Southern Snowdonia

This group stretches north-east from Dolgoch to Bala. Dominated by Cadair Idris and the Aran ridge, both reaching over 2900ft, there’s a wide variety of hill types to enjoy – but it is fair to say, they are not all classics.

The Tarrens

The two southernmost hills of the group. Tarren y Gesail (2188ft) is the higher, and better. Dave Travers and I climbed it on 27 August 1999 as a diversion from the Dyfi Valley Way, which crosses its lower slopes. Though a straightforward hill rising out of forestry, there’s a good aspect from the east where the summit rises above a finely-sculpted cwm. My Landranger map showed far more forestry than there actually was; I wrote a letter to the OS complaining, and it seems to have had an effect on recent versions.

Dave and I were back five years later, as part of my cross-Wales walk, to cross Tarrenhendre (2080ft). It is little more than a featureless lump, and very much one for completists only.

Cadair Idris

One of the great hills of Snowdonia. What a pity that at 2930ft it doesn’t peek above the magic 3000ft barrier. It’s a complex mountain, with almost as many routes to the summit (Penygadair) as Snowdon itself, and a magnificent mountain lake (Llyn Cau) cradled in an eastern cwm. As with Tarrenhendre, I climbed it in 2004 with Dave Travers on my cross-Wales walk. This took the pony track approach before dropping over two other Hewitts, Mynydd Moel (2831ft) – a fine peak of shattered rock – and Gau Graig (2241ft), the last summit on the NE ridge before it stumbles down towards Dolgellau.

There’s a number of other Hewitts dotted around the main peak which I will have to return to claim.

The Arans

The two main summits – Aran Fawddwy (2969ft) and Aran Benllyn (2904ft) – with Erw y Ddafad-ddu (2861ft) between them, form one of the longest and loftiest ridge-walks in all of Wales. Dave and I climbed it a couple of days after Tarren y Gesail, still on the Dyfi Valley Way, which takes it as part of a long linear walk from Dinas Mawddwy to Llanuwchllyn that is probably the best way to complete the ridge. Again, as with Cadair Idris, other Hewitts remain to be climbed.

Dovey Hills and the Hirnants

The first range separates Cadair from the Arans while the second separates the Arans from the Berwyn. They aren’t well-known but look like they will form some good days out – still to be discovered.


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