1 SH668605 An early start will better yield a parking spot on a long lay-by on the A5’s south side. With a careful eye on the traffic, cross and reach Glan Dena club hut (please do not park in the grounds here). Depending on its lower reach, you may encounter snow somewhere above this location, and your direction is always ‘up’, northerly and aiming for a stone wall/stile crossing at 550m height. At this point, bearing in mind the conditions, you should consider whether crampons should be put on.
2 SH666617 Cross the stile and now keep close to Afon Lloer on your right. The route steepens as you carve round a spur and then flattens out again en route to Ffynnon Lloer (llyn/ lake), within Cwm Lloer. Leave the stream in a westerly direction at 630m and head for the base of the east ridge spur, and a little to its northerly side, where the rocks are quite broken and allow good passage. At SH662618 the ridge steepens for a short section where hands, and a winter axe possibly, will be needed for added security through this short section.
3 SH662618 Exit this steeper section of ridge and clamber over some further boulders on the path (the ‘path’ may be snow-covered, but this is an obvious spur/ridgeline now). Now the ascent is broken up into sections of rock and flatter ground, always with a steep drop on your right/to the north. At 900m altitude the route heads in a north-westerly direction towards the summit plateau of Pen yr Ole Wen. Locating the summit cairn in low visibility may take more focus, as the summit area flattens out somewhat. Flat stones and boulders strewn around the area can prove slippery when icy! There are excellent views to the rest of the route from the top.
4 SH655619 From Pen
yr Ole Wen’s summit area, curve north-west and keep the lip of the cwm on your right- hand side. Depending on conditions, it’s certainly worth observing the potential for snow cornices to have built up anywhere along the top of the Cwm Lloer. For example, if winds have been blowing from the south-west, then expect any north-east slopes to be holding more snow as it’s ‘dropped’ by the wind whipping over the mountain from the south-west. When using a ridge edge to navigate by, keep further back than usual and away from any corniced edges. Follow the now flatter and broad ridge along to the rise of an ancient Bronze Age cairned burial site, Carnedd Fach (Small Cairn – although it’s not!) at the 960m contour. 5 SH658626 Once on the north side of this impressive site, keep track on a north-east bearing, gaining height gradually, towards another ancient cairn site (now a shelter) at SH661629. In poor visibility, it is all too easy to presume this is the summit of Carnedd Dafydd. But the true summit cairn lies about 100m north-east.
You will note the ground still rising from this ‘imposter’ cairn. Carry on to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd.
6 SH663630 This is the ‘Cairn of Dafydd’ – Dafydd ap Gruffudd, the younger brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, a 13th century Prince of Wales. His cairn is the higher mountain to the north-east, the second highest in Wales – Carnedd Llewelyn. Now head in an easterly direction, gently losing height, for about 750m. In 200m you will notice the ridge line to the north (your left) becomes closer and you’re walking above a classic winter climbing venue ‘Ysgolion Duon’ (Black Ladders). Again, keep a few metres (at least) back from the edge, depending on the evidence of cornice build-up above this steep ground. 7 SH669630 Walking 750m from Carnedd Dafydd, you are now on flatter ground, with impressive views to the bulk of Carnedd Llewelyn and a fantastic angle on Tryfan. Easier ground to the south provides a steady descent towards a flat knoll at 750m. It’s wise to take a bearing in poor visibility, but the ground underfoot is nowhere steep. In certain snow conditions, this aspect of slope is enjoyed by skiers. Note the fine view of the Glyderau range to the south. Descend for 900m. 8 SH669621 Just before reaching the large knoll, you will notice a shallow (grassy) gully descending south-west. This offers a descent route towards Afon Lloer at SH666618. Once at the stream, keep it to your right to descend to a stone wall with stile across. A couple of rocky outcrops can be avoided if they are kept to your right.
9 SH667617 Cross the stone wall via a stile at this point, and keeping the river on your right descend to SH667611 where you originally crossed the stream on your ascent. Then keep going to the stile at SH667606, to reach Glan Dena club hut and the road again.
7.4km/4½ miles 6 hours