Glasgwm/Craig Cywarch

Glasgwm/Craig Cywarch

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 52.76090°N / 3.72439°W
Additional Information County: Gwynedd
Activities Activities: Hiking, Trad Climbing, Bouldering, Mixed
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 2559 ft / 780 m
Sign the Climber's Log


"The upper part of this valley [Cwm Cywarch] with its great crags and scree slopes, its mineral-rich rocks, its gorges and cascades, and its remoteness from internal combustion engines, is a place that deserves to be set aside and safeguarded from every threat of change or exploitation"

William Condry, naturalist (1918-1998)

The unassuming grassy hill of Glasgwm harbours something of a schizophrenic personality. On the one hand the mountain is cursed with a completely uninspiring summit area - it’s flat, it’s round and it’s criss-crossed by a maze of fences. There’s little here to keep even the most ardent of hill-goer happy. On the other hand, tucked away under its sheltered eastern flank, is Craig Cywarch, a 3km long series of crags and buttresses which are home to the greatest density of rock climbs in Mid Wales. And thank God, because otherwise this hill would be completely without merit. Craig Cywarch is Glasgwm’s principle point of interest (hence the twin title), and it’s this feature that this page will mostly focus upon. It has to, if it were to focus on any other part of the mountain, it would be a very short page indeed.

So as a quick introduction let’s throw out a few facts. Glasgwm’s summit is 780 metres above sea level and has a prominence of 213 metres. For the peak baggers out there, this is enough to qualify it as a Marilyn, a Hewitt, a Nuttall and a Buxton & Lewis, the latter of which is going to be of interest to no one but the most dogged of list tickers. The bulk of Craig Cywarch is located between around 300 and 600 metres above sea level, placing its crags within a relatively short distance of the nearest road. The nearest road by the way is not much more than a single lane track which services a few farms in the upper reaches of the valley. It’s this remoteness that helps make the experience of climbing here so special.

Placing the crag in a geographical context is a little tricky. Although it’s located within the boundary of the Snowdonia National Park, the surrounding landscape bares little resemblance to the rugged terrains that the park is best known for. Rather, Glasgwm’s rounded profile is homogeneous with the more subdued hills of the Cambrian Mountains to the south. The crags have a uniquely Welsh quality; they sit perfectly on the hillside dominating the lush, grassy valley of Cwm Cywarch below; commanding a vista which is both grand in scale and intimate in feel.

Craig Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)

The crags offer a range climbs starting at Moderate and working their way all the way up to E7. The igneous rock generally offers good holds and protection, however most of the lines are rarely ascended and some of the least used can involve more ‘gardening’ than actual rock climbing. Another consideration is that Mid Wales’ rock is frustratingly adept at holding onto water, even after a day or so of clear weather. When wet, the rock becomes very greasy and all but the very easiest of routes should probably be avoided. Aside from the physical difficulties that climbing on wet rock poses, constantly having to clear soggy vegetation from a route is a thankless task, particularly if you are seconding and have to endure a constant shower of wet moss and lichen. This effectively limits the climbing season to the beginning of March at the earliest, to the end of October at the latest; of course if a nice big high comes along and sits over the area for a week or so you might get lucky!

Historically the area around Craig Cywarch was exploited for its lead deposits, and mines existed in the valley right up until the beginning of the 20th century. Today many of the farms have converted old mine buildings and mills into houses and barns. Some of the workings still exist and many of the approaches to the crag follow old miner’s tracks and tramways. Prior to the discovery of exploitable metals, the area was considered to be a wild and remote corner of Wales. During the 16th century the valley was home to a band of outlaws known as Cochion Cywarch (The Reds of Cywarch ), apparently so called after the colour of their leaders hair. The band terrorized the region and gained such notoriety that they now have a pub – The Brigand’s Inn – named after them in the nearby village of Mallwyd. The area has a strong cultural tradition; Ellis Wynne composed Gweledigaetheu y Bardd Cwsc - 'Visions of the Sleeping Bard' (1703), one of the most influential pieces of Welsh Language Literature ever written, just down the road in Aber Cywarch (which you must drive through to reach the crag).

