North Carneddau Traverse from Rachub to Capelulo
Route Summary: A linear traverse of the Northern Carneddau from Rachub to Dwygyfylchi near Conwy.
A linear traverse of the Northern Carneddau from Rachub to Dwygyfylchi near Conwy.
|24.48 km||1035 m||8 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Rachub to Capelulo
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North Carneddau Traverse from Rachub to Capelulo Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Summits and Places on this Route
North Carneddau Traverse from Rachub to Capelulo Details
It always adds a bit of interest when we can do a walk with a theme. Usually it’s up and down, but nothing extra. This walk follows the skyline of the Carneddau from Rachub, across to Carnedd Uchaf, Foel Llefn, Drum and finally Tal y Fan. You could continue onward to Conwy if you wished, though Allt Wen just by the Sychant would be the correct final peak if we were to be picky with our route. As is the usual nature of linear walks, it is rather tricky to return to the beginning, but you could start from Aber or the village of Llandegai which along with Dwygyfylchi, are on the main Bangor – Llandudno Bus routes.
I’ve done the first part of the route a few weeks back from Rachub, so I feel little inclination to describe the initial section again in such detail. The first section from Rachub is nice and easy, and this time we followed the canyon like dry valley called Bwlch ym Mhwll-le rather than skirt the top and found it to be the best route.
Visibility today was non existent. When we arrived at the wide grassy col below Gyrn we were dependent on compass bearings. This is when you realise how difficult such terrain can be under poor conditions. Not only are there a multitude of paths shown on the map, there are even more on the ground and very little hope of working out exactly which one you’re at unless you’ve been following bearings and pacing all the way from the quarry en route. We took some bearings, but the path soon faded. Fortunately, we found a kink in the path and from that could take a new bearing assuming we were at the right spot. We presumably were as we hit the main path about where we expected to!
The path up to Drosgl is further confusion. The first left fork is the high path to Bera Bach and probably the best route up as you aren’t contouring around and pinpointing your position is a lot easier. The second fork is the proper one, but we took the final one and found it descended slowly. It may well have joined up to the other path later on, but we just headed up the slope to the other path.
It was a little dull on the contouring path, with nothing to see, so we shot off left to explore and hopefully find our way to the summit by instinct. It was rockier than i thought, but we soon levelled off and seemed to be walking about for ages, finding faint paths and then losing them again in the hope that the summit was in that direction. A compass bearing would have been the sensible option, but we eventually came across the summit after zig-zagging for a while. From Garnedd Uchaf, you have to take a bearing. Somehow the bearing seemed to be going in the wrong direction, but trust in the compass was not to be overturned and it took us faultlessly towards the proper path which was extremely difficult to spot even when right next to it.
Along this part we were joined by another guy who’d started from Capel that morning and was also on the way to Foel Fras. He was on the right track, but was glad to hear a second opinion of that. The wall is the feature here that you need to keep an eye out for, that takes you all the way to Bwlch Y Ddeufaen if you need to; and today we did. Just beyond the summit, the wall again becomes a fence and can be followed up over Drum, to Carnedd y Ddelw and it’s impressive shelter and down to Bwlch y Ddeufaen.
The wind had picked up since Foel Fras and we were meant to camp high on Tal Y Fan’s summit. That option was fading fast. So on descent from Drum we followed the faint path along the fence down nearly to the bwlch where the fence becomes a stone wall once again and crossed the stile there. We found a river and some desperate camping spots, but on reflection decided to try our luck further down.
On reaching the bwlch, we spotted the river and many little spots among the rocky ground. In fact, we were spoilt for choice of where to pitch and it did rank as a very good spot to camp – with the exception of the pylons nearby. The view was OK, but obscured by clouds from early evening onward with the consolation being that the pylons were also hidden.
The morning was brighter, and we had decided to contour around Foel Lwyd to the north western side of Tal y Fan and ascend that way as we could make use of the stream for a brew. The first section was pleasantly grassy, following comfortable pony paths. We climbed too high though and found ourselves in waist deep heather with only very boggy ground to avoid it. Had we been only a matter of 20 metres lower, we’d have hit the path at a much more pleasant point. With hindsight, we should have climbed directly up to Moel Lwyd and we’d have had it over and done with.
I was at least glad to find the stream at this point, but on filling my platy i realised that the water was brown and peaty. You could have boiled it up an added milk, it would have tasted similar to some walker’s café’s tea (if not better). I passed on that and was rewarded to find a small stream right on the col. Not only that, but there was a large, dry, flat area nearby that would have made a superb wild camping spot – next time.
Tal y Fan is then only 60m climb, which you manage in a few minutes. We continued along the grassy ridge, and found that we would have been spoilt for choices to camp wild. Continuing along the ridge, until the wall bends right, we then took a faint path left that soon becomes obvious and then follows a stream down to a sheepfold above an old quarry. This has trees growing in it and a large fence, so its rather obvious you’ve reached it. You enter the quarry by following the path to the right of it before turning through it and down to a nice green track below.
From here, it’s a case of following the obvious tracks to Sychnant. Left takes you along parts of the North Wales Path. Right towards a pleasant walk above the Conwy valley. We went right, but about halfway back took a narrow path left and cut across to the North Wales Path that takes you back in an almost direct route to Sychnant. In fact, it sometimes meanders a bit, and you might be better off following the path in the different direction to the NWP. One shortcut is just past the stile as you enter the Sychnant nature reserve. Instead of following the NWP arrow, follow the blue bridleway one and you cut a fair distance off the route.
It was getting warmer by now, and we were glad that it was just a short downhill walk to the pub and some cold drinks. We’d done it as a 2 day walk, but it’s definitely doable as a long one day walk, possibly extending the end point to Conwy to make a real epic. Importantly, we’d managed to complete a hill day on the second day which we’ve found difficult before as we’re usually rushing down. So lets hear it for the long relaxed second day!