2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
Snowdonia’s biggies are crammed into a small corner of the National Park, along with most of the crowds.
In contrast the adjacent Nantlle hills feel like a neglected backwater - in a good way.
A grassy stride along elegant curved arêtes, the traverse of the main ridge linking all the summits in the range is a classic Welsh walk, with a rare sense of peace and spacious seaward views.
Mildly scrambly moments are spread out along the way, and they're unlikely to tax even the most nervous hillwalker.
Cross the road and follow a marked path west, looping around a house to cross the Afon Gwyrfai before following a track (signed) to the B4418.
Leave the road straight away on another track heading southwest, then go right on a little path that zigzags steeply up the east flank of Y Garn.
Once the angle begins to ease bear right to the summit cairn.
A broad grassy ridge now leads towards Mynydd Drws-y-coed, which from this angle is an impressive sharp peak.
The route directly up the crest looks harder than it really is, and gives only basic (but fun) scrambling on a series of little steps - slippery when wet.
If you insist on missing out, paths skirt just left of the good stuff.
Descend the narrow ridge to a col, from where scrappy scrambling leads up to Trum y Ddysgl.
Here the ridge gets briefly wider.
An easy descent west then leads to a sudden narrowing, where the cwms flanking either side of the mountain pinch tight to form an unusual grass-topped arete – unfortunately short lived.
A gentle climb beside an old wall then gains the rounded summit of Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd, marked with a large stone monument.
Follow the crest south-southwest (ish) to make a steep eroded descent to a low col.
From here the ascent of Craig Cwm Silyn can be done in three different ways.
A wall runs into a tier of scrappy crags and scree; done direct it's probably grade 2, and needs careful handling.
There’s an easier scrappy scrambling line just right of the wall.
Easier still is to cut right to avoid the scramble altogether.
The various strands soon rejoin above the crag to continue up the northeast ridge.
Beyond a few little grassy pinnacles the path passes a boulder field to reach the summit wind break.
It's well worth continuing west along the ridge for the final two tops, Carnedd Goch and Mynydd Graig Goch, but if you've not arranged return transport from Talysarn then you'll end up a long way from the start of the route.
Otherwise it's more convenient to reverse the route over Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd, across the grassy arete and back up to the southwest end of Trum y Ddysgl’s summit ridge.
For the sake of variation, from here descend the mountain's long south-southeast ridge.
This easy descent above the forestry of Cwm Du leads to the rugged pass of Bwlch-y-Ddwy-elor.
From here the trail to Rhyd-Ddu descends through pine woods, sometimes boggy, then crosses open slopes below Mynydd Drws-y-Coed and Y Garn to rejoin the approach path.
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, May 2012