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Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau


Postby poppiesrara » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:37 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Foel Cedig, Foel Goch (Hirnantau), Foel y Geifr, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw

Date walked: 13/03/2011

Time taken: 4

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 840m

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Continuing a winter run of not too high and not too popular peaks, an assault on traditionally the most notoriously grim set of Welsh 'mountains'...

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Well, maybe the key is to pick a beautifully clear day, beacause this was actually a pretty enjoyable round. Granted, there isn't anything too challenging about it - most of the 'peaks' are barely even hills to the eye - and the two or three miles back through the forest wouldn't make for the most exciting hour you'll ever spend, but it's pleasant, easy walking almost throughout and - today at least - there were some stunning views.

The hardest part of the walk by far is the first climb up Foel Goch. This is fiercely steep and relentless until the gradient eases near to the (very boggy) ridge. Somehow it's much harder to climb steeply on this sort of terrain (an eroded muddy path between the heather) than to scramble over rocks or boulders, perhaps because there's rarely a moment where the ground feels steady or flat enough for a breather. Once you reach the ridge though, there's nothing difficult left to do all day. The key is to cut up towards the peak before the end of the fence, just before a deep little swale heading off down to the north - from the top of this, you can follow a clear enough path all the way across the three tops to the west of the pass. A little bit of tussock-hopping but nothing serious, and some lovely views, especially to the Aran ridge.
5. Snowdonia from Foel Goch slopes.jpg
Snowdonia from Foel Goch slopes

7. Arenigs from Foel Goch slopes.jpg
Arenigs from Foel Goch slopes

8. Arans from Foel Goch slopes.jpg
Arans from Foel Goch slopes

10. View west in close-up.jpg
View west in close-up

14. Trum y Gwragedd from Foel Goch.jpg
Trum y Gwragedd from Foel Goch

17. Arans from Trum y Gwragedd.jpg
Arans from Trum y Gwragedd

19. Foel y Geifr summit.jpg
Foel y Geifr summit


From Foel y Geifr, there seem to be plenty of tempting little paths heading off downhill, but none of them really go the right way... Taking a direct line down through the heather to the summit of the pass is actually pretty easy though, and from there, you're on a clear, firm road for most of the rest of the way. I'd guess that in poor visibility this might be fearfully dull, but there's generally plenty to see otherwise as you tramp along taking little detours off to visit the peaks.
25. The forest road for the next 7 miles....jpg
The forest road for the next 7 miles...

24. Arenigs between Trum y Gwragedd and Foel Goch.jpg
Arenigs between Trum y Gwragedd and Foel Goch

29. Arans in close-up from Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw.jpg
Arans in close-up from Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw

34. Penllyn Forest with high Berwyns behind.jpg
Penllyn Forest with high Berwyns behind

38. Arenig Fawr in close-up with Snowdonia behind.jpg
Arenig Fawr in close-up with Snowdonia behind

41. Close-up of Cadairs Bronwen & Berwyn with Moel Sych.jpg
Close-up of Cadairs Bronwen & Berwyn with Moel Sych

45. Arans from Cyrniau Nod; previous 5 hills visible in foreground.jpg
Arans from Cyrniau Nod; previous 5 hills visible in foreground

Very little there by way of description or image of the four peaks visited, but then there really is virtually nothing - good or otherwise - to say about them; they are just little 'pimples' barely rising above their surroundings. There is nothing difficult though, even the longest detour - to Cyrniau Nod - is along a clear path through the peat-hags (leave the road at two closely adjacent cairns). For the record, these shots are about the best that can be done to characterise them - one of each...
36. Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw from Stac Rhos.jpg
Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw from Stac Rhos

32. Stac Rhos.jpg
Stac Rhos

42. Cyrniau Nod.jpg
Cyrniau Nod

46. Y Groes Fagl.jpg
Y Groes Fagl

Enough said?

After that, it's a quick and easy downhill through the forest back to the start, taking care not to miss the turning past the cottage that takes you straight back to the start. Not sure how permanent it is, but today there was a pink ribbon hanging from a tree at just the point you need to cut off the road down to a pretty little bridge over the stream. A couple of handsome views from the base of the valley to end an energetic and enjoyable day in the hills:
50. Foel Goch again.jpg
Foel Goch again

51. Cwm Hirnant.jpg
Cwm Hirnant
Last edited by poppiesrara on Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby MIKE LEVER » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:51 pm

Looks like you had a nice day.great pics, will have to explore the more remote parts of wales my self.
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby Red Peak » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:00 pm

Wow, spooky! I did these 4 today as well! Were you the guy I saw near the summit of Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw? ... :D
I did them in the reverse order to you, so I came down the very steep slopes of Foel Goch so I don't envy you going up that way!

The views today were stunning though, weren't they? Superb, distant views in all directions. A brilliant day to be out in the hills.

P.S. My camera-phone is currently not working so I couldn't take any photos today. No matter, I can just look at yours ... :D
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby malky_c » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:11 pm

I'm enjoying your reports - although I've walked a lot in Snowdonia (having grown up on Anglesey), you seem to have a knack of picking the areas that I haven't been to much for writing up. Never done these hills, although I used to cycle quite a bit in this area over the high passes. Looks like you get really good views to the Arans as well 8) .

Interesting that Red Peak was also up there at the same time - I'd always thought of these less exciting Mid-Wales hills to be very quiet, and yet here's two of you on a predominantly Scottish based site having done them. Is the concept of climbing all of the Hewitts getting more popular these days?
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby Red Peak » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:24 pm

malky_c wrote:Is the concept of climbing all of the Hewitts getting more popular these days?

