Living in the Carneddau range of mountains (being the largest contiguous area of high ground in Wales & England) are a true gem of wild Wales – the Carneddau Ponies.
These rare ponies are a glorious insight in to British equines of the past. It is believed that they have roamed freely across these beautiful but bleak hills for some 2,500 years or more, at least since 500BC. A genetic study carried out earlier this decade by Aberystwyth University, concluded that the ponies have been genetically isolated for several centuries minimum.
Living up and around 2000ft, these ponies have survived cold snowy winters, potential predation by wolves (before they were eradicated from the hills), the enforced historical culls of wild ponies and more recent regulatory pressures. Thanks to the hard work of local farmers & the Carneddau Mountain Pony Association, the ponies hopefully have a long future on Snowdonia’s wildest of areas.
In February of this year I was lucky enough to take the picture below, of one of these hardy little ponies:
More recently, in great autumn weather, Tamsin & I set off on a long day in the Carneddau, photographing the ponies & their environment. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy:
Craig Cwm Silyn, a morning walk at the western end of the Nantlle ridge.
This walk starts at a small parking area that the landowner kindly allows visitors to use. Having walked most of the Nantlle ridge earlier this year (see this post), we wished to visit Craig Cwm Silyn at the western most point (the one peak that we didn’t visit before). Here’s the morning view from the permissive parking area:
We followed this track ahead into the sunrise. It passes through a gate, over a ladder style, and then starts to drop downhill towards the lakes at Cwm Silyn. Just before reaching the lakes, turn right, to climb over another ladder style (see photo below).
Now follow the grassy track ahead before turning uphill to your right (away from the lakes) to meet the path that ascends along the edge of the crags. It is from a point early along this section that I took the feature image (top) of the sunrise.
The path steadily climbs and as one nears the top it curves to the left, continuing along the top of the cliffs. The view back towards the coast can be excellent providing that the coastal cloud has lifted sufficiently.
Continue walking ahead, still gently rising to cross another ladder style before finally climbing to the highest point, a little over 2,400ft above the coast. The summit is fairly rocky and enjoys views towards Moel Hebog, as well as along the further peaks of the Nantlle ridge. On our walk, the morning clouds descended briefly before lifting again to show us this fine view across Mynydd Tal y mignedd (with its obelisk) & the Nantlle ridge in general:
There are various ways to extend this walk but as you will see from our way map below, we followed a similar route back down to the car. An enjoyable & rewarding walk to start the autumn with. The scenery and weather inspired me to produce an artwork in Digital Oils of the view towards a cloudy Moel Hebog. You can see the image on my pro site, Natures Universe.
This walk is a very pleasant 5 mile walk with about 1200 feet of climb. Parts of it are along well made stone track, some is rougher going with many roots under foot. We walked it early one summer’s morning during a heatwave.
To locate the car parking, travel north to Trefriw from, Betws-y-Coed. As the village road crosses the river with the woollen mill on your left, turn left & steep uphill at the side of the mill. Carefully follow this very narrow lane and its signs for Llyn Crafnant. Just before you reach the lake, there is a forest car park on the right (free at the time of writing). Having parked up, walk a little further up the lane, turning right at the beginning of the lake and following the path on its north-western side. There are beautiful views & many reflections to be seen as you walk along this lakeside path.
Be careful to keep to the main lake side path, not straying uphill & away from the lake on any branched tracks. Towards the head of the lake, the well sign-posted path will take you through several gateways & around on to the other bank; follow the small lane for a little way until an obvious footpath strikes off to your right, uphill & into woodland. Take this path (as per the route map below) and follow it over the wooded hillside.
As one descends in to the adjacent valley floor, you will emerge from the woodland at the head of Llyn Geirionydd. Cross a style to stay on the near side of the lake (rather than crossing to the lane on the eastern bank). Whilst this path is a little rough in places, it is easy navigation, just follow the lakeside.
This is a peaceful place when water-sports are not taking place on the lake and there is plenty of wildlife to look out for. We were serenaded by the morning calls of a Sandpiper and were lucky enough to capture a bit of video footage:
A Sandpiper calling out from a branch overhanging Llyn Geirionydd.
At the north end of the lake, keep straight ahead to view the Taliesin monument. This commemorating the reputed birthplace of Taliesin, chief bard of the 6th century. Whilst here Tamsin heard a crunching sound, which turned out to be a Golden-ringed Dragonfly having some breakfast (see Gallery at end for a photo).
Do look back from the monument at the view back along the length of the lake.
Once done here, continue roughly northwards along the clearly defined & waymarked path until it crosses a stonewall via ladder-style. At this point be sure to take the path ahead & uphill. We will now pass back over the hillside in our return towards the car park. On the way back down, keep an eye out for the old quarry workings.
The cool air emanating from a little mining tunnel was very enticing on such a warm morning and of course Tamsin couldn’t resist exploring.
Meanwhile I walked over the top of the spoil, only for us both to discover the same quarried cave. The dripping water, cool shade, coloured rocks and imagination inspiring mouth; made this an interesting bonus to the end of our walk.
From here it is but a 5 minute walk down a forest track and back to the car. An enjoyable 3 hour walk on a glorious morning.
A short (~ 4miles with 750ft climb) circular route from Machynlleth to visit beautiful Llyn Glanmerin. This is a relatively easy walk for any regular walker, including children. It does have a climb near to the start, so some fitness is advised. Tamsin and I walked this at the beginning of June whilst our car was in the garage for maintenance. There’s plenty of views & wildlife to take in on this pleasant stroll.
