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A naughty route on the Arans, and more

A naughty route on the Arans, and more


Postby malky_c » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:46 am

Hewitts included on this walk: Aran Benllyn, Erw y Ddafad-ddu, Esgeiriau Gwynion (Foel Rhudd), Foel Goch (Hirnantau), Foel Hafod-fynydd, Foel y Geifr, Llechwedd Du, Moel y Cerrig Duon, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw

Date walked: 26/02/2012

Time taken: 7.25

Distance: 26.7 km

Ascent: 1870m

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Another month, another trip to Anglesey to stay with my parents. I'm going to do this weekend's walk reports back to front, starting with a trip I did by myself on Sunday. These hills are probably equidistant from Anglesey and Shropshire, but doing this many in a day would be impossible by public transport, so I borrowed my parent's car and set off from their house at 7:45am. The weather forecast actually read much the same as the one for a miserable day back at the start of the year (when I'd climbed Rhobell Fawr and Dduallt), but it couldn't have been more different. Rather than a single long walk, I chose to do 3 short to medium ones instead. Stringing this lot together might be possible, but it would involve an awful lot of bog trekking.

Part One - Northern Arans
Hewitts: Esgeiriau Gwynion, Llechwedd Du, Foel Hafod-fynydd, Erw y Ddafad-ddu, Aran Benllyn.
Date walked: 26/02/2012
Time taken: 4 hours 10 minutes
Distance: 14.5km
Ascent: 1070m
Weather: Sunny and mild. Some low cloud.

Aran Benllyn from Cwm Cynllwyd:
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I was parked up at the foot of Cwm Croes by 9:10am, having found a parking space much easier than expected (a small area of hardstanding just before the first cattle grid). I was a little apprehensive, as this part of Snowdonia has a 'gerrofmyland' reputation, with large areas of the Arans officially out of bounds to the walker. This side of the hills in particular was known to be bad.

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


I walked along the road for a short length, before wading the stream in the valley floor and climbing a fence on the other side. This led me to a steep ascent of the hillside above the valley, but easy going on short grass. The cloud was lifting from the Aran ridge, giving me impressive views of the east facing cliffs. The hillside delivered me quickly to the 514m spot height, from where the route ahead was tussocky, but with great views.

Across Cwm Croes to Arans Fawddwy and Benllyn:
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Foel Figenau:
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The route ahead to Esgeiriau Gwynion:
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A further ascent next to a fence took me to the summit cairn of Esgeiriau Gwynion, the Marilyn of my walk. The cairn was barely in existence, being just a couple of lumps of quartzy stone on the grass. While a nondescript hill in itself, it gave me panoramic views of the Arans the whole way up - definitely a case of the best views being from the lower, adjacent summits. While this could also be climbed from Bwlch y Groes with minimum ascent, this way was much more enjoyable.

Looking back from Esgeiriau Gwynion to the upper part of the ascent:
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Arenig Fawr:
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Llechwedd Du:
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To spoil the party, the next summit of Llechwedd Du was a pile of peat hags and grass with barely any ascent to justify its status. Luckily the views stayed good, but I would avoid this hill in the future and head straight for Foel Hafod-fynydd instead. A steep descent off Llechwedd Du took me across a stream then immediately back up onto Foel Hafod-fynydd, also steep. This was much better though, with a view directly onto Creiglyn Dyfi and the summit crags of Aran Fawddwy, which are almost as impressive as those on Cadair Idris, and much more remote feeling. What made this extra special was the fact that from the normal Aran ascent routes, you only get limited views of these cliffs.

Across Foel Hafod-fynydd to Aran Fawddwy:
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Aran Benllyn from the same spot:
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Down Llaethnant to the Dyfi Valley:
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Aran Benllyn from Foel Hafod-fynydd:
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Cwm Croes:
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Creiglyn Dyfi and Aran Fawddwy:
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Erw y Ddafad-ddu:
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Cwm Croes:
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My route onto the main ridge involved the steep grassy spur of Erw y Ddafad-ddu, giving yet more views of the Aran Fawddwy cliffs, and once higher up, the cliffs of Aran Benllyn as well. I spotted another person on the ridgeline here, but they were long gone before I reached it.

From Erw y Ddafad-ddu to Cwm Croes and Foel Hafod-fynydd:
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Sadly the cloud descended once I hit the main ridge, although I wasn't too fussed as I'd already had some of my most impressive views of the Arans ever. While it was tempting to take a left and visit Aran Fawddwy, I plan to do so on another walk soon, so I left it and headed for Aran Benllyn instead. The ridge is broad but rocky, with numerous outcrops along it, although a path avoids most of these. I reached the summit of Benllyn just about bang on midday, and the cloud cleared for me again, giving great views down Bala Lake and across to Arenig Fawr.