Glasgwm-Craig Cywarch CliffsCraig Cywarch (Photo by daveyboy)
Glasgwm from Aran Fawddwy southern edgeGlasgwm(Photo by daveyboy)
Craig Cywarch framed in Winter ColoursCraig Cywarch (Photo by daveyboy)

Climbing began on Craig Cywarch in the first decade of the 20th century when on Easter 1907 a Rucksack Club (a Manchester based club founded in 1902) party led by C.H. Pickstone visited the crag and recorded climbs on the three main gullies. Unfortunately they neglected to record any other climbs in the area, so any other first ascents climbed on that preliminary weekend are now lost to history. For the next 40 years or so very little occurred on Craig Cywarch, until in 1950 when Norman Horsfield, who, after reading some old Rucksack Club Journals, partnered up with Peter Harding and decided to explore the crag, and so began a new age of exploration in the area. In 1954 the Staffordshire based Mountain Club gained the use of an old farm house at the head of the valley at Tyn-y-Twll, increasing the popularity of Craig Cywarch immeasurably. By 1957 over 50 routes had been recorded and in 1958 the first guidebook, written by R.E. Lambe, was published. In 1960 The Mountain Club began construction on their own hut on the site of an old derelict mine building. The hut was christened Bryn Hafod, and to celebrate its opening a party was held to which all the local farmers were invited. This close relationship between the Mountain Club and local landowners has resulted in unrestricted access to the crags, a remarkable achievement in an area which is notorious for its access issues.

The 60s bought such legends as Chris Bonnington and Joe Brown to the area who recorded several new lines on Sawdl y Graig and Gist Ddu. However it would be members of the Mountain Club who would dominate the Arans for the next 10 years or so, with John Sumner, Barry Knox and Dave Adcock continuing the extensive exploration which they began in the late 1950s. The ever popular Will o' the Wisp (HVD) was a product of this era. The late 70s and early 80s bought a new generation of climbers to the area, and the climbing standards were again raised. The 90s bought fourth a flurry of new routes, and over a weeks holiday in 1994 Martin Crocker and John Harwood opened up some of the area's finest climbs, culminating in the area's hardest line, the epic Sci-Fi (E7 6b).

Interactive Map

This map of Glasgwm shows the main crags and outcrops of Craig Cywarch. You can get information on the crags, which will appear in the right hand box by hovering your moose cursor over the map symbols. For an annotated printable map click HERE.

An XHTML 1.0 Strict standard template

Creigiau Camddwr

2 routes - E2 5b to E3 5b

A series of small crags on the northern side of Cwm Cywarch almost directly opposite Creigiau Sawdl Efa. They have only two recorded climbs but have huge potential for bouldering, and no doubt many unrecorded problems have troubled climbers past. If you’re going to boulder here however, just beware of the potential 150m roll down the mountain side if you fall!

Creigiau Sawdl Efa

5 routes - D to HVS 5a

An small area of short steep crags on the far northern tail of Craig Cywarch. The crag can be located by an obvious grassy ledge that runs under the main wall.

Dinas Llywelyn

1 route – HVS 5a

A subsidiary of the Ffenestr y Graig area, Dinas Llywelyn is a striking tower that sits in the gully that separates its parent crag from Creigiau Sawdl Efa in the west. The tower sports only one route – King Edward's Army (HVS 5a).

Ffenestr y Graig

20 routes – S to E6 6b

A steep area of rock that sits above and to the right of Craig Llywelyn. The crag is home to a number of excellent routes including Learning to Fly (E3 5c), Quartizone (E6 6b) and Keel Haul (E2 5b).

Craig Llywelyn

19 routes – VD to E5 6a

An outstanding line of crags which run along most of Craig Cywarch's northern slope. Its main attraction is the 120 metre rib which runs up its full height and gives what are probably the best VS (Doom VS 4b) and HVS (Acheron HVS 5a) in the Arans, if not the whole of southern Snowdonia.

Sawdl y Graig

19 routes - D to E6 6b

A 75 metre high nose of rock, bounded on the left by North Gully and on the right by a line of grassy terraces. Highlights include Charon (E1 5b) and Hades (E1 5a).

Hafn Mawr

18 routes – VD to E5 6b

A series of buttresses consisting of Tap Isa Hafn Mawr, Tap Uchaf Hafn Mawr and the North-North-East Towers. Those with a grasp of Welsh will have deduced that Tap Uchaf Hafn Mawr sits above Tap Isa Hafn Mawr – everyone else will just have to take my word for it; the North-North-East Towers are located just below Hafn Mawr directly above the approach path. Sickle Wall (S 4b) and The Scythe (VS 4a), both on Tap Isa Hafn Mawr, are probably the best climbs the buttresses have to offer.

