Crimpiau, a nostalgic walk from Capel Curig

It’s a shame Snowdonia is so far away, for like the Peak District, it has many beautiful places to visit and walk.

I can honestly say, it’s not just the Peak District and Snowdonia, but ALL the National Parks each have their own beauty and each is as individual as the other.

I’ve been lucky to have visited the Peak District, Snowdonia, The Highlands, and The North York Moors in recent years, along with The Lakes and Yorkshire Dales as a child.

I’m reminiscing too much now, but sometimes, that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve had two walks in mind for this visit to North Wales, where I stayed with family, who live not far from Conwy.

The other, was the Northern Carneddau, where on my ascent and descent, I would get superb views down to Beaumaris, Puffin Island and the Menai Straights.

The Northern Carneddau walk was completed long before I started blogging; so sadly, there isn’t a blog to cross reference to.

One day, there will…..

Looking down the Northern Carneddau over to the Menai Straits and Puffin Islands
However, the weather started off cloudy, with a chance of sun at some point, but would remain dry. It was going to be a last minute decision where I would go…..

After one final weather check, I loaded up the car, made the decision, left a route plan with my wife and headed off for Capel Curig, with a stop in Betws-y-Coed to grab some lunch.

Betws-y-Coed is a lovely village, bustling for most of the year with tourists and walkers, staying in one of the many hotels and B&B’s.

The miniature railway in Betws-y-Coed
Yes, that is a proper full sized railway line and station along side the miniature railway.

Fairy Glen, Betws-y-Coed
Not the best photo, but the best I had on file

There are many cafes, a selection of hotels, pubs and some fish and chip shops, so you won’t starve or die of thirst

You also have a few, very good, outdoor shops, so a word of warning!

There is Cotswold Outdoor, Cotswold Rockbottom, and various others to.

Those of you who recall the old Climber and Rambler shop, I’m sorry to say it’s closed down. Even in its regeneration of Ultimate Outdoor, this closed last year. Ultimate Outdoor shops are currently still trading, just not in Betws-y-Coed.


There are a few attractions in and near to Betws-y-Coed, like Swallow Falls and the Ugly House (which I’ve still yet to visit, even after all these years of visiting Snowdonia), which I passed on my way to Capel Curig, particularly the miniature railway museum by the station, along with a miniature train, which is primarily for children, to ride on.

When I say children, I was including the older children among us too!

The Ugly House is supposed to have been built by robbers, but there is no evidence to substantiate that. Also, Swallow Falls can be quite spectacular after a good rain fall. But take a rain coat with you; the spray can stray on to the viewing area.

Anyway, I’m digressing too much….

After buying my lunch, I then set off for Capel Curig, where I would park the car and head off for Crimpiau.

Capel Curig is in two parts, the village which is soon after Betws-y-Coed if travelling west, and then the small shopping area at the junction of the A5 with the A4086.

This is where you are greeted by yet more outdoor shops and a superb café.

This is also where I was to park my car, driving up the drive past Pinnacle Stores (also the Pinnacle Cafe) and Joe Brown’s Climbing Shop.

The approach to the shops at Capel Curig,
Car park access is to the left of Pinnacle Stores

The car park, is on the right past the phone box

The car park at the rear of  the shops and cafe
Joe Brown was a famous and pioneering climber of the fifties and sixties.

Crimpiau has been on my list of “to-do” for some time, for here and the surrounding landscape, where I did my daytime navigation training.

I have many happy memories of the training days, some of the scenarios we were presented with and how we would resolve the issues, understanding mountain rescue, how long we could be out there for, the reasons why we would need to know what we were being taught, and many more things besides.

Instructor and trainee on one of our training sessions.
Note the maps used, are A4 sized which is why I use successfully, Toughprint Waterproof paper

They really were interesting and informative training sessions and for me at least, reinforced the need for risk assessment prior to the activity as well as the on-going risk assessment that you would do as a normal course of action while out and about.

Walking skills like pacing, time vs. distance incorporating Naismith’s, along with Tranters Correction.

It was these training sessions which prompted my use of Toughprint Waterproof Paper from Memory map and Tuff Maps, laminated Ordnance Survey maps with a detached cover, both of which I’ve covered in some of my early blogs and also inspired what kit I carry when out and about, more recently another blog; What’s in my pack?

Much of this walk is off path, which is what the training I had was about, walking off path in some adverse conditions; therefore if your navigation skills are not very strong, my advice is not to venture off path, at any point.

This walk was to encompass as much as possible, the ground I used to walk on while training. My start point was Capel Curig, walking North East out on to the hills, and around to Crimpiau, before descending back to Capel Curig.

So, parked up at the back of Joe Browns Shop, it was warm, around 17ºC – 18ºC, no wind, cloudy (the cloud was high enough not to be of any concern), ideal walking conditions.

So I got suited and booted, and set off back down the drive to the shop frontages, where I would cross the busy A5 (the old coaching road to Holyhead).

