The area is vast and in total spreads across the three different Welsh counties of Clwyd, Gwynedd and Powys. The area is cut from the north by the main A5 road which runs parallel through the U shaped valley of the mighty River Dee or Afon Dyfrdwy from Chirk through the towns of Llangollen and then on to Corwen.
In the western sides the area is split by the roads that link the villages and towns of Corwen, Llandrillo, Bala and Llanuwchllyn.
Dividing it from the Aran range of mountains is the valley of Cwm Cynllyd and the Afon Twrch River in the far south-west.
Along the south is the vast reservoir of Llyn Efyrnwy or more commonly known as Lake Vyrnwy and the river of the Afon Tanat that runs off the Berwyn’s and east through the impressive Tanat Valley.
The Tanat Valley divides the area from the Montgomery Hills along with the eastern reaches from the county of Shropshire. The Ceiriog Valley splits it from the areas of both Oswestry and Chirk.
When seen on the map in the getting there section you will see what I mean by such a vast, large remote and isolated area this is.
Much of the land here has now become open access land. This is a great advantage to the walkers as it gives free to roam out and into the wilds when before these rights where given the access was only limited and this was dedicated just to the public footpaths and bridleways which across the mountains where limited. Part of the area has also become a National Nature Reserve and provides a very important habitat for Black Grouse and many different Birds of Prey such as great Buzzards and more recently the elegant Red Kites.
|Summit or Top name:-||Height - Metres||Height - Feet||Summit - NGR||Feature|
|Cadair Berwyn||830||2723||SJ 07165 32350||cairn|
|Cadair Berwyn North Top||827||2713||SJ 07225 32720||trig point: OS measurement|
|Moel Sych||827||2713||SJ 06630 31855||cairn|
|Cadair Bronwen||785||2575||SJ 07755 34665||cairn|
|Tomle||742||2434||SJ 08530 33530||cairn|
|Cadair Bronwen East Top||700||2297||SJ 08715 35220||fence post c.50m from rocky outcrop|
|Moel yr Ewig||695||2280||SJ 08075 31780||no cairn|
|Foel Wen||691||2267||SJ 09985 33405||cairn|
|Foel Wen South Top||687||2254||SJ 10240 33050||cairn|
|Mynydd Tarw||681||2234||SJ 11265 32445||cairn|
|Godor North Top||675||2215||SJ 08905 31120||no feature|
|Cyrniau Nod||667||2188||SH 98855 27910||cairn|
|Post Gwyn||665||2182||SJ 04860 29375||cairn|
|Y Groes Fagl||659||2162||SH988290|
|Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd||648||2126||SH 99590 31385||trig point: OS measurement|
|Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw||646||2119||SH 96270 28345||pile of stones E of fence|
|Moel Fferna||630||2067||SJ 11685 39800||wind shelter|
|Stac Rhos||630||2067||SH 96920 27930||no feature: heather|
|Foel y Geifr||626||2054||SH 93710 27520||trig point: OS measurement|
|Moel yr Henfaes [Pen Bwlch Llandrillo Top]||621||2037||SJ 08945 36945||small pile of stones on rocky outcrop|
|Foel Goch||613||2011||SH 94335 29075||small pile of stones|
|Trum y Gwrgedd||612||2008||SH 94105 28395||grassy mound W of fence|
|Pen y Cerrig Duon||610||2001||SH952281|
|Glan Hafon||608||1995||SJ078274||trig point but not at summit|
|Moel yr Henfaes East Top||604||1982||SJ099373|
|Cefn Gwyntog North Top||600||1969||SH975275|
|Bryn Dd||563||1847||SJ144360||trig point at 561 metres|
|Gyrn Moelfre||523||1716||SJ 18442 29384||trig point: OS measurement|
|Y Foel||522||1713||SJ 18785 39090||trig point: OS measurement|
Some interesting links giving facts about Welsh waterfalls:-
The Tallest Waterfalls in Wales
Waterfalls of Wales
There are many other tributary rivers that run off these mountains. These also have smaller yet still impressive waterfalls on them. It does not matter if you are visiting any of the waterfalls within this area as this comment covers all of them.
Please take care when visiting these natural features of our beautiful countryside as many 'accidents and even deaths' have sadly happened. With so many of them being isolated and out of way from roads it also very difficult for any emergency services to attend the scene Just be sensible.