For convenience I have started the walk from the main Pay & Display Car Park in Machynlleth (Loos available at CP entrance). Exit the back of the car park and turn left on to a pleasant tarmac walkway which will lead you past the library and on to the high street. Turn right & follow the pavement until you reach the road turning right for Forge & Dylife, take this turning. Close to the end of the housing you will see a signposted footpath leading to the right. Follow this footpath away from Machynlleth, uphill on the right edge of the local common land. As you climb above the golf course on to bracken & heath, do look back at the view of Machynlleth nestled amongst the hills of Dyfi.
Continue uphill across this now heathy common land. The track now strays from the righthand edge a little, crossing open land from one block of woodland edge to another. Keep an eye open for Red Kites gliding across the skies above you.
When you meet Glyndwr’s Way crossing you from wooded left to open heath right, keep straight ahead into a narrow wooded path that takes you on a brief detour to Llyn Glanmerin. As you emerge from the forestry Llyn Glanmerin is immediately down to your left. Llyn Glanmerin is sometimes referred to as Lord Herbert’s lake. Lord Herbert Vane Tempest of Plas Machynlleth was a director of the Cambrian Railways. He sadly died, along with 16 others, in the Abermule train crash of 1921. The lake itself is of about 7 acres in area and is most picturesque with water lilies floating upon it and Rhododendrons on its banks.
On a warm summer day Dragonflies & Damselflies are to be seen patrolling the water’s margins in search of a mate or laying eggs beneath the surface.
Now briefly retrace your steps through the narrow section of woodland, back to Glyndwr’s way. Upon meeting the Glyndwr’s way path, turn west along it and over the open heath land. This well marked path will then lead you downhill towards the Cae-Gybi lane. As you descend, see if you can spot Plas Machynlleth (Lord Herbert’s old home) beneath you at the edge of Machynlleth.
Upon meeting the lane, turn right along it briefly, before again leaving it to follow Glyndwr’s way down to Plas Machynlleth. Turn right & walk along the path through Plas Machynlleth’s grounds. This will lead you to the back of the car park from whence you began the walk.
It’s been a while since I’ve had chance to blog post, so let’s catch-up with an early morning mountain walk through Cwm Bychan to Beddgelert and then returning via the banks of the Afon Glaslyn.
Tamsin & I completed this walk yesterday morning (23rd May) and most of the route is currently lined with gorgeous bluebell flowers. Walking at a relatively leisurely pace, it took us a little over 3 hours including photography pauses (adjust for your walking pace). The GPS recorded 5.8 miles distance and 1500ft climb. Usual mountain walk advice is relevant but I would additionally stress that you will really want those sturdy boots, since much of the walk is upon rocky ground. The walk itself is absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend it.
Park in the Nantmor National Trust car park at grid ref: SH597462 (£4/day at time of writing) and leave the car park via the gate next to the loos. Turn immediately right, under the railway and climbing up through bluebell woods.
Gradually the woodland will fade into open mountain, do look back towards the coastline, it’s a great view. Having started walking at 6.50am we had the pleasure of a cool morning breeze whilst watching the sun drawn up in to the sky by Helios’ steeds. We paused in the shade of a lonesome mountain tree.
Soon you will come across evidence of the copper mining that used to be carried out here. Mining has been dated back to at least the 17th century in Cwm Bychan. The mines finally closed in the 19th century, only to be re-opened in the 1920s. It was at this time that an aerial ropeway was built to help remove the Chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) ore for processing. This attempt to restart production was short lived and the mine finally closed by the end of that decade. Various relics of that era can still be seen, including the aerial ropeway with its pylons and terminal wheel, higher up the mountain.
There’s more information about the mine site and its neighbours on the Coflein website.
Shortly after passing the header wheel the paths split in two, keep straight ahead uphill (as opposed to branching left), past a little more copper mining spoil, to eventually climb over a ladder style and reach the high point of this walk. The views from here are breath-taking and include the peaks of the Snowdon Horseshoe. We took a moment to stand and stare, basking in spring sunshine, sweet scent on the breeze and serenaded with birdsong – life doesn’t get much better 🙂
Now continue ahead to the nearby signpost & split in the track. Whilst it is possible to turn left towards Beddgelert, why miss out on the short extension down to the shores of beautiful Llyn Dinas. Before descending on the right to Llyn Dinas we took a very short detour, just 100m ahead, to investigate another copper mining shaft and for Tamsin to do some scrambling.
As one descends, the view of Llyn Dinas gradually opens up until the view of her full waters is eventually on show. We’ll now descend right to her shore line where we turn left to follow the river down towards Beddgelert. After a short distance the path joins the minor lane from Sygun Copper Mine to Beddgelert.
Upon reaching Beddgelert one may cross the river & visit this much loved village. Have a pub lunch, enjoy the ice-cream parlour or just soak up the relaxed atmosphere. When ready, pick up the footpath going downstream again. Our GPS tracklog (see below) follows the left-hand bank but you’ll want to be on the other bank if you wish to visit Gelert’s grave. Either way as you walk along the paths downstream you’ll eventually find yourself on the left-hand riverbank with the Afon Glaslyn to your right & the Welsh Highland Railway to your left (keep a look out for the Steam Trains).
The pass of Aberglaslyn is a stunning section of river and worth a walk along at any time of year. Do take care on the path, it is quite rocky & narrow in places.
Eventually you will find yourself near the Aberglaslyn road crossing. Don’t exit the woodland on to the road, just turn left uphill on the path away from the river. It is now just a short walk back to the car park that you started from; I hope you enjoyed the walk. Our GPS tracklog is embedded below plus two links to alternative descriptions of this walk.
Other descriptions of the route: National Trust – starting at the same point but walking clockwise (the opposite way) Snowdonia.gov – starting from Beddgelert, walking anti-clockwise. [PDF file]