Foel Fras and Cwm Anafon from Aber
Route Summary: Quiet walk to the northern Carneddau from Aber.
Quiet walk to the northern Carneddau from Aber.
|16.75 km||968 m||6 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Aber on the A55
Foel Fras and Cwm Anafon from Aber Route Map and GPX Download
Foel Fras and Cwm Anafon from Aber Details
Another Northern Carneddau wild walk takes you over the Aber Falls and to Llwydmor and Foel Fras. Descend to the picturesque Cwm Anafon to return to the start.
The Route This walk starts from either the Aber Falls Tavern (unfortunately it closed in 2007) , or the carpark ar Bont newydd (SH 662 719). I started from the latter as I was lucky enough to get a lift there this morning, saving a kilometer or so. The track along the west bank of the Afon Aber (or is it Afon Rhaeadr Fawr yet?) before you cross a footbridge and you’re on the wide easy Aber Falls tourist path.
Good news is that you’re not on this for long. You will reach a sign that states path to the waterfall, and it points ahead for the easy path, and left for “Through Plantation”. We take the fork left, and it takes us on a comfortable track through the forest until we reach the less-comfortable scree slopes above the falls.
The path now becomes a narrow rut through the loose, but coarse, scree. Try and keep to the path to minimise the erosion (there are signs to this effect ). The path climbs sharply initially, but quickly eases. There are 2 main obstacles on this stretch of path. The first is a gully that must be crossed. It is technically easy, but icy conditions make it more difficult, as does the exposed drop to your right.
Soon after this, you come to a section of path that is smooth bedrock. Again there is a sheer drop to your right, and to make matters worse, a stream crosses the path here, coupled with green slime. This part is dangerous! Take care.
If you’ve survied this far, then you will emerge above the falls by the Afon Goch (third name for the same river) where a narrow, sometimes indistinct path takes you upstream. It will take you about ten minutes to reach the settlement / sheepfolds marked on the map, and you will then need to start ascending the slope to your left. There is no path, but pony tracks cross the slopes, which allowed me to do a relatively straight ascent through the rough terrain.
Ideally you’ll emerge at Llwytmor Bach, basically a cairn with a name and not a peak. Llwytmor itself dominates the route ahead, being surprisingly rocky. Your best bet is to tackle the peak by going directly for it. However, it was icy today, so I decided to walk around to find an easier ascent. There isn’t one, unless you count the grassy ascent from the direction of Foel Fras. I wasn’t going to backtrack, and im not really a bagger so I skipped the summit. Time was a concern too, especially as cloud was starting to lower, I couldn’t afford to lose my slack time here.
The col between Llwytmor and Foel Fras is a wide and, were it not frozen solid, rather boggy saddle. The best advice is to keep far right, where a path avoids the land that appears to be slowly creeping down into Cwm yr Afon Goch . Now all that remains is a simple ascent of Foel Fras, over rocky paths. This made it borderline crampon territory today, but i decided it was only for a short distance. Plus with careful walking, I decided I was more stable than wearing crampons for the first time in ages.
Foel Fras was finally reached, an unremarkable summit. But then again, it is an excellent viewpoint for the Carneddau. There are a couple of shelters and a trig point here, but it was too cold to hang about. I thought there would be people here, and realised i’d not seen a soul since someone walking his dog in Aber. I knew this Llwytmor route would be quiet. Gutted really, as i wanted a pic of myself in the snow with ice axe in hand to try and better someone at work with cool pics. Must invest in a mini tripod.
After many pictures of the hoar frost, i descended towards Drum. Here I saw a couple, first mountain folk of the day. On reaching the col, i decided that Drum wasreally only a top to be ascended when you are approaching the Carneddau from Bwlch y Ddaeufaen, and thought of the route that 14 Peakers take to Llyn Anafon. There’s nothing on the map, but on the ground there is a path that travels in a straight line before taking a dog leg to the lakeside, and straight to the track at the other end of the lake, The main problem is that it’s boggy and the path could be easy to lose in mist. Still, it does travel straight, so taking a bearing and following that will bring you to the track or the lake and it’s easy from there on.
It was at Llyn Anafon i met my third and final walker of the day, with his 2 well behaved dogs. I still sat away from them, and we acknowledged each other but no chat. I ended up sharing the path, a couple of hundred metres behind him all the way down to the Roman Road Carpark. The path is very wide and easy, there are no rough, eroded bits. This is a beautiful valley to end the walk, and I remember it is even better in summer when it gets some sunshine. The tops I had forsaken were bathed in a warm, amber light.
The final section of the track starts to climb around the hill that rises sharply to your right. There is also a path that drops to the left. Either will take you to the minor road, and the end. The footpath isn’t marked on the map (it is on the GPS files) but is a reasonable end and wasn’t harsh on my tired feet. It effectively follows Afon Anafon and then the National Trust boundary. All that remains now is to walk down the minor road, that is harsh on tired feet, to Bont Newydd if you’ve driven (take 1km off the stated distance). Or in my case, to Aber itself, and the cafe.
It was an adventurous walk, but I’ll do any similar walk when days are longer from now on. I’m prepared for an evening descent, I was half expecting it on this one, but you feel pressed for time during the day. I wish I could have visited the summit of Llwytmor. Though one good thing is that the time shortage forced me to try a new, and pleasant descent.