Rhinogs, a traverse

Rhinogs, a traverse

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 52.83886°N / 3.99559°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: Mostly hiking with scrambling in places
Sign the Climber's Log


The Rhinogydd are one of Wales' least visited ranges which is, in all honesty a crying shame, because they offer one of the wildest most pristine landscapes south of Scotland. Few people realise that these mountains cover an area as large as Sonwdon, the Glyderau and the Carneddau put together, sure they can't match the height and scale of said mountains, but they more than make up for this with their sheer beauty.

So what better way to enjoy these mountains than one long traverse across this magnificent range. This route is just over 26km in length, has over 2,000 metres of climb and can be done in one or two days depending on how hard you want to push it. I would recommend taking two days, keeping an easy pace, taking in the scenery and enjoying a beautiful wild camp on the edge of one of the many secluded lakes and ponds that the Rhinogydd hide.

The Rhinogs

Getting There

There's a choice for you here, do you want to start the route in the north or in the south?

North: you can get to Trawsfynydd (SH 707 356) easily by car via the A470 which runs from Conwy in the north to Dolgellau (SH 729 177) in the south. It's also on a bus route and near a busy road (the A470 again) which is ideal for hitching.

South: you can get to Bontddu (SH 669 187) by turning off the A470 at the roundabout at Llanelltyd (SH 715 193) near Dolgellau, and following the A496 about 5km west to the starting point.

This also highlights the only problem, and it is a small problem, with the route. How do you get back to the car at the start of the walk? Its over 26km away at the other side of the range. There are three viable options:

1. Ask someone kind to drop you off at the start and pick you up at the finish,

2. Catch the bus, there is route that runs through Trawsfynydd to Dolgellau where a connection can be caught to Bontddu, just make sure you have a timetable handy so you know what’s going on,

3. Hitch, not for everyone, and it can take a long time, but if your lucky it will take you from A to B with relatively little hassle.

Rhinogs from the northRhinog Fawr is in the forground and Rhinog Fach can be seen just behind it on the left

Route Description

This varies depending on where you start, in the north or south, personally I recommend starting in the south, as you can enjoy a rather nice scramble up the southern side of Rhinog Fawr.

Bontddu to Y Llethr: The route follows Afon Cwm-llechen north until Llechfraith, then after a short stretch on a small unclassified road (no more than 200m) it turns in a roughly northerly direction along the south-eastern slope of Diffwys (750m). It then climbs the ridge (there's some nice scrambling here) to a point that is 688m above sea level. From here it turns south to the summit of Diffwys. From Diffwys it then doublebacks on itself a short while, before crossing over the wall that runs from summit to summit, and follows Crib-y-rhiw ridge and onto the summit of Y Llethr(756m).

Y Llethr to Rhinog Fach: From Y Llethr the route skirts around the top of the summit and requires a quick jump over the wall to the north and then a steep descent to Llyn Hywel. From Llyn Hywel there is a short climb to the summit of Rhinog Fach (712m).

Llyn Hywel, RhinogsLlyn Hywel from Rhinog Fach

Rhinog Fach to Rhinog Fawr: From Rhinog Fach the route double backs on itself back down to Llyn Hywel before heading in a northerly direction along Cwm Hosan and into Bwlch Drws Ardydwy. From here the route turns east along the valley before turning north and onto the summit of Rhinog Fawr (720m). There is scrambling to grade 1 along this last stretch of the leg, which can be hugely enjoyable in the right conditions, however if visibility is poor then route finding can be difficult. An alternative route to the summit can be made by taking a path down and through the forest plantation in the east, and the climbing up to Llyn Du to attack the summit.

Rhinog Fawr to Foel Penolau: First of all the route descends Rhinog Fawr, past Llyn Du and into Bwlch Tyddiad, and then runs roughly north past Llyn Morwynion, following the skyline of the Rhinogydd along various plateaux’s and across numerous steep and rocky gullies. It’s a hugely enjoyable leg of the walk and there are many ideal spots for a wild camp. The route then climbs onto Craig Ddrwg (which means bad rock in Welsh) and after a short walk north reaches Moel Ysgyfarnod (623m). From here the rocky summit of Foel Penolau (614m) can be seen, and after a short walk and scramble it can be reached in relatively quickly.

Llyn DuLlyn Du (which means Black Lake in Welsh)

Foel Penolau to Moelfryn/Trawsfynydd: From here it's downhill all the way (well almost), as the route descends into Cwm Moch and then to Moelfryn where the route ends. If you can get picked up here then all the better, but if you can't then Trawsfynydd is only a 3km walk away, and a shortcut can be made over a footbridge across Llyn Trawsfynydd. Conveniently there is a campsite at Cae Adda (SH 690 355), on the shores of Llyn Trawsfynydd if needed.

Profile of Rhinog TraverseProfile of the route

Essential Gear

No special gear needed for this walk, only the usual waterproofs and a good pear of boots. If your going to camp then you’ll obviously need a tent too.

In winter an ice axe and a pair of crampons may also come in handy.


External Links

Perched Erratic on Striated Bedrock (exciting stuff I can tell you)A lovely example of a glacial erratic perched upon striated bedrock near Moel Ysgyfarnod

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 Gwynedd.com

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



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