Section-5 Getting there:- Although The Berwyn Mountains are within easy reach to the large and busy cities of Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester they still remain relatively quiet and untouched. Also the Ceiriog Valley remains little visited when compared with that of the busy Dee Valley to the north around the towns of Chirk, Llangollen and Corwen.
The Berwyn Mountains cover a vast area of the North Wales landscape.
This does not mean it is impossible in getting there and there are so many different places from the surrounding cities, towns and roads that give you easy access to the mountains.
I have included a large map of the area which shows how vast the area actually is. The highest summits on the main Berwyn Ridge are best accessed from the point of Tan-y-Pistyll at the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall or from the B4391 Berwyn pass mountain road near the head of the valley Cwm Rhiwarth just west of the village called Llangynog.
These can be easily found on maps and various web sites such as streetmap, the AA and even Google Map which both have route planners so dependant upon where you are starting your journey from. Put this in the route planner then your destination and work from there. The other best method is by use of a sat-nav. These are built into most of todays modern cars or purchased as a separate dash board mounted item. If you have one then use one but always take local maps with you as sometimes sat-nav systems can take you on funny routes so beware…!
If heading for the point of Tan-y-Pistyll at the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall following these directions.
Although deep within the Berwyn's.
If you wish to do the main Berwyn ridge and see the best of waterfalls and crags it is best to aim for this area.
There is ample parking in this village and waterfall although if you park in the Tea Shop and Waterfall car park you do get charged but this is good in a way as there is more security being a manned car park and also being next to the rather busy Tea Shop.
From the Midlands region:-
Take the Major M54 and A5 road signposted from the M6 North Wales and Telford. Then head for Shrewsbury along the A5 then after Shrewsbury and its bypass keep heading North on the A5 for Oswestry.
Just north of Shrewsbury there has been a fast dual carraigeway section built that bypasses the village of Nescliffe. When you reach the end of this carraigeway section there is a roundabout and minor B-Classified road signposted for the village of Knockin when heading for Knockin follow this B-Road the B4396 to the village of Llynclys. This B-Road meats a cross roads along with the major trunk A483 road. Continue straight over onto the A495 then the B4396 again. From here follow the signposts for the large village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.
When in the Village centre there is a minor road signposted WATERFALL...! Follow this road all the way and you will end up at the start of the walk.
From The North Region:-
Take the M56 Motorway from the M6 near Manchester.
Follow the M56 signposted for North Wales and Chester at Junction15 turn south onto the M53 round the Chester bypass which then becomes the A55.
From the A55 take the trunk A483 road south towards Wrexham then Oswestry then on the A483 south of Oswestry at the village of Llynclys take a right turn and follow directions as given above.
From The South and Mid Wales Area:-
From South or Mid Wales the main town to initially head for is Welshpool that is again on the major trunk A483 road.
Welshpool can be accessed from the west via the main A470 near Dolgellau.
From the south Welshpool can be accessed on the A483 all the way from Swansea.
Both the A470 Cardiff to Conway road and the A483 Swansea to Chester road cross each other at the town of Builth Wells so access is easy.
From Welshpool head north on the A483 towards Oswestry. When at the village of Llynclys as with the two previous directions but this time turn left and follow the directions above.
View Larger Map
Tan - y - Pistyll Map
The above links are Street Map Web-pages that can be used to work your way there.
The main maps required that cover the Berwyn Range and its area are as follows.
The three best detailed maps for exploring and walking the area are as follows.
1:25 000 map is Ordnance Survey Explorer sheet 255 Llangollen and Berwyn.
This one covers the main Berwyn Ridge and most of the central and eastern area.
1:25 000 map is Ordnance Survey Explorer sheet OL23 Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid.
This one covers the extreme south-west part of area along with Bala Lake or Llyn Tegid and the Aran Mountains.
1:50 000 map is Ordnance Survey Landranger sheet 125 Bala and Lake Vyrnwy.
This one although a smaller scale and less detailed covers the complete area.
Maps required for long distance route planning are as follows.
1:250 000 is Ordnance Survey Road sheet 6 Wales / Cymru & West Midlands.
Ordnance survey maps can be purchased at most good book shops across the UK and in areas like the small towns around Wales even newsagents have them in stock.
