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The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys


Postby poppiesrara » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:55 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Diffwys, Rhinog Fach, Rhinog Fawr, Y Llethr

Date walked: 24/07/2011

Time taken: 6.25

Distance: 19.25 km

Ascent: 1520m

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On a glorious summer day, a really rugged and testing route through some of the wildest mountains of Wales.

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


(Far less photos than usual in this one due to a horrible computer collapse – but do take my word that the views are fabulous… and that it’s much rougher going than the few green-ish views I retained suggest!).
Rhinog Fawr over Cwm Nantcol.jpg
Rhinog Fawr over Cwm Nantcol

From Cwm Nantcol, there doesn’t seem to be much of a path up to the west ridge of Rhinog Fawr, and it’s a tough climb through uneven heather & rock terrain. But with patience, it doesn’t take all that long, and then – rather contrary to expectation - there’s a path to follow for almost all the remainder of this route. The climb to the summit is an enjoyable one over huge boulders and then firm rock-strewn grass, and the peak a terrific viewpoint over Snowdonia to the north.

From all I’d read, there was nothing in Wales I’d dreaded more than the descent from Rhinog Fawr, but – while steep and painstakingly slow going – apart from a very loose scree section, it isn’t actually all that bad (there are certainly far, far worse descents about). Follow the path east from the summit to a very narrow downward gully, grit your teeth and take it on, and from its foot there’s a clear enough route down to the Bwlch. Again quite surprisingly, there’s then a really decent off-map path from the highest point of the pass steeply straight up to Rhinog Fach. Tiring and a big climb, but never too difficult and very easy to follow. The summit area is again rocky and interesting, and the views extend over most of this very craggy range. After a steep descent, the area beside Llyn Hywel and looking back up to Rhinog Fach is a stunning resting place.
Rhinog Fach over Llyn Hywel, Rhinog Fawr behind.jpg
Rhinog Fach over Llyn Hywel, Rhinog Fawr behind

The rest of the route is a little easier and less dramatic – Y Llethr in particular being flat-topped and characterless. After that though, there’s a nice undulating ridge-walk to and over Diffwys, and while the descent to Llyn Bodlyn is steep, pathless and quite marshy, the views back up over the reservoir to Diffwys’s terraced crags are worth the effort.
Crib-y-Rhiw & ridge to Diffwys from Y Llethr.jpg
Crib-y-Rhiw & ridge to Diffwys from Y Llethr

Diffwys.jpg
Diffwys

Thankfully after a pretty gruelling day, the field path back down to Cwm Nantcol is then well-kept and easily graded – a gentle end to a great mountain route.
Y Llethr from descent path.jpg
Y Llethr from descent path
Last edited by poppiesrara on Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby Hantswalker » Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:00 pm

Well done. This area is one of my least visited but from brief encounters I remember it to be the Rough Bounds of Wales with more than a sprinkling of heather to make the going tough. To do it in high summer is courageous (or foolhardy) so I respect your achievement.

Having studied your routes before, I get the feeling you get them right most of the time. If you were to do it again would you change the route or stick to it?
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby poppiesrara » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:36 pm

Thanks. I'd say that if you were doing all four peaks in a day this is probably the only obvious way unless there's a circuit from the east (can't claim credit for the choice of route, of course, it's just the 'Nuttalls' one), although it would probably be a little better the other way round - splitting up the bigger ascents more and going up rather than down the more awkward and steep parts.

Next time in the area though, a tempting shorter walk looks to be a short loop from Bwlch Drws Ardudwy, up the north side of Rhinog Fach, down to the lake and back round the western face - that'd give the very best sections of this walk in a smaller portion.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby John Pennifold » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:21 pm

Is the GPX file a recording of your actual route or the route that you planned to do?
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby poppiesrara » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:42 pm

Hi John,

Meant to be a representation of the actual route taken, but roughly drawn on the 'GPS planner' on here afterwards rather than recorded using any device. I'm a map-man and not very sure of how GPS works, I'm afraid, but particularly in an area like the Rhinogs I certainly wouldn't advise being religiously guided by my 'waypoints' (if that's why you ask).

Hope that helps.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:12 am

This looks and sounds like a great day hike P, not sure how I missed it first time around, bit of a bugger about the computer issue as more shots of this one would have been nice :D
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby stig_nest » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:35 pm

Its a cracking group of hills for sure & I agree about the descent of R fawr. The biggest issue is there's quite a bit of loose stuff and holes hiding in deep heather but its such a peaceful route and the views are indeed stunning. It was holidaying at Rowen campsite at nearby Talybont that ignited my love of hillwalking. The Rhinog group are so worthy of your time.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby John Pennifold » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:15 pm

