A well kept Welsh secret: Aran Fawddy

The word “Snodownia” is very often synonymous with well known ranges such as Snowdon, or the Glyders and South Snowdonia, to many, is singularly restricted to Cadair Idris. For those who like to stray from the beaten path, however, the Welsh mountains offer an amazing array of trails across rough, weather beaten, trails and that wind through some of the most beautiful scenery our Island has to offer. Aran Fawddy is very much one of Snowdonia’s hidden gems.

04. Valley

A full day, circular, hike Aran Fawddy takes walkers up steep slopes and through boggy marshlands; past elegant waterfalls and steep crags; and finally, across a rock laden and barren summit where one can breathe in the beauty of the surrounding mountains. It is a gem in that it is also one of the less trodden trails, and as well as the beauty of nature, hikers can experience the beauty of almost near solitude with only the elements for company.

06. Valley

The trail head starts at a small car park in Cwm Cywarch. To find Cwm Cywarch can be a challenge in itself.  Broadly, one must turn off the A470 at Dinas Mawdyy and as you drive further into the village, take a left at Abercywarch. If the road narrows to a single vehicles width and the appearance of sporadic passing points emerges, you’re probably on the right track. A single red phone box signals you are going in the right direction. From the car park, hikers should then follow the road towards the farm and head through a kissing gate on the right. follow around past the farm house and bear right once more, through a large metal gate.

07. Hills

After circumventing the farm house, the trail starts in earnest. The first section of the hike is a combination of fighting your way through head high ferns and up a steep gully with daunting, rocky, faces on either side. Following the streams and waterfalls, the trail  here is steep and arduous; stopping to catch your breath is probably advisable; take the opportunity to look back upon Cwm Cywarch and the rolling valley and watch your car park disappear into the distance as you climb higher and higher. This section was, for me, one of the highlights. The weather was a beautiful British summer’s day. The sky was a vibrant blue, the foliage was a lush, deep, green and the running water from the nearby stream created a very calming atmosphere that allowed us to forget our exertions.

08. Hills

Once you reach the top of the gully, bear North East until you hit a fence. Most of the rest of the trail towards the summit is relatively easy to follow. Although there is no real discernible trail, if you trace the fence line you will be heading in roughly the right direction. However, the ground here is a  boggy mess. Straying a little from the fence line onto firmer ground may save your feet from a cold, unnecessary, bath. As our group reached the top of the gully, the weather came in relatively quickly. The beaming sun from before faded behind thick black clouds, and the rain began hammering down. Thunder was heard in the distance, but thankfully stayed comfortingly far away.

09. Hills

As we pressed higher and higher, the clouds got thicker. The visibility was very poor, and the instinct to go where we thought the trail should go was very strong. We stuck by our guns and stuck by our compass, and despite having to descend slightly, we soon found ourselves at the summit cairn – however without the reward of the expansive view that South Snowdonia’s highest peak would normally produce.

 

 

As we wanted to do a circular walk rather than retrace our footsteps, we bore south and started to head down the Aran ridge, towards a cairn built in memoriam of an RAF Mountain Rescue team member who lost his life in a thunderstorm. Sad as that event may be, it is certainly a beautiful spot to pay tribute. As our group reached the cairn, the sun seemed to blow away the clouds, and we were left with the type of view that reminds me why I go back to Snowdonia time and time again. Looking, once more, over Cwm Cywarch and the hills that envelope it was simply stunning. The Sun light lit up the valley, dancing off the colours of the land and creating a simply stunning visual spectacle.

17. Hills

We sat…and sat; no one uttering a word, simply taking in the majesty of  nature.

19. South

 

20a. South

The rest of the descent is relatively straight forward, following the fence line until you bear west onto a well trodden path that descendings along the side of the hill and brings you back to the firmer ground of the car park.

The Aran range is a must for all of those who crave the beauty and the isolation that nature offers. My experience of Aran Fawddy this weekend was as close to being back out in the middle of nowhere as I have experienced since I returned to the UK.

However, as with all the Welsh mountains, the weather can be unpredictable; if I was to impart any advice it would be to:

  • Treat this as any other hike – ensure you have adequate clothing
  • Take a map – know how to read it
  • Take a compass – know how to use it
  • Remember that the stiles that you encounter have grid references on them
  • Keep the range to yourself – one wouldn’t want to spoil it now 🙂

 

 

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “A well kept Welsh secret: Aran Fawddy

  1. Found your blog through the Daily Post – you have a new follower 🙂

    I grew up in Wales but am ashamed to say that I haven’t made it up to Snowdonia yet. My favourite hikes so far though include Pen Y Fan in the Beacons and Rhosilli Downs on the Gower peninsular.

    Happy hiking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much!

      You most definitely should if you get the chance. There are a wealth of routes and trails; something for everyone.

      I’ve never actually made it to the beacons! Its on my list but am not sure where to start. Any tips/must see routes?

      Like

      1. I really do love the main route up to the top of Pen Y Fan, although it does get busy in the summer – an alternative (which I did a few years ago and wrote about here – https://rachellishman.com/2014/07/13/hiking-the-brecon-beacons-wales/ ) is to go up in the snow – it was even more beautiful under a layer of white!

        Another favourite walk of mine in the Gower is Nicholston Woods which brings you out onto beautiful Oxwich Bay – never too far from a rewarding pub lunch either 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s