Chris Bonington Trail
Taking In The Source Of The Wye
Starting at Eisteddfa Gurig named after St Curig the 'Chris Bonington Trail' was named such due to Britain's best ever climber spending his first night of marriage on plynlimon. It's not a bad mountain to invoke such passion and this walk does that first night of union justice. As you walk to the summit of Plynlimon and the Wye source if you choose unite with the space and feel the rugged Mid Wales beauty they must have felt all that time ago. It's not a hard route but it's very satisfying.
Eventually after skirting around Cerrig Yr Wyn you reach the viewing platform for the Wye source. In front of you on the fairly flat grassy protrusion is Plynlimon lay bare with the Wye source almost advertising its presence with its 3 impressive gully's. This is a different show to the Severn source just across the way. It's worth sitting for a while if the weather is good and admiring the light if it chooses to dance over the tops of the mountain. For navigation see Grid Ref, link or PDF file below.
Start at Eisteddfa Gurig farm car park, named such after Saint Curig a Celtic Roman Catholic bishop and saint of Wales during post Roman times. If without a car it plays host to the X47 Bus stop opposite. From the car park/farm walk through to the farms rear and then bare right to meet with the track that follows the river Tarennig, which will be on your right. Keep following the river to another right turn. The Tarennig is an invigorating mountain stream and a Wye tributary (see river Tarennig Diary) and it will keep you company until you turn off left. Fast paced it's fed by other streams coming in off the mountain. If walking on a wet day or post a good rain this is a wild water world.
After looking back at the impressive views and having passed the old Plynlimon or Pumlumon Led Mine (Pumlumon meaning 5 peaks in Welsh) the turning left up to the summit will emerge forming a kind of fork. It's a winding trail that's fairly well trodden so you shouldn't get lost especially as there are marker cairns to assist also. Stop and start because as you ascend the Wye Valley begins to emerge in the distance. It's a liberating space so just enjoy as the steps over the ridgeline fence beckon the summit trig point and ancient burial cairns that form one of the most interesting summits and the highest in Mid Wales.
Once at the summit of Plynlimon Fawr at a height of 752 meters (2,468 Ft) settle down and take in the 360 visual feast that is the Welsh interior. It's mountainous and brimming with interesting features to identify from mountains through to the Nant Y Moch Reservoir, the Welsh Coast and Aberystwyth to the West. Descending South is easy. It's a long stretch along a whale back ridge until you reach the outer edge of Dyll Faen forest plantation. Just bare left at it's corner and follow the trail and track down until you come to a cross track about 1 KM in. Bare left here until you reach the farm.
Wye Source Extension
Follow the same route up to the summit. Once at the summit take a bearing North/North East along a fence line for 1KM. until the fence forms a corner. Just beyond here is a slate marker leaning as if blown by the wind. Turn East and walk 250 meters as if at 10-11 o clock. After 200 meters the terrain starts to slope. You have reached the source of the Wye. You should hit the gullies. You are looking for the furthest gully to your left or front. Enjoy the Wye and make your way back to the summit of Plynlimon.
Spec N Stats
Start: Eisteddfa Gurig Climbing: 335 Meters Distance: 6.5 Miles Time: 2 Hours Walking Grade: 3
With well laid out tracks until the turn off then a marked trail to the summit the Chris Bonington Trail on its own or including the Wye source requires moderate effort to walk. We've said 2 hours walking pace but with some time taking in the views and space it may well be longer. It certainly will be taking in the Wye. For this you can add another 1 Hour 45 minutes. There's industrial heritage along the way and what with the mountains river system via the Tarennig also the initial trail forms an interesting interior. All in all it's a stimulating and later an awe inspiring walk with or without the Wye source.
River Wye. Click. Britains 5th longest river and most uninterrupted.
Plynlimon Project. Click. A project to restore Plynlimon.
Cambrian Mountains Society. Click. All things Cambrian Mountains.
Hydrological Study. Click. Plynlimon water catchment.
Plynlimon Led Mine. Click. Industrial history.
Chris Bonington. British climber and pioneer.
Cool short hiking video in the upper Wye. Click to enter video.
