A second walk starting in the wonderfully scenic Cwm Cyneiniog, ascending on very small paths to the summit of Bryn Mawr, on to the lovely little Llyn Nantycagal, then a return along a gently descending long, windy forest track. This is a very varied walk, with quickly changing views in all directions, and a real sense of remoteness. Navigation is easy, and apart from two short tussocky sections ‘off piste,’ the way is on paths and tracks, with a short section of tarmac lane in the middle. The entire second half is through forest, in stark contrast to the morning’s open mountainous terrain, but don’t let that put you off (except during the August fly season!), because the track twists and turns, with frequent flashes of varied views and sunlight. Not only that, but it is relatively effortless with a good walking surface and almost all downhill! The entire walk is within Access Land, which means that you have a legal right to go anywhere, and there shouldn’t be any hazards on the way (but there is a single strand of awkward and hazardous barbed wire running through the stile at Point 7) It is difficult to choose a favourite walk amongst all those on the website, but this one comes very high up the list!
The starting point is the wide and open turning/parking area at the disused mine (Bwlch Glas) in Cwm Cyneiniog. From Aberystwyth, turn off the A487 at the green in Talybont, and take the narrow lane (with passing places) signposted to ‘Bontgoch’. After about 3km, at Pontbren-geifr, turn left towards Tynant on an even smaller lane, pass the Tynant farm over to the left, and follow the very narrow and rather potholed lane a kilometre further until it arrives at the mine.
From the parking space, follow the small lane further on (or use the path across the grass which cuts off the bend), cross the Afon Cyneiniog on the small bridge, follow the lane round to the right, then immediately branch off to the left on an obvious path leading diagonally uphill.
The path is surely mainly used by sheep, but takes a very useful direct route to the skyline. High up the hill it veers round to the left and steepens, and near the top another obvious path crosses, giving a slightly vague t-junction. Here turn right and ascend to the wide grassy vantage point that overlooks the valley and a view of Craig Yr Allt-ddu.
Go left from the viewpoint on the faint path which heads most directly up the wide grassy ridge, with bits of scrubby gorse at first, then opening out with new views ahead, and a craggy summit to aim for…The path goes to the right of that first craggy top, continues on the ridge, then gets a bit vague. It is best to descend to the left on the path that avoids the final knobbly summit of the ridge, and drops down to a gate in a barbed wire fence. If you don’t find this straight away, follow the fenceline down to the right.
Go through the tie-up gate, re-tying it behind you very securely, then follow the now obvious path which descends over small humps and down to the grassy bwlch, and up the other side ascending diagonally onto the flank of Llechwedd Cwm-byr. The path is small and faint, but high up this hill it curves round to the right rather than heading towards the highest point of the hill. It more or less following the contour, rising only gradually, and continuing for some way with the valley of the Afon Cyneiniog down below.
The path eventually gets diffuse and difficult to follow, but you need to be aiming for the point on the map where you join the bridle track. This means going more leftward and uphill; a small white quartzite boulder seems to mark the way, and a second one further on. Very soon you will reach the top of the far shoulder of the hill, an obvious wire fence descending in the direction of Bryn Mawr ahead.
Now there is a short section of somewhat wet, tussocky terrain…You will see another (barbed wire) fence further down at right angles to the first, which you will need to cross; there is a very basic stile over to the right, away from the fence corner. It is probably best and driest to keep close to the fence line leading downhill, then at some point before reaching the corner, cutting across the tussocks towards the stile. Unfortunately, the farmer saw fit to continue the barbed wire straight across the stile, creating a danger to walkers and requiring special care to cross!
Now you are immediately on a good path…actually a bridle track of sorts…which continues in the same direction, heading for Bryn Mawr. Soon there is a choice of direction…an excellent green grassy track veering slightly right and only very gently ascending, and a much fainter path branching to the left going uphill on the broad ridge, heading towards Bryn Mawr. Branch left if you are going to the top (recommended), but you will be rejoining the main track later on, so there is an option to miss out the hill by staying on the track.
The path ascends the grassy and rocky ridge with lovely views down Cwm Ceulan to the left, and winding up through crags towards the summit. The actual summit is a bit of a disappointment after a gorgeous walk up to it, being a small tussocky mound.
The trick now is to descend to the main track without getting stuck in quite serious tussocky and boggy ground, (as we did on the recce!) which can be ankle-breaking. I would recommend not continuing further on (there seems to be no path) but backtracking the way you came up, and cut down to the left where the ground seems easiest. The main track is not far away, and when you hit it your problems are over! Turn left on the track.
There is now a delightful walk of about 1 km on the bridle track, with only a fairly gradual ascent at first. Then around the highest point there are yet more new views, with Pumlumon Fawr the obvious mountain in the distance to the right. The way goes through a metal gate, and then the picturesque little lake called Llyn Nantycagal suddenly comes into view.
The track joins a small tarmac road…turn right here, walking parallel to the lakeside (which is over to the left) for about 350m, then up a rise at the top of a lefthand bend. At the top of the rise, take the wide forestry track leading off to the right, heading gently uphill for the first 600m or so towards the forest.
This track soon gets to its highest point and from then on winds down through the forest taking a circuitous route, more or less following the contours, resulting in an almost continuously level or gently descending walking experience. There are also numerous places where there are sudden views, gaps in the trees, and interesting forest features. Unfortunately, this track is sometimes used for motor rallying, but these occasions are few and far between, and have not resulted in damage to the track... in fact the compacted surface is fine for walking. The odd mountain biker might also rush through.
Eventually there is a last right hand hairpin bend, after which the track descends to cross the Afon Cyneiniog, before rising to a t-junction on the other side, where you turn left. There is then an easy, scenic walk of about 1 ½ km, including an easily openable metal gate, back to the starting point.