridge Walk is the classic traverse of the expansive Carneddau from Ogwen over to Aber via the main summits of Carnedd Dafydd and Llewelyn.. If you want to get a feel for these spacious hills, then this walk provides all that This route avoids the loose scree ascent from Ogwen and follows a much more satisfying scramble up the south eastern shoulder of Pen yr Ole Wen.
Once you’ve got this initially steep ascent out of the way, that’s also the bulk of the ascent out of the way as well, with the ridge undulating its way onward to the high point at Carnedd Llewelyn before eventually wending its way down on a long, rambling descent to sea level at Aber.
Getting back to the start? Note that this walk does have some logistical challenges, which may well necessitate the use of two cars. It is probably best to park at the Aber Falls car park as it reduces road walking at the end, but if you can get to the car park at SH 675 716 then your feet will thank you later.
1 The walk starts at the Capel Curig end of Llyn Ogwen, at Glan Dena. Follow the track past the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue building at Glan Den and continue as far as the farm at Tal y Llyn Ogwen. Keep an eye out for the National Trust way-marks with the route marked out with a red arrow and follow this paved path right towards the hillside.
2 These way-markers help initially on the indistinct path which can be boggy in places, but soon disappear as the route steepens. For those taking a breather, the views from here are excellent towards Tryfan and Y Garn. After a couple of hundred metres, you’ll arrive at the Afon Lloer and what’s optimistically noted as a ‘ford’ on the map, where you’ll need to muddle across. This can be trickier than it ought to be if you find the river in spate.
3 The path continues uphill, keeping the Afon Lloer a short distance to your right. This reaches a wall with a stile, which you’ll need to cross. Follow this path for around 300m, where you’ll spot a path heading left towards the ridge. If you reach the lake at Ffynnon Lloer, you’ve gone too far!
4 This path is easy enough to follow as it climbs, with the blunt SE Ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen now dominating the view ahead. As you get nearer, you should be able to spot an obvious gully in the cliff, which is where you’ll find the short section of scrambling. While the short section of scrambling isn’t technically difficult, you do need to lift your entire weight onto a narrow ledge on the first section, then use this angled ledge to work your way up.
5 Beyond this short, but steep, scramble you will find an easier and more distinct footpath. Make sure you take advantage of a few promontories for views over Ffynnon Lloer far below. The path is easily followed to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen. While it may not be the most interesting summit, there are excellent views in all directions, and you’ll have earned a break by this point even if you’ll be on the next mountain in half an hour.
6 From the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen, the path follows the ridge around to the stony summit of Carnedd Dafydd. The route will need care in mist, but the ridge walking makes the going obvious in fine weather. A final stony climb brings you to Carnedd Dafydd’s summit which has a handy four sectioned summit shelter which provides cover regardless which way the wind blows. It is also an ideal spot for a bit of second breakfast.
7 From Carnedd Dafydd, you’ll be treated to one of the best ridge walks in Snowdonia as you follow the wide ridge towards Craig Llugwy, after which it narrows as it crosses Bwlch Cyfryw-drum. You’ll get a feeling for the scale of the Carneddau as you tackle the ridge, with extensive views down Cwm Llugwy to one side and Cwm Llafar in the other.
It’s over far too soon as the ridge widens once more and the steep path up Llewelyn is reached. This is a fine spot for a quick energy boost before the final significant climb of the day.
8a Yr Elen Detour (an additional 2.3km and 100m ascent) From this point you can easily contour around to bag the summit of Yr Elen, but the path is indistinct and this is only recommended in fine weather. Yr Elen is a fine summit, and the detour shouldn’t add more than an hour to your walk and we recommend adding it onto the day if both fitness and time allow.
8 The final climb up to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn is simply a slog, with the only positive point being that it’s thankfully relatively short. This path brings you onto the summit, the high point of the day. At 1065 metres in height, this is the second highest mountain in Wales and definitely a tougher walk than most of the routes up Snowdon. That ensures that it doesn’t attract the same level of crowds and you might even get the summit to yourself on a weekday in season if you’re lucky.
From Llewelyn you could descend back via Cwm Llugwy to the start if you wanted a circular walk – that’s described in more detail here – High Carneddau from Ogwen.
9 While you may think that it’s all downhill from here, there’s a whopping 15km of downhill to contend with, and another four summits, before you arrive at Abergwyngregyn. Like most of the route, the path is easy to follow in clear weather as you descend towards the minor summit of Foel Grach. In mist, you’ll need a map and compass to hand until you reach Foel Fras.
10 In foul weather, there’s a shelter at Foel Fras, which can easily be missed when walking in this direction. It is just under the summit, and should be easily spotted after the initial descent if you remember to look back! It’s not salubrious, and we certainly wouldn’t recommend spending a planned night in it like we once did in the depth of winter.
The Carneddau ridge has now broadened, and a wide path now leads towards the minor summit of Garned Uchaf (or the new fangled Carnedd Gwenllian). The re-ascent to this top is imperceptible and good navigation is needed in mist to get from here towards the next summit of Foel Fras. In clear weather, the craggy spires of the summit are unmissable.
11 From Garnedd Uchaf the path is initially indistinct as it takes you to the right of the summit tor, and then takes a right turn, that’s not too obvious until you are on it. Avoid the grassy path that continues in the same direction as the one you were travelling upon. The path soon becomes clear as you make your way over the now very broad, and in places, boggy ridge. There’s also a huge stone wall that marks the way, and that brings you to the summit of Foel Fras. Note that there are stiles at the start of the wall, and again at the summit which can be useful for walking on the sheltered side.
12 From the trig point and shelter on Foel Fras, continue downhill on what is in places more of a muddy smear than a path to reach the wide boggy col of Bwlch y Gwryd. There’s a fence that you can follow from here to Drum, making navigation a bit easier.
12a From Bwlch y Gwryd, you can head on left down towards Llyn Anafon on a damp track that’s easy to lose, but once you arrive at the lake you’ve a good track that can be followed all the way to the end of the Roman Road and you can follow the final stage below into Aber.
13 The final climb of the day up to Drum may only be around 50 metres, but at this stage of the walk will feel much tougher to tired legs. There are excellent views across the North Wales coast from here, but you’ll probably just want to keep going at this point.
14 It is an ugly track that descends from this summit. It does provide a quick way down despite that, and you’ll soon arrive at the Roman road. Note that an alternative section here would be to continue along the ridge towards Foel Ganol and Foel Dduarth
15 There’s a finger post at the Roman Road, which you’ll need to take to the left for Aber, which brings you out at the car park at the top of the minor road at SH 675 716. If you’ve arranged two cars, then this makes an ideal spot to finish the walk, but the approach is narrow and there are limited spaces.
16 Alternatively, descend the minor road to the Aber Falls car park, or into Abergwyngregyn and one of the cafes, depending on how you intend to get home.
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