North Carneddau from Rachub
|20 km||819 m||7 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Rachub to Aber
Cafe, parking WC Aber.
Navigation in poor visibility
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North Carneddau from Rachub Details
Most hills seem to have a weak spot. That place from where they can be climbed the easiest.
Yr Wyddfa has Pen y Pass at nearly 400m high, you’re almost half way up before you start! Normally I’ve climbed the North Carneddau from Aber. That’s sea level to 900m. Rachub I noticed, lets me start nearly 200m up, a definite bonus.
The walk starts from the centre of Rachub, near the post office at the crossroads of the ‘main’ roads. Take the narrow street uphill, and follow it until it turns right towards a gate. Cross through the gate and you will see some small quarry workings. Follow the path and the wall to your left, and within minutes you’re on open hillside. The path skirts Moel Faban – you can scale it if you feel energetic – until you arrive at a junction. Turn right along Bwlch-ym-Mhwll-le, a quarry like gap in the hill. You can skirt along either side of this feature, or through the centre, makes no difference. I went across the Moel Faban side of the canyon.
This brings you out in Cwm Afon Ffrydlas, which is where it seemed all the Carneddau ponies were hiding today from the rain that was visible across the higher peaks to the south. A clear path takes you left along the hillside, but for a bit more view, I’d be tempted to climb to the top of Llefn and work across from there. The path splits at one point, but both tracks take you to the wide grassy col between Gyrn and Drosgl. Just make sure you keep Gyrn to your left.
From this col, you may well need to take a bearing in mist to find the path up Drosgl. It’s an obvious path in good weather, but could easily be lost in poor conditions. This takes a short, but sharp pull up to below Drosgl and levels off again. There’s a second path here, one that keeps lower, but is fainter. I took the wider path that takes the collision course direct towards Bera Bach. I’ve little doubt the route around is quicker than tackling this crag head on, but probably less fun.
After you’ve had a bit of scrambling, you cross a very wide and flat ridge. Best advice is to keep to the right hand side above Cwm Caseg as this avoids the boggier areas and seems to be dry for most of its length. The path gets more difficult to follow and it’s a free for all now to pass the crags of Yr Aryg and reach the summit of Garnedd Uchaf. There are some upright stones of about half a metre in height along the route, I know they mark the way down past Bera Bach on the smaller track too, but also to Garnedd Uchaf. This is where I saw the first person of the day!
The mist was thick here and it finally began to rain, and while I was sure I was going in the right direction, I wasn’t sure if it really was an upright stone marking direction or merely an upright stone minding its own business. Taking a bearing, I found I was on the right track, and quite soon the path became so wide as to be impossible to lose. This section is peaty and badly eroded, so flagstones have been put in to help cross the worst sections. Hopefully, people will use them and the surrounding areas recover. I wonder why they cannot ‘turf’ these places with the appropriate grass to protect the easily eroded peat beneath?
Keep an eye out now for the fence to the right, which will lead you all the way to Drum and even to the Roman road at Bwlch y Ddeufaen if you feel that lost. This fence soon becomes wall, and you can cross over if that provides shelter, although the wall unfortunately travels parallel to the prevailing wind. Today the wind was a prevailing one, and it was a welcome boost at my back after being an annoying cross wind for most of the ascent.
You are on the summit of Foel Fras with minimal effort. I was looking forward to a coffee in the snug shelter, but strangely this was where the only other people on the mountain were currently enjoying a coffee. I waved, said hello to their dog, but felt that long conversation would spoil the solitude I’d enjoyed today.
Again using the fence as guide, I descended to Bwlch y Gwryd below Drum, steeply in places. This col is particularly boggy if you go off piste, but again there are flag stones to make passage reasonably easy. Today, there was still no view from this point as the clouds were remaining low. So onwards, the short climb to Drum feeling longer than the 40 or so metres it takes. Fortunately, the shelter here was empty, so i managed to sneak a quick break. It had to be quick as the wind chill was extremely cold considering it was meant to be the end of May.
Descent from Drum is easy along the main track. However, they’ve redone the track recently and some of the higher sections rank as the widest path in Snowdonia. Drainage channels have been dug across the tracks, so further erosion is minimised, but what the final look of the path is, I don’t know. I’d recommend the descent over Carnedd y Ddelw – keeping high, before following the rest of the bumpy ridge across Pen y Bryn Ddu, Yr Orsedd, Foel Ganol and Foel Dduarth to the road head. Or even to the Roman Road at Bwlch y Ddeufaen across a grassy path. I’d not recommend this route except for speed and convenience.
Once the Roman road is reached, finger-posts show you the way. Aber was my destination, so I followed the track down, reaching the road head car park. From here it is just a small distance to Aber along a country lane, where there’s a decent little caff awaiting you.