Forests and reservoirs have been created on the eastern edge while much of the central rolling plateau, consisting of upland blanket bog and heather, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A natural upland lake, Llyn Alwen lies in the centre.
From the car park in Pentrefoelas, return to the A5 and cross directly to another road. At a left bend, bear right on a track past the churchyard and go through two gates. After a stile, go through a small gate in a wall and follow the path to a farmyard and road. Turn left for 600m, then bear right along a track and through gates, with a valley below on the left. Keep a lookout for lapwings, which frequent the surrounding farmland.
Pass Cefn Garw on your right and continue to a lane then bear left to the A543. Turn left for 100m then go right on a bridleway. Bear right at a farmhouse, on a rough track, and at the end of the trees go slightly right to follow a wall on the left. Continue uphill and pass through a gate on to the moorland track.
Turn left, passing through gates, and over a rise offering distant views of Snowdonia’s mountains. Walk downhill to another track (note the broad gate here on your left) and bear right through open moorland. During the early 20th century it was managed as a shooting estate and you may see red grouse. A few black grouse are present but they prefer the forest edge. Clocaenog Forest, further east, is known for its red squirrels. Look out for the many meadow pipits and you may spot buzzard, peregrine, hen harrier, kestrel and merlin. Ravens frequent Moel Rhiwlug, which is on your left after a gate and near a right bend. The slopes are worth climbing for the extensive views of heather and sphagnum moss.
Returning to the track, go through another gate and at the end of a right-hand fence, a detour can be made up Pen yr Orsedd for the view over Llyn Alwen. Walk on along the track and over a rise, then descend through a gate to the deserted farmhouse of Tyn-llyn beside the lake.
Return along the track to go through the gate seen earlier and follow the track to a cattle-grid and lane. Walk downhill, watching for herons in the stream below. Go through a left-hand kissing-gate and through a field into a wood. Above on your left you can see the remains of a medieval motte.
At a track junction continue ahead, passing houses once the heart of the Voelas Estate. In the past, Pentrefoelas was the stronghold of the fairies and they sometimes rewarded kind villagers with gifts of money. Pass through trees to a field and cross to a corner kissing-gate. Keep on downhill and take a path between houses to a road where you bear left to the start.
Field paths and rough moorland tracks across open access land. Wellies or walking boots essential as it can be very wet in places.
How to get there
by car: Pentrefoelas is
on the A5, northwest of Corwen. At the village crossroads, cross the bridge to the car park.
By public transport: Bus X19 from Llandudno and Llangollen.
Riverside Chocolate House
Pentrefoelas, Betws-y-Coed LL24 0LE
% 01690 770296
Foelas Arms Hotel
Pentrefoelas LL24 0HT
% 01690 770213
Ordnance Survey Explorer maps OL18 and OL17.
Grid Ref: SH 873 514
Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre Cerrigydrudion, Corwen, Conwy LL21 9TT
% 01490 420463
Betws-y-coed Tourist Information Centre
Royal Oak Stables,
% 01690 710426