There are many hikeable routes that weave their way to the summit of Rhinog Fawr; all of which take place among subtly beautiful scenery, and better yet, all of which are free from the crowds that plague Snowdonia’s more popular areas. This particular route is perhaps the easiest to access, as it does not require the long drive around to the Rhinog Range’s less accessible western side. It throws in a little more variety than the mountain’s other routes too, beginning in the coniferous forest at Graigddu-Isaf, following a waterfall studded stream up the range’s fore-slopes, and then opening up onto the heather clad slopes of Rhinog Fawr itself. And by doing so, neatly shows off the best this little mountain has to offer.
The start of the approach is located in part of Coed-y-Brenin Forest at the Graigddu-Isaf (SH 680 300) car park on the eastern side of Rhinog Fawr. To get there turn off the A470 at a very small junction (SH 711 307) just south of Bronaber. The junction is small and easily missed, extenuated by the fact that the road has numerous similar small exits, is very straight, and consequently, very fast. On turning off you’ll be immediately greeted by a gate across the road, go through this making sure you close the gate behind you. Drive along the road for around 3km until it terminates at the car park, just inside the forest.
Leave the car park along the forestry track that continues the natural course of the road westward. After a couple of minutes walking you will be diverted off the track along a wet, vegetated, and winding path through felled trees. The deepest gullies have had plastic pipes placed in them which can be used as ‘stepping stones’. Providing you manage to reach the other side without succumbing to the bog, you will exit onto a forestry track that fronts Graigddu-Isaf Farm (SH 680 300). Turn left and walk along the track in a southerly direction. After a few hundred metres, you will rwach the junction for Bwlch Tyddiad. Here there is a sign post, one sign points up a small path to Bwlch Tyddiad and the Roman Steps, the other points along the track you are already on, towards Bwlch Drws Ardudwy and Cwm Nantcol.
Leave the forestry track and take the path towards Bwlch Tyddiad. The path generally follows the course of Nant Llyn-du, and in places can get quite boggy. These wet patches can however, be easily bypassed by making short detours into the better drained surrounding forest. After around a kilometre and a half the path exits the forest and the bulk of Rhinog Fawr comes into view. Continue along the path to where it meets a low stone (SH 660 299). Here the path splits with one branch continuing to Bwlch Tyddiad, while the other goes in a southerly direction, up a steepening slope to Llyn Du (SH 655 294). Take the path to Llyn Du which will be reached in no more than 15 minutes.
Skirt around the northern shore of Llyn Du, hopping and scrambling over the boulders which tumble from the crags above, to the lake’s waters below. On reaching the far side of the lake, follow a path to a stone wall which runs in a serpentine course from north to south (SH 653 294). Another path follows the course of the wall, follow this south until you reach a junction (SH 652 291). Take the new path eastwards, along an undulating terrace to the point where the terrace narrows and ends. To the south-east, the slope steepens and the path splits into a number of independent braids. Take any of these, and climb steeply up scree and heather. Soon the slope eases and standing just a few hundred metres before you is the summit trig point of Rhinog Fawr (SH 652 291).
You will need all the paraphernalia associated with hillwalking in Wales: full waterproofs, fleece, hat, gloves, map, compass and of course some lunch.
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