Rhinog Fawr via Llyn Du

 

Difficulty : ModerateDuration : 5 HrsDistance : 8.5 Km

 
This is a walk for those who like to get away from the crowds and like a bit of rough. This walk has everything you'd expect from a walk through a rough terrain like the Rhinogs, which is by no means pathless but finding the paths can be a bit of a nightmare in the wrong weather. The walk starts at a little known parking area hidden off the main road, the initial path takes you on an easy but magical journey following a stream through an enchanting forest. After the forest the path opens onto the Rhinog National Nature Reserve and from there you follow rough rocky paths to the secluded and awesome Llyn Du. Rhinog Fawr is then ascended from the shores of Llyn Du with an exciting steep climb to the top of the mountain with fabulous panoramic views over one of Snowdonia's quietest yet most impressive areas. This walk really is fantastic in summer when the paths are easier to find and the whole Rhinog area can be seen from the summit.


Full route description for this walk

 

Getting to the start of this walk isn't easy. The road to the start is off the main A470 road between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Dolgellau. On the A470 there is a small village called Trawsfynydd, known and recognisable these days by its grotesque nuclear power station. Two miles south of Trawsfynydd there is a smaller village called Bronaber. The road leading to the start of the walk is about a half a mile south of Bronaber, it isn't signposted to anything and looks like the entrance to a farm. You will on a good day be able to see the road zig zagging away from the road across the moors towards the Rhinogs. The road has a closed gateway just a few metres down the road where a small stream passes underneath. The road continues for a good mile crossing the lovely Afon Eden where sometimes Grey Herons can be seen fishing in the slow waters, the road will eventually reach another closed gateway where you are most likely to see other cars parked, this is the parking area, try not to park your car in an obstructive place.

Pied Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

Rhinog Fawr

Rhinog Fawr

From the parking area in the old forest you need to take not the track that goes right towards the Graigddu-isaf farm but instead the track that heads straight away from the parking area in the same direction as the road you came into it would have continued. After just a few hundred metres the track will bend off to the left but you should take the footpath signposted on the right through the old forest towards the Graigddu-isaf farm. The path will eventually reach the farm where you need to turn left on the farm track through the closed gateway and over the Nant Llyn-du. On your left now you should see a few old ruins of old farms and workings. After passing the farmers field on the right and a few hundred metres you will see some obvious directional signs directing the way to Pistyll Gwyn and The Roman Steps or Bwlch Tyddiad. Turn right onto this path.

Forest Footpath

Forest Footpath

Pistyll Gwyn

Pistyll Gwyn

You will now be walking along a pleasant footpath with a variety of ferns, bracken and heather mixed with flowers and blackberry bushes. The Nant Llyn-du stream will come alongside the path and the path now follows the path by the edge of the newer dense forest to the left. The forests here are teaming with bird life, as you walk through the forest path you will have a constant bird song of Stone Chats, Tits, Blackbirds, Robins, Sparrows and many other species. The area is also home to many rare species like Buzzards, Red Kites and even Hen Harriers. After almost a kilometre the path will reach the small yet picturesque waterfall known as Pistyll Gwyn where the Nant Llyn-du falls over a large rock face. Leave the Pistyll Gwyn on the same footpath heading further into the forest and still edging the side of the Nant Llyn-du stream until you reach a crossroads at a forest track.

At this point just keep going on the footpath by crossing the track to the other side, cross the small wooden footbridge and the forest now comes in closer to the path and a few smaller streams start to come into the main Nant Llyn-du stream as it snakes off into the forest. The path will come to another wooden footbridge where the streams swerves under the path with a small pond in the stream on the right where brown trout can be seen darting from rock to rock in the still waters. Eventually the footpath will come to a gate at the opening at the end of the forest. Here the true terrain of the Rhinogs starts to become visible. Take a look at the information board at the gate to see a map with information on the Rhinog National Nature Reserve.

Forest Footpath

Forest Footpath

Brown Trout in Nant Llyn-du

Brown Trout in Nant Llyn-du

From the information board follow the obvious path forward as it starts heading up hill towards the obvious col known as the Bwlch Tyddiad or pass of The Roman Steps. This path is clear and heads up hill through heather and over a few soggy areas. Once the path starts to flatten out and the imposing hills left and right become apparent stop and you should to your left see a stone wall dissecting the area to the left. Head left or South here and go down and over the wall, following a faint path through the boggy grass. This path continues on the other side of the wall and heads straight on into a clear but rocky path that heads very steep uphill towards Llyn Du, it takes its time getting to Llyn Du and edges round a small rocky hill on the right all the time. You will pass over a small wall that seems very out of place in such a high area and then will come to a boulder spill before eventually hitting the shores of Llyn Du. Llyn Du is a truly amazing place, I could sit here for hours and listen to the water lapping on the shore while staring up at the amphitheater of rock that is Rhinog Fawr. Look out in early summer for the Black Newts of which there can be hundreds in this somewhat different location for such an animal.

Approaching Llyn Du

Approaching Llyn Du

Black Newt in Llyn Du

Black Newt in Llyn Du

From Llyn Du a path that becomes less and less obvious heads round the lakes left hand side or south side. Take this path and follow it over boulders until you are round the south side of Llyn Du. The path now heads as if its going to the other end of the lake but before it does a path goes up and off in the opposite direction sort of going back on itself, take this path and it will head uphill on a step ascent through what seems an impossible route through the crags but is actually quite easy. Once you top out again on a flat area you will start to see the views to the west open up for the first time. You will now see a few paths head up hill to your left, all of these paths will take you up a steep but surprisingly short ascent to the summit. Choose a path at random to be honest as they all reach the summit but none of the several paths are the official path. Take care when scrambling up the hill as it can be very rocky and loose terrain.

Llyn Du

Llyn Du

Rhinog Fach & Y Llethr

Rhinog Fach & Y Llethr

Once on the top of Rhinog Fawr you will be greeted by a nice stone trig point pillar cairn and some of the best views in Wales. One of the best things about this summit is that you rarely have to share it as the Rhinogs really are that much quieter than the rest of Snowdonia. To the South you will see the smaller twin of Rhinog Fach and the tallest of the Rhinog range Y Llethr, this view towards these two unique mountains is incredible and the small mountain lakes of Llyn Cwmhosan and Llyn Hywel just add to the picture. The views from Rhinog Fawr to the west are over the waters of Cardigan Bay and the Estuaries of the Afon Drywyd and Afon Mawddach. From the summit take the obvious path heading North West from the trig point pillar cairn heading back down towards Llyn Du. Once you have ascended the rocky path and are heading towards Llyn Du start heading left along the obvious paths until you eventually reach a big stone wall. Turn right or head north along the side of the stone wall until you see that you are behind the far end of Llyn Du, at this point follow the path down to Llyn Du and skirt along the boulders round the left hand or north side of the lake. You will now be where you wee when you first saw the lake. Follow the path the way you came now back down to the forest and head back to the parking area retracing your steps all the way.

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Photos taken on this walk

 

These photo's are taken from a trek with Nicky on June 9th 2007.

 

These photo's are taken from a wild camping trip with Nicky on April 9th 2007.




Videos taken on this walk

 

This video is compiled from a trek with Nicky on June 9th 2007.

 

This video is compiled from a wild camping trip with Nicky on April 9th 2007.




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