The Tryfan Circuit
|7.72 km||482 m|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish:
Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?
The Tryfan Circuit Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Summits and Places on this Route
The Tryfan Circuit Details
You know the feeling.
You’ve arrived at Ogwen with some mountain newbies, or those who know better and have left the crampons at home (“Well it wasn’t snowing in Surrey!”) and the mountains are wearing their full winter raiment (that’s enough Showell Styles for one post). Climbing Tryfan, for it’s more a climb than a walk, is off the cards, though you do seriously consider plotting in the GPS coordinates for the Aber Falls car park and tell the less-equipped that you’ll see them later on. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you nipping up the South Ridge while they have a long lunch or if you’re doing the walk in non-winter conditions.
While the thought of not actually ascending a mountain, and walking around it can be strange at times, it can be a thoroughly rewarding trip into terrain that people may not otherwise experience. This route can start off at Idwal Cottage, or Glan Denau; but you can walk to these start locations from any of the usual A5 laybys.
For a photographer – you may want to reverse the route in order to catch the dawn light on the eastern faces and follow the light around.
1 From the visitor centre building, follow the obvious path to its left towards Cwm Idwal. You can follow the start of the Llyn Idwal and Llyn Bochlwyd route if you want to extend the route slightly.
2 After 500m, the path curves right, but you need to keep on going straight. The path is a bit damp in places, but nothing overly difficult to manoeuvre. As you reach Nant Bochlwyd, the path steepens for a short distance before bringing you out at Llyn Bochlwyd.
3 Typically of any route from Ogwen, you’re barely 1.5km into your walk, and the rewards are already immense. The bulk of Tryfan is, well, un-missable, with the northern cliffs of Glyder Fach dominating across Llyn Bochlwyd.
4 A steady path leads directly up into Bwlch Tryfan, with nothing too challenging in regular conditions. In winter, you may well find this section above the snow line at 725m or so. That’s perfect if you want to provide some winter experience for a novice, with the grandeur making up for the lack of any real winter difficulties. Of course, there’s plenty of difficulty to be found up Tryfan South Ridge in one direction and Bristly Ridge to the other!
Remember – you’ll still need to be fully equipped for winter conditions if the Bwlch is snowed in!
The summit of Tryfan is a very long 0.5km away, with 200m ascent. On paper that’s nothing, but unless you know the route or have a sixth sense when it comes to scrambling – allow plenty of time to get up and back down to the Bwlch. An hour as a minimum, if you’re going to enjoy it!
5 – Even if the highest point is behind you, there’s still plenty to look forward to. You’ll need to descend down a rather sketchy path towards Cwm Tryfan, where you’ll find a good path that leads down to Gwern Gof Uchaf past Tryfan Bach. All the while with Tryfan filling the entire view to your left, with walkers higher up on the Heather Terrace and the summit easily discernible.
6 – At Gwern Gof Uchaf, turn left on the track for 500m, cross the A5 and take the track to Glan Dena that’s just opposite to the right and as far as the farm of Tal Llyn Ogwen. The path goes around the farm, and be careful not to follow the path up into the Carneddau that’s a lot clearer. You shouldn’t be gaining much height here.
7 – The path follows a sketchy path along Llyn Ogwen, with the obvious views of Tryfan initially of its North Ridge head on, with more and more of the west face coming into view the further along the lake you walk. There’s even an old WW2 pill box, as the Nazis were expected to invade from Ireland at one point.
8 – Once you run out of lake, the path becomes a bit of a scramble over and down boulders, before emerging out onto the A5 and a short walk back to the start.