Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant Circular Walk
|17.1 km||792 m||6 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Road to Arenig from the A4212 Trawsfynydd to Bala road
Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant Circular Walk Route Map and GPX Download
Summits and Places on this Route
Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant Circular Walk Details
Arenig Fawr stands, with Moel Llyfnant, alone in the middle of the Snowdonia National Park. There are no sweeping ridges, only a lofty summit surrounded by moorland and distant views to the rest of Snowdonia. Arenig Fawr’s nearest neighbour is Arenig Fach across the road, along with Carnedd y Filiast and the Rhobell Fawr and Dduallt pair further south. This is the standard walk up Arenig Fawr, with paths being scarce enough without going looking for more trouble.
On a clear day this has to be the best viewpoint of the entire park. You feel like you’re in the centre of the park, which for all intents and purposes, you are.
Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant Circular Walk Route Description
1 The walk up Arenig Fawr starts on the minor road near the hamlet of Arenig – at SH845 395 at a layby overlooking Llyn Celyn. If there is no room, then there’s plenty at the old quarry (SH829 391) and limited parking at the junction with the A4212 at SH816 393). There’s a good track directly opposite that starts off steeply but very soon levels out.
2 Soon, the cliffs of Simdde Ddu appear before you arrive at Llyn Arenig Fawr at around the 2km point. There’s a bothy here – that’s rather tiny, but welcome shelter on a winter walk. A tent will definitely need to accompany you if you plan on spending the night here.
3 Cross the stile to the right of Arenig Bothy and cross the river by the ‘footbridge’ that’s actually a ladder. You can step over a few rocks lower down in drier weather. The path is now reasonably easy to follow as it initially pulls up a grassy shoulder before steepening for the final pull up the slope known as Y Castell. There are a couple of rocky steps to negotiate, which are all avoidable to one side or the other.
4 The path finally reaches the fence that’s been visible since you started the steep section, and soon levels off before contouring its way along the flanks of Arenig Fawr rather than striking straight for the summit ridge (which is also an option). If nothing else, it’s a varied route which occasionally vanishes across boggy sections before taking a final airy pull to the summit along rock and scree.
5 There’s a decent shelter on top of Arenig Fawr, and a memorial to an American Flying Fortress that crashed here in 1943 and the 8 that died. This links to a photo of the airmen. If you’re lucky, then the views across all of Snowdonia are superb from Arenig Fawr, if a little distant, due to your central location. If not, then get the compass out as you may find it useful for the next few legs.
6 The initial section from Arenig Fawr towards the southern summit isn’t apparent. However, heading roughly south should bring you onto a faint path and there’s also a fence that can be followed for most of the next section if needed. Once over the southern summit, there’s a largely pathless descent to the col at SH826 361 where you can choose to follow the fence over the remaining high ground or veer right along a very faint path that does eventually bring you down to the boggy col below Moel Llyfnant. You will need to head roughly SE, contouring and losing height only slowly and avoiding the rather steep ground that a direct descent would entail and aim towards the broken wall shown on the map at SH820 355 which you can follow to the col. You’re aiming towards the track end at SH 819 355, which is a large patch of bright green grass that’s easily visible on descent.
7 It’s important to find this track head, as it’s where the easiest path across to Moel Llyfnant lies in a particularly wide, boggy col. If all else fails, you can follow the fence that takes you down to the col a few 100m away from the track, and then work your way back. Head first along the direction the track would travel if it continued over the col, before veering right and follow a faint, straight track across. The path is boggy, but only really threatens for a short section in the middle. A bit of deft tussock jumping should see you safely across.
7b Failing that – you can also cut the walk short by following the track down towards Amnodd Wen, where you’ll need to turn left to join the main route at Amondd Bwll.
8 There’s barely a path up Moel Llyfnant but following the remains of a wall directly ahead will take you on the right track. The wall forms a side of an enclosure with the remains of a hut in the centre, but no name as you often get for abandoned farmsteads. We took a more direct route (as you can see from the route map) but following the wall to the skyline and then the ridge to the summit is surely the better way. Ours was to the left as you approach the mountain and particularly steep once we got there.
9 It’s a grassy summit, but a worthy climb. It’s not particularly far from the col to here and well worth including to round your day off. Descent is to follow the fence roughly north, but to continue in the same direction once the fence changes direction (towards Foel Boeth). There’s a faint path here, but if in doubt you need to be heading on a bearing for the track at SH806 361, or the stream above. The track is obvious, but only once you’re literally upon it as it’s hidden in a dip.
10 This track can be easily followed to the old farmhouse at Amnodd Bwll that’s worth a peep in the window. It’s unfortunate that such buildings have fallen into disuse. It would probably make a much better bothy than the Arenig Fawr bothy.
At Amnodd Bwll, you can take one of two routes. The first is down to the valley and along the old railway, it can be wet in places. The second is via Amnodd Wen, which has a good track descending but with one lengthy section that’s rather boggy. We’ll outline both
Option 1 – as outlined on the Map above – return via the disused Railway
11a Continue downhill along the forestry track – a quick and easy descent. You’ll need to keep an eye out for the junction with the new path on the former railway and turn right here.
12 a Continue along the railway, with some of the cuttings being rather wet, but an overall decent path. It joins section 12b below just before the country lane back to the start.
Option 2 via Amnodd Wen
11b Take the forestry track right towards Amnodd Wen, another abandoned farmstead. The latter is in a ruinous state compared to Amnodd Bwll, which looks in reasonably good repair.
12b Just past Amnodd Wen, the path splits. Take the right-hand option track, which soon becomes a very boggy track, alongside the wall. You can try and walk up to the right above the sunken track along wet ground or try and climb to the wall on your left as soon as practicable as there is a narrow, but dry path alongside this. Once you reach the stile at end you can relax as after one wet section beyond the stile, the path is now invariably good and leads you down to the minor road you were walking on in the morning. Make sure you don’t venture onto the old railway line that follows the track along its left and you’ll have no problems.
13 Finally, follow the minor road for 2.5km to return to the start, passing through the tiny hamlet of Arenig on the way. This used to be a station on the Trawsfynydd – Bala railway and was closed when Capel Celyn* was flooded but would not have lasted the Beecham closures. The station itself would have been at the abandoned quarry. If you’ve travelled from the Trawsfynydd side, then you’ll no doubt have seen the still impressive viaduct.
*This is an area well known to most Welsh people, or at the very least those that speak the language. If you’ve seen graffiti encouraging you to “Cofia Tryweryn” – Remember Tryweryn, this is why. In the early 1960s, the Liverpool Corporation flooded a nearby valley and thus destroyed a whole community. Most welsh MPs signed a petition against this, but it still went through, and had a profound influence on the politics of the region from that point onwards. It is rather ironic that North Wales has always had such a strong link with Liverpool, with most Northwalians relating more to the current city of culture, than their own capital. A quick glance at a Liverpool street map will quickly show the connection, with names like Gwladys Road and Rhiwlas Street.