Oct 032009

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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A cold autumn morning, with the Snowdonia mountains smoking with cloud. We were looking for a high and handsome walk, something tastily mountain-flavoured but without actually ascending too far. ‘Going in the Carneddau? Tops are all covered, rain’s on the way,’ predicted a tough-looking hero of the hills in the Betws-y-Coed sports shop. As so often in the mountains of Wales, however, he’d reckoned without the effects of local weather. We started under gloomy morning skies, and finished in glorious afternoon sunshine. In between, there were the two secret lakes of Melynllyn and Dulyn.

You can’t see either Melynllyn or Dulyn from the upland car park at Llyn Eigiau, high above the Conwy Valley and bang in the middle of the Carneddau range. In fact they lay well hidden until we had climbed the old quarry track round the shoulder of the tongue-tinglingly named Clogwynyreryr, and were deep in the hidden valley behind. Dulyn was the first to slide into view across the cleft, a dark sliver of water in a bowl of rock-scabbed cliffs 500 feet high. But it was Melynllyn we came to first, skirting an old quarry building where a great cast-iron flywheel stood buried up to its axle in rubble. The slate around Melynllyn is studded with tiny particles of abrasive quartz, and first-class hones or whetstones were quarried here to sharpen the scythes and sickles of Victorian Britain.

The clear water of Melynllyn lay hidden until the last moment. As we gazed, a fish jumped and disappeared with a little plosive plop and a ringburst of ripples. A steep track led down to Dulyn, black and still under its cliffs. The twisted fingers of an aeroplane propeller reached out of the water like a demon hand in a Tolkien setting. As many as 20 planes have crashed into the cliffs above Dulyn over the years, and their engines and wing parts still litter the rocks and waters. It was a solemn, hauntingly beautiful place to sit on a rock and eat our sandwiches before taking the long and squelchy homeward path.

Start & finish: Llyn Eigiau car park (OS ref SH 731662)

Getting there: Train (www.thetrainline.com; www.railcard.co.uk) to Dolgarrog Halt (4½ miles by footpath). Road: A5/A470 to Betws-y-Coed; B5106 to Tal-y-Bont; left at Talybont Farmhouse (just before bus shelter and Y Bedol/The Lamb PH); mountain road for 3 miles to car park.

Walk (6 miles, moderate/difficult, OS Explorer OL17): Cross stile at east end of parking place (732663); follow paved path. Cross stile (727666); follow track past sheepfold and up shoulder of Clogwynyreryr for 1¾ miles to ruin near Melynllyn Reservoir (706656). Ignore footpath on map; continue along track to SE corner of reservoir (703658). Follow track skirting to right of crags, steeply down to reach Dulyn Reservoir. Follow path above bothy (707664), along hillside above Afon Dulyn. Pass Scots pine clump; cross first stream (709669), then fence by ladder stile. Cross Ffrwd Cerriguniaun (713671), and another ladder stile (715673). Cross Afon Garreg-wen (718675); then head a little right, aiming downhill for white dam 1/3 mile away. Ford Afon Dulyn below dam (725675); follow track to Maeneira farm ruin (728673) and on to re-cross stile below sheepfold (727666) and return to car park.

Conditions: A mountain walk – hill-walking clothes, boots, gear. Homeward path could be tricky in mist.

NB – Online map, more walks: www.christophersomerville.co.uk

Lunch: Picnic

Accommodation: Mairlys B&B, Betws-y-Coed (01690-710190; www.mairlys.co.uk; from £60 dble), or Acorns B&B, Betws-y-Coed (01690-710395; www.betws-y-coed-breaks.co.uk; from £60)

Snowdonia Walking Festival: 16-18 October 2009 (www.snowdoniawalkingfestival.co.uk)

More info: Betws-y-Coed TIC (01690-710426; www.visitwales.co.uk); www.ramblers.org.uk

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