The south face of Foel Penolau is a fantastic south facing crag, with some great routes on perfect, quick drying Rhinog grit - without a doubt one of the best crags in the area.
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. Technical grades are generally only given to climbs graded adjectivally as Hard Severe (HS) or above.
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. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available HERE!
The first two routes embark from a broad platform at the left-had end of the main crag.
There are five recorded routes on the smaller north west face of Foel Penolau. Halfway along the crag is a recess with a jagged arête at its back. Dehydration begins a metre left of the arête and finishes on top of it.
Mountain ConditionsThis section displays the weather forecast for Trawsfynydd, which is located to the east and is one of the nearest towns to Foel penolau. Remember that Trawsfynydd sits at around 230 metres above sea level whereas the summit of Foel Penolau reaches 614m. 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.
When to Climb and Essential GearFoel Penolau can be climbed at anytime of the year, however, in poor conditions the mountain's rock routes are best avoided, particularly if the weather's been wet. March to September 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 for others.
If your lucky enough to climb the mountains in winter conditions then an ice axe and crampons are essential.
Getting ThereFoel Penolau is located in the northern half of the Rhinogydd and is one of the range’s least visited summits. It can be approached from its east via the A470(T), which runs from Dolgellau to Conwy and Colwyn Bay, or the west, via the smaller A496, which runs along the coast from Llanulltyd near Dolgellau and around to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the north.
If approaching from the east you will need to leave the A470(T) at the minor junction at Cefn-gallt-y-cwm (SH 710 345) and travel in a westward direction along the southern shores of Llyn Trawsfynydd. A second junction will be reached after around 1.5km (SH 696 347), take the right fork here and continue along the western shore of the lake. Park near Moelfryn-uchaf (SH 684 358) and follow the nearest right of way into the range. Soon the paths will run out and you will have to find your own way.
An arguably better approach is from the west, which takes slightly longer to get to. Leave the A470(T) at Maentwrog (SH 665 407) and follow the A496 westwards along the river towards Harlech. After about 10km you’ll reach the junction with the B4573 (SH 606 349). It’s an unusual junction, because rather than turning off onto the B4573 you carry straight on (the turn off is actually for the A470(T)). Continue along the B4573 past the row of houses at Glan-y-Wern until you reach a small stone bridge over a stream. There is a junction at this bridge signposting Eisingrug (SH 615 345); turn off here and follow the minor road to Eisingrug. At Eisingrug take the second minor road on the right (it’s hard to spot, joining the road your on between a field boundary and a stone building), and follow it to its terminus. Here you will find a small grassy parking area and the start of the Miners Track (SH 628 342). There is a payment of £2 to be made for using the car park, which is placed in a box attached to the landowner’s gate. Payments made for parking are donated to the Wales Air Ambulance Service.
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; Cae Adda (SH 690 355), which is near Llyn Trawsfynydd or Bryn Bwbach (SH 620 368) on the opposite side of the range.
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