Esgair Felen

16 routes – M to E1 5b

This area comprises of two separate crags; Esgair Felen Uchaf, which is sandwiched between Great Gully on the left and North Gully on the right; and Esgair Felen Isaf which is located below the main rock face close to the approach path. Esgair Felen Uchaf has the best routes with Shade of Pale (E1 5b) being the finest. Esgair Felen Isaf is now rather vegetated, but does offer a number of easy climbs which have been the staple of local outdoor centres for decades and offer some fun solo opportunities for the more experienced.

Tap y Graig

38 routes – D to E2 5c

Sitting between Little Gully on the left and Great Gully of the right, Tap y Graig is the large buttress that dominates much of Craig Cywarch's east face. The face is split into 8 separate sections (from left to right) – Little Gully Wall, Will-o'-the-Wisp Wall, Baskerville Wall, Thung Wall, Brik-a-brac Wall, The Upper Wall, Tap Dwyren (which is a crag above the main wall – see map) and Great Gully. The buttress is home to Craig Cywarch's most popular climb, the excellent Will-o'-the-Wisp (HVD) which takes a rising traverse across the left hand portion of the crag. Other highlights include Sweet Baby James (HVS 5a), Bluebell Babylon (VS 4b) and A Touch of Class (VD).

Tap Mawr

27 routes – M to E5 6b

A large triangular shaped buttress located between Cwm Bydyre and Little Gully, Tap Mawr towers above the second plantation. Its upper and lower tiers are separated by a large grassy terrace which runs the length of the crag. The lower tier is very steep, with roofs and overhangs providing some excellent hard routes. unfortunately an over-abundance of vegetation and a series of grassy rakes spoil the continuity of the crag and limits the number of truly impressive routes. Located just below the right hand end and just left of the fence running up from the left hand end of the second plantation is a little tower known as The Old Man of Cywarch. There are a number of short routes on it ranging from D to VS.

Tap y Gigfran

33 routes – M to E7 6b

Tap y Gigfran sits between the valleys of Cwm yr Ychen on the left, and Cwm Bydyre on the right. It has two main faces – the first is the imposing South Face which overlooks Cwm yr Yechen and is home to Craig Cywarch's hardest route - Sci-Fi (E7 6b); and the second is the Eastern Slabs, which has two further subsidiary crags – the North Wing Upper Buttress and North Wing Lower Buttress. Although less frequented than its northern neighbours and being a little 'veggier' in character than most people would like, Tap y Gigfran has some fantastic climbs all within close proximity of one another. Some of the best include Dream Racer (E2 5c), Purge (E3 5c), Crozzley Wall (E4 5c) and Rolair (E3 6a).

Tap Rhygan Ddu

13 routes – S to E6 6b

Concealed high up on the northern side of the appropriately named Hidden Cwm, and just above the obvious feature of Tap y Gigfran, this steep rock face offers some of the most exciting routes on Craig Cywarch. With the exception of Shady Saunter (Severe) all the climbs are at the harder end of the spectrum, the hardest of which is The Devil Within (E6 6b) which takes a spectacular line directly over the large overhanging feature which dominates the rock face.

Hidden Cwm

1 route – VD

The Hidden Cwm lies between Tap y Gornel and Tap Rhygan Ddu, and over the years has produced several very short routes of a rather scrappy nature. The only route worth doing in the area is Knockdown, a 60m, 4 pitch Very Difficult, which takes the arête on Mur Goch high up on the southern side of the valley.

Cwm yr Ychen

7 routes – D to E2 5b

Cwm yr Ychen is the valley just north of Tap Pant Cae and is used here to group a number of small crags in its upper reaches. Its most interesting feature is the short pinnacle known as Maen Hir which has a handful of interesting lines ascending its various aspects. The other two crags in the group, Craig Maen Hir and Craig y Gornel, are less interesting and share only three routes between them.

Tap Pant Cae

112 routes – S to E6 6a

Wet and vegetated in places Tap Pant Cae may seem like an unattractive prospect for most, but its greenish walls do offer some interest for anyone looking for a bit of a challenge. White Ribbon (HS 4a) on its East Face and Basil Brush Stroke (E6 6a) on its North Face are particularly noteworthy.

