North Wales

North Wales

Outside of Scotland Yr Eryri/Snowdonia is the mountaineer’s area of choice. Blessed with the best mountains south of the Scottish Border it attracts the serious mountaineers. Also the spiritual home to British Climbing with the famous Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel where Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay trained for the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.

Most people probably tend to think of the North Wales Mountain country as limited to Snowdonia National Park. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is much excellent, and much quieter and more remote, mountain country to be had to the south and east in the Arannau, the Arrenigau and the Berwyns with a large number of summits and some good potential rock largely unexplored.

Apart from the Rhinogau Snowdonia does, unfortunately, eptimise Disneyfication and McDonaldisation of mountain country. The country is, in the summer especially, busy, loud, and overrun. There is the odd remote quiet corner, and if you choose your time of day carefully and have the knowledge and skill to plan routes regardless of the weather you can avoid the hordes.

Regardless of the above the variety and range of mountain country does provide, for those with a little imagination, plenty of challenges and good, solid, long days out.

There is little point in trying to suggest remote corners or good rock. There is an abundance of information on rock from a variety of sources and remoteness can be found with some small effort as long as the main tourist areas are avoided. In this respect the Rhinoggau, the Berwynnau, the Arannau and the Areniggau are all good choices and even the Nantlle area can be quiet when the rest is of the country is swarming with people in cotton clothing, sandals, and untied trainers.

Rock

The best guidebooks on rock and scrambling include:

  • Steve Ashton 2013. Scrambles in Snowdonia. Cicerone.
  • Garry Smith2014. North Wales Scrambles. Northern Edge Books.

Routes can also found on:

Yr Wyddfa/Snowdon Range

The Snowdon range is much overlooked in the desperate rush to join the hordes up Yr Wyddfa, the highest summit in Wales and England. This main Snowdon range is a historic site of heavy industry, the irony of which goes much unremarked. it is replete with old slate mines and quarry workings and most of the big tourist trails have some link to heavy industry. To get good QMDs in this exceptionally busy area you need to use your wits and plan carefully so as to get away from the marked paths and the crowds.

The Llanberis path, the Rangers Path, the Rhyd Ddu path, and the Miner’s path and Pyg Track all get extremely busy and are best avoided after 09:00 and there are far more interesting start points such as Nant Peris which will provide you with appropriate challenges including route finding.

Try to avoid Pen y Pass whenever possible and park and either walk up the mountain or use the Sherpa Bus. There is parking in Nantperis SH606582 and in the Gwynant area SH627507 .

Routes given below include the Foxes Path or Goat Track, which is a narrow track far more demanding than Crib Goch and all appropriate care should be taken. Similarly some of the descents, such down the spur off Gallt y Wenallt are steep grass slopes that can be very slippery, especially with tired legs.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL17 1:25
  • OS LR115 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon North XT 1:40
  • Harvey Snowdon South XT 1:40
  • Harvey Snowdon North Superwalker XT25 1:25

The summits of Yr Wyddfa

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GPX file of Snowdon summits

Yr Wyddfa Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Yr Wyddfa GPX files

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Yr Wyddfa Circular from Yr Aran ROUTE (may differ from PDF description)

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Yr Wyddfa Elidir Fawr circuit ROUTE not fully tested

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Snowdon Traverse not fully tested. See also Steve Ashton, Ridges of Snowdonia, Cicerone, 2002

The Glyderau

The Glyders are epic and contain one of the UK’s most popular mountains, Tryfan. Tryfan is the epicenter of UK scrambling and home to the Tryfan Dash Fell Race. The saying is that you can go up the north face 100 times and do it differently each time. The area around Glyder Fawr when approached from Llyn Idwal is similarly endowed but less busy as it takes a little more dedication. The classic route is the circular up over Tryfan, Bristly Ridge, the Glyders, Y Garn, and back. Tryfan has Cannon Rock and on top the twin pillars of Adam and Eve. The Cantilever Stone on Glyder Fach features in many photos as does Castell y Gwynt. Parking is typically at Idwal Cottage SH649603or on the many Laybys on the main road SH658602, SH665604, SH671605 . There are 13 summits of which the highest is Glyder Fawr.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL17 1:25
  • OS LR115 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon North XT 1:40
  • Harvey Snowdon North Superwalker XT25 1:25

The Summits of the Glyderau

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GPX file of Glyderau summits

Glyderau Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Glyderau GPX files

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Glyderau GPX Tryfan Circuit 2 x Grade 1 Scrambles ROUTE

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Glyderau GPX Bwlch Ddeugwm circuit ROUTE

