Aran Fawddwy from Dinas Mawddwy/Cwm Cywarch
This is a strenuous 11.5km mountain walk over rough terrain and with 900m of ascent that will take around 5hrs for a fit party.
Aran Fawddwy is the closest ‘big’ mountain to Isfryn and it’s a Snowdonian classic. Taller than Cader Idris at 905m (Cader is a mere 893m) it is the only peak over 900m in southern Snowdonia. You’re unlikely to see more than 3 or 4 people (the last 2 times I did it I saw no-one) so this is a perfect route if you like to get away from the crowds.
It is not to be underestimated, and a map and compass and the skills to use them are essential, especially if the weather is less than perfect.
Parking (Grid Ref SH852188):
From Isfryn, go to the main A470 and turn left. Go straight on at the Brigands Inn and after 1.3 miles, just past the Camlan Garden Centre on the left is the right turning for Dinas Mawddwy village. Take this and follow the road through the village to the T Junction at the Red Lion (an excellent place for a post-walk celebratory drink) then turn right. In just under a mile, at the bridge in the village of Abercywarch, turn left (signed Cwm Cywarch). The (free) car park is on the left after 2.5 miles (though it feels further), just before the farm at the very end of this narrow lane.
From the car park, turn left onto the lane and then take the signed footpath to the right of the buildings of Blaencywarch farm. Just past the main buildings the path jinks left and then right, crossing a small stream beside a farm building with another sign. Follow the broad path with a wall on your left. In about 200m you join a wider farm track and in another 100m or so, where the wall on your left ends and turns left uphill take a footpath on the left that leads diagonally away from the wall. There is a small, low sign here but it is easy to miss if the bracken is high.
Follow the track diagonally upwards towards the stream and then follow the stream (there are tracks on both sides) to the col (1-1 ½ hrs from the car). Ahead, you should soon see a fenceline running left to right. The route follows this fenceline virtually all the way to the summit of Aran Fawddwy. The ground here is extremely boggy, especially after rain, so pick your way to the fence with care. Once at the fence turn right and follow it for approximately 3km taking the best line you can find up the broad ridge, mostly on the right hand side of the fence. Note that there are several sections of (very slippery) planks, bridging wet sections.
Eventually (it took me around 3hrs from the car) you will reach flat ground with a small rocky summit to your right, shortly after a stone wall heading down the hillside to the right. You’re not quite there yet though – the main summit is a further 500m on, 150m right of the fence, and is marked with a trig point. Make a note of this spot though, as this is the start of your route back.
Once you’ve taken in the main summit come back to the earlier summit and pick up the small path heading left (South) down a ridge. You’ll soon spot the stone wall you saw earlier before crossing it and then following it on your left. In 1km, there is a cairn and memorial plaque which is a good place to admire the lake of Creiglyn Dyfi below you, the source of the River Dyfi. From here the path bears left to contour around the head of the impressive valley of Hengwm. The path then swings slowly rightwards, keeping Hengwm on your right and a wall to your left until you pick up a broad track that makes a slow descent along the side of Hengwm. Follow this track (which becomes a metalled road near the end) to the road you drove up. Turn right and follow the road back to the car park.