The climbing on Diffwys is split between two principle crags, namely Graig Bodlyn and the smaller Llawllech. Craig Bodlyn is by far the more complex of the two and is itself split into a number of smaller crags and buttresses.
Unless otherwise stated, routes are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the Climbers’ Club Guide to Meirionnydd, so for full descriptions, please refer to this source. The Climbers’ Club have also produced a free pdf, which provides details of first ascents recorded after 2001: download it here.
Please be aware that the Rhinog Range is a trad climbing venue and bolting is strictly prohibited. Routes are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. Technical grades are generally only given to climbs graded adjectivally as Hard Severe (HS) or above. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available: download it here.
Craig Bodlyn (SH 649 236) is the mother of all Rhinog crags and is fittingly described in the Climber's Club guide to the area as “a sort of Frêney amongst Fontainbleau”. It has in many places now succumb to the tendrilled advances of the local vegetation, and those wishing to climb some of the older routes may need to include a pair of secateurs on the rack. Fear not though, for theree are some clean walls to be found here too, and one of particular interest is the relatively recently developed Silver Screen.
The Silver Screen
The Silver Screen is the most leftward of Craig Bodlyn's crags, located some 100 metres east of the lake, nestled in a small bay a little above the valley floor. It is home to steep and brutish climbing.
The name says it all – a short, hidden wall of beautiful clean grit. Routes are normally soloed and the landings are generally quite nice and soft. Find it by scrambling up heather from the left-hand end of the sloping terrace above the Silver Screen.
Bad Teeth Wall
Named after the man-made row of stones overhanging the left end of the crag. Find it by waling up from the Six-Metre Wall.
Forked Lightning Conductor Buttress
The buttress a little above and to the left of Bad-Teeth Wall. It can be identified by a prominent arête on its left hand side.
A small cliff some 250 metres to the south of Forked Lightning Conductor Buttress. Routes are generally soloed due to a complete lack of gear, but fear not, the landings are nice and soft.
The biggest bit of rock on the right hand side (when looking in). Long routes with a fair amount of vegetation are the order of the day.
Llawllech (SH 636 228) is located around half a kilometre to the south-west of Craig Bodlyn and provides a day's worth of good routes on nice clean rock.
Unfortunately the close proximity of these mountains to the sea and the frequent arrival of Atlantic depressions pushing warm, moist air over the range, even in the middle of winter climbing conditions are infrequent and unreliable. This combined with the relatively long walk in to the best locations has led to a lack of exploration and recorded winter climbs in the area. However a number routes have been recorded on Craig Bodlyn, which are listed below from left to right and greded using the Scottish Winter Grading System. For full descriptions see Cicerone's Welsh Winter Climbs by Malcolm Campbell and Andy Newton.
Mountain ConditionsThis section displays the weather forecast for Llanbedr, which is located to the west and is one of the nearest towns to Diffwys. Remember that Llanbedr sits at around sea level whereas the summit of Diffwys reaches 750m. This means that when looking at temperature the adiabatic lapse rate must 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.
Essential GearDiffwys can be climbed at anytime of the year, however in poor conditions the mountain's rock routes are best avoided, particularly if the weather has been wet. March to April offer the most reliable conditions. Of course this all depends on ones ability as a mountaineer/climber, and what might be comfortable for some may seem daunting to others.
If you’re lucky enough to climb the mountain in winter conditions then an ice axe and crampons would be very useful. If you're lucky enough to climb the winter routes on Craig Bodlyn, then ice tools, rigid crampons, a suitable winter rack and double ropes would be even more useful.
Getting ThereDiffwys is located in the southern portion of the Rhinogydd and can be approached from numerous directions. The best stars however, are all located on the range’s western side, either starting in Cwm Nantcol or Dyffryn Ardydwy
The best starting point is probably from near Cil-Cychwyn (SH 633 258) in Cwm Nantcol, which can easily be reached along narrow roads by leaving the A496, which runs along the coast from Llanulltyd near Dolgellau in the south to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the north, at Llanbedr or Dyffryn Ardydwy.
Alternatively it’s also possible to approach the mountain from the south by parking at Bontddu (SH 672 188) or Cwm Mynach (SH 684 215). The routes from here are less satisfying that the other options though.
The area can also be reached by rail, however getting from the stations to the mountains themselves can be difficult as public transport is pretty infrequent and hitching can be a bit of a nightmare these days.
Red Tape and AccessNo red tape here!
Although unlikely it's worth checking the countryside access map provided by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) regarding whether or not any restrictions on movement in the area are in place.
Countryside Access Map
For climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) runs a Regional Access Database, which holds mountain/crag specific information on matters of conservation and access, including issues such as nesting restrictions, nature designations and preferred parking.
Regional Access Database
If you are in any doubt about any particular access arrangement, or need to report an incident, you should contact your local BMC Access Representative or the BMC Access Officers for Wales: Elfyn Jones.
Camping and AccommodationThere’s an almost unlimited supply of accommodation within the Snowdonia National Park so it would be inappropriate to list it all here. For budget accommodation it’s worth checking out some of the following sites:
Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Independent Hostel Guide
Campsites in Gwynedd
For more local options, there are a number of campsites that surround the range. Nearby campsites can be found at Cae Gwyn Farm (SH 713 297) to the east of the range, and Merthyr Farm (SH 600 319) to the west.
For wild camping, both Llyn Hywl (SH 662 267) and Llyn Bodlyn (SH 648 239) make excellent locations.
Government Bodies and Official Organisations
Snowdonia National Park Authority
Council for National Parks
Association of National Park Authorities
Conwy County Council
Gwynedd County Council
Powys County Council
Countryside Council for Wales
Forestry Commission Wales
Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
The National Trust
Hiking, Climbing and Mountaineering Organisations and Companies
British Mountaineering Council
The Climbers Club
Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre
Mountain Weather Wales
Weather from the Met Office
Weather Channel UK
North Wales Tourism Partnership
Local Information from Gwynedd.com
Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net
North Wales Index
Welsh Public Transport Information
Uk Train Timetable
Youth Hostel Association in Wales
North Wales Campsites
Maps and Guidebooks
Harvey Map Services
Climbers Club Guidebooks
North Wales Bouldering
Mid Wales Climbing
Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop
Wildlife and Conservation
Joint Nature Conservation Committee
North Wales Wildlife Trust
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
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