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Roughing it over Moel Oernant

By Dave Roberts   

on October 11, 2015    No ratings yet.

Posted as a walk in – Europe, Snowdonia National Park, The Arenig, Wales

Roughing it over Moel Oernant

Route Essentials

Route Summary

Wild route to a rarely visited Dewey. Worth the effort for those looking for a quiet route.

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


11.76 km


344 m


4 hours

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

Start Location



Hard Walk


Pathless navigation.

Weather Forecast:

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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. 

Roughing it over Moel Oernant Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

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Roughing it over Moel Oernant

While our last trip to the Edge of the Arenig left us pleasantly surprised with the easy going, this one unfortunately brought us back to reality. Moel Oernant is a rarely ascended Dewey, if the lack of paths of any description is any indication of popularity. This walk guide is more to prove that this can be walked, but you will need a map and the ability to use it to complete this walk comfortably. It would provide excellent navigational practice in mist! It would also make an excellent wild camp as it has a wilderness feel, yet is relatively accessible.

You can start the route from Bronaber which has a bus Service or drive to the starting point through the Trawsfynydd Holiday Village towards Penystryd (check the route planner to the right for full details of public transport or driving instructions.

1 We set off left along the mountain road, past a farm and took the public footpath sign to the right. This took us initially along a clear path, part of the Sarn Helen roman road but we soon realised that it would take us a bit further round than we’d like. It did take us uphill and we were able to veer right to the col between Moel Ddu and Pig Idris to find ourselves above Llyn Gelli Gain. The terrain directly ahead is complex and the direct route to the lake didn’t look too appealing. This really is the kind of terrain where compass bearings are more useful than paths.

Oernant (3 of 31)

2 We decided to keep to the highest ground, and so veered left towards Craiglaseithin, which we contoured around, though would be an easy enough addition to the route. There was a faint path in places, but tends to disappear as soon as you find it!

Oernant (6 of 31)

Oernant (7 of 31)

3 The route now descends into a col below Moel Oernant, on terrain that looks very flat on the map but a bit more complex on the ground. Keep an eye out for the old telegraph poles, this used to be an MOD firing range (hopefully, nothing unexploded lying about!)

Oernant (11 of 31)

4 With the ground now increasingly tussocky, if not particularly boggy, the going gets tough but not quite tedious. We just headed roughly NE towards the summit allowing the ground to shape our route. There’s an open mine half way up, unmarked on the map, and a small sheepfold higher up, again unmarked. We wonder if this minimal information was because of its former military function.

We headed directly up the grassy slope to the summit, being glad of the easy going on the steep grass – though you may choose to contour around towards easier ground.

5 There’s a trig point on the summit, a rarity these days, and nothing else. Of course, like all these central Snowdonia hills, there’s an incredible view in all directions.

Oernant (12 of 31)

There’s a small lake below the summit, the wise would be best to turn right here and across reasonably easy ground to the mountain road at Pont y Gain. A second option would be to return roughly the way you came, perhaps passing to the south of Llyn Gelli Gain.

Oernant (14 of 31)

Instead, we headed north to attempt to join the bridleway and col at SH749348 (again no name!), reasonably easy going until you reach the fence and a morass. A leap across a rather ominous looking bog, slightly longer than we were comfortable with, and we were on an excellent hill track. Home and dry, or so you’d like to think.

Oernant (15 of 31)

(Taking a direct route towards the ring contour at SH751346 and then joining the hill track would avoid this section easily!)

6 This track leads down towards the long abandoned Hafod y Garreg, and what looked like an excellent track on the map. We were led to believe that there’s a delivery van abandoned in the bogs up here that drove up following their GPS directions. Well, there is a van, but there’s no way it was driven up the non-existent track in the last few decades, and this sounds very much like a local urban legend (or should that be rural legend?) The track from Hafod y Garreg is probably the worst marked track we’ve ever walked on, ever.

Oernant (16 of 31)

While it was largely passable along the edges, the track has deteriorated into a morass, looking more like a canal in places. Extra side drainage ditches meant we had to take a couple of leaps of faith on the way, all part of the fun!

7 Then the infamous Walls van appears where the path crosses the Nant Lliwgwys. It’s worth a photo op or two, but it really does look ancient and was probably rescued from scrappage by a farmer who saw an opportunity to use it as a mobile store for feed rather than some poor hapless driver blindly following the sat-nav.

8 As  the track deteriorates further before finally vanishing into an impassable bog. And it had been an exceptionally dry month!

Oernant (23 of 31)

Thankfully, this is easily bypassed by crossing the fence (carefully! The stile is rotting on the ground) to follow the Afon Gain to avoid the morass (we had considered returning back over the hills at one point). The riverbank is the easiest walking to be had all day! Ok, there are probably worse paths and bridleways, and this track is made worse as we expected an easy bimble back!

Despite this, this is a truly wild looking valley, which had at least five farms at one point if the map is any indication and now, like a Walls van, abandoned to rack and ruin.

Oernant (26 of 31)

The track does improve soon after, becoming a maintained metalled road after a few 100m with the marked ford being shallow and easy to cross (though it might be more interesting after heavy rain!)

Oernant (27 of 31)

9 Finally this track joins the mountain road. Turn left to return to the start in 3 km. It may be tarmac, but you’ll hopefully be as grateful for the easy going as we were at this point and the scenery doesn’t make this feel like road walking.

We recommend the Rhiw Goch Inn for refreshments – lots of character inside and apparently does an excellent Sunday lunch.

Oernant (29 of 31)




Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Route Summary:

Wild route to a rarely visited Dewey. Worth the effort for those looking for a quiet route.

Route Start Location: Bronaber

11.76 km 344 m 4 hours

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

Activivity Type: Hard Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Trawsfynydd. The pub at Bronaber recently burned down – we’ll update this as soon as we know if it is re-opened.


Pathless navigation.

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 :

Limited parking at start.

Public Transport:

The Trawscambria passes through Bronaber.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


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Dave Roberts

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