On the roof of north east Wales - the Berwyn Ridge from Pistyll Rhaeadr

THIS is the most popular and well known approach to the highest tops of the Berwyns - the highest point in Northeast Wales - and it is also the most attractive. Starting at the impressive valley head beside the 100m waterfall of Pistyll Rhaeadr, Cadair Berwyn, your main objective remains in view throughout. Once on the ridge you can enjoy the easy out-and-back jaunt to the northern summit of Cadair Bronwen.

Distance: 12km/7 1/2 miles.

Height gained: 850m/2,780ft.

Summits: Moel Sych, Cadair Berwyn & Cadair Bronwen.

Starting point: From the village of Llanrhaeadr-yn-Mochnant take the lane signed to the waterfall. Free parking is available in a layby almost at the end of the lane about 300m before the the tearooms.

Grid ref: SJ 076 293.

Warning: This route should only be attempted by those who have experience of high-level hill walking and requires suitable clothing and footware. Under icy, winter conditions it should be treated with respect and may occasionally require the use of ice axe and crampons.

The route: Walk along the lane towards the waterfall and immediately before the tearooms turn right through the gate onto the signed footpath. The path rises between stone walls and through a small beech wood to a gate leading onto the open mountain sides. Go ahead on the obvious broad footpath with the stream down to your right.

Where the path turns sharp left to cut diagonally up the hillside heading for the top of the waterfall, cross the stream on the right and the stile beyond. Rise now to join the footpath visible on the opposite side of the valley.

Go left along this path, a gentle easy ascent with the strikingly pointed summit of Cadair Berwyn rising at the head of the valley.

In about 1km/3/4 mile the path crosses the stream and becomes less distinct and can be boggy in wet conditions.

A little further on, just before the outflow from Llyn Lluncaws swing left more steeply up the rounded heathery ridge to Moel Sych. You need not make the slight detour to the summit (at the junction of fences over to the left) as this Pistyll Rhaeadr will be visited on the return, instead stay with the path which follows the edge of the grassy crags overlooking the lake (Craig y Llyn).

The first summit is Cadair Berwyn south top, the pointed summit seen throughout the ascent. Nearby is a well-built stone wind shelter, a welcome refuge on these flat featureless slopes in stormy conditions. Cadair Berwyn north top is a little further on and marked by a triangulation pillar. This is the highest point in northeast Wales and the highest summit outside the National Park in both North and

Mid Wales. The view west takes in Snowdon, the Aran ridge and the town of Bala. East lies Shropshire and the English Midlands.

Continue north along the ridge to Cadair Bronwen with just under 100m of high loss at Bwlch Maean Gwynedd.

From Cadair Bronwen return along the ridge to Moel Sych, the highest point being marked by a small cairn near the meeting of three fence lines and two stiles. The best return to Pistyll Rhaeadr follows the left-hand fence which heads due south over easy-angled heathery slopes. Lower down after a stile over a crossing fence, the path is easily followed as it descends open slopes eventually approaching a small area of woodland at the top of the waterfall. To visit the top of the falls go through the gate in the wall here. Alternatively, turn left

before this and follow the path down to the sharp bend where you crossed the stream near the start of the walk. Retrace the outward journey.

This is one of the routes featured in a guidebook to the hills and mountains of Snowdonia by Cheshire-based author and publisher Carl Rogers. Mountain & Hill Walking in Snowdonia Volume 2 (ISBN 978-1-902512-22-8) published by Mara Books, price £10.99. The book covers the southern half of the Snowdonia National Park as well as outlying areas like the Berwyns. Copies can be obtained from bookshops or ordered online at www.northerneyebooks.co.uk