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Gwytherin to Llyn Brenig

This route involves a tough walk across trackless moorland. You can avoid this by following the Pilgrim's Way past Tan-y-foel until it meets the Clwydian Way at SH 91661 61904 then turning right and following the Clwydian Way along the minor road past the Aled Reservoir, across the A543 and past Hafod Elwy to the Alwyn Reservoir. 

For the moorland route, leaving the church, turn left and walk up the valley of the Afon Cledwen. When you reach Tydraw Farm and the end of the metalled road, ignore the waymark up to your left and go straight on over the footbridge to the left, through the gate and along the track on the left bank of the stream. In about half a mile, just before a tin shed, turn right. Go through a gate, past some sheep pens and over a little bridge, and up the steep track to Dolfrwynog. This is another deserted farmhouse, its roof of Welsh slate just beginning to go. The farm house is Victorian but the barn is older. It could be on the line of an older long house.

The track goes to the left of the farmhouse then curves round to the right. Ignore the turn to the right and go due south with your compass at the ready. This is a tough walk with no obvious path. You will have to go over at least one fence to follow the line of the right of way, but in 2005 the fences were of plain wire, not barbed, and were easy to cross.

The next landmark is the sheepfold and the little field enclosures on the northern slope of Penbryn-ci. Pass to the left of these and continue up to the summit cairn. (In 2005 we tried to bear to the right round the summit but this involved a lengthy diversion - better to go straight over the top.) The line of the old fence going due south ahead of you is marked on the map. Keep to the left of it, and when it goes right continue due south until you meet another fence from the left. Follow this down to a stone wall. Go through the gate to the left, bear right round the wall and cross the little Nant y Foel to join a rough track to the left of the trees. There is a waymarking signpost ahead of you. This is where you join the Hiraethog Trail.

You are now walking through an archaeological site. There are stone rows under the turf in the fields to either side of you, and two burial mounds. They are difficult to spot, though, under summer grass and bracken. Most of the farms around you have hafod names: Hafod y Garreg, ‘the summer farmstead of the stone’; Hafodty Hafod y Dre, ‘the farmstead at the summer farm of the township’. (The link below will tell you more about the hafod system of farming.)

The track becomes a hollow way between tumbled stone walls. Where the track forks go left through a gate waymarked Clwyd & Denbigh Moors: Mynydd Hiraethog. This is the Pentrefoelas to Llanrhaiadr section of the Hiraethog Trail, a very well waymarked and stiled route along old lanes and footpaths. We will meet it again tomorrow near Cyffylliog. Follow the track past a farm and some cottages. It becomes a metalled road leading to the A543. The Hiraethog Trail goes right here then left along a track to Cefn-brith. In bad weather it would make a good alternative: you could take the waymarked circular route from Cefn-brith up to Craig-yr-lyrchen-fawr and into the Alwen Forest. In good weather, we think the track to the north is the better route.



Cross the A543 by the telephone box. Take the waymarked footpath ahead of you, across a footbridge and up the green lane to the right of Hafod Dinbych. Ignore the farm tracks back to your left but bear slightly left with the lane This looks like the old (pre-turnpike) road, another hollow lane between stone walls. Eventually you reach a little ruined stone building and go out into the open moorland. The track continues straight on as a slight hollow, bears right over a rough causeway across a boggy section and goes up the west side of a broad valley to cross Bwlch y Garnedd, ‘the pass of the heap of stones’. At the top of the pass you will see Llyn Alwen to your left and Llyn Aled ahead. On the horizon ahead of you are the ruins of Gwylfa Hiraethog, the 'Watch-tower of Hiraethog'.

The track descends the north slope of Bwlch y Garnedd. It is still just recognisable as an old hollow trail, but like most such trackways it has become a boggy and reed-filled ditch. You walk a little to one side of it. When you see the Alwen reservoir ahead of you, bear right with the track and walk past the ruins of Nant Heilyn. This is a ruined farmhouse built platform-style, the buildings part dug into the hillside and part on a projecting platform.

Cross the footbridge. You are now on the Alwen Trail (downloadable map at At Pen-y-ffrith take the waymarked track to the right and follow it round the east side of the reservoir. When you reach the dam, you can take the road to Pentre-llyn-cymmer, or continue round Llyn Brenig. 

To continue towards Brenig, follow the path on the downloadable map. Walk up the track from the dam. Turn right at the car park and walk past Hafod-y-llan Isaf. At SH 96108 53036 turn sharp left and walk up into the woods. At SH 95996 53380 take the footpath to the right. At SH 96223 53430 turn left and walk along the forest road. At SH 96103 54118 take the footpath to the right. Cross the B4501 and take the road towards the dam.

Ahead of you is the Llyn Brenig Visitors’ Centre — teas, ice creams, leaflets, an interpretative exhibition including some of the archaeological finds from the sites east of the lake. Or you can continue across the dam and around towards the archaeological trail.


Gwytherin to Llyn Brenig

Places to visit along this route


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