More information is available on Ordnance Survey and there maps from there official website.
Ordnance Survey Website
Bus services are complex covering many services from many areas. I advise you to look bus travel up on the internet.
Train services are highly restricted as the nearest line is on the border of Wales and England running through the towns of Chirk, Oswestry and Welshpool. Again I advise you to look this up on the internet.
More train information via this link:-
National Rail Enquiries Website
Major airports that are in relatively close distance to this area are as follows.
The nearest of these is Liverpool closely followed by Manchester and then Birmingham.
Detailed links to there sites are below:-
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Manchester International Airport
Birmingham International Airport
Whilst on the subject of getting there, travelling and roads there is a road running through the centre of the Berwyn area and reaching a height of 486 metres at its highest point. This is the mountain pass road of the B4391. I normally call it and I think many other people also know it as the Berwyn Pass. This is a wonderful road and it links the village of Llangynog in the east of the Berwyn's with the town of Bala in the far west.
Heading from Llangynog towards Bala the road climbs up the long valley of Cwm Rhiwarth. There is a steep drop to your near side and in some parts there is no wall or barrier to protect you so drive careful. When heading up to the head of Cwm Rhiwarth there is a stunning set of waterfalls visible to the left these are mentioned in the waterfalls section. Once out on the open baron moorland the road takes you out across the hills then climbs back down towards Bala and the large lake of Bala Lake or Llyn Tegid.
Many people use this road as a short cut from the Midlands area through to Bala then head on for Snowdonia and its big peaks. They just do not realise what a fantastic area of mountains and country they have just passed. The road also commands great views across the open and baron landscape that these mountains and hills portray. The road also gives a great access route to the summit of Moel Sych out on the Berwyn Ridge.
One danger with this road is in severe snow and ice conditions it is not safe to drive along. In most cases in these kinds of weather conditions the road is shut off both ends at Llangynog in the east and near to Llandderfel over the west.
Section-6 Access Red Tape and Safety:-Open Access:-
Whilst most routes follow public rights of way or established permissive paths, some cross areas of land where walkers have the legal right of access under The CRoW Act 2000 introduced in May 2005.
Open access land is detailed on Ordnance Survey map Explorer 255.
This access can be subject to 'restrictions' and 'closure' for land management or safety reasons for up to 28 days a year. Please respect any given notices.
The Countryside Council for Wales, there website is given below.
The Countryside Council for Wales
This provides updates on any changes or closures that may affect your access.
Safety and The Countryside Code:-
- Be safe always plan ahead and let others know of your whereabouts
- Leave gates and property as you find them
- Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
- Keep dogs under close control
- Always consider other people
The Berwyn's conditions can under any circumstances deteriate fast.
I have had fantastic sunny starts to the day finishing in grey damp very bad visibility mist and heavy rain. In other words a bit of everything LOL.
When there is snow up there it is the area up/down and around the waterfall that can be dangerous as its this part that has the steepest areas of rocks and the well defined path sections can also become very icy.
Alot of people that visit this stunning area and the waterfall do not understand the dangers that are here. Most people wear the wrong kind of clothes for a start - ie trainers etc. As mentioned before in the waterfalls sections when visiting here, Just be sensible...!
Weather forecast links for the BBC's 5-Day and next 24 hours are given below:-
Weather forcasts are also available on most TV channels and radio stations at the end of the prime time news programmes.
Bala Via This Link.
- Or -
Llangollen Via This Link.
- Or -
Welshpool via this link.
Section-7 Geology and rivers:-The area that the Berwyn Mountains fall into is vast:-
The Bala Lake area to the west of here is rich in geological features and interest and The Berwyn Mountains are covered within this geological area. This includes a major fault line, a major syncline flanked by domes and all the classical rock types, i.e.: sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous formations, as well as significant glaciation. The area has also given names to geological features or time-scales including Arenig time scale from the Arenig Hills to the west of Bala, the Bala Series, and Hirnant time scale. The principal geology dates back to the Silurian period (410-430 million years ago) and Ordovician period (430-500 million years ago).
The Bala Lake/River Dee valley which runs north-east to south-west and splits the Berwyn Mountains at the north was originally caused by a fault line which extends south-west to Tal-y-Llyn with a westerly separate fork forming what in now the great Mawddach estuary, extending to Cardigan Bay.