Pant Lygog

7 routes – VD to E6 6b

Pant Lygog is a hanging valley boasting an assortment of broken buttresses and small crags. Arguably the best of these is the V-shaped Tapiau Geifr which is home to a couple of interesting multi pitch routes – Stronghold (S) and Battlements (HS 4a). One of the area's other crags, The Black Tower, also holds a couple of interesting routes in the form of a couple of short (only 12 metres), but difficult single pitch climbs (or possibly highball bouldering problems) – The Cywarch Finger Flake (E5 6a) and Kangaroo Moon (E6 6b).


As stated above, the main attraction of Glasgwm is Craig Cywarch which offers a wide range of single and multi-pitch routes. However the mountain also offers a number of possibilities for hikers, and most will choose to ascend it from Cwm Cywarch whilst at the same time bagging some of the Aran range's other peaks. The summit is much less frequented than the range’s other mountains, so anyone climbing it will probably spend their time alone. Also, there are no paths, but navigation is simplified by a fence that runs from north to south across the backbone of the range. A brief description of the most interesting short route is described on the following page – Glasgwm via Cwm Cywarch.

Craig Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)

Rock Climbing

Craig Cywarch encapsulates everything that is good about climbing in Mid Wales. It’s wild, it’s rugged, it takes place in beautiful surroundings, and best of all, it’s quiet; in all likelihood you’ll be the only climbers on the crag. All you have to do is wait for some nice sunny weather and then get busy! The climbs below are described from left to right, or for those with a purely geographical mind, south to north. The climbs are listed and graded with the aid of the 2002 Climbers' Club guidebook to Meirionnydd, with aid from Paul Williams’ Rock Climbing in Snowdonia and the website (where I moderate the crag page), so for detailed descriptions of the climbs see these sources (with the exception of, which only lists them). 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. Be aware that this is a trad climbing venue, you will need a full rack and bolting is strictly prohibited. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available HERE!

Pant Lygog       Cwm yr Ychen    
S & D 76m VD   Kurzweg 6m D
Portcullis 43m S   Steilweg 18m S
The Cywarch Finger Flake 12m E5 6a   Sharkfing 21m E2 5b
Kangaroo Moon 12m E6 6b   Schnellweg 15m S
Stronghold 99m S 4a   The Wall 30m HVS 5a
Battlements 106m HS 4a   Taranu Crack 27m HVS 5a
Higher than the Sun 27m E3, 6a   Flashback 46m HS 4b
Tap Pant Cae       Hidden Cwm    
White Ribbon 42m HS 4a   Knockdown 60m VD
The Wizard 36m S        
Green Wall 37m E2 5c   Tap Rhygan Ddu    
Dunsinane 46m HS 4a        
The Sting 55m HVS 5a   Shady Saunter 52m S
Gryptych 52m HS 4b   Darkness on the Edge of Town 24m E3 6a
Clubs 32m S   Shouts in Space 40m E3 6a
Paper Back 27m HVS 5b   Chariots of Fire 37m E2 5c
Basil Brush Sttroke 21m E6 6a   Sulpher Mountain 46m E5 6b
Room at the Top 27m HS   The Devil Within 46m E6 6b
Pencilhead 15m E3 5c   Tithing Man 45m E4 6a
Penpushers Groove 27m E2 5c   Barbarism 35m E5 6b
        Bapteme de l'Air 107m E1 5b
        The Stud 30m E5 6c
        Tobias 35m E5 6b
        Girdle Traverse 75m VS 4b
        General Galtierei 18m HS 4a

Tap y GigfranNorth Wing Lower Eastern Slabs of Tap y Gigfran (Photo by Nanuls)
Tap y GigfranNorth Wing Lower Buttress of Tap y Gigfran (Photo by Nanuls)
Tap y GigfranSouth Face of Tap y Gigfran (Photo by Nanuls)

