Nestled deep in the wilderness of the Carneddau mountains, far removed from the crowds of the neighboring Snowdon Massif, lies Dulyn Bothy. Once a workers hut for those working on the reservoir, it now serves as a mountain refuge for those who seek it. Dulyn bothy, located near the shores of Lyn Dulyn (Black Lake) is one of four mountain shelters in Snowdonia, and one of nine in Wales. One of the most remote, Dulyn bothy sits deep in the heart of the Carneddau mountain range, surrounded by heather-clad grasslands and winding streams. On a cloudy day, if you didn’t know it was there, you’d be forgiven for missing it. The stone structure blends seamlessly into the landscape.
The basic mountain shelter is maintained by the MBA– an organisation run by volunteers to maintain approximately 100 mountain refuges in some of the most remote corners of the British Isles. Supported by volunteers and donations alone, the Mountain Bothies Association carries out building and maintenance work on these dwellings to allow outdoor lovers to continue using them. The vast majority of bothies are located in Scotland, with a few in the North of England and Wales.
Arriving at the car park on the single track road towards Cwm Eigliau at 8pm, the light was already beginning to fade. We knew we had to move fast. Carrying only the basics, we hauled our backpacks onto our backs and set off on the trail away from Conwy valley, into the wild.
There are two paths that lead to the bothy: the low, more direct path that follows the Pant y Griafolen stream through the valley towards Lyn Dulyn, and the higher track which skirts round the Clogwyn Maldy. Opting for the more direct route we chose the lower path. Soon after we crossed the dam, the path disappeared and the ground became increasingly sodden. With the light fading quickly, and the going getting tougher it became increasingly likely that we would arrive at the bothy by torch light. We pushed on though, battling through the heavy marshland towards Dulyn reservoir, racing against the sun.
As we passed a lonely copse of trees, the silhouette of the shelter came into sight. The flicker of light emanating from the bothy confirmed that we wouldn’t be alone for the evening. Smoke drifting from the chimney stack signalled that the fire was already lit- perfect to dry our saturated boots.
Entering the bothy, the warmth of the crackling fire was comforting. Two walkers sat at the fire sipping whiskey whilst their children slept in the second room. Wet clothes hung around the perimeter of the room, slowly dripping onto the wooden floor below. We peeled our wet layers off and hung our socks above the fire, hoping that they would dry out by morning. Thankfully I’d carried a bag of logs from the car as the small supply that was already there had been spent. You can never rely on there being fuel in a bothy so it’s always best to carry your own.
After we’d boiled some water to cook our FIREPOT dehydrated meal, we spent the night sipping whiskey around the fire until all the logs had burned out. We then climbed into our sleeping bags and set the alarm for 04.30- just enough time to be up and ready for sunrise.
As the alarm rang and the first rays of light shone through the misty windows, the thought of putting wet boots back on to go outside wasn’t appealing. Fortunately I’d carried my Keen Uneek sandals with me as camp shoes so slipped them on and layered up.
As we left the bothy we were greeted by a herd of wild ponies who were grazing around the building. It’s common to see these wild horses all over the Carnaddau range but at 04.30 having just woken up it was quite a shock. The sky was fairly cloudy so I wasn’t expecting much of a sunrise, but we found a good spot and waited patiently, hopeful that the clouds would clear.
photo: Emily Hampton
The clouds didn’t clear. However, the sunrise was nice nonetheless. After an hour of sitting on the wet moorland, we headed back to the bothy in need of a warm drink and some food. Three in one coffee sachets are ideal for when you’re travelling light, even if they don’t taste the best!
After a warming cup of coffee and a bowl of porridge we had a look at the map and planned our route (on the higher track) back to the car. The route is very easy to follow- simply cross the stream by the reservoir and follow the track up the ridge and through the valley. The path then rejoins the path which leads back to the car park. The higher track is definitely the better route to and from the bothy.
How to get to Dulyn bothy
Follow the A55 towards Conwy and take exit 19 signposted Betws-y-coed. Follow the A470 towards Tal-y-Bont and park at the Cwm Eigiau carpark at the then of a single track lane. From here, follow the path to the gate, through the gate and up path to the left. The right hand fork takes the lower path and can be very wet. For route info see the Viewranger route.
What to take to a bothy
When staying in a bothy, it’s best to assume that there will be nothing there. Take all normal camping gear- including a tent if possible as there may be no space to stay in the bothy. There is occasionally left over provisions and fuel, but don’t bank on it. Leave any unwanted food or equipment in the bothy for other users.
Photo: Emily Hampton
Always respect the bothy code.