Walking in South Snowdonia
The most popular mountain in South Snowdonia might be Cader Idris, but there are many more mountains in South Snowdonia than Cader Idris. Each of the ranges, or areas in some cases, have their own character and all are worth exploring in their own right. We choose to go for the proper welsh plurals for these ranges, rather than the incorrect anglicised versions.
These hills are as rough as they come. Forget your usual distance covered in any given time, you’ll need to think again crossing some of these hills. Without doubt best done as a backpack so you can just camp when you’ve had enough! The highest point is Y Lethr at 756m, but it’s overshadowed by the roughness and inaccessibility of Rhinog Fawr and Rhinog Fach nearby.
To the north lies Moel Ysgyfarnogod and the walk between this mountain and Rhinog Fawr across Craig Wion is like no other walk in the country. Old rocks, weathered with age, with sheer drops between each mini peak. The rock pavements make good walking, but you’ll need to puzzle on how to get to the next section, usually involving a sheer scramble down into a canyon and immediately back up again.
Best Walk: The Rhinogydd Traverse – an epic walk best tackled as a backpack.
To the east of the Rhinogydd lies a rather indistinct area of upland that includes the Arenig hills and the moorland of Migneint. Arenig Fawr is the highest point at 854m in height, as well as the hill walking highlight of the area, usually including a visit to Moel Llyfnant.
The neighbouring Arenig Fach is much rougher, and where it isn’t heathery then it’s boggy. The walk across to Carnedd y Filiast is a rough one to be sure, and one to keep for the dry season that we get every few years in Snowdonia. It’s on the edge of the Migneint, and it more than gives you a taste of how inhospitable this heather-clad part of Snowdonia can be. You’ll yearn for the easy tracks of Snowdon after a kilometre walked here.
Best Walk – Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant.
While Cader Idris basks in the glory, at 905m Aran Fawddwy is the real mountain of Mid Wales. It doesn’t however have the straightforward mountain paths that Cader enjoys, and suffered from access problems in the past. Worth ascending from near Dinas Mawddwy to the south, Llanuwchllyn to the north or from near Rhydymain to the west.
The Hirnant hills are here for convenience, and are arguably more a part of the Berwyn range than Aran. Heathery in the extreme, any progress off path can be strenuous. One for those seeking peace and quiet.
Best Walk – Aran Fawddwy from Llanuwchllyn.
The Tarennau and Maesglase Ridge
To the far south of Snowdonia lie these grassy hills. The Tarrennau ridge starts off from the coast near Aberdyfi, forming a high barrier as far as Corris. The highest point is Tarren y Gesail at 667m and Tarrenhendre at 634m. They’re often ascended from Abergynolwyn, but there’s no satisfying circuit owing to the rampant conifer plantations on these hills’s slopes.
The hills of Maesglase are well known to the local population who have to travel between the north and Cardiff – as spectacular crags above the A470 between Bwlch Oerddrws and Dinas Mawddwy. While they make a day out, they really do put everything in the shop window and show their best side to the car drivers.
Best Route – Maesglase Ridge – though we suspect there may be a few better options along the Tarrennau…
We can’t let a post on South Snowdonia pass without a mention of Cader Idris. We’ve put together all the walking routes up Cader Idris together on a page for you already – as we love Cader Idris so much!