Carnedd Llywelyn and Foel Fras from Llanfairfechan
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Quieter approach to the North Carneddau from Llanfairfechan.
Route Start Location: Llanfairfechan
|24.38 km||1243 m||8 hours +|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
Pubs and shops in Llanfairechan.
Navigation in mist
None at start – you’ll need to add 1km to walk from the village.
Frequent buses pass through Llanfairfechan from Bangor and Llandudno.
Carnedd Llywelyn and Foel Fras from Llanfairfechan Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
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Carnedd Llywelyn and Foel Fras from Llanfairfechan
Walking into the Northern Carneddau from Llanfairfechan is significantly shorter than from Aber, and just as satisfying. You can start off from any one of a handful of footpaths, with the most obvious option being the North Wales Path. We took the bridleway option that starts off at SH680 738 – at the junction of the two minor roads, though unless you’re getting dropped off, you’ll need to follow the road that starts from the village, near the Bryn-y-neuadd Hospital and up Caeffynnon Road past the golf club.
1 – Follow the route initially uphill along the lane, but turn right after the cottage and not at the right of way before it. The path is obvious as it has a no motor vehicles sign. It has been known for people to try and drive up here in regular cars (by mistake, apparently), not an easy task when you see how steep the first section is.The track has been hewn into the bedrock, and the first section is steep and in the wet a tad slippery.
2 – The path soon reaches a large gate and thankfully eases off, with an easy gradient from this point all the way to Drum. There’s very little navigation work as all you need to do is to follow the pleasant green lane, keeping the wall to your right and heading steadily uphill. The crags of Garreg Fawr are directly ahead, which you can make a short detour for if you wish. It’s worth taking a breather or two just to take in the view – across Traeth Lafan and on to Ynys Mon.
3 – The path continues in this vein, eventually passing under the pylons and arriving at the way-post on the Roman Road. Cross this and take the track marked for Drum, surprisingly. This is a very steady plod, and varies very little for the whole ascent. Only when you reach the ridge do you realise the scale of the hills ahead and feel you’re finally on the hill.
4 – The summit of Drum, although only a small bump on the ridge, is still worth stopping as your first real break of the day. The highlight of the view is towards Conwy and down the Conwy Valley, with the route ahead being dominated by the great hump of Foel Fras.
5 – You lose barely any height from Drum while you descend to the wet col. It was very boggy today, as was the rest of the walk after an unprecedentedly wet summer, but there are no sections that can’t be dealt with by a long step. The path can be indistinct, but if in doubt you can follow the fence from the summit of Drum to the far side of Foel Fras. There’s certainly a bit of a slog now to reach the summit, one that’s thankfully soon over. The fence gives way to a wall shortly before the summit and it’s only worth crossing over at the stile in windy weather in order to gain some shelter (depending on wind direction).
6 – Finally – the summit of Foel Fras is reached – just a handful of steps from the wall, which has a handy stile in case you now realise that the wall would provide shelter from the wind as it’s now curved around. Foel Fras makes a satisfying outing if you’re looking for a shorter walk, with panoramic views into Snowdonia and towards the coast.
7 – The wall from Foel Fras should again be followed, and once it vanishes the path is reasonably easy to follow for a short while before fading a little before reaching Garnedd Uchaf (still that on my map!) and in mist you will need to take a bearing to be certain of reaching the summit, which is barely more than a splintered tor on a plateau. You’ll need that certainty in order to set off back down or towards Carnedd Llewelyn in mist.
8 The main spine of the Carneddau ridge is wide and the path towards Foel Grach is now wide and easy to follow. In inclement weather, you’ll be grateful to find a shelter here, which is the given lunch spot when walking these mountains in winter!
9 From Foel Grach, the route continues to climb steadily along a good path, reaching the summit of Carnedd Llywelyn in around 30-45 minutes.
10 Carnedd Llywelyn is much quieter than the second highest mountain in Wales ought to be, but after a 12km walk in that’s not surprising. There are no ‘easy’ routes up this mountain, with all routes being either ruged, lengthy or in most cases firmly falling in both camps.
From Carnedd Llywelyn, retrace your steps back to Llanfairfechan. The main point of navigation is again Garnedd Uchaf, where you’ll need to take extra care (and a bearing) in mist in order to keep on track. Once you arrive at the wall on Foel Fras, the route should be straightforward enough to follow.