Y Llethr, Rhinog Fach & Rhinog Fawr CCW from Cil-cychwyn
Y Llethr  Rhinog Fach  Rhinog Fawr


Estimated net time 5-7 hours
Difficulty There are several steep sections on this route, and also some cumbersome sections, but nothing that can be classified as technically difficult.
- The path between Y Llethr and Rhinog Fach is steep both down to the saddle and back up, but there is a path, and you will never have to use your hands.
- The descent of Rhinog Fach is steep and slightly cumbersome, and you need to be careful to avoid some steep cliffs.
- The ascent of Rhinog Fawr is cumbersome in the lower section, because of heather, and the descent might require the use of hands a couple of places.
Drinking water There's running water several places along the route.
GSM coverage Coverage throughout the route except a section between Y Llethr and Rhinog Fach, and also from Rhinog Fawr towards trail head (March 2014).
Parking Room for a couple of cars at trail head.
Start height 180 metres
Vertical metres 1195 metres for the roundtrip.
Trip distance 14.2 km
GPS-file X


Route photo

  Y Llethr trail head in Cwm Nantcol.
  Start of farm road towards Y Llethr.
  Overview of route from Y Llethr and down from Rhinog Fach.
  Route up Rhinog Fawr.


From the junction of roads A496 and A487 in northern Wales drive approximately 15 km (9 mi) south along road A496, to Harlech. Start measuring from where you cross the railway below Harlech Castle.

- At 5.0 km (3.1 mi) turn left where signed for "Cwm Nantcol".

- At 6.6 km (4.1 mi) turn right where signed for "Cwm Nantcol".

- At 6.7 km (4.2 mi) turn left where signed for "Cwm Nantcol".

- At 7.7 km (4.8 mi) fork left.

- At 9.3 km (5.8 mi) continue to follow signs for "Cwm Nantcol".

- At 10.9 km (6.8 mi) fork left onto the road signed as a dead end.

- At 11.7 km (7.3 mi) park in from of a building where the road forks, and a gravel road runs uphill towards right.

From the car walk 450 metres uphill on the gravel road (signed for "Llwybr Cyhoeddus") and turn right onto a farm road just before a stone building. Follow this farm road 2.0 km up to where it turns sharp left at 480m. Instead of following the farm road left follow a path right, past a fence, and then turn left immediately after you're on the other side of the fence. Head east and then north-east on grassy slopes, until you pick up a path at approximately 650m. Follow this path on the left hand side of a stone wall, up to Y Llethr's unmarked summit (there's a pile of stones a little west of the highest point).

From Y Llethr continue north on the path running on the left side of the stone wall. Turn left at 730m and follow the steep path down towards Llyn Hywel. Continue across the saddle between Y Llethr and Rhinog Fach and stay close to the stone wall, on its left hand side, as you ascend Rhinog Fach. The path is a little vague in places, but is easy enough to follow if you just stay close to the wall. This path will take you up to the small pile of stones marking the summit of Rhinog Fach.

From Rhinog Fach continue north on a fairly well defined path. When the descent gets a little steeper follow the path towards left (west), and when it ends you just have to find your best way down Rhinog Fach's north-west slopes. The terrain is quite steep and a little cumbersome, and you're likely to use your hands in a couple of places, but there are no real technical difficulties. Turn right (north) when you get down into the small valley, and follow the path you will eventually pick up. This path takes you down to the main valley between Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr. Cross the valley and turn right (north-east). Continue approximately 200 metres into this valley and follow a gully north/north-west. The terrain is cumbersome, with large heather, and the easiest route is probably best found by following the boulder. Turn a little right (north-east) when you get up to 650 metres, and you will pick up a path that will take you to the summit cairn.

From Rhinog Fawr follow the path back down towards south-west. The path soon ends, and from here find your best route through heather in a south-west direction. Note that there's a cliff band down at 300 metres which is best avoided by turning right (west). After this cliff band the terrain gets a little easier, and you should aim for the upper house (well above the farm). From this house you will pick up a road that can be followed back to your trail head.



15. March 2014

The dream for this week-end was to hike the nine mountains I had left to do of the 50 most prominent tops in Wales, but the planning was to leave Y Llethr and Rhinog Fawr for some other time. But the night before (Friday) I changed my mind to go for the Rhinogs this week-end, and through this I also saw an opportunity to do all remaining nine.

I set out from Oakley Arms Hotel (close to the A487/A496 junction) a little after 6 am. Then stopped at a news agent in Harlech to buy a map and get some advice for the best route, which I got when another customer came in, who's parents actually live 500 metres above my trail head!

From trail head, after having had to open and close at least five gates during the last few miles of the drive, I headed uphill as described by my guide at Harlech, which also corresponded well with the way-points I had stored on my GPS. When I got up to approximately 550 metres I entered mist and from here on I had to rely on my GPS most of the way until I was well on my way down from Rhinog Fach. Hence I had no views except for a glimpse of Rhinog Fach when I descended Y Llethr, and it was quite windy, but fortunately I avoided rain.

I knew descending from Rhinog Fach would take me into steep terrain, but was happy to pick up a fairly well defined path, and assumed it would take me down to the valley. But this path suddenly ended and I had to continue in cumbersome terrain, with large heather in the upper part and some awkward boulder further down. Then some easy walking down in the valley before more cumbersome terrain when ascending Rhinog Fawr, where I ended up following boulder in order to avoid the large heather.

At Rhinog Fawr I saw the only other hikers during my hike, a couple resting in a sheltered place a little below the summit. More interesting was the view across to the other mountains I had visited since the mist had finally cleared, and I took a few photos before starting my descent, which was yet another slightly cumbersome section of the hike, with yet more heather and a few fences that had to be climbed.

Back at the car I treated myself with a Coke before hitting the road towards the second hike of the day; Carnedd y Filiast.

Photos 15.03.2014