Can I offer a serious warning here, for crossing this busy road can be difficult, you have blind bends at the most crucial viewpoints both sides of you.

Do not overlook the advantage of walking to your left, in a north westerly direction, up the road a short way, about 100 metres, towards Bethesda, where the road straightens out giving you clear views left and right to cross safely, to find a safe crossing point.

Then walk back down the road towards the church hidden in the trees, opposite the junction of the A5 and A4086.

Right, so we’re at the gate, which can be opened, or you can climb the style, to head north east away from Capel Curig.

Please ensure you close the gate behind you, for there will be sheep in the field.

The gate leading in to the field at the start of the walk, after crossing the A5 road.
The church is just to the right of the gate.

The path after you've walked through the gate

The path soon disappears, but the route is still clearly marked for you to follow

The view looking back down the path I had just walked up from Capel Curig.
The first of many magnificent views looking over towards the Snowdon Massiff
The walk takes you uphill, through the field, where you come across a style, which marks the start of a wooded area which you walk through.

All this way, the path is clear and good, though in wet weather, the stones could be very slippery.

Once through the wooded area, we start to open out and approach another gate and style.

Looking back along the route you’ve just walked, you’re given a superb view over Capel Curig towards Llyn Mymbyr and the Snowdon Massiff.

The style and gate at the start to the wooded area

The path through the wooded area

Continue along the path, where you cross a footbridge, then follow the path to your left, in a northerly direction, where you will go through some gates or over styles.

Venturing along the path, I then go off path and start my indirect ascent towards Crimpiau.

During my ascent, the bracken, which wasn’t there when we did our training weekends, during April, was quite high, almost shoulder height at times!

I even managed to pick up a tick while making the ascent. Thankfully, the little critter couldn’t get through my clothing, or I’m sure it would have made a feast on my blood.

Looking back at the footbridge I crossed earlier.
From here it starts to become nice and quiet.

The path soon after the footbridge

One of many styles or gates to pass.
I didn't count how many, but looking at the map, each boundary feature has a gate and style

My ascent up towards Crimpiau

The sheep tick I managed to pick up.
Had I been wearing shorts, it would have been feeding on my blood by the time I had seen it....
The weave on my Mountain Equipment stretch trousers, is very fine.
That tick was only three of millimeters in length!

While I’m on the subject of ticks, I’m always cautious of getting another tick, for those who know me, will know I have Bells Palsy as a result of a tick bite many years ago. Unfortunately, because the diagnosis wasn’t for well over eight years after the bite, muscle wastage had long since set in, so it’s beyond any help.

In my First Aid Kit, I carry the O’Tom Tick Twister, where you scoop the forked part between the tick and your skin, twist as to unscrew the mouth from you, hopefully, the tick will be removed safely.

More and uptodate information can be found by visiting the Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK (BADA-UK).

I’ve digressed again….

Continuing my ascent, I finally reach a ridge, where I’m given superb views down Dyffryn Mymbyr, Llyn Mymbyr and the Snowdon Massif.

Once at the first ridge, I had this superb view

At this point, I turn right, to continue my ascent towards Crimpiau, reaching a couple of mini peaks enroute.

Finally, I reach Crimpiau summit, where I have a good look around, taking in the view around me, Snowdon, Llyn Mymbyr, the Ogwen Valley, Tryfan and the Glyderau, Pen yr Ole Wen and the Carneddau, Llyn Crafnant, many more peaks and in the far distance, Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr, it was in the right direction!

Crimpiau Summit

Llyn Mymbyr and the Snowdon Massiff from Crimpiau Summit

The Ogwen Valley, Tryfan, The Glyders and Pen yr Ole Wen from Crimpiau Summit

Pen yr Ole Wen and the Carneddau from Crimpiau Summit

Llyn Crafnant from Crimpiau Summit

The view to the south from Crimpiau Summit.
The hump backed peaks in the far right, are 
Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr.
If not, then its in the right direction......

".... Well, if it wasn’t Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr, it was in the right direction,,,,"

Me, taking in the views from Crimpiau Summit

Well, if it wasn’t Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr, it was in the right direction,,,,

After taking in the views, I settled down for lunch, just enjoying the peace, solitude and fabulous views.

I was joined by a family of four at the summit, who were also taking in the views, but not sure what they could see.

I had the pleasure of pointing out all the peaks, with the exception of Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr, for I wasn’t sure at the time, and they were amazed at what they could see. The two youngsters were amazed to see Snowdon from this point.

It just goes to show, you don’t always need to climb to a high altitude to see such beauty.

After a few minutes, the family moved on, heading back down to Capel Curig, while I stayed a good while longer, enjoying the peace, tranquility and views.

But, all good things have to come to an end and I had to make my way back down, with more ground to cover and get to the Pinnacle Café before it closed.

