From the front windows of our new house I have views of three of the main hill ranges in Wales. To the west beyond the head of the Banwy valley are the imposing crags of the Aran range, with the three main summits visible (Aran Fawddwy, Erw y Ddafad-ddu, and Aran Benllyn), while to the north-east, just left of the little hill of Rhialgwm, I can see the Berwyn tops (Moel Sych, Cadair Berwyn, and Cadair Bronwen). Between the two the view is dominated by the lovely wooded slopes of the Dyfnant Forest.
At a little col amid the trees of the forest, there is a view beyond to a long, low hump. This is Cyrniau Nod, the only peak of the Hirnant Hills that I can see from home.
The Hirnants have never really been favourite hills of mine, but since moving here I’m growing to really like them. They start in the west above the Bwlch y Groes road where it cuts over the hill from the head of the Dyfi valley to Bala one way, and to Lake Vyrnwy the other. Above this junction lies Moel y Cerrig Duon (625m), an easy walk from the top of the pass, but a long moorland stretch from any of the other peaks in the group.
Away to the north-east, across those endless miles of bog and peat, there is a wonderful little ridge, with two 2000fters along it – Foel y Geifr (626m) at the south end, and Foel Goch (613m) at the north. I’ve walked the rough miles between these three peaks a few times, but always enjoy the shorter ascent of Foel y Geifr and Foel Goch a lot more when done from the top of the road pass between the head of Lake Vyrnwy and Cwm Hirnant.
The views from this ridge to Arenig Fawr, Arenig Fach, with the Carneddau beyond the Migneint are amazing, with Moel Siabod and the Glyderau also poking out between peaks. To the west Rhobell Fawr and Dduallt are near at hand, while between them and Arenig Fawr the long switch-back of the Rhinogydd can be seen.
Across the road pass lie the remaining three 2000fters of the Hirnants, Pen y Boncyn Trefeilw (646m), Cyrniau Nod (667m), and Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd (648m). The first two are also usually climbed from the road pass, from where a broad 4×4 track leads to within spitting distance of each summit. My favourite way of climbing these two though is from Cwm Hirnant itself, where a series of forestry tracks lead up onto the tops and make for a great little circuit.
Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd is a heathery lump, full of cackling red grouse and meadow pipits. The views from the summit are dominated by the Berwyn, with lowly little Post Gwyn to the right and the main Berwyn ridge stretching away to the east. The easiest way to the top of Foel Cwm Sian Llwyd is from the Milltir Gerrig, the high road from Llangynog across to Llandderfel. You can park at a couple of different places along this road, though I usually go from a layby at Bryniau Gleision and bash up the eastern slopes through the heather.