Sunrise at the Roman Steps
Although waking at 4.00am doesn't sound that appealing, the payback of seeing the sunrise is glorious. The Roman Steps begin from Cwm Bychan farm about a twenty minute drive from Llanbedr. So to begin this budding adventure we had to leave the house at a staggering 4.30 am. From the car park which is beautifully located right next to the Cwm Bychan Lake, right in the middle of the Rhinog mountain range, the walk takes a leisurely 35 – 40 minutes to ascend.
Although you would think the name would give the history away about the steps, there is actually nothing written about them having anything to do with the Romans! It is believed that these steps were actually created as a packhorse track, and are in fact not Roman but Medieval and that they were used for loading apparatus from Harlech to Chester, perfect for Christmas shopping! There is, in fact, another track like this located a little further south, connecting Tal-Y-Bont to Bontddu, just to the south of the Rhinogs. It is thought this latter track was used by drovers to chaperone well-to-do offspring to England.
Although it is not a hard walk, I will have to admit the pace had to be quickened as we thought we wouldn't make the 5.27 am sunrise (bear in mind we walked this route on the 10th of May so make sure you time your ascent to match the time of year to catch the sunrise!), but we managed to catch it just in time. I have thought recently that people in their lifetime will see many sunsets, which if you have visited North Wales, you won't forget, but how many sunrises have you seen? This is what hatched the plan to walk this route at such an unsociable hour. There was in fact almost a full moon when we awoke, and luckily the weather had been glorious in the days leading up to the walk, so no head torches were needed, although they were packed just in case. It is such a wonderful feeling knowing that you are one of the first people to witness the day on the Rhinog's!
If you make sure you walk the steps on the clear day you will not be disappointed. From the top you will be able to see across to Trawsfynydd (and maybe even some wild mountain goats!). If you're feeling adventurous you can descend the other side (we weren't particularly feeling this at 5.30 am). The sunrise was absolutely breathtaking and with this serene backdrop there was no regretting beginning this early. It was completely silent and you feel on top of the world.
Directions from Llanbedr
The village of Llanbedr is located about 3 miles south of Harlech along the A496. Once in the village turn left before the Victoria Inn pub (it is in fact sign posted Cwm Bychan). Carry on for roughly 6 miles until you can go no further, and you will find yourself in the heart of the mountains at Cwm Bychan Farm which is where your journey begins! Much of this road is single track, so make sure your reversing is up to scratch!
How many sunrises have you witnessed whilst on holiday? Why not make this your first sunrise spot on your next North Wales holiday itinerary? Stay close by in holiday cottages in Harlech and its surrounding areas, and don't forget to turn on that early morning alarm!