So my descent started. It is a steep descent down in to the valley below, though I wasn’t going to venture in to the valley, but to follow the ridge around to Llyn y Coryn.

".... So my descent started. It is a steep descent down in to the valley below...."

The valley below had been used a number of times for navigation  training.
There are some interesting features there in relation to the maps of the area.

The valley has been used a number of times for navigation training, with some interesting features to test your map reading ability.

However, I wanted to take in Llyn y Coryn, which is an ornate little lake, before completing my descent.

Approaching Llyn y Coryn

Llyn y Coryn

The style as I leave Llyn y Coryn

While I was up there, two Gnat trainer jets from RAF Valley flew along the valley below, into the Ogwen Valley, as they often do on training sorties.

Unfortunately, they moved too fast for me to capture them on the camera and were too small, and too fast, to be seen on the GoPro video.

One of these days, I’ll get either some video or a decent photo of the jets charging through the Ogwen Valley.

The descent was interesting. Keep in mind that I was on these training sessions during April, not in August.

I departed Llyn y Coryn, stepping over the style just to the western edge of the lake, heading south west, where I was given a fabulous and view of Tryfan, an almost commanding pose, towering above the scrub, just before I started my descent.

"....where I was given a fabulous and view of Tryfan, an almost commanding pose...."

The Dragon's back, in a commanding pose....
By now, I had skipped a large part of our return route, which might have been just as well in hindsight, for my current descent was full of bracken, much of it was past waist height. By the way, I’m just short of six foot tall, so that will give you an idea of the vegetation height.

So my descent was interesting, getting bracken stems tangled around my legs, hidden stones to trip me up of lose my grip and slip….

So it was a case of take it slowly, placing each foot carefully down and where on the odd occasion I was able to see clearly underfoot, clear any bracken caught around my ankles and carry on.

Looking back up the route we used to descend from Crimpiau.

Looking back up the route I used this time to descend from Crimpiau.
Note the large expanse of bracken!
My last look up the Ogwen Valley

Looking down to Capel Curig

The stream that we used to navigate along, and the features that we used for training, were well and truly obscured with bracken, and knowing how steep the sides were down to the stream, I kept my distance from the edge.

Careful studying of the map, confirms the steep sides leading down to the stream, so please, study your map carefully if you follow this circuit.

The stream, which runs middle right, used for navigation training, was completely covered in bracken!

I finally reach the lowest point intended, for I need to walk around the north side of some stone paddocks, to rejoin the path I started out on and head back for Capel Curig.

On reaching the path, heading down towards Capel Curig, where I arrive at the gate, and the pinnacles Café is just calling me loud and clear…..

May I just reiterate my earlier warning about crossing the busy A5 road, both the viewpoints are on blind bends at the most crucial viewpoints both sides of you.

Do not overlook the advantage of walking to your right, in a north westerly direction, up the road a short way, about 100 metres, towards Bethesda, where the road straightens out giving you clear views left and right to cross safe.

Once I was safely across the road, I called in to the Pinnacles Café, where the girls, who were busy clearing up at the end of the day, welcomed me in so I could enjoy their coffee and a nice slice of chocolate brownie.

The welcome sight of the Pinnacle Cafe

An enjoyable post walk cuppa and a chocolate brownie

Of course, after my post walk cuppa and cake, walking back to the car, parked at the rear of Joe Brown’s shop, I had to call in and see what they had on offer.

It was a fabulous and nostalgic day, covering old ground and reliving some of the memories, particularly the humorous moments, especially some of the interesting scenarios posed to us and how we would get around the various situations that we could encounter, not just in bad weather, but the awkward or frightened person or persons, in any walking group.

Superb walking country, perfect weather and plenty of peace and quiet, a really pleasant day, coupled with some great Twitter interactions while on the summit of Crimpiau, as I had shared some photos.

The next part of the day’s navigation training was to follow at night, where we would venture on to the plateau just below Moel Siabod, navigating to various point in the dark, utilising the skills we had learned during the day,

I ascended Moel Siabod in August 2012 and wrote about it in Moel Siabod and my old Navigation Training Ground.

A map of the area covered, but the route shown is not the route I took.
The route is one I had seen advised

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler

Twitter                     @PeakRambler

Joe Brown; Climber

Betws-y-Coed and some of its sights and attractions;

Cotswold Outdoor

Cotswold Rockbottom

Miniature Railway

Fairy Glen; Betws-y-Coed

Swallow Falls, Betws-y-Coed

The Ugly House

Capel Curig

Joe Brown Shop

Pinnacle Café


O’Tom Tick Twister


Naismith’s Rule

Tranter’s Corrections

Blogs mentioned that I’ve written


  1. Hi can i just point out those hills arent Cadair Idris they are Arenig Fach and Fawr and in the wrong direction from Cadair!

    1. You certainly can point that out and I'm very grateful for your identification of Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr.

      I have amended all references to Cadir Idris accordingly.