The Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia
26th October 2012
||Elevation in meters
The Cicerone Guide Book "Great Mountain Days in Snowdonia" by Terry Marsh states that "In the whole of North Wales, the Nantlle Ridge is surpassed in unadulterated ridge walking pleasure by only the Snowdon Horseshoe. The dubious talisman of height gives Snowdon a degree of magnetism, but for superb walking without the drama and the crowds, nothing beats the Nantlle Ridge" They are not wrong! The Nantlle Ridge ticks all the boxes in being a comfortable day's walking (6 hours), offereing strenuous climbs, exillerating ridge scrambling with some (but not too much) expsoure, spectacular views of coast and mountains, and a great variety of terrain. The only downside to the linear walk of the ridge are the logistics of getting back to the start point, Rhyd Ddu from the end point at Nebo.
We breakfasted at out hotel in Betws-y-Coed at 8 a.m., and set off around 8-30 a.m. in two cars for the drive to Beddgelert, Rhyd Ddu and then Nebo. The drive itself is quite spectacular and worth a trip in its own right; the road between Rhyd Ddu and Talysarn along the Nantlle Valley is narrow, twisting and scenic. Finding the right road up to Nebo was a bit of a mission but we soon had the second car parked outside the small school in Nebo to await our arrival later in the day. We then retraced our footsteps back to Rhyd Ddu. There is quite a good car park at Rhyd Ddu next to Rhyd Ddu station of the Welsh Highland Railway; this is just across the road from the start of the walk. But there is also on-road parking just down the road and as it was very quite we decided to park there. It was 10-30 a.m. before we were kitted up and ready to start.
Rhyd Ddu is a station on the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway, which was built in 1881 as the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Moel Tryfan Undertaking to carry dressed slate to Dinas Junction on the LNWR. The railway was extended southwards to Beddgelert and Porthmadog in 1923, and in its lifetime the station was variously also named "South Snowdon" and "Snowdon". Passenger services ceased to the old station site on 26 September 1936, and the station was reopened to passengers on 18 August 2003 on a new site slightly to the east (the car park occupies the original site) following the complete reconstruction of the railway from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu. The train services are operated by the Festiniog Railway Company's Welsh Highland Railway subsidiary.
Rhyd Ddu Station on the Welsh Highland Railway with Snowdon towering in the background
Nick by the kissing gate across the road from Rhyd Ddu Station carpark.... the start of the walk
From the car park the path heads off in the direction of Y Garn, crossing flat land and a small stream until it comes out at a corner of the road of the B4418 just above Rhyd Ddu and next to a farm. From here it takes a sharp turn left along a well defined path, as it approaches the lower slopes of Y Garn. Here the serious climbing begins until it becomes more rocky and there are cliffs on the right. You soon arrive at a dry stone wall which leads, via a stile, to the summit of Y Garn, 2,076 foot in height.
Y Garn viewed from the start of the walk, with the rocky outline of Mynydd Drws-y-coed to the left
Y Garn looks less formidable as you gain height
Looking back over the route, with Snowdon in the background and Llyn-y-Gader to the right
Y Garn getting closer
The terrain gets rockier as you approach the summit of Y Garn, which is reached
by the stile over the dry stone wall
"Team Piper" at the summit of Y Garn
Snowdon viewed from Y Garn
The next objective, Mynydd Drws-y-coed (2,280 feet) viewed from the stile over the dry stone wall at Y Garn
The path towards Mynydd Drws-y-coed is clear enough, but the way to the top of the peak
is less obvious from a distance
The route goes right up the ridge line to the right, towards the rock "cannon" at the top
Here we are on the early stage of the climb of Mynydd Drws-y-coed looking back to Y Garn;
the long dry stone wall is obvious, as is the summit of Y Garn next to the stile that crosses the wall
Nick taking the more exposed route up the ridge
Another view back down the ridge
Eventually the ridge levels out onto a narrow grassy path; there are still exposed places to
the right and care would be needed if it were windy. The next peak on the walk, Trum y Ddysgl,
2,326 feet, is seen centre picture
Trum y Ddysgl in shadow, with the grassy ridge beyond
Looking back, yet another view of Snowdon
The path slightly to the right along the ridge line leads to Trum y Ddysgl
Looking back from whence we came; the ridge is similar in shape to Crib Goch on Snowdon.
Again, Snowdon's peak is clearly visible in the distance
Another view of the ridge, with Y Garn highlighted by the sun on the left
Looking along the grassy ridge at Trum y Ddysgl. The next peak, Mynydd Drws-y-coed with the obelisk can be seen extreme right; the traverse to Mynydd Drws-y-coed goes down to the right and is a much photographed view of the walk; the dark peak in the background is Craig Cwm Silyn
The traverse to Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd
From a distance the traverse looks as though it is a continuous grassy path, but as you
get closer you realise that there is broken rock in places due to erosion
Broken rock on the traverse
The obelisk at Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd, built by quarry men as a tribute during
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year in 1897
Looking back over the traverse to Trum y Ddysgl from the obelisk
The route ahead. Looking down to the col, Bwlch Dros-bern and the summit of Craig Cwn Silyn.
The ridge in the centre is quite steep and broken, and the route to the top is slightly to the right.
Looking down on the col, Bwlch Dros-bern, as we climb Craig Cwm Silyn
Looking back to the obelisk at Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd
A rock stack to the side on the climb to Craig Cwm Silyn; not on the route
but fun to climb (for mountain goats!)
Approaching the top of Craig Cwm Silyn; actually the top is a rocky ridge rather than a distinct peak
Craig Cwm Silyn
Craig Cwm Silyn
A small shelter on Craig Cwm Silyn; by now the sky had clouded over and it was getting quite cold.
At the western end of Craig Cwm Silyn
The gentle traverse from Craig Cwm Silyn to Garnedd Goch
Mynydd Graig Goch ahead, with Nebo just visible beyond the tarn Llyn Cwm Dulyn
Llyn Cwm Dulyn
The route profile