Tap y Gigfran       Tap Mawr    
Concorde 37m S   Migrane 51m HVS 5a
South West Arete 41m VD   Black Wall 66m VS 4c
Concorde Direct 30m E1 5c   Belli 67m HS
The Clivierd Line 24m VS 4c   Sheep's Climb 60m M
Beggars Banquet 50m HVS 5b   Jungle 50m VS 4b
Buzzard's Balcony 46m S   Short Circuit 50m VS 4b
Little Red Rooster 57m E2 5c   The Graveyard 50m HVS 5a
Dream Racer 54m E2 5c   Frigid Pink 27m E1 5b
Lucy in the Sky 67m HVS 5a   Scourge 34m E1 5c
The Doghouse 57m E6 6b   The Mind's Eye 34m E4 5c
Sci-Fi 27m E7 6b   The Overlap 34m E2 5c
Purge 60m E3 5c   Old Glory 30m E4 6a
Sveinstock 67m HVS 5a   China Shop 24m VS 4b
Crozzly Wall 46m E4 5c   Live Like a King 12m E5 6b
Rolair 30m E3 6a   Wedgewood 26m HVS 5a
Fleet Air Arm 27m E5 6c   Loon Plage 30m E5 6b
The Grafter 87m E3 6a   Bear Cage 27m E4 5c
Heist 35m E2 5c   Tapdance 24m E5 6a
Tumblin' Dice 41m E2 5c   Peacekeeper 24m E3 6a
The Crab 47m HVS 5a   Soldier 27m E1 5b
Thyme 35m HVS 5b   Delfr 21m HVS 5a
Nicht Schlafen Trauma 27m E5 6b   Flanker 30m VD
Lanchester 38m HVS 4b   The Steeple 63m VS 4b
Incapability 90m D   Perishers 64m S
The Gem 76m HS 4b   Frontal Crack 8m VD
Jack o' Diamonds 105m HVD   Little Gully   D
Hot Pants 91m VD   Barad d'Ur 57m S
Wright's Route 40m S        
Sifta 39m S        
Salt Free 40m HVS 5a        
Cerebos 39m S        
Square-Cut Gully 90m M        
Square Chimney 50m VD        

Tap y GraigTap y Graig (Photo by Nanuls)
Will o  the WispWill o' the Wisp - HVD (Photo by Nanuls)
Great GullyGreat Gully (Photo by Nanuls)
Will o  the WispWill o' the Wisp - HVD (Photo by Nanuls)

Tap y Graig       Esgair Felen    
Fritz The Cat 30m VD   Shade of Pale 53m E1 5b
Flu '69 45m HS 4b   Shade of Pale Right-Hand 50m HVS 5a
Porcupine 64m VS   Lone Ranger 50m HVS 5a
Sweet Baby James 43m HVS 5a   Grimbarian 65m VS 4b
Mud Slide Slim 63m VS 4c   The Mekon 52m S
Oread 90m VS 4b   The Worm 24m HVS 5b
Derwent 73m VS 4b   The Arch 49m S
Electric Rail 46m HVS 5b   Lectern Direct 46m VS 4c
Raindrop 58m VS 4c   Yggdrasil 55m VD
Bluebell Babylon 78m VS 4b   Peal 43m HS 4a
Will-o'-the-Wisp 95m HVD   Recuperation 54m D
Pear Tree Blues 55m VS 4c   Restoration 48m VD
Katmandu 66m HVS 4c   First Anniversary 32m M
Katmandu, Direct Start 21m E1 5c   The Archer 18m VS 4c
A Touch of Class 78m VD   Lincoln Green 18m VS 5a
Oh Calcutta 79m VS 4b   Inclination 20m HS
Elephant Wall 82m S 4a        
Diagonal Arête 99m D   Hafn Mawr    
Baskerville 40m HVS 5a        
Dancing Man 30m HVS 5a   North Gully 180m HS
The Fortifier 43m VS 4c   Rolling Stone 48m S
Central Route 66m S   All in a Day 15m E2 6b
Thung 87m VS 4b   Time After Tim 15m E2 6b
Bric-a-brac 41m VS 4b   Mothers Pride 76m HS 4b
Brick Wall 37m E1 5b   Big Boy 18m E3 6a
George Machine 27m VS 4c   Sickle Wall 57m S 4b
The Comedians 21m HVS 5a   The Scythe 61m VS 4a
Second Foundation 23m E2 5c   Apollo 36m VS 4b
Auto-Man 23m HVS 5a   Half Moon Crack 21m S
Tombstone Blues 48m HS 4a   Relaxation 36m VD
Ring Wraith 39m HVS 4b   For Hyll Drem 21m E4 5c
The Yellow Policeman 53m VS 4c   Wunderstuff 21m E5 6b
Quartzberg 35m HVS 5a   Hot House Flowers 21m E3 5c
Surrealistic 55m S   South Face Crack 18m HS 4b
Tower of Babel 133m VD   Don't Even Think About It 18m E5 6b
The Dome 27m VS 4b   Bundu 21m VS 4b
Alicia 40m HVS 5a   Wig Walk 21m HS 4a
Great Gully 150m D        

