Distance: 2 miles / 3 km
Time: Around 1½ hours
Grade: Moderate Leisure Walk
Start/Finish: Brithdir village hall
Grid Reference: SH 771 188
Terrain: Fields & some rough terrain. Wear appropriate footwear.
Map: OS Explorer OL23 (Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid)
Parking: Lay-by opposite Brithdir village hall
About this walk
This circular walk rises 175m (570 feet) and takes you to the summit of Foel Caerynwch from the village of Brithdir. The peak offers a striking panoramic view of the hills of Meirionnydd. Whilst not very rough terrain, walking boots are advisable.
Foel Caerynwch summit is a fine place to see how this landscape was formed by glaciers scouring their way westwards to join the huge ice sheet that lay between Wales and Ireland. This hill would have been in a fork between two glaciers, avoiding the worst of the erosion. The large boulders in the Clywedog river below and on the path there are testament however to the great forces which plucked them from the mountains above, depositing them there when the ice eventually melted about 10,000 years ago.
This land is full of history. The Iron Age hill fort on Foel Offrwm and the Roman camp in Brithdir testify to man’s long presence here. Castell y Bere, the last stronghold of the Welsh princes lies on the other side of Cader Idris and Owain Glyndŵr had a parliament house in Dolgellau. Bwlch yr Oerddrws was a favourite haunt of the infamous red bandits of Mawddwy. Many prominent Quakers lived around Brithdir and towards the foothills of Cader Idris. Caerynwch hall nearby was the home of the eminent botanist, Mary Richards.
This path is a great place for seeing kestrels hovering above and the Buzzards soaring high. In early summer you may hear the distinctive call of the cukoo.
- From Brithdir village hall, walk along the pavement towards the green bus stop passing the phone box and the post box. Enjoy the view of Foel Caerynwch on your left.
- Turn left before the chapel along a road with a ‘No through road’ sign. Pass Cefn y Maes on your left and walk through the gate in front of you and head towards Ty’n Llidiart. Admire the wonderful views of Cader Idris on your right.
- Follow the grassy track up to the left after passing Ty’n Llidiart. Head through the gate and follow the waymarkers uphill.
- Turn left following the signpost for Foel Caerynwch and keeping to the Permissive Path. On reaching a gate follow the signpost for Foel Caerynwch which follows the line of the stone wall.
- Turn right following the waymarker and still keeping in line with the stone wall. Then follow the waymarker to the left and walk along the path which crosses the field and zigzags uphill towards a stile.
- Cross the stile to the Open Access Land, turn left and follow the white posts uphill. After the third post you have nearly reached the summit of Foel Caerynwch. Walk straight uphill to the summit where you can enjoy spectacular views of Meirionnydd and beyond.
- From the summit, follow the white posts to the east across the Open Access Land for about 400 metres until you reach a stile.
- Cross the stile and turn right following the posts towards a gap in the wall. (This area can be very wet at times.) Follow the white posts that leads you along a faint path that zigzags round the Hawthorn trees and downhill.
- On reaching the bottom of the field, cross the stile next to the gate, keep right and walk along the edge of the field aiming towards the pole at the far corner of the field.
- Follow the public footpath sign on the gate post in front of you (ignore the public footpath sign directing to the right). Keep walking along this path as it approaches the village and joins a gravel track.
- Head over the stile next to the gate, turn left and walk along the road back to the start of the walk.