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One Minute Mountain: Carnedd Llewelyn

Bite-sized intros to Britain's favourite hills. Here's Alex Roddie on the sprawling giant at the heart of the Carneddau, the third highest point in Wales and a mountain of hidden depths.


Craig yr Ysfa and Carnedd Llewelyn from Pen yr Helgi Du  © tutbury
Craig yr Ysfa and Carnedd Llewelyn from Pen yr Helgi Du
© tutbury, Apr 2010

Height: 1064m (3491ft)

Personality: A sprawling, grassy hulk at the confluence of four ridges, guarded by satellite peaks. As the third highest summit in Wales Llewelyn often gets the brunt of bad weather, but the views are worth it if you reach the top on a clear day.

What's in a name? Carnedd Llewelyn is Welsh for 'Llewelyn's Cairn', believed to refer to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, King of Wales from 1258 until 1282.

Hidden gem: The scenic valley of Cwm Eigiau, to the east of Carnedd Llewelyn, is accessible from Conwy and provides a very quiet route to the summit. You'll almost certainly have the path to yourself. At the head of Cwm Eigiau, the huge cliff of Craig Yr Ysfa may surprise you – it's invisible from most other viewpoints and proves that there's more to Carnedd Llewelyn than you might have assumed.

Greatest route? The horseshoe of Pen yr Helgi Du, Carnedd Llewelyn, Carnedd Dafydd and Pen yr Ole Wen is a classic day out, taking you over the finest ridges in the Carneddau with great views south to the Glyderau and Snowdon. A variation on that round is available here.

Ysgolion Duon/The Black Ladders, Carneddau  © Glyno
Ysgolion Duon/The Black Ladders, Carneddau
© Glyno, Feb 2016

What's this I hear about ponies? A population of wild hill ponies roams the Carneddau. Recent studies have concluded that these animals have a unique genetic signature and they've been isolated from other populations of wild ponies for hundreds of years. So if you bivy out on the hill and hear large animals prowling nearby in the dark, don't panic – they're friendly!

Who does it? Less popular and a little harder to get at than some of the more obvious targets in the Glyderau and Snowdon ranges, Carnedd Llewelyn attracts the more discerning hillwalker. As the third highest of the 15 Welsh 3000 foot peaks, it's also a landmark peak on this classic 24 hour challenge walk. Meanwhile, rock climbers in the know really rate the remote routes of Craig yr Ysfa.

Pub quiz trivia: Wreckage from two different aircraft crashes can still be found on the slopes of Carnedd Llewelyn, in Cwm Llafar and high on the northern slopes of the mountain.

Where to stay? There are bunkhouses, campsites and hostels in Capel Curig. The posh hostel of Plas Curig (formerly a YHA) is especially worthwhile. The Ogwen Valley has two campsites, and there are numerous accommodation options in Bethesda.

Local boozer: Try the Bryn Tyrch Inn, near Capel Curig - generations of hill-goers must be onto something.

An Alpine Like Carnedd Llewellyn  © Marky Mark
An Alpine Like Carnedd Llewellyn
© Marky Mark, Feb 2010



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