Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Nantlle Ridge

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Route: Rhyd-Ddu, Drwsycoed Uchaf, Y Garn, Mynydd Drws-y-coed, Trum y Ddysgl, The Hiatus, Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd, Bwlch Dross-bern, Craig Pennant, Craig Cwm Silyn, Clogwyn y Cysgod, Maen-llwyd

Date: 20/05/2018
From: Rhyd-Ddu

Parking: Roadside in Rhyd-Ddu
Start Point: Rhyd-Ddu
Region: Snowdonia

Route length: 7.8 miles (12.5 km)
Time taken: 04:05
Average speed: 1.9 mph
Ascent: 887m
Descent: 980m

Summits: Y Garn (633m), Mynydd Drws-y-coed (695m), Trum y Ddysgl (709m), Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd (653m), Craig Cwm Silyn (734m)

Other points of interest: The Hiatus, Craig Pennant

If the prospect of scaling Snowdon on a busy, sunny weekend fills you with dread then cast an eye to the south-west and the modest line of peaks the stretch out westwards from Rhyd-Ddu. At first glance, they may appear inconsequential, grassy and fairly dull, but a closer inspection reveals lines of crags and the promise of an action-packed day. This line of mountains forms the Nantlle Ridge, one of the finest ridge walks in the country.

We chose to make the most of having two cars by walking the length of the Nantlle Ridge from Rhyd-Ddu towards the small village of Nebo. That would involve crossing several named peaks including the exciting scramble up Clogwyn Marchnad.
Y Garn
Snowdon and Yr Aran
We set off underneath cloudy skies heading for Y Garn, the first peak of the ridge. Leaving Rhyd-Ddu, we followed the B4418 a short distance before joining the bridleway at Drwsycoed Uchaf and heading towards the mountain. Unmarked on the map is a path that makes a direct ascent of Y Garn's eastern slopes. It's a steep, uninspiring climb.
Approaching the stiff climb up Y Garn
Reaching the summit reveals the charm of the Nantlle Ridge. The impressive, cliffs of Clogwyn Marchnad are the highlight while the steep cliffs of Y Garn expose a dramatic view down to the valley below. We turned south following the wall that leads off Y Garn's summit. Ahead is an exciting and sometimes exposed scramble to the summit of Mynydd Drws-y-coed, easily the best part of the walk.
Looking down to the road at Bryn Gwyn
A view across to Snowdon
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The amazing Clogwyn Marchnad
Looking down one of the steep gullies on Y Garn
Y Garn's summit
Mynydd Mawr
Mynydd Drws-y-Coed
Mynydd Drws-y-Coed
s with much of Wales, the scramble can be as easy or challenging as you want - most of the really exposed bits can be bypassed by a path just off the line of crags. The views down into the valley below are incredible and stretch as far as Caernarfon on the Menai Strait. After the scrambling, Mynydd Drws-y-Coed has an interesting little summit.
Clogwyn Marchnad
Scrambling Clogwyn Marchnad
Clogwyn Marchnad
Trum y Ddysgl
Snowdon
The summit of Mynydd Drws-y-Coed
A narrow arete separates Mynydd Drws-y-Coed from the neighbouring Trum y Ddysgl, itself an impressive mountain with an equally impressive view to Mynydd Drws-y Coed.
Trum y Ddysgl
Mynydd Drws-y-Coed
Trum Y Ddysgl's flat summit
The easy ridge leading towards Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd
An easy grass ridge falls from Trum y Ddysgl towards another narrow arete, this time joining to Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd. This is called The Hiatus thanks to the apparent break right in the middle. This is easily negotiated using a few rocky ledges and another easy grass ridge leads to the obelisk on top of Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd.
Cwm Du and Beddgelert Forest
Looking back along Trum y Ddysgl
Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd
The narrowing of the ridge
Cwmyffynnon
Looking back to Trum y Ddysgl
The tall column on Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd
Triangular in shape, Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd throws a ridge southwards, falling gently at first before it steepens into Bwlch Dros-bern. Craig Pennant (the eastern face of Craig Cwm Silyn) paints another impressive picture but means a stiff climb to reach the summit. The path heads south-west a short distance before it doubles back and heads for the rim of the cliffs, which it follows all the way to the top.
The striking Craig Cwm Silyn
Looking towards Moel Hebog along Ceuanant yr Allt
Descending to Bwlch Dros-bern
Bwlch Dros-bern
Craig Pennant
Craig Pennant
Some industrious wall-building
Looking back down to Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd
Looking back along the Nantlle Ridge
Craig Cwm Silyn is the highest point of the Nantlle Ridge, reaching a height of 734m. It is an impressive mountain, though it is generally overshadowed by its more famous neighbours such as Snowdon and Moel Hebog. The summit cairn was an ancient Bronze Age burial cairn and has been amended to provide shelter from the wind - the views from the crest of this mountain are truly amazing.
Craig Cwm Silyn's summit
From Craig Cwm Silyn you have the opportunity to continue on, crossing the tops of Garnedd-goch and Mynydd Graig Goch to complete the full traverse of the ridge, however, we had to time deadline to meet so we started our descent alongside Clogwyn y Cysgod. The route gives a fine view of the northe face of Craig Cwm Silyn and Llynnau Cwm Silyn.
The easy grass ridgeo of Craig Cwm Silyn
Looking down to Llynnau Cwm Silyn
Craig yr Ogof
Llynnau Cwm Silyn panorama
The dramatic crags of Craig yr Ogof
 We eventually reached the edge of the Access Land where a modest car park can be used if you're doing this with two cars. Following the lane, we descend down towards Llanllyfni where our ride back to Rhyd-Ddu was waiting. To repeat a number of walking websites, this is a fantastic walk and perhaps one of the best ridge walks in Wales. If you can figure out the logistics of a one-way trip, then that's the best way to see the ridge in full but there are a number of options to see the best parts with a circular walk, the highlight being the scramble up Mynydd Drws-y-coed.