Graig Ddu is a small 1,762ft (537m) mountain in the east of Snowdonia National Park. Just a short drive from the popular tourist town of Betws Y Coed, this location pretty much guarantees quiet and solitude as despite it’s proximity there are no attractions, no gifts shops and no facilities here.
Little worn historic drovers paths weave through the hills and traditional Welsh farms. It’s best enjoyed on dry hot summer days when the colours are popping and also because many of the trails become incredibly wet and muddy during the winter.
Distance 7.1 miles
Time 2 hours 50 minutes (walking) 1 hour (running)
Total Ascent 1,278ft
Summits Graig Ddu
Views Arenig Fawr & Fach mountains, lake Llyn Hesgyn, river Afon Hesgyn
1. We park by a standard footpath sign and stile, in a small layby enough to get the car off the road. Hop over the stile straight into lush green farmers fields and head towards the Hesgyn valley.
2. Quickly reaching an old drovers path that takes us for the next few miles, we pass lake Llyn Hesgyn and keep following the flow of the river Afon Hesgyn on our right hand side. The views here are awesome.
3. The path forks to the left up towards Graig Ddu summit. There is no actual direct route to the summit, so we head for the highest part of the drovers path (where it meets an ageing dry stone wall) and then bounce over the heather to the top. This is an incredible place to watch sunset, with the light dying between Arenig Fawr and Arenig Fach’s huge silhouettes.
4. Navigating through the various farms on the way down is the toughest part of this loop, many of the signs and gates marked on maps are missing and it’s a little odd at times as the public rights of way are directly through the courtyards of farmhouses multiple times. There’s quite a few abandoned buildings along this stretch, until the last mile or so on a meandering quiet country road back to the start point.
Graig Ddu Video
Highlights from August Bank Holiday 2019 at Graig Ddu.
Very rough short overview video with stills and some timelapse from Graig Ddu, taken March 2019.