The Llandderfel syncline is to the east with the Berwyn dome further east. The area is flanked also by the Harlech dome, much further to the west.
The predominant lowland rock type is sedimentary principally of mudstone, siltstone and grit with some tuff (a rock formed from volcanic ash) and some limestone bands. Many of the upland areas are the result of volcanic action of the Aran Volcanic Group and the Rhobell Volcanic Complex yet more mountains over to the west and the south-west of the Berwyn area.
The Berwyn mountains were also influenced by volcanic action - Pistyll Rhaeadr one of the highest waterfalls in Wales is the result of a the river flowing over a band of very hard volcanic rock.
The Aran Volcanic Group comprises several mountains which are the highest, most rugged and impressive of the area, these include the Aran ridge, Arenig Fawr, and nearby Cadair Idris. The Rhobell Volcanic Complex resulted in volcanic action centred on Rhobell Fawr, where there are outstanding examples of breccia.
It is though that Bala Lake previously flowed west into Cardigan Bay, whereas now the River Dee flows north-east eventually into the Irish Sea. The lake was much larger than it is now and was previously probably constrained by glacial moraine until erosion allowed the lake to reduce in water level and size. The northern end of the lake extended significantly further than now including the area now occupied by Bala town and to Bodweni (north-east of Bala). The south end of the lake also extended much further.
The ice-age period lasted from around 1.5 million years ago to 12,000 years ago - during this period there were extensive glaciation of Snowdonia. During the last ice age a major ice cap formed over Snowdonia. The centre was located at the Migneint area near the Arenig Mountains, where the depth of ice was 1,400m. Glaciers radiated from this ice cap, deepening valleys forming mountain passes. All the classical glacial errosion features are present in the area, including: cirques, hanging valleys, truncated spurs, U-shaped valleys and melt-water channels. There are excellent examples of glacial cirques on Arenig Fawr, Arenig Fach, the Aran ridge, Cadair Idris and the eastern face of Cadair Berwyn. The Bala Lake/River Dee valley, Tryweryn valley and the Tannat Valley all show signs of glaciation. Glaciation has also left many impressive cliffs and crag features within many of the valleys that run especially of the eastern side of the area.
It is also thought that the Gwyniad, a unique species of fish, was trapped in Bala Lake after the last ice age.
Three rivers of interest:-
The Afon Ceiriog or River Ceiriog:-
From the heart of The Berwyn Mountains flows the great Ceiriog River the source starts near the Berwyn top of Moel Fferna. This is a tributary of the famous River Dee or Afon Dyfrdwy. From the valleys it then meanders eastwards from Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog beneath part wooded slopes and rolling hills through the valley of Glyn Ceiriog to the border town of Chirk. From here it then heads in a north direction meeting the mighty River Dee. The River Dee then meanders on north through the county of Cheshire and on into the Mersey Estuary.
The Afon Dyfrdwy or River Dee:-
This is not really part of the Berwyn area as it only divides the Berwyn’s in the north and north-west. Its source starts down in the western area of the Aran Mountains entering the vast lake of Bala Lake or Llyn Tegid at the village of Llanuwchllyn. It then flows out from Bala Lake at the town of Bala continuing on as stated in the sbove section. An interesting fact is that Bala Lake is also the largest natural body of fresh water to be found in Wales.
The Afon Tanat and Efyrnwy or River Tanat and Vyrnwy:-
The Afon Tanat or River Tanat is a river whose source is close to the Berwyn summit of Cyrniau Nod. This is to the north of Lake Vyrnwy. The river flows in a generally east-south-east direction until it joins the Afon Efyrnwy or River Vyrnwy near the village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. The Afon Efyrnwy or River Vyrnwy flows a short distance prior to its confluence within the county of western Shropshire, England where the River Vyrnwy then joins the great River Severn at Crewgreen. A number of other rivers act as its tributaries, including Afon Eirth, Afon Rhaeadr, Afon Iwrch and Cynllaith.
An interesting website about the Tanat Valley:-
Historic Landscape Characterisation (Tanat Valley)
Section-8 Nature:-The rolling heather clad area that the Berwyn Mountains cover now makes it one of the largest and most attractive areas of moorland remaining in Wales.