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Elidir Fawr ridge and Foel Goch Descent TRACK

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Glyderau GPX Glyders Traverse See also Steve Ashton, Ridges of Snowdonia, Cicerone, 2002

The Carneddau

The Carneddau range are the northernmost range in Yr Eryri/Snowdonia . They are typically approached either from either Idwal Cottage SH647604 in the south or the Coedydd Aber car parks here SH663718 and here SH675716. There is a lot to explore in the Carneddau and they have the greatest number of highest summits in Snowdonia along with some good scrambling. There are 24 summits in the range, the highest of which is Carnedd Llewelyn.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL17 1:25
  • OS LR115 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon North XT 1:40
  • Harvey Snowdon North Superwalker XT25 1:25

The Carneddau Summits

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GPX file of Carneddau summits

Carneddau Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Llyn Cowlyd Circular

Carneddau GPX files

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Carneddau GPX Llyn Cowlyd Circuit part Track part ROUTE

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Carneddau GPX Carneddau South Circular

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Carneddau GPX Carneddau North Cicular ROUTE See also Steve Ashton, Ridges of Snowdonia, Cicerone, 2002

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Carneddau GPX Carneddau Western Circular ROUTE See also Steve Ashton, Ridges of Snowdonia, Cicerone, 2002

The Moelwenion

Moel Siabod lies just to the west of the Snowdon range in the Capel Curig area. Truly speaking it is part of The Moelwyns Range but has a singular status all of its own. Moel Siabod itself is a good introductory mountain with some scrambling routes on the south face on Daear Ddu above Llyn y Foel. The Moel Siabod Cafe is close by as is Bettws y Coed and Plas y Brenin (good meals). There is parking at Moel Siabod Cafe and at Capel Curig behind the shops SH720581.

Much overlooked is the area to the north of the Moel Siabod Cafe up around Craig Wen and Creigiau Gleisiau (The Llyn Cowlyd Circular above under the Carneddau for convenience). There are 17 summits in The Moelwyns the highest of which is Moel Siabod.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL17 1:25
  • OS LR115 1:50
  • OS LR124 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon North XT 1:40
  • Harvey Snowdon North Superwalker XT25 1:25

The Summits of the Moelwenion

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GPX file of Moelwynion summits

Moelwennion Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Moelwenion GPX files

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Moelwyn Mawr and Cnicht from Croesor TRACK

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Moelwyn Mawr and Cnicht from Croesor ROUTE

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Moelwyn Mawr, Allt Fawr and Cnicht from Croesor ROUTE

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Jason’s Yr Arddu Route

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Moelwynion GPX Northern Circuit ROUTE See also Steve Ashton, Ridges of Snowdonia, Cicerone, 2002

Moel Hebog and Nantlle Ridge

The Moel Hebog range lies to the north west of Yr Eryri/Snowdonia and is less popular than the north. The range is split by the Cwm Pennant valley with the Nantlle Ridge on the west side and the Moel Hebog summits on the east. The range is easily reached from Rhyd ddu, Beddgelert, and Nantlle. The Nantlle ridge contains Mynydd Graig Goch, of Huw Grant fame, which was reclassified as a hill and then re-reclassified as a mountain. There is parking at Rhyd ddu SH571525, in Beddgelert Forest SH573502, Beddgelert SH587481, and Cwm Pennant SH540492. There are 11 summits the tallest of which is Moel Hebog.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL17 1:25
  • OS LR115 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon North XT 1:40
  • Harvey Snowdon North Superwalker XT25 1:25

Moel Hebog Summits

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GPX file of Moel Hebog summits

Moel Hebog Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Moel Hebog and Nantlle GPX files

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GPX Moel Hebog from Cwm Pennant TRACK

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GPX Moel Hebog from Cwm Pennant ROUTE

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GPX Cwm Silyn from Llyn Cwm Dulyn TRACK

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GPX Cwm Silyn from Llyn Cwm Dulyn ROUTE

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GPX of the two gullies up and over Cwm Silyn (Stone staircase)

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GPX Nantlle Ridge Traverse Partial Track partial Route

The Rhinoggau

The Rhinoggau, on the south western side of Yr Eryri/Snowdonia north of Cadair Idris, have the reputation of being the most rugged ground south of Scotland, and it is well deserved. What they lack in height they more than make up for in rugged isolation. On a good day out in the Rhinogs, even in the height of the season, you will have the mountains pretty much to yourself if you get off the main trails.

They can be approached from either the west side or the east. When approaching from the west most people tend to use the car park at Llyn Cwm Bychan SH645314 and go up the Roman Steps. It is quieter if you go from the car parks at Coed Crafnant SH621298.

