OverviewOk lets be fair here, Rhobell Fawr (734m Ordnance datum) isn’t the most spectacular hill in the world, and when comparing it to Snowdonia’s other mountains it probably wouldn't score too highly. It doesn't match the scale of the Carneddau, lacks the ridges and arêtes of Snowdon, the cliffs of the Glyders, the snows of the Arans and the romanticism of the Rhinogs. It isn't even mentioned in the guidebooks. It is in fact just a rounded, rocky lump of a hill, isolated from its neighbouring mountains and surrounded by coniferous forest. A quick glance over the map and you might miss it altogether. So why, you might now be asking, would I want to climb this mountain? Well I'll tell you, because Rhobell Fawr is very special indeed.
Firstly, if you climb this mountain you will be completely alone, very few people ever visit it, and complete solitude in the mountains cannot be recommended enough. Secondly, the lack of paths and the intricate nature of the terrain provides a very rewarding navigational experience with the walker left entirely to their own devises. And thirdly, and this in my opinion is the clincher, to be had from the summit of this obscure mountain are some of the finest views in the whole of Wales. On a clear day, from this one spot, the whole of Snowdonia can be seen in one continuous sweeping panorama. In the distance to the north the mighty buttresses of Snowdon, Lliwedd and Crib Goch can be seen with the peaks of the Glyders, Tryfan and the Carneddau raising up and sweeping around them. To the north and northwest the Arenigs and Arans rise majestically from the Migneit Plateaux and the shores of Llyn Bala. To the south the grand massif of Cadair Idris dominates the skyline, and on days of exceptional clarity the rounded summits of Pumlumon and the Cambrian Mountains can be seen for as far as the eye can see. To the west the wave like form of the Rhinogs role from north to south, and beyond them the crystal blue waters of Cardigan Bay sparkle in the sunlight.
I hope this syfficient to persuade you that this little hill, this anicent volcano, this lonely summit, is worthy of a climb.
When to climbThis is simple, do it in the winter when the air is dry and crisp, the sun is shining and the clouds are far and few between.
Getting ThereThe mountain can be climbed from Cwm yr Allt-lwyd (which translates as Valley of the Grey Wood) (SH 787 292) in the north, or Llanfachreth (SH 754 224) and Blaenau (SH 791 225) in the south. The south is easiest to get to, with a short drive from the A494 at Aran Hall School (SH 798 216) or from the A470 at Dolgellau (SH 728 117). Cwm yr Allt-lwyd is a little harder to reach and requires a long drive in off the A 470 either through Coed Y Brenin (SH 728 235) if coming from the south, or over the hills from Bronaber (SH 712 317) if coming from the north. In snowy conditions Cwm yr Allt-lwyd isn't recommended as the roads are often steep and won't be gritted and attempting to drive over them is just asking for trouble.
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.
CampingThere is camping available at Berthlwyd (SH 735 187) and Cymer Abbey (SH 721 192) in the south. Alternatively, if there are a few of you, or its winter and camping sound like an unnecessary form of torture, there are chalets available at Bronaber (SH 712 317) in the north.
Of course there are also a number of hotels and B&Bs to be found in the nearest town Dolgellau (SH 728 117).
||Navigation Maps |
OS 1:25k Explorer Series OL 18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala/Y Bala
OS 1:50k Landranger Series 124 Porthmadog & Dolgellau
Harvey Map Services 1:25k Snowdonia South Rhinogs/Rhinogydd
OS Road Map 9
GuidebooksAlthough none of these books so much as mention Rhobell Fawr, they do contain information about the surrounding area that can be very helpful.
Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) by Merfyn Williams
The Mountains of England and Wales: Volume 1 Wales (Cicerone Guide) by John and Anne Nuttall
Hillwalking in Wales Vol 1 (Cicerone Guide) by Peter Hermon
Hillwalking in Wales Vol 2(Cicerone Guide) by Peter Hermon
Hillwalking in Snowdonia (Cicerone Guide) by Steve Ashton
Snowdonia National Park Authority
Gwynedd County Council
Local Information from Gwynedd.com
Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net
Local Information from Dolgellau.net
Countryside Council for Wales
The National Trust
Mountain Weather Wales
Weather from the Met Office
Weather Channel UK
Welsh Public Transport Information
Uk Train Timetable
Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Berthlwyd Holiday Park
Aber Cottage, Dolgellau
Aber Gwynant, Dolgellau
Bakery Cottage, Dolgellau
Bikers Retreat, Dolgellau
Bont Ddu Hall hotel
Bryn Hyfryd, bontddu
Brynygwin Isaf Self-Catering, Dolgellau
Maes Coch Farm, Dolgellau
Clifton House Hotel, Dolgellau
Ivy House, Dolgellau
Maps and Guidebooks
Harvey Map Services