Gently contoured ridges are blanketed with deep wet peat dominated by heather and cotton grass. Drier heather and bilbery heath,grassland and bracken clad the steeper slopes.The area contains some of the highest quality sub montane upland in Wales. It has one of the best moorland breeding bird assemblages south of the Scottish highlands with species such as the Red Grouse, black Grouse, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Buzzards, Red Kites (as pictured earlier) and Peregrine falcon. As in the previous section the archaeological history of this area is also very high.
In the summer months many butterflies and moths are to be found in the area. The spray that comes constantly from the waterfall and the plants that grow in this unique environment such as Orchids and Foxgloves when in flower attract them. The spray from the waterfall also gives moisture to various insects that land on the damp rocks or trees.
Further out in the warmer exposed areas cold blooded reptiles such as Lizards, Slow Worms, Adders and Grass Snakes thrive along with various Toads and Frogs.
Section-9 Camping - Bed and Breakfasts:-Accommodation:-
Many bed and breakfasts can be found throughout the towns and villages of that surround this vast area of mountains depending on what sort of accommodation you are looking for.
Below are just a few of the larger towns within or near the Berwyn Mountains area and the easiest way to find your accommodation is to carry out searches in a search engine such as Google by adding the towns name and the type of accommodation you are looking for afterwards.
For example: (Town or village Name) bed and breakfast, Youth Hostel or Travelodge.
As mentioned previous in the waterfalls section Tan-y-Pistyll other than bed and breakfast along with self catering also run an official camp-site.
Nice little business venture there...!
With the area out on the summits being that of Open Access land wild camping can be done. These summits are very remote and I have seen tents set up near the top of the waterfall. Now that must be exciting...!
I will be honest that back in my Shropshire boarding school days the Berwyn Mountains where a regular place we visited and back in them years we use to camp on these mountains.
The nearest town or should I say large village is that of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant at the end of the valley that leads out from the waterfall.
The following is a handy link for all you wish to know local to this area.
Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant Bed and Breakfast
Section-10 Alien visits:-The 'Welsh Roswell':-
One of Britain's greatest UFO riddles started here in the Berwyn Mountains after the alleged 'close encounter'.
The Government is said to have covered up 1974's event in North Wales, where scores of residents reported a massive tremor, strange lights in the sky and secret-service-style 'men in black' scouring the area.
It has been dubbed the 'Welsh Roswell' after the famous U.S. case in which aliens were allegedly found by authorities in New Mexico.
UFO believers claimed aliens crash-landed in the Berwyn Mountains and their bodies were transported by the MoD to top-secret Wiltshire research base Porton Down.
'What people have seen and reported simply could not be made up.'
Retired North Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Elfed Roberts, who was a sergeant at the time of the UFO incident, was rushing to Llandrillo moments after the tremor with his superior when they saw the mysterious lights.
He said: 'As we were driving, all of a sudden we saw this green light in the sky ahead of us and it seemed to be an arcing light, but it was very sudden, totally unexpected, different to anything ever seen before.'
Whether this is true or not there is more information available via this site.
The 'Welsh Roswell'
Section-11 The views:-Cadair Berwyn offers a complete 360 degree view from its summit:-
The views to the east are as far as the Pennines when south-east is the Shropshire Hills and the Wrekin stands out very clear. South you can see as far as the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains and the Black Mountain all in the Brecon Beacons National Park area. South west to west are Pumlumon Fawr, source of the great River Severn, Cadair Idris, The Arans, Rhinog’s, Arenigs and virtually all the great 3000 feet summits of Snowdonia National Park. Views north are as far as the Lake District with Sca Fell one of Englands 3000 feet peaks clearly visible.
Below are graphical panoramic images showing the impressive 360 degree views that are available from the summit point of Cadair Berwyn on a clear day with excellent visibility.
Section-12 Associated Summit Post pages:-This section gives the links for places mentioned within this page that have there own Summitpost page.
Snowdonia / Eryri
Snowdon / Y Wyddfa
Summitpost pages for other area/ranges and summits that are within the Snowdonia National Park can be accessed via the above links:
Below are the links for area/ranges and mountains that are out of the Snowdonia area:-
South Shropshire Hills AONB area
Of course you can always use the search bar at the top of the Summitpost home page if you wish to find out any further information.