A traverse of the Northern Rhinogs

A Trawsfynydd walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 04/08/16

A wonderful Snowdonia walk that explores the rocky and wild terrain of the northern Rhinogs. This area sees few walkers yet offers some spectacular country. Do choose a good day as navigation can be tricky.

Technical sheet
Calculated time Calculated time: 7h00[?]
Distance Distance : 11.95mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 2034ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 2037ft
Highest point Highest point : 1985ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 640ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Location Location : Trawsfynydd
Starting point Starting point : N 52.900451° / W 3.924316°
Arrival Arrival : N 52.901052° / W 3.925495°
Download :


(D/A) The start is the village of Trawsfynydd on the A470 from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Dolgellau road. Public transport offers a relatively frequent service along this important corridor. If you have your own transport then there are limited parking opportunities along the lane between the footbridge and Tyn Twll Farm.

Starting from the village make your way to Llyn Trawsfynydd and cross the footbridge at its southern end. Once across the water you reach a lane. Follow this minor road to the right. Just after Tyn Twll Farm, turn off on to a footpath to the left (grid ref. SH684358). The rising, rocky footpath runs alongside a wall and emerges onto open hillside but the right general direction is clear even where the path is indistinct. The route leads to Cwm Moch and you follow the way ahead until you reach its highest point, before it drops down to Cwm Moch (grid ref. SH672359).

(1) A stile over a dry stone wall to the left, next to a gate, is the way to go next. A narrow path then leads up through the heather and rocks to the top of Moel Y Gyrafolen (grid ref. SH672353), to the right as you approach from the stile. After walking, or clambering, down through rocky terrain to a defile and then up the other side, the plateau-like top of Diffwys, is soon reached (grid ref. SH663350). Fortress-like Foel Penolau (grid ref. SH661348) is the next objective along the ridge to the south west and the first of the two 2,000 foot plus summits on the walk, the other being Moel Ysgyfarnogod, a quarter of a mile further on. Although close in proximity, these two mountains are very different in composition and appearance. Foel Penolau offers a couple of breaches in its rocky defences and, from the direction of Diffwys, one way up is to locate a grassy diagonal rake that leads to the summit plateau of the first of the twin tops. A defile separates the tops of more or less identical height.

(2) The easiest way to descend from the second top is to clamber back down to the defile and then follow the grassy slopes to the south east. Once you have descended to a point below the rocks and cliffs, a walk of about five minutes up a grassy slope leads to Moel Ysgyfarnogod (grid ref. SH658345). The summit is marked by both a cairn and a beacon. A direct, pathless descent down the steep grassy slopes ahead leads to a point where the ground levels out at the bottom of the slope. It is necessary to cross rocky platforms and heather before the triangular shape of Llyn Du (grid ref. SH656340) appears in a dip ahead, below the shattered rocks and pavements. Another small lake, Llyn Corn-y-stwc (grid ref. SH656335), is reached after another ten minutes walk from Llyn Du. After walking to the far end of Llyn Corn-y -stwc, the final summit on this walk, Clip (grid ref. SH6533127), is now straight ahead via a sheep track to the south west, with Craig Ddwrg on your left.

(3) A pathless descent through rocks and heather, in a north westerly direction, leads from Clip to Llyn Eiddew Mawr (grid ref. SH646334), the larger of the two Ivy Lakes. A path proper is not reached until you have passed this lake and picked up the Bryn Cader Faner path for the return route to Trawsfynydd. The route follows the path ahead, intermittent in places, until you re-join the point earlier in the walk at the sheepfold above Cwm Moch. From here, retrace your route back to Trawsfynydd(D/A).

Waypoints :
D : mi 0 - alt. mi 0
1 : mi 2.76 - alt. mi 2.76 - Turn left
2 : mi 3.92 - alt. mi 3.92 - Foel Penolau
3 : mi 5.64 - alt. mi 5.64 - Clip
A : mi 11.95 - alt. mi 11.95

Useful Information

This walk includes five summits and features a traverse of the northern ridge of the Rhinogs, a little-trodden and remote area of Snowdonia, returning via Bryn Cader Faner. The ridge terrain is frequently rugged and pathless and therefore navigation could be tricky in poor visibility. It is also worth remembering that this area can be very tricky underfoot with boulders hidden under the vegetation so progress is often slow. This is particularly true on the section between Clip and the Ivy Lakes. However despite these problems this is a superb part of Snowdonia that only a few walkers enjoy.

Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.