Map 1: Location
Map 2: Summit/Return
Map 3: Finish
To operate use your mouse as you would on google maps. Press and hold right and move the map around in any direction. For the elevation profiler click mountain icon below left and follow the trail profile with your mouse, which will correlate with the map as you go. To zoom in or out see plus/minus on the right. To return back to just satellite view click mountain icon again.
Things to Look Out For
There are a number of things to look out for as you head on up to the summit of PLynlimon or the Wye source. We mentioned Nant Lago lead Mine on the Wye View Trail but here in the Tarennig Valley is the main operation set up by the Plynlimon Led Mining Company in the 1860's. Like Nant Lago this to is worth studying as part of the areas industrial history. As you turn off the Tarennig Valley and head upwards there are some way marker cairns that may help in poor weather. At the summit check out the ancient burial cairns which are of national importance. Whilst there try also to identify some peaks - not all Wye Basin. It's always a good vibe orientating yourself let alone enjoying the views for what they are - spectacular!
Pen Lluest Y Carn 699 Meters
Pen Pumlumon Arwystli 741 Meters
Cadair Idris/North 893 Meters
Cripiau Eisteddfa Fach 540 Meters
Aran Fawddwy/North 905 Meters
Mt Snowdon/North 1085 Meters
Y Garn 684 Meters
Llechwedd Hergoed 535 Meters
Other Points Of Interest
Cae Gaer Roman Fort
There are some good walks close by using the . Pont Rhydgaled car parking area 4KM East. If you came in by the X47 bus to do this trail then you're backpacking. Maybe you've got time. If you have you can make your way back to Pont Ryhdgaled via Cripiau Eisteddfa Gurig (see Map 5) of the Wye Source Gully Trail. From there a gem often missed by many is the roman.......
fort Cae Gaer. You can't see much but once you become aware (check out google for an aerial view) it fascinates to stand in its midst. The river that flows adjacent to it is the river Tarennig that you follow on the Chris Bonington Trail a river Wye tributary (see diary). We recommend the Cae Gaer walk - the back end there feels remote and wild and if you fancy it you can trek on through to the Nant Syddion Bothy from there or Nant Rhys - check the Mountains Bothy Association out for details.
Members of the Mountain Bothies Association
As we're viewing the Wye source here we'd like to mention the excellent book 'Coming Down the Wye' by Robert Gibbings. We recommend the read. It's a 1940's classic that chronicles the time Robert Gibbings spent in the upper Wye during the 40's. This is old school.
The Bidno Valley
The Bidno Valley, which plays host to the river Bidno another Wye tributary is a beautiful hidden gem a short distance East from the Wye View platform. From the Sweet Lamb estate it's rough going but there is public access to the valley and river from near Llangurig. We recommend the rough route in from East to West as a boggy wild traverse. However, not everyone is up for that so here is the much easier going Llangurig Route. We assume that if you're considering the Wild way you can find your way.
There are a few renowned trails in the area. The Wye Valley Walk at 136 miles is the most obvious. We recommend this having walked it ourselves. It passes through Wales and England and back into Wales and follows the course of the beautiful river Wye. (Also see the River Wye Diary) or the Wye Valley Walk Partnership for details.
Other trails include the Cambrian Way said to be the mountain connoisseurs trail. If you like mountains and like it wild then this trail is for you. It passes right by the Wye source and through Plynlimon.
Finally there's Glyndwrs Way sections of which we've done. It celebrates the life of the Welsh independence fighter Owain Glyndwr and skirts Plynlimon passing through the Hafron Forest and then good parts of the Wye Basin Namely the upper reaches of the Ithon and within yards of the river Lugg source in the Radnor Forest. (see river Ithon & river Lugg Diaries).
Llangurig the highest village in Wales gets its name from St Curig a Celtic Roman Catholic bishop and saint of Wales during post Roman times. With only 700 plus residents it's a handy little place. Look out for some refreshments at the Blue Bell Inn & the Black Lion. There's also the village tea room and post office where you can pick up some supplies if you're backpacking. We've used it for that purpose and it's super useful in the remote upper Wye. For more information see the Llangurig Village website.