Llanfairfechan Upland Walk, a walk through the uplands to the Roman Road with historic sites along the way. Great mountain views and panoramic views of the Menai Strait on return journey.
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Where is it ? The walk starts at the Nant y Coed Nature Reserve Car Park at the top of Valley Road in Llanfairfechan, North Wales. Facilities: None, other than Free Parking (2010)
How long will it take ? Distance 5.5 miles. The walk takes approximately 3 hours.
What's the attraction ? A chance to wander the moorlands with little risk, and to get a taster of the mountain walks without climbing the mountains. Although the walk does not ascend the mountains we pass by the lower slopes of several of the Carneddau hills. Standing Stones and historic sites along the way and great views of the Menai Strait on return journey. The boulder strewn landscape at the start of the walk is particularly attractive.
Rating : Moderate. The path is steep for the first few hundred yards and continues to ascend for a mile or so but at a lesser gradient. From there on it is mostly level ground for the remainder of the walk until the downhill return into Llanfairfechan.
Essentials : Walking boots and appropriate wet weather clothes required.

DIRECTIONS > [ Map of Llanfairfechan Upland Walk location Map opens in a new window

Exit the A55 at Junction 15. Bear right and take Penmaenmawr Road to traffic lights in Llanfairfechan town centre. Turn left at traffic lights and continue south along Village Road to Bryn Road. Continue to Valley Road and persist to Nant y Coed Nature Reserve Car Park.

Lets Go! - Llanfairfechan Upland Walk
The Llanfairfechan Uplands Walk starts at the Nant y Coed Nature Reserve Car Park at the top of Valley Road, Llanfairfechan, Conwy, North Wales. It is worth reading the information board on display in the car park, as the flora and fauna described is highly likely to be seen en route. I was fortunate to see a russet coloured stoat scampering between the stones of an Iron Age settlement.

Exit the car park and bear left, passing through the kissing gate, and cross the meadow before pausing at the footbridge and stop and listen.

Yes the sounds of running water coming from all directions shows that this area was not called Three Streams for nothing: to the west is the Afon Glan-Sais, with boulders, mosses, ferns, and a tumbling stream; to the south is the Afon Ddu with boulders, mosses, ferns and a tumbling stream; and to the east is the Afon Maes-y-bryn, with bigger boulders, woodlands, mosses, ferns and another tumbling stream.

If you can drag yourself away from this pastoral setting it is time to head up hill. Yes the track is pretty steep for the first few hundred yards of the walk, but this is more than countered by the beauty of the landscape. Large glacial boulders are strewn about the fields and intermingle with the dry-stone walls, some times, it is hard to tell which is wall and which is boulder…, and which are parts of a prehistoric site! (The landscape behind Llanfairfechan is peppered with archaeological sites). Here there is a wide variety of trees such as willow, ash, oak and black thorn; the berries of the mountain ash add a splash of colour. As we climb the hillside the trees combine with the hedgerow to form an avenue of overhanging branches. All too soon the lowland landscape changes to the heath and moorlands typical of the Welsh Uplands, with trees replaced by gorse, bracken, and the ubiquitous rushes …but the blackthorn clings on longer than most.

As the woodland disappears, the stones and boulders become even more apparent and you will be surprised at how many are not just random stones but the remains of prehistoric settlements. For example at a point some .5 mile (.75km) into the walk there is, to the right of the track, between the trail and the valley of the Afon Ddu, the remains of Fridd Forfudd, an iron age site, some of the remains of which have become part of a boundary wall. The remains of a large stone circle can be seen with the footings of two small huts within the circle.

The trail continues in a southerly direction ascending slightly before levelling out with a more open aspect.
In the distance can be seen the hills of Tal-y Fan, Foel Lwyd, Drosgl, and Foel Ganol.

Take a look back and view the Iron Age hill fort of Dinas above its protective scree. To the north east can be seen the top of Penmaenmawr Mountain and what is left of the prehistoric Craig Lwyd axe factory.

You might have noticed the granite waymarks by this point along the route. Well, for the time being ignore them, as we are veering off the official route toward “Pylon Pass”. It might not sound very welcoming, but if we call it Bwlch y Ddeufaen you might find it more attractive. (I do not know who in their wisdom decided to route these giants through some of the most beautiful parts of Wales …..it will be wind turbines next, no doubt). Continue south toward the pylons, on reaching the pylons use the ladder style to cross the drystone wall and head toward the Roman Road. (Bwlch y Ddeufaen means Pass of the Two Stones and refers to the two standing stones, large pre-historic monoliths estimated at four thousand years old that stand either side of the Roman Road. The southern stone measures 3m in height, the smaller northern stone is 2m high. There are two smaller uprights close to the northern stone, and a series of small stones emerging from the peat a short distance east of the southern stone.

This is a good place to have a sandwich and a cuppa tea. Note the cotton grass nearby. Some say the cotton grass is a warning sign for dangerous marshland. Also, keep an eye open for the wild mountain ponies. The wild mountain ponies roam the Carneddau Mountains and are rounded up just once each year. Local farmers have looked after this rare breed for generations.

Once refreshed follow the Roman Road west toward Abergwyngregyn. Continue on the Roman Road for approximately 2 miles (3km) to the prominent finger post at the “Meeting of the Tracks” (known as such because from this point the tracks radiate off to Abergwyngregyn, Llanfairfechan, Rowen and also ascend into the mountains). We leave the Roman Road at this point but it is worth making a short diversion by continuing west for a hundred yards to the brow of the hill to get site of the Aber Valley and the road to Abergwyngregyn.

Back to our walk and we follow the sign pointing to Llanfairfechan. There are two or three trail options, all leading to the same destination at the far side of the hilltop known as Carreg Fawr. From here it is best to follow the directions for the North Wales Coastal Path which veers to the left of the hilltop and offers fine views of Anglesey, the Menai Strait and the Lavan Sands. It is more or less all down hill from here to Terrace Walk in Llanfairfechan. Nothing too steep and it is good soft ground underfoot.

The trail squeezes between the hillside and a large drystone wall before coming to a more open aspect with views of the town of Llanfairfechan, Penmaenmawr Mountain and the final section of the walk. | On the northern slopes of Carreg Fawr can be seen an elaborate collection of stone sheep pens built from the mountain scree. Shepherds would use these pens to divide the sheep after annual roundups and sheep shearing.

Continuing down the hillside the trail leads to the road known as Terrace Walk and we bear to the right leading to Valley Road and the nature reserve where we left the car. There is another option for the last section of the walk from the drystone wall below Carreg Fawr.

Rather than following the North Wales Coastal Path to the north for the final downhill section, you can follow another path heading in a more north easterly direction cutting across the north slope of Carreg Fawr. This alternative route has the advantage of fine views of Dinas Hill. I have not included this route on the map, however, due to persons along the trail obstructing the kissing gates (tying gates shut with rope). If you take this path you will have to turn left at the bottom of the hill and take a diversion through 2 fields before reaching the road.

Buy the Ordnance Survey Map:
Outdoor Leisure OL17 (1:25,000) or the Landranger Sheet 115 (1:50,000)

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