Craig CywarchCraig Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)
Simon & Hayley on Will o  the...Will o' the Wisp - HVD (Photo by Phillip Stasiw)
Cwm Cywarch with a bit of snowCwm Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)

Sawdl y Graig       Craig Llywelyn    
Phoebus 72m VD   Trend 104m VS 4b
Lethe 70m D   Troom 110m VD
Free Aran 76m E5 6a   Vulcan 146m HVS 5b
AGM 84m VD   Acheron 146m HVS 5a
Styx 65m VS 4b   Kaisepakte 78m E1 5b
The Technician 44m E3 5c   The Mule 80m E1 5b
Technician Direct 36m E4 5c   Doom 113m VS 4b
Hades 45m E1 5a   Italia 90 40m E2 5b
Hell's Gate 54m E2 5b   Guillotine 53m VS 4b
Stygian Wall 68m VS 4c   Northerner 56m E2 5c
Strobe 85m E3 5c   Midlander 112m VS 4c
Carrion 62m E1 5b   The Big Cleft 92m HVS 5a
Trouble Maker 56m E2 5c   Man of Kent 90m VS 4c
Tech Noir 24m E6 6b   The Magic Dragon 96m HVS 5a
Charon 57m E1 5b   Click 85m VS 4b
Pluto 33m E3 5c   Jugs Groove 36m E3 5c
Sweet September 30m E6 6b   Mad Ray 27m E5 6a
Midsummer's Day Dream 24m E5 6b   Girdle Traverse 203m HVS 5a
Girdle Traverse 112m E1 5b   Pick n' Choose 20m E4 6a

The ruin below Tap y GigfanTap y Gigfran (Photo by Nanuls)
Tap y GornelTap y Gornel (Photo by Nanuls)
Jack of DiamondsJack of Diamonds - HVD (Photo by Nanuls)
Craig Cywarch and fenceCraig Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)

Ffenestr y Graig    
Hope Street 42m S 4a
Learning to Fly 34m E3 5c
Hopsit 78m HS 4b
The Whisper 82m HVS 5a
Quartz Wall 118m E1 5c
First Visit 84m HVS 5a
Quartizone 39m E6 6b
Cat a' Nine Tails 34m E2 5c
Quartz Buttress 72m HVS 5a
Powder Monkey 70m E2 5c
Hard Rain 80m E2 5c
Plankwalk 74m HVS 5b
Keel Haul 70m E2 5b
Gornik 39m S 4a
Ceramic Chimney 21m S
Sybarite 40m HVS 4b
Spartan 45m E2 5c
Crimea 40m E5 6a
Heretic 43m E2 5c
Quartz Vein 39m VS 4c
King Edwards Army 46m HVS 5b
Creigiau Sawdl Efa    
Rubble Wall 24m HS 4b
Rankle Boot Chimney 9m D
The Little Red Helmet 67m S
Where Eagles Dare 30m HVS 5a
Whirligig 62m S 4a
Creigiau Camddwr    
Whistling in the Dark 9m E3 5b
Strolling in the Park 9m E2 5b
First AnniversaryFirst Anniversary - M (Photo by Nanuls)
IncapabilityIncapability - D (Photo by Nanuls)
View from Aran FawddwyGlasgwm (Photo by Nanuls)
Craig CywarchCraig Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)

Winter Climbing

Owing to Craig Cywarch’s low altitude it’s pretty unlikely that anything short of an impending ice age is going to produce any kind of reliable conditions, which is a shame because the crag has a lot of potential. Nevertheless a small number of climbs have been recorded, and it’s worth noting them for the sake of completeness if nothing else. Realistically these climbs are only likely to be do-able by locals, who are able to quickly drop whatever they usually do when not climbing, and take advantage of any small window of opportunity while is lasts. For full descriptions of what's on offer see Malcolm Campbell and Andy Newton’s guidebook Welsh Winter Climbs. Climbs are graded according to the Scottish winter grading system, which for your convenience is explained on the Ben Nevis Page.

Maen Hir Ice Fall 95m IV
North Gully 195m IV, 4
Hopsit 75m IV, 5
Dinas Llywelyn Gully 150m II, 3

Creigiau CamddwrCreigiau Camddwr (Photo by JoeHarris)
Craig CywarchCraig Cywarch (Photo by JoeHarris)
Craig CywarchEsgair Felen (Photo by JoeHarris)

Mountain Conditions

This section displays the mountain conditions for Snowdonia, of which Glasgwm/Craig Cywarch is part. Click on the widget for maps and further information.

