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Y Ro Wen and Moel Penamnen circuit

By Dave Roberts   

on December 11, 2011    No ratings yet.

Y Ro Wen and Moel Penamnen circuit

Route Essentials

Route Summary

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


14.95 km


659 m


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

Start Location


Hard Walk


Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?
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. 

Y Ro Wen and Moel Penamnen circuit Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

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Y Ro Wen and Moel Penamnen circuit

When I first started writing my local Snowdonia website, Walk Eryri, I wanted walks that were remote, yet still accessible. This walk starts in the scattered village of Dolwyddelan, directly from the railway station. It then takes you over remote hills, with views over Eryri and south towards the Arenig and Rhinogydd. There’s definitely the feel of a big sky here. It’s not a walk that takes in a lot of rock, or any, in fact. It might not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but neither is tea. So this is a wild walk, no crowds, no paths but plenty of tussocks, heather, bogs and solitude.

Take it or leave it!

OS Map Required Explorer 018BMC MapLandranger 115

The Route –
As stated, the walk starts at the railway station. Leave the carpark and turn left over the railway. Take the first left, and youy will now follow a narrow lane through some houses. Keep on the main lane, ignoring the first right into forestry, continue and the track forks. Follow the right hand fork past some houses, above the river, and you arrive at a gate that marks the start of the footpath.


Once through the gate, you have a pleasant walk along the wooded river. Before long, you arrive at a track that veers left (not on map). Take the path that goes ahead or right through the forest. The forest does not last long, and you find yourself on the path you saw earlier. The navigation here becomes easy, as this track takes you all the way to the summit of Y Ro Wen.


The path takes a rather tortuous route, but the terrain is rough and any shortcuts would probably take longer. It’s an idea to make the most of the path, as it’s the only good one you’ll see today. Take note that most of the gates along the route are tied shut, and you will have to clamber over them.


The track starts to level towards the summit, giving a steady approach to the summit. There is a decent stone shelter on top (but not the highest point) just off the track, which is the last shelter you’ll pass today, so an early lunch might be
a good idea! Views here are surprising, considering that you’re not that high. There aren’t any hills near, and those that are look distant. Manod Mawr is only 2 km away at one point, but the nature of the terrain make it appear further. If you know your summits, you can easily spot the Arenig hills to the South East. You should be able to make out a faint path over the next knoll, which is the highest point marked on the map, that follows the fence initially.


The path now cuts across towards another fence, which you should cross at a rather ancient stile. Again, try and keep to the path as it is very faint and could be easily lost. The trick is to keep the forestry reasonably close to your right, eventually you walk along the edge. While there are very boggy areas, they all looked worse than they were. I dont know if this was due to the dry summer, and despite all the recent rain the ground hadn’t absorbed enough water. Whichever way you look at it, it’s rough terrain, and the views very open to the south.


After a couple of kilometres, the path starts to veer right as you follow the lip of the valley below. Ahead lies Foel-fras, which looks like a decent crag from the valley below, but an inconsequencial bump from this angle. You are still using the forestry as a handrail to your right, and you will pass a couple of lakelets to your left, before arriving at a larger pool. Just before this second pool (visible on the Explorer map) there is a stile that we took right to cross the fence. This route takes you across the summmit of Foel-fras, dont blink or you’ll miss it. We had to cross a fence here, no stile just a cross piece, before joining the path that contours the hill to the south. You will need to try and find this path, or failing that, keep as far left as you can without losing too much height. That means you avoid some of the worst rough bits before the going becomes easier and grassier over to the summmit of Moel Penamnen.

It’s a decent viewpoint. Siabod, Snowdon, Moelwynion and South Snowdonia are all laid in front of you. It’s also a rather insignificant top, with the remains of a trig being the only thing. There was no shelter for our intended lunch stop, so we decided to skip lunch and descend.


There’s a nice, clear path to start with. If it does split, try and keep to the right and find a path that follows a line of posts. This appears to be the way the farmer descends in his Land Rover, and will take you all the way down to the forestry path at SH 730 500. There is on the first section a clear path that leads down to a stile. This stile is not on the descent route, and if you find yourself there, follow the fence right until you find the landrover tracks. The path from the stile leads nowhere useful (and we know!). The track isn’t visible from far as it is no more than flattened grass, so keep an eye out for a line of posts descending the hill.


The easy descent takes you to the col below Pen y Benar, where there is a new stile to your right that leads to a very pleasant , but steep, path. The path zig zags down the hill, but soon degenerates into an unpleasant path. However, this need not be followed for long, as there is an alternative path through the trees to the left that is much easier on the feet. While ethics state we should walk on the eroded path, there is also a safety issue to be adressed, and the eroded path was deemed too dangerous.


While it may be steep, this means it’s also quite short. You find yourself on a forestry track not a moment too soon, and the path beyond this through scrubland (felled forestry) is short, and leads to the minor road. You get an appreciation of the form of the valley from here that isn’t apparent from above, it appears more craggy to start with. Now you need to follow the track down to the village, just keep on the minor road until you reach houses. Then keep on the road until you arrive at the bridge crossing the railway, and you’re back where you started. Chances are you saw nobody else all day. We didn’t, so it shows that you dont need to go that far to find some peace and quiet (punctuated only by blasting in the Manod Quarries!)


Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Route Summary:

This walk includes the Washi of Moel Penamnen

This walk includes the Hewitt of Moel Penamnen

This walk includes the Nuttall of Moel Penamnen

Route Start Location:

14.95 km 659 m

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

Activivity Type: Hard Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Check out the businesses nearby for more places to stay and drink.


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 :

Public Transport:

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?


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Dave Roberts

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