Viewranger is eventually moving over to Outdoor Active So i am now writing content for both Platforms until it is merged into one.
On the 18th August 2020 I returned to Snowdonia for the first time in what seemed an eternity. Travel from outside Wales was finally allowed and the forecast was looking good. But there was only one problem! All accommodation and campsites were fully booked which meant only one thing. I travelled down the night before and slept in my car underneath Tryfan.
It seemed I was not the only one with the same idea as the car park was full of motorhomes and cars when I arrived at around midnight. In the morning it was obviously clear people were willing to do anything to get a piece of Snowdonia, with people cooking breakfast and brushing their teeth on the car park just like me.
The Carneddau had been on my list to cover in 2020 and having completed the other side of Llyn Ogwen Valley previously, it was good to be back to see what the other side of the valley had to offer. The Carneddau takes in Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd and finally Carnedd Llewelyn and has a total ascent similar to Snowdon.
The route starts just past Llyn Ogwen heading East along the A5 and depending where you have managed to park near Llyn Ogwen, could add around an extra 1K to the walk. There is free but limited parking on three sites and a fourth paid site at Llyn Ogwen official car park. Head down the lane on the left towards Tal Y Llyn Ogwen which is marked with a sign.
The Lane will eventually open up to more open ground with a wide gravel farm path to follow until you come to a way marker heading north. The marker is easy to find and there is a stone path to follow until you come to a wall stile. Head over the Stile and head through the field upwards along the path. The path does come and go so keep right and do not drift too far left given it how wet the ground can be even in August.
As you head through the fields there should be a farm wall ahead in the near distance. There is a Stile you will pass through to the right-hand corner. So, if you drift off track you can correct yourself just by looking at the farm wall. Before the farm wall the path changes from the right side of Afon Lloer to the left.
Once you have passed the farm wall the path edges the side of Afon Lloer for a while and then you will head left (West) upwards as you start to make your ascent up towards Pen Yr Ole Wen. The route starts to get a little more difficult now until you come to what looks like a dead end with Cwm Lloer below you to the right. The path now needs scrambling up the rocky terrain you can see but it is not easily visible to make out at first. The first scramble is a few good metres high and requires the use of both hands and feet. Once above this you will see the path visible as it weaves its way upwards in a NNW direction. You should get some impressive views of Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen from here.
The path slowly gets easier but still ascending until you finally reach Bwlch Ole Wen at 993m. The views really open up here and on a clear day you will get great views across to Snowdon and the coast. You will also see the next stage of the route towards Carnedd Dafydd as it arcs right across Carnedd Fach. The good news is there is only 100m ascent between the two so the next stage will get your breath back after the ascent of Pen yr Ole Wen.
The route to Carnedd Dafydd is synonymous with any terrain in Snowdonia, rough, rugged and in-between some easier ground. The views should keep you busy up to the summit if you get the weather.
From the Cairn at Carnedd Dafydd you will now head along the exposed path across Cefn Ysgolion Duon and through Bwlch Cyfryw – Drum before starting your ascent of Carnedd Llewelyn. This part of the like mentioned is exposed to the left but you can walk further to the right if you are not the best with hights. It would only pose a danger in poor visibility or getting far to close to the edge.
The ascent of Carnedd Llewelyn is not technically difficult and the path is a mixture of boulders and scree with no exposed parts. At the summit again in good weather 360 panoramic views can be had which reveal the beauty of Snowdonia. This is a good place to stop for a bite to eat and a rest before your final descent back down to Llyn Ogwen Valley.
The route back down holds a few surprises which should not be underestimated. As you make your way towards Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir across Penywaun-Wen and especially Craig yr Ysfa there is some down climbing which involves some difficulty and a head for heights. You could class some parts as very exposed and in poor weather caution is needed. The day I did this walk the weather was a perfect summers day in blistering heat. I noticed rock climbers to my left with a deep gully in-between, and the final down climb to the reservoir path was exposed to the right. It’s a good 10 metre down climb.
Above the reservoir take the path to the right which will lead you down to the left-hand shore and not the path that leads upwards to Y Braich. This again is a rather steep descent and the path is not very good and a few down climbs are involved before it finally levels out along the reservoir. At this point I was glad I had come anti-clockwise along the route. The opposite direction would be a little more challenging for sure.
Once past the reservoir the path passes over wet grassland before reaching the lane that will take you all the way down to the A5. The lane is a fair few kilometre long and a welcome break on your feet. You should get some great views along the lane to the right of Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen Valley.
Once you reach the A5, cross over the road and head right until you come to the entrance of Gwern Gof Uchaf on your left. Head down the lane as if you were heading to the campsite, until you come to a path on the right. Take the path to the right and this will lead you back to where you started the walk. You will pass through a couple of gates and have impressive views of Tryfan in front of you.
With a perfect summer day, I really enjoyed the walk and it offered a little of everything which is a good thing for a mountain walk in my opinion. Would I feel the same on a winter’s day? Possibly not. Would I still do this walk in winter? Yes, but I definitely think you would get the best of the views on offer in good visibility. During the winter months and especially with snow this route would require crampons and possibly an ice axe.