I only really started doing the Hewitts as a result of joining walkhighlands ... :D As I live in Lancashire, for day-walks I tended to do old favourites in the Lakes and the Dales, but on joining walkhighlands and discovering I'd already done 119 Hewitts, I thought I'd give the rest of them a go. And in so doing, I'm discovering some hill-ranges in Wales I never even knew existed!

Not looking forward to the North Pennines ones though. There's only so much peat-bog hopping you can do before it becomes tiresome ... :? :D
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby poppiesrara » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:35 pm

Thanks, all.

Yes, Red Peak - had to be really, since (as far as I could see) I don't think there was anyone else but us there all day! And how you managed that Foel Goch 'path' in descent, I'm not sure...

Maybe that answers your question, Malky...Two on this site... but maybe only two people altogether - even on a virtually perfect Sunday. Not sure how many Hewitt-'baggers' there are about (I'm just having a bash at all the Welsh ones for now, partly because of locality, partly because some of the Pennine ones look not the greatest of pleasures...); I don't think it's quite such a notable target as the Munros.
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby Red Peak » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:59 pm

poppiesrara wrote:And how you managed that Foel Goch 'path' in descent, I'm not sure...

It wasn't actually as bad as it looked, but I certainly wouldn't like to attempt it in snow and ice!

I think we seem to be following in each other's footsteps on the Welsh hills - I was up on Carnedd y Filiast and Arenig Fach a few days after you (you were right about it being damp underfoot!), and you were up on Drum a few days after me (though I did it from Aber Falls, taking in Drosgl, Bera Mawr and Llwytmor).

One of the beauties of these hills is you seem to have them all to yourself. And what they may lack in grandeur, they make up for in solitude and offering amazing views over wide areas of North wales. Well, solitude apart from the occasional other member of walkhighlands ... :D
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby tango » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:18 pm

Nice photos, i done hills few years ago..Cant remember much about them without referring to my log book!!!. Its funny that Red Peak! that you should say that about WH, i did the same thing..Joined then realised i had done a load already,so why not carry on bagging.... Ive got a 21 miler lined up in the North Pennines in April.. i bet you my bottom dollar halfway round ill be cursing myself for biting that much off :D Lots of bogs too be had!!! :lol:
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby smirnie71 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:51 am

Hehe, looks like we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the fantastic weather in that part of the world on Sunday! 8) Our somewhat tighter schedule meant we had to call a halt before getting to Llechwedd Du and Foel Rhudd as the peat hags were HUGE! :roll:
Had great fun on Moel Y Cerrig Duon and the views of the Arans in particular - stunning!
Thanks for a great report and giving some more ideas :D :D :D
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby poppiesrara » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:35 pm

Thanks all; surprising how good a day this was after all the dire warnings you see about it...

You may well have lost the trail recently I think though, Red Peak - have been on a bit of bog-avoidance in the Beacons!
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby Skyehigh1973 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:47 pm

I live in this area and cannot believe I have missed this - definitely planned for some time in the next few weeks, thank you so much! :D

After a broken ankle in September (sustained falling down the stairs with all my kit whilst packing for the long-awaited walking holiday we were going on the next day.................. As you can imagine, I was very popular......) I am only just starting to get back on my boots and get some tussocks under my feet as uneven ground has been very painful until now. This looks perfect, almost tempted to pull a sickie tomorrow :wink:

Thank you again for sharing and for the inspiration :clap:
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby ChrisW » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:17 am

Nothing grim about these P, in fact these are right up my street :D Hills like these are notoriously difficult to photograph and yet you've got them looking pretty good to me....I'd be lining up for this route, even more so if they are unpopular :wink:
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby Skyehigh1973 » Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:37 pm

Inspired by your post and with a lovely day on the cards we popped up to Rhos y Gwaliau and did part of your walk today, so thank you so much for giving us the idea.

We just parked at the little bridge over the river under Foel y Ddinas then followed the forest trail uphill and past the cottage, turned right there and climbed steadily into the forestry and out the other side, climbed up to and bagged Y Groes Fagl then followed the track round and under Stac Rhos and Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw, came down from Pen y Cerrig Duon then took the road back down through the valley to the car. It was glorious but too hazy to see anything but outlines of the Arans, Arenigs and Berwyns. Still, a great day without any real effort to get there (30 mins by car to the start point!) and a feeling of having made the best of a perfect spring day.

Thanks again for the idea :clap:
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby poppiesrara » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:29 pm

Glad you enjoyed it out there, Skyehigh! - I'm not sure it would have been quite the same without the long views. Can't believe how clear everything looked that day...
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Re: Cyrniau Nod & the Hirnantau

Postby proven is » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:31 pm

Great review and pics. I did this walk yesterday in reverse, I only had a 3 hour good weather window and got a bit unstuck with a shoes and socks off stream crossing near the start.

Walkers beware the public rights of way marked on GB and Parks definitely are not on the ground and run through thick forest with no discernible paths. Forests can be difficult at the best of times and OS does not always keep them up to date as they get chopped down and replanted along different lines.

The walk along the tracks is easy and fast, this area is remote and a real gem in connecting Berwyn with Aran, some fabulous viewpoints. However horizontal hail towards the summit of Foel Goch was a challenge, as was the descent through very mature heather slopes. I think I prefer your way 'round!

Days like yesterday are valuable in themselves, making you appreciate every day in the hills!
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