This Snowdonia weather forecast is generated by the Met Office Weather Widget

When To Climb and Essential Gear

Glasgwm can be climbed at anytime of the year however in poor conditions the routes on Craig Cywarch are best avoided particularly 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 for others. It is worth noting that some areas of rock, particularly those that have been heavily abraded, can become very greasy when wet.

If your lucky enough to climb the mountain in winter conditions then an ice axe (or ice axes on the harder routes), crampons, a helmet, a rope and a decent winter rack (if going for a more serious route) are all essential.

Getting There

Unless you live in the wilds somewhere above Aber Cywarch, or perhaps somewhere in the region of Llanuwchllyn or Bala then the only realistic way you are going to get to Craig Cywarch is via Dinas Mawddwy.

To get there turn off the A470, which runs between Dolgellau (SH 729 181) in the west and Machynlleth (SH 748 008) in the south-east, at Dinas Mawddwy (SH 858 148) and take the road towards Aber-Cywarch (SH 867 157). Just after you cross the bridge at Aber-Cywarch turn left up an unclassified road signposted for Cwm Cywarch. Follow the road, which is narrow and winding, until you reach the parking area at Fawnog Fawr (SH 854 182). All approaches for Craig Cywarch begin here. The best hiking routes for the summit of Glasgwm also start here although if you wish you can approach the mountain from Rhydymain (SH 805 220) on the A494 from Bala (SH 926 359).

Upper Cwm CywarchUpper Cwm Cywarch (Photo by Nanuls)
GlasgwmWalking on Llyn y Fign (Photo by JoeHarris)
GlasgwmSummit of Glasgwm (Photo by JoeHarris)

Red Tape and Access

No red tape or access issues here!

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 Accommodation

There are fewer places to stay around Glasgwm and the Arans than elsewhere in Snowdonia, but if you look carefully there are some really nice places to stay. The most obvious choice for anyone with an eye on Craig Cywarch is Stafford Mountain Club’s hut, Bryn Hafod located near the foot of the crag. The hut is unusual as it can be booked by everyone and anyone, not just club members, although club members will be given preference at busy times; for information on availability and booking click HERE!

Rather than list all the possible places on this page I’ve included a few links which contain details for local accommodation:

Celyn Brithion Campsite in Dinas Mawddwy

Hotels and B&Bs around Dinas Mawddwy

Campsites around Bala

Hotels and B&Bs around Bala

Campsites around Machynlleth

Hotels and B&Bs around Machynlleth


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

Ordnance Suvey 1:25k Explorer Series OL 23 Cadair Idris & Bala Lake / Llyn Tegid

Ordnance Survey 1:50k Landranger Series 124 Porthmadog & Dolgellau

Harvey Map Services 1:25k Snowdonia Aran

Harvey Map Services/BMC 1:40k British Mountain Map Snowdonia South

Road Maps

Ordnance Survey Tour Series 10 North and Mid Wales


External Links

Glasgwm and Cwm CywarchCwm Cywarch, Craig Cywarch and Glasgwm from Aran Fawddwy (Photo by Nanuls)
Kate and Stu on the Traverse...Will o' the Wisp - HVD (Photo by Phillip Stasiw)
Another pic of the Parking...Cwm Cywarch (Photo by Phillip Stasiw)
GlasgwmLlyn y Fign near the summit of Glasgwm (Photo by JoeHarris)

Government Bodies and Official Organisations

Snowdonia National Park Authority

Council for National Parks

Association of National Park Authorities

Natural Resources Wales


Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales

Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

Snowdonia Society

The National Trust

Hiking, Climbing and Mountaineering Organisations and Companies

British Mountaineering Council

The Climbers’ Club


Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre

Hightreck Snowdonia


Mountain Weather Wales

Weather from the Met Office

BBC Weather

Tourist Information

Visit Wales

North Wales Tourism Partnership

Local Information from

Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net

North Wales Index


Welsh Public Transport Information

UK Train Timetable


Youth Hostel Association in Wales

Pete's Eats

Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel

Maps and Guidebooks

Ordnance Survey

Harvey Map Services

Cicerone Guidebooks

Climbers’ Club Guidebooks


North Wales Bouldering

Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop

Wildlife and Conservation

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Natur Gwynedd

North Wales Wildlife Trust

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.