In Popular CultureFor such an obscure rock, Craig yr Aderyn has a surprising number of notable references in popular culture. The first is arguably not popular, but is culturally significant from a Welsh point of view. The rock is mentioned in an old well known Welsh folk song 'Wrth Fynd Efo Deio i Dywyn' (While Going with Deio to Tywyn), which describes the journey of two friends from Brithdir near Dolgellau to Tywyn on the coast.
The song has been covered by a number of Welsh rock and folk bands, and was described by singer/songwriter Cerys Mathews as a being like “pub crawl across Wales”. The full lyrics can be found on Wales' version of Wikipedia - Wicipedia
More people will be familiar to the second literary reference because it comes from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence. The fourth book in the sequence, The Grey King is strongly based on real Welsh topography, and in particular that of the Dysynni Valley. Craig yr Aderyn therefore plays an important role in the books landscape, and although the books dedication states that Clwyd Farm is fictional, if it did exist it would be located only a few hundred metres from the base of the the rock. Recently the The Dark is Rising Sequence has been adapted into a movie called The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, which received mixed reviews at best.
Wildlife and Conservation - The Birds of Craig yr Aderyn
As mentioned earlier, Craig yr Aderyn is protected as a Special Protection Area (SPA), classified in accordance with Article 4 of the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC), also known as the Birds Directive, which came into force in April 1979. The SPA covers an area of 89.26ha and includes within its boundaries all the recognised climbing crags, as well as a small area of moorland surrounding its main bulk.
The primary reason for the sites selection are of course its choughs (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) a member of the Corvidae family, which will be familiar to mountaineers across Europe. British choughs have black plumage, and are distinguishable from other crows by their red bill and legs.
Craig yr Aderyn is the seasonal home to a growing metapopulation of birds which largely originate in Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire in the south. The crag used to regularly support over 1% of the British population of breeding chough, with five or six pairs nesting in holes and crevices, making it at one time the densest population of breeding chough in the British Isles (six pairs in 0.5Km). However, in recent years breeding numbers have declined to 3-4 pairs. Craig yr Aderyn is now more important as a year round roost site, with non-breeders in the summer and high numbers outside the breeding season. According to the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), during the period 1991/92-1995/96 the average maximum count was 56 individuals, however since then the number of roosting birds has fallen to an average of 18 during the 1999/00-2004/05 period.
The secondary reason for Craig yr Aderyn's selection are its cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo). The cormorant is a large, mostly black coloured waterbird with a long neck and almost reptilian appearance. They are supreme fishers with a diet that largely consists of fish but can also include crustaceans, amphibians, molluscs and nestling birds. The nesting colony at Craig yr Aderyn numbers over 60 pairs, which represent about 1% of the GB breeding population. The colony was first recorded by Edward Lluyd in 1695 and was also mentioned in Thomas Pennant’s “Tour in Wales” in 1784.
To the north and east of the crags, there is a large area of unimproved acid grassland mixed with bracken. This is one of the major factors influencing the number of breeding and roosting chough, as they require an unimproved sward, rich in their main food, soil invertebrates and short enough for chough to be able to use their beaks to probe for food. Acidic, dry heathland occurs in the south-eastern part of the site. A small area of base-enriched marshy grassland above Gesail adds to the plant diversity with species such as common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris,) many-stalked spike-rush (Eleocharis multicaulis) and pale sedge (Carex Pallescens) and mosses such as (Campylium stellatum), (Ctenidium molluscum) and (Fissidens adianthiodes).
The north facing cliffs and slopes support a good range of moss and liverwort species. Of particular note are the nationally scarce mosses growing on boulders in the scree; Grimmia decipens, which appears to be decreasing in its national range and Hedwigia integrifolia which occurs here at its southernmost location in Britain. The uncommon liverwort (Jubula hutchinsiae) has been recorded from streamside rocks. On rocky areas above the main cliff face Wilson’s filmy fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii) and oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) have been recorded.
General Site Character
Inland water bodies (standing water, running water) (1.0%)
Dry grassland. Steppes (64.0%)
Inland rocks. Screes. Sands. Permanent snow and ice (31.0%)
Other land (including towns, villages, roads, waste places, mines, industrial sites) (4.0%)
Rock ClimbingNow for the important part; this section lists all the recorded routes the crag has to offer. Crags and climbs are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the Climbers' Club Guide to Meirionnydd, and Paul Williams’ Rock Climbing in Snowdonia. Technical grades are only given to climbs graded adjectively as Hard Severe (HS) or above. Where the sources differ in their grading I have opted to list the highest quoted grade only, as I don’t want to mislead anyone about the seriousness of any of the routes. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available HERE!. In addition quality ratings have also been included, these are based on the three star system commonly used in British guidebooks.
Despite the addition of a few bolts for belays on the Col Crag, Craig yr Aderyn remains to be a trad climbing venue, and that additional bolting is strictly prohibited. Since the crag is such an important conservation site, it’s important that this rule be abided by, lest further restrictions be placed on climbing here.
This is the largest of the crags at Craig yr Aderyn, and is consequently home to the longest routes. It’s located above a small quarry, is home to an assortment of birds, and is subsequently subject to the seasonal restrictions that accompany them (see the red tape section for further details). It is also more vegetated than its neighbouring crags and home to some fairly dubious rock, so take care if climbing here. A generous helping of guano should be enough to put most people off climbing this face. With the exception of Safe as Sausages, all routes are approached from the right.
