Moel Meirch from Nant Gwynant
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|14.29 km||700 m|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
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Moel Meirch from Nant Gwynant
I’ve walked across the flanks of this hill before, but the summer heat had tired me and I didn’t quite get to the top. Afterall, my aim that day had been to camp at Llyn yr Adar or some such destination that felt so far in the distance that I’d never arrive.
I didn’t manage Allt Wen then either, and due to the poor conditions I didn’t today either. What we got was a great walk along the roughest terrain this side of the Rhinogydd and a work out for my new plastic BMC Harvey Mountain map. Beware of the bogs, there are a few that need a leap of confidence to get across and you will be waist deep if you get it wrong!
The walk starts at Nant Gwynant , and so did the rain. It’s a convenient location as it is served by the Sherpa bus service, even in winter (but they don’t get here early enough in winter unless you go from Porthmadog), has car parking, toilets and a café that’s open in the tourist season (second best to having a pub). We walked towards Pen y Gwryd and at the end of the car park there’s a driveway with a footpath sign. Follow this, and soon there’s a footpath post (one of those green plastic discs with a yellow arrow on a pole) telling you to follow the track to the left. Shortly you come to some houses, but our track takes us right over an old stone footbridge – signs that this was possibly an old road?
This takes you to the minor road, and go left and follow this road until it takes a ninety degree turn into Nanmor. I’ve seen suggestions on some websites that you park at this point for this footpath. Well, there’s a no parking sign here and it’s a designated passing place, and on such a narrow road (where a human and car can barely pass) that’s used for work by the local farmers as well as wandering tourists, you don’t want to go clogging that up. I’d say park at your own risk.
At this bend, there is an obvious old road to the left that goes towards Llyn Gwynant, and i intend to explore in the near future. The observant will spot that someone has etched the words Llyn Edno on one of the footpath signs. I am not a major fan of waymarking paths, people should learn to navigate, but it has its place. In Arran recently, there were signs like this wherever you saw a footpath leaving a road. It told you where it went and how far, which i think is a great idea. Sometimes these paths aren’t even clear on a map, such as the one today – it has a 250m gap in the right of way on the OS map (the Harvey map shows that this is an error and the ROW is continuous) so it’s nice to see confirmation on embarking where the path goes. Believe me, there’s not a lot else beyond this to help you and you really do need decent navigational skills to get to the top, with the confidence to go off path in mist (well, technically – the path disappears so you get little choice!)
Follow the path along past the farm, and it is reasonably obvious to start with. It is probably the old track that took people to the ruined farm that’s on the way. Beyond this is where your skills come into it. There’s little i can give but guidance. Soon the path forks left and right up hill. Take the right turn through a small field, and this is reasonably easy to follow for a while. At SH645496 you come to a point where you are above the river and there is a path along it, but you are well above it. The contouring path in front seems a bit iffy, so you need to tackle the rocky slope to your right directly. The path again continues here, and takes you to the large sheepfold shown on the map.
This is where we split from the Meirch path, and followed a path to the right that we thought would take us to Llyn Edno from where we’d tackle the summit. It didn’t and we ended up crossing some rough, pathless terrain which is really par for the course on these hills. What we should have done is continued in the same line past the sheepfold into a re-entrant that’s obvious looking at the map now. I think the biggest navigational challenge is keeping the discipline to look at the map at regular intervals, when it’s blowing a gale and peeing it down. In fact, you initially follow the line of the ROW shown on the map which then follows the natural valley bottom.
We ended up on the shore of Llyn Edno, which was a bleak and windswept place on a day like this. Not to hang around. We then found ourselves a bit above the proper path, so we descended and rejoined it at SH662500, a bit to the south of the ROW on the map. Thankfully, this was now a path to the summit. There are two summits, but the furthest one is the tallest and is marked by an upright stone and no shelter. We did manage to squeeze behind some rocks after finding a sheep skull in the fist possible lunch spot.
For those looking at the GPS file, don’t follow our descent. It’s a direct drop to the main path that follows the fence that crosses the range and was a steep drop through heather. We saw a path leaving the summit and thought it might be a short cut, which it certainly was. The wiser descent would be by the way you came up and turn off to the left as soon as the terrain eased off.
I’d forgotten how boggy this place was too. You will be avoiding sections all the way to Ysgafell Wen, or be wading knee deep across! The section across the col with Llyn Edno is particularly wet, not surprisingly when you think that the col isn’t much higher than the lake. Follow the fence now, as it takes you over many false summits, and eventually past one of the Llynoedd Cwn to the shortest of the two main Ysgafell Wen summits. We were that hungry and cold, that we decided that this was the main summit as we could see the triangular obelisk on top and a lake beyond. Of course, i navigated from memory, and should have realised that we were meant to turn off at Llyn Terfyn which is a rather distinct lake with a beach, as opposed to the pool we saw in the mist here.
Despite that, I decided to go this way and it took us exactly where i thought it went, and where we wanted to be; the camping knoll by Llyn yr Adar. I think i should have made more use of the map though. From the shorter summit there is a faint path that leads down to Llyn yr Adar if you feel compelled to follow it.
Shelter was not here either, so we had to continue across a stream and some boggy land before the path disappears down the slope. Aim for the lowest bit of land to get from Llyn yr Adar to the Llyn Llagi path, which is indistinct across the bog, but becomes very clear as it descends. It’s also steep, and care is needed in the wet. It eases off when you reach the valley bottom, where there is a cairn. This is the same cairn I took the wrong turn a few weeks back and looking again at the path i can see why. You can barely see the path in the wet, the only sign it’s there is another cairn half way up that’s easily lost in the background.
The descent is now straightforward, albeit along some greasy and polished rocks in sections. If you need shelter, then there’s a sheepfold at SH646486, by the stone wall descending from Clogwyn Gottal, which has some rocks to sit on, or short grass. Of course, we’d stopped to eat a few hundred metres back, huddled behind some pebbles. Just keep an eye on the path, and it should be easy to keep on it. You quickly reach a white farmhouse, which you pass by the front, cross a stile to the right and past another farmhouse to the minor road. Turn right along this, and within 5 minutes you arrive at the bend you left this morning where you retrace your steps to Nant Gwynant, though we just kept on the minor road.