Carnedd Llywelyn from Rachub
Quieter approach to the Carneddau from near Bethesda.
|24.9 km||920 m||8 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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Carnedd Llywelyn from Rachub Details
This, make no bones about it, its a long un. Snowdonia, the north at least, seems to have a lack of natural long walks. Even walking one end of the Carneddau to the other just passes 20km. Other longer walks involve the joining together of different ranges and the inherent excess of ascent that produces. This is a more manageable longer walk, with most of the ascent and descent being gradual and on good paths once the main spine of the Carneddau are reached. If you want even more, just dogleg out to Carnedd Dafydd and bag Yr Elen on the return journey.
The walk starts at the top of the road in Rachub (turn up past the pub until you reach a junction where the road effectively ends). Turn right at the junction and then through a gate and you’re on the hill. An easy path leads left along the wall, passes a quarry before forming a gentle green track through small patches of gorse. This intense green and gorse is typical of the northern end of the Carneddau. The path contours Moel Faban before turning right up a dry valley (Bwlch ym-Mhwll-lle) and beyond this you’re on the open moorland. You can cross Moel Faban to this spot in many ways, including directly over the top via the quarry incline you pass at the start.
A rare sighting, initially a rat or squirrel i thought, of a stoat made me stop on the path. It had crossed the path and into some gorse. I moved on a little, and peered at the spot it had vanished. Nothing. Then it shot out, fast and small, away and down the hill. This was to be my first brush with nature on quite an interesting day.
Once up on the moorland, the track must be taken left towards the pointy hill of Gyrn. About half way there, I spotted a pair of Buzzards. Then, a third, either swooping or hovering over Llefn. A fourth was to my right, above the river. I’ve never seen so many in one place, and apparently they’re not gregarious. I didn’t get my camera out as with this sort of thing, they always fly off once it’s out of my pack.
Further along, I could now see the buzzards flying about Gyrn, disturbing the crows or ravens that are often seen in this area. Then, one was hunting to one side. Dive down from 20m, then swiftly back up, only not so high. Again, it dived towards something unseen, again returning to hover lower. After doing so a few more times, whatever it had seen must have scurried away to the safety of a burrow and it moved along the hillside.
The path leads onto a large flat area of ground that separated Moel Wnion and Drosgl, this can be awkward to navigate in mist and the path difficult to find. It was clear today and I managed to miss one path by walking across it as I was walking towards the obvious path on the hill. So in the mist, real care must be taken to find the path.
Ahead on the Drosgl path was the farmer moving his flock to the other side of the hill. Fortunately, he’d finished by the time i reached the ridge, or i’d have set off directly to the top of Drosgl in case I disturbed his work. The path along the ridge is easy for the first section, with the extensive views into Cwm Caseg and Yr Elen causing you to suddenly realise how high you’ve climbed.
The path is reasonably flat, until you’ve got to climb up Bera Bach and then it’s flat again. The path vanishes to all intents and purposes here, and I doubt I’ve ever taken the same path twice along this ridge. The only advice is to keep right as you avoid most of the bogs. You might find a path again climbing up Yr Aryg, but more likely lose it again as you near Garnedd Uchaf and find the bogs. They’re easily walked past, but well hidden in the grass too!
Navigation is now, thankfully, much easier. Turn right towards Foel Grach, and its shelter. Last time I attempted this walk, I didn’t get any further than this as the conditions were atrocious and my companion ill-equipped for the icy conditions. Having plodded on to Llewelyn on that day would have asked for trouble. Today it was much better. Care needs to be taken in some places, as the path becomes faint where the path climbs a couple of rocky slopes and again once you’re on the flat summit. And you’re soon there too. Usually so are many others, so the summit shelter will be occupied. Never mind, I had to be in Aber by 4 and it was 1 already. So I turned back the way I came.
There’s very little that can be said of the return route. Keep on the path in mist, or follow the fence. Garnedd Uchaf needs careful compass work to get to Foel Fras in mist, but once on Foel Fras you can follow the wall and then a fence, all the way to Bwlch Y Ddeufaen if you have to. Or from Drum, you can’t miss the track that leads down to the Roman road and a set of fingerpost’s pointing the way to Aber.
It was on the descent of Y Drum that I saw further wildlife, something I’ve missed recently having done few solo walks. This bird of prey must have been a kestrel from its colouration, though I thought it to be a merlin due to it’s size.
The track leads easily, but at length down to Aber. There’s no longer a pub there, but a decent little walker friendly cafe that does bottomless pots of tea for three and six, home made cakes and food.