Y Diffwys from Ganllwyd
|19.06 km||842 m|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish:
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Summits and Places on this Route
Y Diffwys from Ganllwyd Details
An unusual walk in that we bagged a Rhinog hill that’s not often seen on it’s own. You could use this route as an alternative ascent to climb the range from the south, or as an ideal descent once you’ve completed the hard work.
Starting off in Ganllwyd, stop the bus at the toilet block, or you can park here. A couple of 100m up or down the road towrds Dolgellau you’ll spot the black and white corrugated iron chapel with a sign for Rhaeadr Du.
Follow the track uphill, and you can try and find the less obvious track directly uphill, or the more obvious forestry track right.
Keep on this track and, past some proper habitation that remains in the forest despite the usual smothering by the conifers.
The vista opens up, and while we had considered yomping up Y Garn III (the lowest of the three, though the Nantlle Garn is technically not a hill in my opinion, just a damn fine spot to recover for the scramble over Drws y Coed), there was neither an obvious track up or sufficient daylight to do so. The good track, keeping above the damp Cwm Camlan that used to be populated until relatively recently, with the map testimony to the number of dwellings that are now derelict after forestry took over. The only one that isn’t is the chalet of Hafod y Brenhin (sic) that the track forks off towards. Ignore that and continue on the good forestry track that now curves southwards.
Instead, the good track continues on into the upper reaches of Cwm Mynach and you may if you’re lucky spot the lake. Why is it that lakes in forestry are invariably so unwelcoming? The area had been earmarked as a possible wild camp, but it seemed we had to plod onwards and upwards.
The track rounds the lake and at SH679 232 the footpath leaves the track on an easily missed angle as you cut back on yourself. It can be difficult to follow, though you should expect nothing less from these hills, and after a short while you’re out of the forestry and onto the moorland.
We’re effectively following the route of the mine’s incline, though halfway up it was an aerial one so it’s rather difficult to follow faithfully. Being south of Rhinog Fach, I’d expected the terrain to be reasonably easy, but not so. Going off path here is no different to the rest of the Rhinogydd; all heather, boulders and holes.
Careful navigation and ensuring that you can spot the path makes it straightforward enough, though the path does turn almost on itself where the aerial cableway would once have been and then again as you pull directly uphill and to the mine workings.
Steepness is a feature on this part of the route, and going beyond the mine the path no longer wends its way around and about, instead opting to head directly for the ridge in a series of grasssy steps. At least you’ll finally be on the ridge with only a 100m or so of ascent left. It’s also a relatively easy final pull to the summit that despite appearances from this aspect, offers an excellent vantage point both to the Rhinogydd range, the Mawddach estuary with Cadair beyond and straight back down to Llyn Cwm Mynach whence you came.
From here, you can continue north along the range, making this an ideal starting point, or onwards on the easier grassy ridge to Barmouth. Our rather unusual circuit instead saw us camp high on the ridge in the lee of a wall on the old coach road between Bontddu and Pont Scethin (click here for that descent). It promised a wet night, and you could see the cloud approaching as it started to obscure the lights far down the coast in Sir Benfro and eventually the lot as the rain came in.
I awoke to a small stream in the porch, ideal for a quick cuppa. So the direct descent to Bontddu from here was the best option. The track is rough, but a steady descent on a wide ridge (Braich) that’s largely easy to follow. Only when it becomes grassy does it become less obvious, but there are plenty of clues to prevent it from being too much of a challenge to the seasoned walker.
Eventually, the coach road arrives at a metalled road at Banc-y-Fran (SH656 202), and you could contour around towards Barmouth on the old road. As it was still raining, heavily at that, an easy descent to Bontddu was the more attractive option. You can catch a bus from here to Dolgellau and from there back to the start.