Walk up Creigiau Gleision from Capel Curig

Route Summary:

Remote route to the outlying Creigiau Gleision in the Carneddau.

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 629 m

Time: 7 hours

Start and Finish: Capel Curig

Facilities:

Cafe, shop, gear shops and 3 pubs in Capel Curig, with many more in Betws y Coed down the road.

Hazards:

Navigation off path and boggy terrain.

Public Transport:

Plenty of Sherpa buses run through Capel

Parking: 

Parking available beging Joe Brown.

Post Code for Sat Nav: 

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Walk up Creigiau Gleision from Capel Curig Details

Creigiau Gleision is a rarely visited peak to the north of Capel Curig in the Carneddau mountains of Snowdonia. You are most likely to have seen it when looking east up the Ogwen Valley towards Capel, or on the A5 entering Capel Curig. Whichever one, if you have seen it then you’d be aware of how bumpy this lowly piece of Eryri actually is.

Awkward lumps and bumps that appear more hindrance than help of any sort, similar to the terrain between Beddgelert and Cnicht. So this lumpy-bumpy had to be traversed before the more promising peak of Creigiau Gleision was climbed, a viewpoint reputed to be one of the best in Eryri. Note that while the original description describes it as heavy going, with slushy snow, I’ve supplemented the route with better images from when I walked the route a few years later (with a bit less pain!)

Creigiau Gleision from Capel Curig Route Map and GPX Download

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Creigiau Gleision from Capel Curig Route Description

This walk was done a fair few years ago when my fitness levels were rather pathetic, and it’s probably due an update. An updated route is – Creigiau Gleision and Llyn Crafnant. Ok, I asked for this one. The forecast was for wintry showers, and strong winds. Precipitation was expected to be frozen at low levels. Add to this the fact it had been raining for a week, you can begin to appreciate the circumstances behind this walk, but more of that later.

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The walk starts opposite the pinnacle cafe in Capel Curig, past what was once the church (now a house). The path continues, grassy, towards a small wood before open moorland. However, you may well be better off heading for the ridge just before you reach the forest and making a direct walk for Crimpiau, or even to find one of the paths that circumnavigate the top and take you straight to the col between it and Craig Wen. However, the bridleway I followed, takes you through Cwm Geuallt (presumed name from other features on map) which is obviously a filled in glacial lake (it’s a pronounced blank circle on the OS 1:50,000 map) and up to the col above Llyn Crafnant. At this point I saw my last person until I arrived back at Capel that evening.

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Views are mainly of Siabod and Snowdon, and there is little to be seen of Llyn Crafnant, which is why it is worth climbing Crimpiau, a Mini Metric at 475m, but excellent views all round. Another piece of advice here is not to try and go round Crimpiau as it takes longer and you miss out on the views, which for such a lowly summit are possibly the best you’ll get. Bite the bullet and follow the path to it’s summit. Now from here you can appreciate Llyn Crafnant and the Summit of Creigiau Gleision, looming large. I had to go round a little as I was trying to follow a more sheltered route from the wind driven hail. Don’t miss out on this top, as it’s a delightful mini mountain. Even the top is ‘pointy’ and you can shelter behind it. Views down Ogwen here (and on it’s ascent) must count as some of the best. See the pics if you don’t believe me.

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The path drops steeply to the col, where you meet the alternative skirting paths (if you chose that course) and now your only choice is to ascend. The path is both unclear, and hijacked by a stream, a common feature of all the paths from now till the walk’s end. And not boot deep mud, oh no, that’s not good enough for CG. This mud doesn’t give you a clue how deep it is, and it often is. But don’t worry about getting your boots muddied as all the water you need to paddle through soon washes that away. That’s not even mentioning the snow covered mud that you can’t see, oh how lucky I am.

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Anyway, I skirted round Craig Wen to find the summit of Creigiau Gleision (eventually). I tried to avoid the direct path to the summit (why, I don’t know) and got caught on the windward crags, huddled behind a boulder in a snowstorm. Some impromptu scrambling in a beeline for the summit eventually got me home once the weather had calmed a little, to bring me to an unremarkable summit. I was unaware I had passed it until I was descending for the col between the South (just climbed) and North summit (or West and East, if you prefer). Again, it’s wet, water well above boot height in many places and mud deeper still. Compounding the problem is the river running in the deeply eroded narrow path (not to mention my left knee complaining it wanted to go home, and “are we there yet”). However, the clouds did break to reveal an excellent view up Ogwen and over Llyn Cowlyd and Pen-Llithrig.

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Getting to be a theme of the day, I skirted the North top with an easy path round the side (but narrow, more sheep path), before descending along a fence. This is where the navigation becomes more tricky, as you need to descend to Llyn Cowlyd dam at a specific point as there is a path. I’ll tell you this. If you arrive at a stile, where the path only continues right into the other valley, you’ve gone a couple of hundred metres too far. What you don’t do in this situation is decide to tramp in a beeline through knee deep heather as you will intercept the path eventually. Next time. I’ll backtrack.

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Eventually I found the path, which is again narrow, and difficult to spot in the heather, but takes you gently down to the Llyn Cowlyd Dam. Now here’s a bleak, lonely, desolate place. There is a dam, a massive lake with sheer walls of rock and scree to either side. I would have thought it was a beautiful and quiet place if it wasn’t for my knee complaining loudly that it wasn’t moving another centimetre. Time for a rest, and after a little rice pudding diplomacy, we had some sort of agreement. Either we walk left or right, whichever, it’s a bloody long way home. The clincher was that it was another hour before I’d be descending, the knee would hopefully recover enough to then hobble the final few kilometres descent in pain, but with home in plain view, it wouldn’t be too bad.

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All I can now say, is that the path continued wet and muddy, and I was too preoccupied with pain. However, I’d like to recommend this place to anyone, there’s nowhere like it in Eryri. The waters are deep and blue, and the valley sides just plunge into it. I’m sure this would be a very pleasant walk in better conditions, and is apparently popular with mountain bikers. The path is easy to follow and takes you up to the pass, beyond which is a gentle descent to the upper Llugwy valley. Beware on this stretch, as there are ditch digging activities going on, and I had to jump over some! It is obviously a work in progress, and further down some useful little bridges had been laid. The path here is often wide and grassy, in thick mist it could be difficult to follow. Follow this track all the way down to the A5, where you turn left and in fifteen minutes or so, you should be back at the Pinnacle for a cuppa.

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A final note on this walk. The distance may only be 20km (with diversions), but under these conditions it was an 8 hour walk. Navigation isn’t always easy and the nature of the terrain until you reach Cowlyd is rather complex. Many of the knolls aren’t on the maps, so be aware of this. If you are on a path, stick to it, and you should be OK though. Oh yes, and don’t bother doing it if it’s been raining for a week either!

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(c) Mud and Routes 2018

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