Hi poppiesrara,
thanks for the reply. We intended doing your walk on Saturday 5th Jan 13. One of my companions, Ed, had downloaded your route as a GPX and loaded it onto his GPS device. When I reviewed your route, I realised that we could save half an hour's drive by parking to the east of Graigddu-isaf on the east of the range, and this is what we in fact did. We traversed the same four peaks as you did (north to south), finishing back at the same carpark. There was no snow but all the tops were in mist & there was a fierce wind. Ed had his GPS & I had my 1:25,000 OS map. Our other companion, Mark, was a bit slower, especially on the ascents. I estimated that the route was about the same distance as yours (about 12 miles). We started walking at 09:40 and finished at 19:40, so we had two & a half hours in the dark. There was 2 kms cross country on our route to get back across the moor marked as Cefn Cam, and this was hard work in the dark.
On the descent from Rhinog Fawr, Ed kept saying that his GPS said we were on 'the path' (i.e. your GPX track) but were in fact blindly navigating down gullies and boulder-strewn ledges. I think you might like to mention, for the sake of GPS users, that your GPX file is merely an estimate, not the actual route that you followed, otherwise there's a chance that somebody will blindly follow it over a crag.
My video and photos (inc. map) of our day can be found here:
Youtube video:

Flickr Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/john_pp/sets/72157632453387886/
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby Mendonca » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:59 pm

Hi Poppiesrara

My name's Ed and I'm the chap referred to in John's post above. I was looking forward to your route, until it was decided to park on the East of the ridge which avoid sizable chunks of your path. I'd got your route on my GPS so at least the traverse of the ridge would be as your suggested route had intended.

I do find that the traditional use of eyesight, coupled with the technology of GPS would mean the unsuspecting walker would not blunder off the craggy side of Rhinog Fawr. Yes it was steep and far less hospitable than other mountains, but at no stage did I feel I was uncontrollably shuffling towards my doom. The descent was self explanatory.

For anyone that does descend to the parking on the East of the ridge, beware that the path does run out, and does get increasingly wet. This part was decidedly more sinister than crag-shuffling down Rhinog Fawr! If you can confirm that a path exists on the West side, then a 'touching the void' style return to the car can be avoided.

Poppiesrara, you've put some belting walks on this website, I've followed many of your paths on my days out, with no issue regarding navigation. Thank you for all your reports.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby poppiesrara » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:02 pm

Cheers, Ed (or 'Mendonca' - I trust you are named after the Mariners legend?!). I'm really very glad that you didn't find yourself in too much danger. The approaches from the west side are pretty manageable - I didn't find an unbroken path ascending R Fawr, although it isn't too difficult that side (nothing like the southern descent), but going down from Diffwys and back to the start is easy-enough going. How did you find the ascent of Rhinog Fach? - I generally see people avoiding that, but I thought it was perfectly okay on this route.

John - I hope that you generally enjoyed the walk. These are tough hills (if you're going round Wales, you'll be pleased to know that there aren't too many more difficult Hewitt routes than this one), and I'm - bar the heat - pretty glad I did them in the height of summer; it took real courage to do them in the current weather (and even darkness!), good on you all. On the GPS matter, I hope that I covered in my first reply that my 'points' shouldn't be taken as gospel. Although it's sitting there at the bottom of the screen that everyone needs to be careful, I really don't want anyone to get in trouble and I'll sort out a way of making that clear in my 'walk reports' now.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby DaveB1 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:22 pm

Cracking report on some wild Welsh hills, they're on my list for this summer,I'll borrow your wonky route if you don't mind, off piste is always interesting! Dave
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby poppiesrara » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:24 pm

Thanks, Dave.

I should have watched the video (really interesting stuff that, John) before I replied earlier! It looks like your descent from R Fawr was exactly the same as mine, so my GPX may not have been too bad after all - in dry conditions it isn’t too difficult (although still slow - but I expected it to be far more terrible!). Straight up R Fach from the Bwlch might be easier than the Llyn Cwmhosan route on this evidence though.

Again, kudos all round for taking on the Rhinogs in weather like that.
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby Mendonca » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:51 pm

Hi Poppiesrara,

The name Mendonca is derived from the Mariner's legend, but via a mouse that lived on our patio in Kintail, Scotland whilst Munro bagging last May. We'd heard a radio report on Clive Mendonca so the name was fresh in my head. When we realised we had a friendly mouse under a rock out the back, it seemed natural to call him Mendonca. After returning to England and joining WH, Mendonca seemed a good name. Sorry for the world's longest explanation.

Your suggested ascent of Rhinog Fach was decided against on the day. I personally was more than happy to stick with it. I was however aware that group members were favouring the Westerly approach via Llyn Cwmhosan. Majority ruled which was fine. I'll save your brutal looking ascent for another day!

I see you're a bit of a Hewitt man. Are you aiming for all 316, or have you had your fill?
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Re: The Rhinogs, Y Llethr & Diffwys

Postby poppiesrara » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:52 pm

It's an even better name after the explanation! That ascent is steep (definitely one to try if slippery underfoot, and the summer heather helped with handholds) but pretty short and then it's an easy walk along the summit ridge, I wouldn't put anyone off it.

I'm keen on completing the Hewitts in Wales (done!), the south and the Lakes & Dales (hopefully some time this year). The Pennines and Cheviots that would then make up the 316 are a long way away and don't seem very enticing at the moment... but when I'm only about 40 from 'completing' I guess that might change!
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