Walk up Rhinog Fawr from Graigddu-isaf
Route Summary: Short but tough walk to the summit of Rhinog Fawr.
Short but tough walk to the summit of Rhinog Fawr.
|9.82 km||582 m||5 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Graigddu-isaf Car Park - SH 683 301
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Walk up Rhinog Fawr from Graigddu-isaf Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Walk up Rhinog Fawr from Graigddu-isaf Details
Rhinog Fawr has always been one of those mountains for us. It’s never willing to reveal it’s secrets, choosing to remain shrouded in cloud and it’s paths and routes as obscure as possible. Choosing a fine day makes the most of this tricky mountain, which is sort of like a tumbledown heather-clad Tryfan in it’s own way. While not so precipitous, you cannot just expect to choose a route off this mountain and expect to reach the bottom unscathed. Even those marked routes up and down Rhinog Fawr are notoriously well hidden, or require considerable stomping over rough ground to reach a good footpath that seemingly starts from nowhere. Here’s the approach from the woodland near Graigddu-isaf that can be found by following a minor road up over the Crawcwellt to a small but sufficient car park at Graigddu-isaf.
The walk up Rhinog Fawr from the east approaches via Llyn Du and takes a rather direct route up the north face that does have it’s loose and slippery section but at least the navigation is reasonably straightforward. The descent chosen is more tricky in sections, providing a good taste of what the Rhinogydd can throw at you!
Rhinog Fawr from Graigddu-isaf Full Route Description
1 From the car park at Graigddu-isaf, take the signposted track right towards Bwlch y Tyddiad, Pistyll Gwyn and Bwlch Drws Ardudwy. It passes by a farm before heading off into the woods (signposted) and following a good path through the woodland. Keep an eye out for the waterfall at Pistyll Gwyn – a hidden gem that owes that to it’s relative inaccessibility (The Rhinogydd Mountains are not tourist country!) The route crosses a wide forestry track just after Pistyll Gwyn, with our route continuing ahead (signposted Bwlch y Tyddiad)
2 The good path continues for a while through the felled plantation, with a few footbridges to cross and stays this way until you reach the former edge of the forest and an interpretation board for the Rhinog National Nature Reserve. From here, the path becomes a bit rougher, but the wettest initial section now has stones in the ground that makes crossing it simple enough. Follow this path along the side of the valley, heading towards the col of Bwlch y Tyddiad for another 500m or so.
3 After 500m, you’ll see a wet path that sloshes it’s way left. You can continue towards the Bwlch and take the higher path (we returned that way) but that does have some really wet sections on it. The path ascends directly up to start with before it relents and there’s a decent path that’s reasonably straightforward to follow all the way to Llyn Du.
4 From Llyn Du, cross the small stream (a rare source of running water as it soon vanishes underground and isn’t marked on the map) and follow the path that climbs to the wide slabs at the eastern end of the lake. These provide some nice grippy walking, despite their angle which is not apparent in the photos. You’re heading for the obvious boulder fall feature ahead where a narrow path can be found to the right. The path isn’t always apparent and you’ll probably need to do some problem solving – usually solved by having to climb over whatever boulder is ahead of you!
5 The first section over, you’ll find yourself on a flatter area where you can take a breather. You’ll also join a wide path here that ascends from Cwm Bychan. Follow this, but keeping an eye on the ascent up the scree to your left that can be joined by an initially faint path. It’s loose and in places you’re not sure if you’re on the right path! But head towards a difficult looking gully towards the top of the crags and head directly into it. A quick scramble (more a loose clamber) and you’ll finally top out on Rhinog Fawr’s summit plateau. The summit is directly ahead, with the trig becoming visible in a couple of minutes. The path is faint, so in mist you will need to take a bearing. Thankfully, this route is along the path marked on the map, one of few in these mountains that is.
The view from the summit of Rhinog Fawr is extensive, with views down the Llyn Peninsula, Criccieth, Pormeirion and down the Meirionnnyd coast. Closer still is Rhinog Fach, with Llyn Hywel between it and Y Llethr appearing as a huge chasm between the summits.
6 Heading down from Rhinog Fawr is an interesting affair. You could head down to Bwlch Drws Ardudwy – which is basically all the description some online sources provide for this tricky section (that’s like writing an article on Snowdon and just writing Walk upwards.) This is hard to find (though the initial section suggests a good path, though typically it vanishes into nothing) and the route we tend to use has a couple of tricky downscrambles and the boulder field to cross at the bottom is no fun. We chose not to descend the same way, as it was slippery in places (being north facing, it will always be wet) but instead heading South West along a good path towards a wall that crosses the western shoulder of the mountain.
7 The path eventually heads towards a cairn next to the wall, you can head towards the wall which has a faint path that can be followed as far as Llyn Du. It does head away from the wall in places, which makes the going easier, just make sure you don’t find a path that re-ascends Rhinog Fawr.
8 At Llyn Du, follow the path towards the boulders that line the northern shore. Keep as close to the water as possible, with the best line right on the waterfront for most of the route. Towards the final section, you do need to climb up ever so slightly to the boulders to your left but not too high. It looks a pain from a distance, but this is one of the easierst section on the whole walk!
9 From the far end of Llyn Du, follow the same path down that you set off from earlier on. We avoided descending the initial steep section mentioned in 3 above, choosing to contour around to catch the path higher up. The going on this section isn’t great, and you’re best off descending the same route as you also avoid a rather wet section of path that you need to follow to rejoin the initial one.