Over-exposing myself:
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Bala Lake:
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Back up the ridge of Aran Benllyn:
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Dropping down a bit, I stopped for a quick break before pressing on. I could see a couple of walkers approaching me ahead, but somehow I managed to pass the other side of a small outcrop to them, so didn't get the chance to say hello. Dropping off the east side of the ridge, I saw that I'd overshot the spur I wanted to follow, which formed the north side of Llyn Lliwbran. I contoured back past a small quarry working, as I wanted to see this corrie. I was glad I did, as it had some of the steepest cliffs in the range, and was well hidden away. The direction of the sunlight made taking photos of it difficult.

Llyn Lliwbran and crags:
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From this spur, I dropped back into Cwm Croes, avoiding hitting the road near any farms. Large parts of this ground were extremely wet and tussocky, but it didn't take too long to rejoin the road I had started walking up. This led me nicely back to the car for 13:20.

This was a very enjoyable small round of Aran Fawddwy and adjoining summits - certainly the best walk I have done in the area. However, there was the occasional evidence of the access problems. I didn't walk directly past any 'private' signs, but I did have to climb a couple of fences, and on other gateposts in the valley, there were a couple of old, barely legible signs advising that there were no routes onto Aran Benllyn from here. However, the 'no parking' signs I had expected were absent, and the couple of farmers who passed me in their landrovers on the road didn't challenge me, so maybe they are less strict about access than they used to be. On the other hand, maybe I was just lucky. I hope it is the former, as it seems ridiculous that access to the hills could be so restricted within the Snowdonia National Park boundary.

A typical gerrofmyland sign:
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Part Two - Moel y Cerrig Duon quickie
Hewitts: Moel y Cerrig Duon
Date walked: 26/02/2012
Time taken:30 minutes
Distance: 2.7km
Ascent: 120m
Weather: Sunny and warm.

Next I drove to the summit of Bwlch y Groes, which took about 15 minutes. This is quite a climb - one I remember well from my cycle touring days, as I'd been over it on 2 or 3 occasions. The first 3 hills in my previous walk could have been climbed from here, but I had decided it wasn't a very satisfactory route for them. On the other hand, I couldn't see a better option for Moel y Cerrig Duon, so I took the easiest route available. This involved following a fence over the intervening hump of Foel y Groes, and there was a reasonable trail of footprints to follow. I left my rucksack behind, and was on the summit in under 20 minutes. Views were good, although the Aran ridge had now disappeared further into the cloud. I could see down Lake Vyrnwy, and across to Foel y Geifr and Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw, my next hills of the day. Also prominent were the Berwyns, and strangely, the border hills of Rodney's Pillar/Middletown Hill/Moel y Golfa. Although faint, these actually looked higher than the Berwyns, despite being about half of the height. A quick return gave me a view down the upper Dyfi Valley.

Moel y Cerrig Duon.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


The road up to Bwlch y Groes:
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Arans in the cloud from Foel y Groes:
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Moel y Cerrig Duon:
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Moel Llyfnant and Arenig Fawr:
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Lake Vyrnwy:
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Foel y Geifr and Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw from Moel y Cerrig Duon:
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Down the Dyfi Valley:
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Part Three - A round of Cwm Hirnant
Hewitts: Foel Goch, Foel y Geifr, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw
Date walked: 26/02/2012
Time taken:2 hours 35 minutes
Distance: 9.5km
Ascent: 580m
Weather: Sunny and warm turning to overcast and cooler.

For the last walk of the day, I drove down Cwm Eunant to Lake Vyrnwy, which was swarming with Sunday drivers. I soon lost most of these by heading up Cwm Nadroedd, past some lovely waterfalls. Driving over the head of the pass, the trig point of Foel y Geifr looked very close, and I was almost tempted to start from here. However I decided to keep going, as starting at the bottom of the valley would get the last big climb of the day done early on.

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


Foel y Ddinas from the start point:
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Walking again at 14:35, it felt more like a hot day in early May than the end of winter, and even in my T shirt and shorts, I was sweating. The initial climb onto Foel Goch was very steep, firstly across closely cropped grass, then in more heathery terrain up the side of a plantation. The views opened up, but the ground deteriorated to a typical Berwyn peaty tussock, and going was a little tedious. The summit of Foel Goch was barely noticeable, and the heathery tussocks turned the traverse over to Foel y Geifr into more of a chore than it should've been. Shame, as it would be a nice ridge otherwise.

