I didn't know it at the time but this was to be my penultimate walk before Snowdonia was essentially "closed" to visitors as part of the March 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. Enjoying absolute peace and solitude (not encountering another soul all day) in one of the least visited parts of the National Park, I was blissfully unaware of the massed craziness taking place a few short miles away on Snowdon itself, where authorities reported the busiest visitor day in living memory.
My main aims for the day were a dawn visit to Bryn Cader Faner, a bronze age round cairn set high on the hills above Llyn Trawsfynydd and the exploration an area that I just didn't know.
The walk I am about to describe is just over 16 miles long. There are no big climbs or exposure but some sections are boggy and pathless meaning that navigation could be difficult in poor visibility. The total ascent is 3,135 feet. A GPX file of the route can be downloaded here.
The closest parking to the Bryn Cader Faner is accessed via the hamlet of Eisingrug, off the A496 between Harlech and Porthmadog. Shortly after you've passed through Eisingrug take a right turn marked as a dead end (if you reach the gates to the hotel you have gone too far). Follow it steadily uphill for a mile until the tarmac ends at a grassed parking area. There is a £2 honesty box on a nearby gate.
Morning twilight was well under way as I got out of the car and pulled on my boots. I clearly wouldn't be needing the torch today.
Standing in the car park, the temptation is to follow the gravel track that acts as a continuation of the tarmac road. However, my GPS quickly told me that this was wrong and so I did an about turn and headed through the gate with the honesty box instead