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Berwyns East

Berwyns East

Postby yokehead » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:46 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Cadair Berwyn, Cadair Bronwen, Foel Wen, Moel Fferna, Moel yr Henfaes, Mynydd Tarw

Date walked: 25/06/2018

Time taken: 9.2

Distance: 27.3 km

Ascent: 1152m

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Superb weather continues and I expected bogs to be dry, again, so chose a round of the Berwyn ridge and hills to the east. My planned start was from Pentre, northwest of the lovely village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, but it is a narrow lane here with no parking opportunities so I thought I'd ask if I could slot in somewhere at a farm.

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My first request gave a 'sorry no, tractors turning' so I drove down the small track next to the disused chapel and asked at the farm just over the river. The kind gentleman, who farms 200 acres here, agreed that I could park next to the barns that he rents and we had a bit of a chat. This was very good of him, so to return the favour here's a link to the barns if you're looking for a holiday - they are in a superb location! (I hope the Websters don't mind me helping a walker's friend!).

To start, I headed south down the lane to Pentre Pant and turned west up the lane there, then crossed the stream onto a track, rising above the steep drop to the stream and small woodland below. When the track ended I followed a sheep trod but this petered out amongst bracken, so I crossed the stream onto a track that isn't shown on the map. There were wet patches here, the only ones encountered all day, and there was much evidence of flash floods that had hit the area 3 weeks earlier - this stream clearly having been well above its normal range and perhaps having suffered a blockage. I had originally planned to follow the Cesail-gwm stream that heads south but this was clothed in bracken, so a better option was up the shoulder of the hill. As I came over the brow I was puzzled that I couldn't see the tips of the trees of the woodland, explained by the fact that it has been felled!

alongside the Nant Cwm-y-geifr before crossing it

on the ridge looking west toward the felled woodland

Reaching the fenceline it was a simple matter of following it west, gently uphill, around the felling debris and to the cairn of Mynydd Tawr. The first of a series of great views on a day such as this, and the whole length of the main Berwyns now visible.

Mynydd Tawr, Berwyns in the distance

So on toward the Berwyns, following the fence along a faint path. A short way along there are a couple of delightful rock outcrops which I detoured to. A mild scramble up the south face of one of them couldn't be resisted! I walked over the top of them and back to the fence for the good tramp to Foel Wen, at which there is a short stick in the ground probably marking the high point on this otherwise featureless bump. Downhill now before ascending again to Tomle, which has a few stones and now a tripod that I erected from old fence posts - the wind will soon fell that though!

south face scramble, lovely surprise

Tomle summit and temporary tripod

The Berwyn ridge is very close now, on again for the small descent to the bwlch and the old track and standing stone, where I stopped for a late second breakfast. A mountain biker appeared, pushing his bike up the last stretch from the south. We had some banter and I advised him that he was a nutter.

second breakfast stop, looking to the standing stone and ascent to Berwyn ridge

I enjoyed that long stop, then plodded up the steep slope onto the ridge. It is then a fine walk of over 1km along the very edge, and when the path headed to Cadair Berwyn cairn I stayed by the edge to bypass it and make directly for the 830m highest point. It is a good little rocky summit with view to Llyn Lluncaws below, but this was mostly covered by weed or algae growth and the poor thing didn't look too attractive. Wild swim anyone?

along the edge, Cadair Berwyn summit ahead

the summit and Llyn Lluncaws

hazy view to the Arans and Rhinogs

I'd been up Moel Sych before, in the snow with Sarah a couple of years ago, so didn't visit it today. I was trying not to retrace my exact steps, this went fine for the first km or so as I went north alongside the fence and to the cairn and beyond. But then it was a case of taking the line of least resistance so back to the path on the edge before turning left at the fence junction. Over the fence and there is, to the next corner, and for sections beyond, a well-laid walkway above the bog (although not a sign of wet today), covered with mesh to avoid skating. It is a 70m descent and re-ascent to the summit of Cadair Bronwen but it isn't far and doesn't take long. There is a large cairn capped with quartzite stones, to which I added a small standing stone. The views remained superb and a cooling northeast breeze kept the temperature under control, without this it probably would have been too much on this scorcher of a day. I found a good seat for a first lunch stop, already hungry again. I had plenty of drink with me today and topped up well once again.

boardwalk and Cadair Bronwen, with the onward ridge to the right

Bronwen summit

Only 3km to go to the next peak, and the way was clear. The path is good and I was delighted to see another rock outcrop as I neared the cairn, a south face ascent was made once again. I went to the cairn then down to the old track at Bwlch Llandrillo. There is a memorial here, I added my comment to the visitor's book but had no need of the emergency packet of crisps!

a little more scrambling

at the cairn above the bwlch and memorial, Moel yr Henfaes bump behind

visitor book, and the crisps still there, honest!

A brief climb to the north brought me to the small cairn of Moel yr Henfaes which is on a small rock outcrop, to which I added my standing stone. Great view back to Bronwen. However, on Viewranger the map showed the spot height of 621m as being further west where there is a small knoll, which I visited just in case. Of course, looking back the cairn appeared higher. I wonder which is the higher point? But perhaps I don't care really! I walked back toward the fence - even on this short stretch the going was difficult, highlighting the difference even a faint trodden route makes to progress.

