Grade: challenging, mostly on minor roads and good tracks, but with some rough going, mostly well waymarked, but a long day.
Transport links: There are buses between Ponterwyd and Aberystwyth, and a regular coach service from London Victoria. Machynlleth is on the Cambrian railway line and has bus links to Bangor, Aberystwyth and Newtown as well as local services.
See http://www.traveline.cymru for details.
This route has been devised by Ceredigion Ramblers and replaces the route we walked in 1998 and 2005.
From the A44 take the tarmac road signposted 'Pendam' between the garage and bridge for about 1.25 miles. When you reach the end of the woods on your right, follow the right fork in the road, cross the bridge and continue a little way beyond the fence and the start going up the hill (Dinas) on your left. Follow the precipice to get the best views. On the way down on the other side you'll pass a ventilation shaft of Nant-y-moch that has a good echo.
Follow the track down and bear left and then right after crossing the stream. Follow the path, leaving the stream on your right, until you reach a small gate, where it is probably quite soggy. Go through this gate and skirt the southern side of Disgwylfa Fawr and then head for Rhyd y Gaib (ford) to join the track passing Bwlchystellen, a ruined farmhouse. Follow the track to Rhyd Fosfudr (SN 72709 86936) and take the track to your right, towards Y Chwareli (lake). Continue along the track down to the tarmac road. Now turn left and immediately right again down the track to the most northern point of the western branch of Nant-y-moch. Cross the bridge and a little further down where the track turns right, veer off to the left and and follow the sheep trails and old leats along the lower slope of Bryniau Rhyddion (no really clear footpath, but plenty of sheep trails) and head for the gate at SN 74693 89605 into the now partly felled woods.
Cross the stile by this gate to follow the forest road for quite a way until the bank on your right comes level with this track. At about SN 74820 90506 there is a footpath on your right that takes you to an easy crossing of Afon Lluestgota at SN 75003 90610 by way of some stepping stones or by jumping across the stream. Continue a little way to the right to get to the forest track and then turn sharp left to follow the forest track in north westerly direction. Then take the first right and follow this track that veers north until you come to a ford. Do not cross at the ford, but just before the ford there is a footpath on your left, which takes you to a brand new footbridge at SN 75132 91462.
After crossing this bridge follow the footpath ahead of you and a little further on turn right at the T-junction (near Lluest y rhos) till you get to the edge of the forest and join the track north by the side of Foel Grafiau. This track and much of the way beyond, is badly eroded by scrambling bikes, rainwater and possibly live stock, but there is no problem walking along the side of it. Stay on the track well to the east of Hafodwnog (SN 76278 93771) taking you north, north/east. At SN 76701 94372 there is a really bad landslide. It was frozen over when we crossed it, but I expect that there is no problem crossing it when it is dry, possibly by walking along the side of it. A little further at SN 77061 94744 there is a gate and a sign: 'THE SHUTE, ride with EXTREME CAUTION, steep, slippery, rocky'. As this route is also a cycle track, this sign is for cyclist, not for walkers. Though a bit rocky there is no real problem to walk it. Just follow the route down with good views – avoiding the path going down to the right – until you reach the edge of the forest at SN 76775 95338.
Now follow the fence along the forest, but do not take the track veering left at SN 76690 95578, but stick to the footpath along the fence which bears left away from the fence a little further on. Follow this path, eventually through a coniferous woodland, till you get to the crossroad at SN 75190 97644. Hidden away a bit, ahead of you is a gate. Go through this gate to follow a (not very clear) footpath down into the valley until you come to a gate and a stream crossing at SN 75023 98207. There used to be a railway sleeper across this stream, but it must have been washed away, but, unless there has been excessive rainfall, there is no problem crossing this stream. Continue along this track till you reach to some houses. When you get to the end of these houses turn right between the last house and a shed/carport at SN 74605 98642. Follow the track quite a way uphill until you reach Llyn Glanmerin. You can either cross the hill to the left of the lake or walk along its shores to get to a stile at SN 75586 99306. Follow this footpath till the wide view of Machynlleth appears below you and descend the rather steep path to the side of the golf course. Turn left on reaching the tarmac for the centre of Machynlleth and left again at the next T-junction to get to the clock tower and bus stops.
This route has much less road walking than the one we used in 1998 and 2005 but it does not allow for a diversion over Pumlumon. If you want to take in Pumlumon, take the road out of Ponterwyd to the east of the Afon Rheidol and follow the track up through the trees. From the summit go north to cross the Afon Hengwm at SN 78485 89154 then walk past Hyddgen farm to join the main route. Over Pumlomon and back along the Ceredigion Ramblers' route would make a good day's walk.
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