The Central Buttress connects the East Face to the Bastion, and has an upper and lower tier. The upper tier is dominated by prow like overhangs, while lower tier terminates at a small track which comes in from the left. The crag is subject to the same restrictions as the East Face (see the red tape section for further details).
This is the most popular of Craig yr Aderyn’s crags and is often used by local outdoor activity centres. The crag is divided by The Buttress route into two separate faces, north and west; the north face is clean but has some dubious rock, while the west face is much more broken in nature, and has more vegetation. The Bastions principal feature is the Diamond Wall, a large, slightly overhanging slab on the crag’s north face. There are no restrictions on The Bastion allowing year round climbing.
The Col Crag is a pleasant little spot located away from Craig yr Aderyn’s other rock faces. It has long been used for bouldering and top-roping; a number of bolt belays were installed a few years ago, making it an idea spot for beginners. It’s located in a saddle between Craig yr Aderyn’s two highest points, and can be reached from a lay-by at grid reference SH 649 075. From here follow a farm track south, and where it ends, bear right along an indistinct uphill path. Where the main bulk of the hill comes into view the path forks; take the left fork and after some 200 metres you will reach the crag.
Mountain ConditionsThis section displays the weather forecast for Abergynolwyn, which is located just to the east, and is one of the nearest villages to Craig yr Aderyn. This gives a pretty good indication of what the weather will be like on the crag, as both Abergynolwyn and Craig yr Aderyn sit below the 100 metres contour, in fact, the base of Craig yr Aderyn is some 50 metres below the centre of the village. Although due to the low altitude of the crag its effects will be limited, the adiabatic lapse rate should be taken into account, which in Wales is a drop in temperature of between 0.5 and 1°C per 100m in altitude. Exposure and wind speed can also significantly lower temperatures.
When to Climb and Essential GearThe most reliable conditions are in the summer, but the low altitude of the crag may make it a viable option in winter when the area’s higher routes are too wet to be enjoyable. The gear needed depends entirely on the routes you plan to do. Easier routes will only require a moderate rack, while longer harder routes will require a full rack with a good compliment of friends. A singe 60 metre rope should serve well on most routes, however, twin or double ropes would be a wise choice for the harder stuff.
Getting ThereMost visitors to Craig yr Aderyn will approach the rock from the east, if you have to approach from the west, then you clearly know the area well enough already, and therefore don’t need a section such as this to help you get there. So, if you are coming from the east, you need to turn off the A470 at the Cross Foxes Inn junction (SH 766 167), and drive south along the A487 for some 6km to the junction for the B4405 near the Minffordd Hotel (SH 732 114). For those familiar with the area, this is the same turning as you would take for the car park on the southern side of Cadair Idris where the Minffordd Path starts. Drive along the B4405 as far as Abergynolwyn (SH 677 069). In the centre of the village there is a crossroads, turn right here and drive north up a narrow unclassified road to another set of crossroads marked by a public phone box (SH 662 079). Turn left here and drive west along another unclassified road. After a around a kilometre and a half the road reaches Craig yr Aderyn and passes along the base of its north face, There are various lay-bys along the road where parking is available, for the Col Crags park near the picnic benches near Llanllwyda Farm (SH 650 075), for everything else park just beyond the junction at grid reference SH 643 071.
Red Tape and AccessThe Eastern Face and Central Buttress are subject to seasonal restrictions associated with nesting birds, and climbing is normally forbidden between the 1st of April and 31st of July. Restrictions are reviewed mid-season but are not normally altered. In order to ensure future access to the area’s crags it is essential that these restrictions are strictly adhered to.
For more information on the status of restrictions, see the BMC's Regional Access Database.
For more general information on access issues see the Countryside Council for Wales' (CCW) website which has a frequently updated countryside access map.
Camping and AccommodationThere are fewer places to stay around Craig yr Aderyn and the Dysynni Valley than elsewhere in Snowdonia, but if you look carefully there are some really nice places to set up base camp.
There are a couple of campsites in close proximity to the rock (see map below); unfortunately neither of there have websites, so I can provide no further details here.
A good alternative for climbers is Cae Du Campsite, located some five miles to the west on the Cardigan Bay coast. The campsite is beautifully positioned, and as an added bonus sits near a series of short crags which boast some of the finest low to mid grade bouldering in Wales. See www.ukclimbing.com for details.
Rather than list all the possible places on this page I’ve included a few links which contain details for local accommodation:
Accomodation around the Dysynni Valley
Tourist information for Abergynolwyn
Accommodation in and around Tywyn
Snowdonia National Park Authority
Council for National Parks
Association of National Park Authorities
Conwy County Council
Gwynedd County Council
Powys County Council
Welsh Tourist Board
Mid Wales Tourism Partnership
Local Information from Gwynedd.com
Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net
North Wales Index
Countryside Council for Wales
Craig yr Aderyn Special Protection Area Core Management Plan and Unit Map
Joint Nature Conservation Committee
The National Trust
Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
British Mountaineering Council
The Climbers Club
Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre
Mountain Weather Wales
Weather from the Met Office
Weather Channel UK
Welsh Public Transport Information
Uk Train Timetable
Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Cae Du Campsite
Accomodation around the Dysynni Valley
Tourist information for Abergynolwyn
Accommodation in and around Tywyn
Maps and Guidebooks
Harvey Map Services
Climbers Club Guidebooks
Welsh Language Board
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg Welsh language pressure group
Cymuned Welsh language pressure group
Yr Urdd (Welsh Youth Association)
Welsh-English / English-Welsh online translator
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Dictionary
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Lexicon