Moel #1 summit looking back to Bronwen

I had a long food and drink stop again whilst pondering my next move and looking at the map. Moel Fferna was visible but looked a good distance away, 4.5km in fact. I would be going further away from the car, should I do this or take the easy option back along the track to Pentre? I didn't relish the thought of mass heather and bush-bashing, what would the terrain be like? I had to go on of course, no contest really!

I kept to the right of the fence at first as it looked easier ground, then backtracked a little to cross the fence where there was no barbed wire top, since I couldn't see a way over near the trees. Over the fence there was a faint path which became a well-trodden path after the fence junction. It remained good all the way to the Moel, which surprised me, but I see now that it is probably a well used way to get to the Fferna, from Cynwyd village to the west where there is a good track to this point. I must say I did enjoy this tramp that for me had sustained interest of wee ups and downs, surprising rocky bits, old stone fenceposts that have holes for the wire, and that unexpected path through the rough stuff. I loved the part where the path cuts the corner away from the fence to ascend the southern end of Cerrig Coediog, even though it required an ascent to 593m from this 525m low point.

the rolling moorland toward Moel #2, left

old fence stones, and there is a good path in there!

looking back to the distant Berwyns

rocky bits, ups and downs, big fenceposts

And all dry. Apologies me banging on about the dry if you had it wet hereabouts, but ha ha if you did. Only joking, I'm no stranger to clag, wet and whiteout! Back down to 563m and the track at Bwlch Cynwyd, for the final ascent to the Fferna summit cairn. This is a wider path, wider still and eroded further up. This is obviously the main way up from the village, perhaps doing a circuit back along my earlier route. Over the fence at the top, there is an awful vehicle track and a wide peat-exposed track (must be a quagmire in wet weather) which leads to the summit cairn, this received another standing stone. Wonderful views to the north now, I was tempted to carry on down to the A5 but that would have made the return to the car a tad difficult!

Moel #2 summit


I had with me the OS Explorer map, strangely this does not show a 630m contour so I went to the 628m spot height shown on this map, in case it was the highest point and not the cairn. The Landranger map does show the contour, and no spot height, so a wasted 5 minutes. Silly old OS! I should have checked my Viewranger Landranger map.

After a final food stop I went down the track to the east, turning right where a path is marked on the map but which I can't say I found, so it was a bit of off-piste. I joined the stony track which wasn't so pleasant on the feet, down to Dolydd Ceiriog, again not seeing any sign of the path shown to the west. My original plan was to go alongside the stream to the east then down the ravine alongside Afon Ceiriog to the south. But it looked as if it would be a slog through vegetation, at least on the first part, so I bailed out of that idea and took the footpath over the shoulder of the hill. I confirmed today that I've been guilty of not paying enough close attention to map contour lines when they are fairly widely spaced and not many of them. Just those few innocent lines mean an unexpected ascent ahead, always ascent of course never descent. So I inwardly groaned at the sight of another 50m ascent so late in the day but it was easy, a good path with a few marker posts, one fallen so not much use. At the house just before the lane I had a chat with a chap who has some interesting WW2 US vehicles, then down the lane for a short way where I took the bridge across the river and path to where I'd parked.

heading down from the summit, the start/finish is a third of the way in from the left

man down! or woman wearing trousers, down! not the trousers down, the woman!

the final leg, all downhill from here

This turned out to be a fine round, many different elements to it and the grand weather and views made all the difference.

A word on boots. I've always worn heavy, rigid boots - Mantas for the many winter trips and, until recently when they finally wore out, Meindl Burma Pros. A few months ago I'd replaced the Meindls with Scarpa Marmolada Trek, a lovely boot I've found and a good bit lighter than the Meindls but still rigid, which I like on rock and stony ground. These are overkill for local walks so last week I invested in Karrimor Bodmin boots for £40 from Go Outdoors. These were sampled up local Corndon Hill at the weekend and did very well so I used them on this trip. They turned out to be very comfortable on this longer jaunt and cushioned well underfoot. It was strange and very noticeable at first wearing a bendy boot but I soon got used to it and really noticed the light weight. Perfect for a day like today and maybe a little personal revalation.
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Re: Berwyns East

Postby john923 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:25 pm

Nice report and thanks for the parking tip - often tricky down some of these narrow Welsh lanes. We were on Moel Fferna about two weeks before you in very similar conditions, though just the straightforward route from the A5 (similar to that described by broggy). Reaching the ridge and seeing the main Berwyn summits in the distance brings home how empty this part of the country is. Surprisingly though, we met two other couples at the top - I had no idea it would be such a popular outing.
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Re: Berwyns East

Postby yokehead » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:33 am

Cheers John!

Yes it was nice and quiet on the hills, no-one around except the biker and a couple coming up Bronwen as I descended. Fferna seems well-visited looking at the eroded tracks and it looks as if vehicles and motor-bikers have made it worse!

I'd originally looked into Fferna from the A5, going up through the interesting-looking quarries and along the old quarry rail track. I still like the look of that so it's on the list, thanks for the parking tip!
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