When approaching from the east the car park at Graigddu Isaf SH684301 is the most popular. However, if you want to do the Moel Ysgyfarnogod route below you can park at Cae Adda SH689354 by agreement with the campsite. There is an honesty box if the owners are not there. There are nine summits in The Rhinogs the highest of which is Rhinog Fawr.

Rock

There is uncharted rock in this area and a lot of interesting gullies. Some are a bit chossy but still usable and some are decent rock.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL18 1:25
  • OS LR124 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon South XT 1:40
  • Harvey Rhinogydd Superwalker XT25 1:25

The Summits of the Rhinoggau

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GPX file of Rhinoggau summits

Rhinoggau Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Gpx Routes for the Rhinoggau

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GPX Rhinoggau Moel Ysgyfarnogod circuit

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GPX Rhinoggau Eastern Circuit

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GPX Rhinog Fawr West Route

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GPX Rhinog Traverse ROUTE

Cadair Idris

The Cadair Idris range sits at the south western border of Snowdonia National Park. The town of Dolgellau is just at the foot and Abermaw is on the other side of the Afon Mawddach. Cadair Idris means ‘The Chair of Idris’, one of the great Welsh Warrior Poets, and the mountain is rich in folklore and legend. Be warned, it is the most popular mountain in Snowdonia after Snowdon. The Cadair Idris range has 16 summits, the highest of which is penygadair. There is decent parking at the foot of the Pony Path SH697152.

The Pony Path is a long and arduous descent without much to keep you interested except for the plaque near the end/start remembering William Ramsbotham. When you’ve finished it’s worth stopping for a pint in the Gwernan Lake Hotel.

Be warned, Cadiar Idris is as noisy and Disneyfied as Snowdon and if it had a bizarre and desperately poor quality cafe at the top it would as packed with dismal crowds as is Snowdon. There is a stone bothy which serves more or less the same purpose and it is a prerequisite to go and sit inside and eat your sandwiches.

Rock

Yes. Some serious scrambling and plenty of generic rock around. Good little Grade 1 up from XXX c. and see also the line on the Harvey at XXX. Plenty of scope to look around for other options as well.

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL23 1:25
  • OS LR124 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon South XT 1:40
  • Harvey Cadair Idris Superwalker XT25 1:25

Cadair Idris Summits

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GPX file of Cadair Idris summits

Cadair Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

GPX Routes for Cadair Idris

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GPX South Cadair Idris Circuit with Steep Descent

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GPX Cadair Idris Foxes and Pony Paths challenging descents

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GPX Cadair Idris Fuller Alternative Circuit

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GPX Cadair Idris Full Minnffordd Circuit

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GPX Cadair Idris Eastern Summits Circuit ROUTE

The Arannau

The Arans are located in the south east corner of Yr Eryri/Snowdonia along from Cadair Idris. were the home to the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy/The Red Bandits of Mawddwy. They are surrounded by Robin Hood type legends. One much loved fable is that they used to come down the chimneys to rob houses, which contradicts the Robin Hood ethos. This whole area is much under-explored and there is plenty of scope of long days out. There is a lot of gentle rolling terrain with soft views.

Aran Fawddwy is the only peak in Wales outside North Snowdonia above 900. It is higher than anywhere in Great Britain outside Northern Snowdonia, the Scottish Highlands (and islands) and the Lake District.

Dinas Mawddwy makes a good base but if you want to park centrally among the mountains there is a car park at SH852187. There are 16 summits in this range the highest of which is Aran Fawddwy

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL18 1:25
  • OS Explorer OL23
  • OS LR124 1:50
  • OS LR 125 1:50
  • Harvey Snowdon South XT 1:40
  • Harvey Aran Superwalker XT25 1:25

The Summits of the Arannau

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GPX file of Arannau summits

The Arannau Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

GPX Routes for the Arannau

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GPX Arannau East Circuit ROUTE

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GPX Arannau West Circuit ROUTE NOTE Forest may be cut and this makes the c. 500m leg up from the path to the 650m ring contour on Bwlch y Figin challenging

The Berwynnau

Maps include:

  • OS Explorer OL239 1:25
  • OS Explorer OL255 1:25
  • OS LR125 1:50

Summits of the Berwynnau

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Berwynnau Route Descriptions in PDF Format

The Eastern Berwynnau PDF

GPX Files of Berwynnau Routes

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GPX Track of Cadaer Berwyn Circuit

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GPX Berwynnau West Circuit ROUTE

The Areniggau

Work in Progress

Summits of the Areniggau

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