Wild Camp: A wild night in the Rhinogs – Snowdonia

Hilleberg Enan wild camp Rhinogs Snowdonia

A few days after heading for the Lake District I made my way down to Snowdonia National Park, intending to do a couple of days walking in the Rhinogs, an area of the park that is less visited than some of the areas further north. I parked at the small parking area in Graigddu-isaf, and headed out on the forestry road towards the path known as ‘Ardudwy’.

It wasn’t too long before I noticed just how windy it was becoming. I had my Hilleberg Enan tent with me, which can definitely take a bit of wind but is certainly not as capable as the heavier Hilleberg Soulo, and as I walked down the path between Rhinog Fawr and Rhinog Fach I started to become concerned about where I might pitch for the night.

Ardudwy

The path here is generally quite good, but as I reached the highest point of the path the heavens opened and it started to pour with rain, with the gusts becoming stronger to the point I had to stop walking and brace myself with my poles. I decided to skirt back round behind Rhinog Fawr in an attempt to find somewhere more sheltered. This proved to be quite interesting, as the path basically ran out and I was walking through knee-deep heather, which was quite slow going. I decided to try and get to Llyn Du, which was on the leeward side of the mountain and would offer me a water source.

After around 20 minutes of swearitude hacking my way through the heather I rejoined the path that leads to Bwlch Tyddiad and down to the Roman Steps. I started the climb up in pouring rain, and as I gained height the wind started to become stronger again. I stopped to look at the map, at which point I realised I must have missed the path to Llyn Du and was actually now closer to Llyn Morwynion. I thought I would head there instead as by now I was becoming very keen to pitch my tent and get out of the weather. Unfortunately as I approached the lake I realised that the side I was on was more or less sheer down into the water and would offer no options to pitch. The north side offers much better options. Had I inspected the map more closely this would have been obvious!

I decided to climb the high ground to the east of the Llyn to see if I could find a route down. All routes looked quite steep and I decided not to risk it. The views however from this point were great, so I spent a few minutes enjoying them before heading down and pitching my tent in as sheltered a position as possible.

The first part of the evening was very wet and windy, and I was forced to cook in the rain to get some hot food into me. I changed into dry clothes and settled down to read whilst the weather raged.

I slept surprisingly well, and when I woke the wind had died to almost nothing. The view from my tent door looked promising and suggested the forecast was accurate.

View from tent during wild camp in the Rhinogs, Snowdonia.

I made some breakfast, and had a coffee with the remaining water I had, having to ration it as I had no water sources close enough to the tent, I broke camp and headed back down the way I had come. I decided to walk back around to Ardudwy and head towards Rhinog Fach. I stopped to filter some water from a river and then headed through the forest and back out onto the hill, this time in much more pleasant weather, and with a lighter pack having eaten some of the food.

The path leads through some spectacular scenery down into a beautiful valley. Only a dry stone wall gave away any sense of civilisation. I did think that had I continued on the night before the wind here would have been unbearable and felt that I probably had camped in a sensible location in the end.

After a short while there is a wooden stile over the wall, which marks the start of a steep path up towards Llyn Cwmhosan, a small but picturesque Llyn, that I thought might be a good wild camp location. The path up was very steep, which made me think that descending it could be quite interesting with a heavy pack, which did indeed prove to be the case later in the day.

At this point I made a mistake, the path continues on to the stunning Llyn Hywel. Unfortunately I strayed off the path at some point where it became indistinct and found myself on very steep ground whacking my way through the heather again. It was unpleasant with a heavy pack and I was grateful after about ten minutes to rejoin the path again. The views from plateau, at about 550 meters were incredible, both out to the sea and back towards Rhinog Fawr and Llyn Cwmhosan.

From here the path up to Llyn Hywel is straightforward, and soon I arrived at the lake. The wind was light, but showers were coming across occasionally, so I put up my Alpkit Rig 7 tarp to shelter whilst I rested and had a drink.

After a drink, I left my pack and headed up Rhinog Fach. It was necessary to scramble across the rocks along the shoreline to reach the path up, and then I headed up the path unencumbered by my pack. I was somewhat surprised at this point to see someone else scrambling up the scree, with rocks falling everywhere below them. This did not look to be much fun, and from where I was I couldn’t see a route up that didn’t involve at least some scree. So I decided not to summit but to enjoy the spectacular views where I was. I’m sure it probably is very doable, but I wasn’t desperate enough to touch the cairn to put myself through it.

After enjoying the views for a while, I headed back down to my tarp, filtered some water and fired up the stove for lunch. This was a superb place for lunch, with the tranquility only occasionally spoiled by RAF jets training above. I was grateful for the tarp as there was rain and hail as well as sunshine in the time I spent there. This would be a good wild campsite, but it was far too early to pitch and it would have meant a long afternoon spent in the same place. Soon another walker came up the path and said he too had been here before and not summited and was determined to get to the top. I wished him well and considered my options. I wasn’t really in the mood for another night in the tent, as a lot of my kit had got damp from condensation the night before, including my down sleeping bag. I decided at that point to walk back down to my car and head home. It had been a great walk and I’d enjoyed my time here, but I was more keen to spend a night in my bed than a damp sleeping bag. I walked back in driving hail and was grateful to see my car after the long trudge back. It had been a good trip all in all in beautiful surroundings.

I used the excellent Harvey Maps British mountain map of Snowdonia South for this trip.

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