This walk explores the wild and remote plateau above the Elan Valley. It is a walk for the lover of solitude and huge skies, and demands good navigational skills. Use OS Explorer Map 200, good boots, compass and mountain clothing.
Park at the car park (Sat Nav LD6 5HF). Cross the road and the bridge opposite, bearing left towards Llanerch Cawr before doubling back on yourself to take the lane up the steep sided Rhiwnant valley. When the lane veers right, go left on a track which enters a steep sided valley, climbing steadily up above some disused quarries. Take the left fork which leads into the Nant Dyrys gorge (which translates as tangled ravine). Continue the climb up the valley, until the track takes a hairpin bend, ignore this and continue straight ahead on a ancient path for another 2km into Nant Paradwys (the Paradise ravine) shortly you’ll arrive at a collection of boulders, a small spring and the Community Boundary. This boundary is marked by occasional concrete blocks, often buried in the long grass, which form the only guide on the ground to the next section of your walk. If the mists are down, and you are unsure of your navigational skills, turn back here!
We leave the path here, turning NE to follow a broad ridge up to an unnamed spot height (562 mtrs) before heading SE to another spot height (566 mtrs). From here it’s immediately apparent why the area is known locally as the Green Desert, with rolling hills, all of much the same altitude, as far as one can see in every direction. Follow the boundary markers, along a more or less flat ridge towards your main objective, the summit of Gorllwyn (613mtrs) some 1.5km distant. The going, though never steep, is difficult, with not a trace of a path, and through long grass.
From the summit of Gorllwyn the boundary markers lead NE along a vague ridge, passing the tiny pool of Llyn y Ferlen to cross the parish boundary which is marked on the OS map. Just before a boggy area (Cnapiau’r Ferlen) head NW, dropping very gently down hill along the crest of a broad ridge to the edge of the access land, which is marked by a fence. Here the direct route crosses three fences, but you will find it easier to go left along the fence line, following it down to a crossing track. Go left on this, crossing a stream on a bridge, and continue easily along to Llanerch Cawr and a return to the car park.