The Best Walks in the Carneddau

By Dave Roberts   

on January 24, 2021    No ratings yet.

The Best Walks in the Carneddau

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About The Best Walks in the Carneddau

The Carneddau mountains are unrivalled in their scale in Snowdonia, even compared to Snowdon itself. The terrain is also less mountainous in places, with a vast selection of routes available. The main starting points for walking the Carneddau are Aber in the north, Bethesda in the West, Ogwen to the South and Capel Curig to the South East. There’s some sort of bus service to all of those locations, with only Ogwen being poorly served with a handful of daily buses in season. To the East, you have a long walk in from the road if you’re depending on public transport, or a drive up narrow country lanes to Cwm Eigiau if you’re driving.

There’s no better way to enjoy a mountain range than with a traverse, and The Carneddau boasts two decent traverses – which can be tackled in either direction. The Carneddau Traverse takes you from Conwy over the main spine of the Carneddau and down to Capel Curig via Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach. It’s a challenging walk that may be too much for most in one day. The other is the traverse from Ogwen to Aber , or the reverse, which is a more manageable option. The short scramble from Glan Denau is a great way to start the day, and once you’re up on the Carneddau you’ve done most of the hard work. Either route will leave you with the logistical problem of returning to the start.

A circular route that avoids that problem is the High Carneddau From Ogwen. This involves an ascent up Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llewelyn via Pen yr Ole wen and descending via Cwm Llugwy. This walk starts at Glan Denau on the A5, past the Lake towards Capel Curig. You can either park here, or get the Sherpa here from Bethesda or Capel. If you use the Sherpa then you can catch the bus directly to the start of the Reservoir road, or alternatively camp at Gwern Gof Isaf and walk up from your tent. You can also descend via Craig Llugwy if you need an emergency descent. An even better day would continue the walk over Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach, and perhaps tag on Yr Elen as well!

Bethesda boasts a number of ridges that can be climbed into the Carneddau. Among the best of these is the Cwm Llafar Horseshoe up Yr Elen, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd. Like most approaches from this side, it’s typically a little wilder than the usual Ogwen and Aber ascents. You soon find yourself off the path, and either navigating over quaking mires or loose boulders. If you like a bit of off path action, this is for you. This Carnedd Dafydd and Llewelyn Circular Walk from Bethesda takes in both of the ridges to the north and south of Yr Elen, and descends by the wild Aryg ridge – which can be tough navigation in mist.  Yr Elen offers another of our best walks with a scramble up the North East Ridge. While the scrambling isn’t the best, we include this on the list mainly as it takes you into the wild Cwm Caseg.

The final walk from near Bethesda is the Carneddau from Rachub 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.

From Aber, there are two routes we’ve singled out. The walk up via Drum, Foel Fras then descends the Aryg ridge. This is a long walk, especially if you include Carnedd Llewelyn. A wilder route is that up Llwytmor from Aber via Marian Rhaeadr-fawr This is an alternative approach to Llwyd Mawr (Llwytmor) from Aber that avoids the usual route via the screes to Cwm Coch and instead takes a higher route across the scree slopes that is a little hairier in places! Those looking for a short walk in these mountains could do much worse than our short Walk Along The Far End of the Carneddau that takes in the interesting minor summits of of Foel Dduarth, Foel-ganol and Yr Orsedd.

Finally, there are the outliers. The walk up Tal Y Fan from Bwlch y Ddeufaen and Rowen is a circular walk to the northernmost Welsh mountain. It can be approached directly from Bwlch y Deufaen, but that makes the walk exceptionally short, with this longer walk from Rowen providing more interest.

Creigiau Gleision is a peak to the North of Capel Curig. You are most likely to have seen it when looking East up Ogwen towards Capel, or on the A5 entering Capel Curig. Whichever one, if you have seen it then you’d be aware of how bumpy this lowly piece of Eryri actually is. Awkward lumps and bumps that appear more hindrance than help of any sort, similar to the terrain between Beddgelert and Cnicht. So this lumpy-bumpy terrain needs to be traversed before reaching the more promising peak of Creigiau Gleision a viewpoint reputed to be one of the best in Eryri.

The Best Walks in the Carneddau – All the Routes and Articles