Steep ascent:
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Cwm Hirnant and Pen y Cerrig Duon:
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Lower Cwm Hirnant from Foel Goch:
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While the sun was still belting down here, big changes had been happening further west, and the Aran ridge now sat under a huge bank of cloud. It was clear that the good weather was not going to last much longer, but I had inadvertently made a good choice by starting in the west and working my way east.

Bad weather brewing on the Arans:
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Back to Foel Goch:
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East from Foel y Geifr:
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Down from Foel y Geifr to the road I had just driven over was energy sapping but short, and I was soon onto the second part of the walk - a broad vehicle track leading to Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw and beyond. While this was unexciting walking, the good surface was lovely on the feet, and I didn't begrudge it at all. After a km, I passed a van and a group of people having a bit of a party. A handy secluded spot to drive to with great views.

The weather quickly changed, with the sky clouding over and the air feeling much colder, and I carried on past some sheep pens to the summit. Whoever builds some of these cairns must have a sense of humour - a few stones on a peat hag never really feels like a proper mountain.

Summit of Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw:
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East along the track to Cyrniau Nod:
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Access to the forest:
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Most people would be tempted to carry on to Cyrniau Nod from here, making the most of the track. As I had other plans for this in the future, I turned north into the forest, on a footpath that would take me back to the car. There was a stile and a gate, and a presumably unironic sign advising me to stick to the path once in the forest. Of course there was little sign of a path, and even the thinned area disappeared before long, leaving me crashing around. I soon found a firebreak and followed this downwards, keeping in the same direction once it stopped. I thought this followed the line of the supposed path, it didn't, and it popped me out on a forestry track some way up Nant Ystrad y Groes. This made little difference, so I followed it down, before making a break for the edge of the forest and making the final descent to the car through a steep field.

A slightly anticlimactic end to the day, but what a day! I had originally hoped to climb the other Foel Goch just north of Bala too, but I had run out of daylight by now. I wasn't overly bothered - it seems to keep dropping off the end of my agendas. So long as it doesn't end up being my final Welsh 2000er! Instead, I headed over to the bar at the Tyn y Groes hotel in Capel Curig to meet my parents for a meal.
Last edited by malky_c on Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A naughty route on the Arans, and more

Postby ChrisW » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:28 am

Another absolute cracker Malky with awesome photos throughout, they have the look of early spring or late autumn - certainly not winter. That ascent of Foel Goch is a bit of a killer so far in to a long day :shock: I'd have been on my knees :lol: Cracking report as always mate :thumbup: :-D
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Re: A naughty route on the Arans, and more

Postby clivegrif » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:59 pm

Fabulous stuff Malky - and I am now cursing my luck....

I was hoping to get out last weekend but managed to jar my right foot to the extent I'm still limping now - I saw the forecast and thought it could be good, and you have confirmed it.

You are well on track to get them this summer - and I hope to catch up with you soon for some of those out of the way ones you have left.

As ever, a great report and cracking pictures! :D
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Re: A naughty route on the Arans, and more

Postby poppiesrara » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:15 pm

Yet another terrific report, Malky, and good to see someone else on here touring the Welsh outposts... You're definitely right that the FHF angle shows the Aran ridge in its best light, a much underwalked area.

Slightly irrationally by most standards, I look back on that ascent of Foel Goch as one of the roughest things I saw in the country (in fact I can't think of many things worse, including all the scrambles, that I didn't bring on by misnavigation), and I'm rather glad therefore to see that I'm not the only one who disliked it!
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Re: A naughty route on the Arans, and more

Postby mountainstar » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:30 am

I can remember walking the Arans years ago and having the access restrictions, you could only walk to them from 3 places I recall. Those days have gone thankfully, but surprised that a sign is still up.
That looked a good round, one I have never thought of ("Rounds" not being good on the Arans...unless starting from the SE)
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Re: A naughty route on the Arans, and more

Postby malky_c » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:00 pm

Thanks everyone 8)

mountainstar wrote:I can remember walking the Arans years ago and having the access restrictions, you could only walk to them from 3 places I recall. Those days have gone thankfully, but surprised that a sign is still up.


I hadn't realised that the restricions had been lifted actually. Glad you mentioned that, as it made me go and have a look for some more info.

If anyone is unsure what is access land and what isn't, the most up to date info is here: http://ccwauto.useconnect.co.uk/rmx3/integrated/interactive-maps/index.jsp

Happily, as Mountainstar says, there is pretty good access to the Arans these days.
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