Crib Lem Scramble (aka Lech Ddu Spur)

By The Bald Scrambler

Crib Lem

Published By: Daniel Woodley. Date: 17th October 2023. Filed at: Carneddau Scrambles. Disclosure: I may earn a commission from purchases made via links. Disclaimer: Scrambling is a dangerous sport, this route description does not provide step-by-step instructions. Read Disclaimer.

A classic scramble that few people seem to know of? That would be Crib Lem, aka Llech Ddu Spur.

Below you’ll find a map, route description, photos and my opinion of the scramble.

Prefer a video? Watch my YouTube Video:

Parking For Crib Lem

The route starts in the village of Gerlan, but parking here is very limited, and the roads are narrow.

I have heard of hikers and scramblers having issues with local residents who were unhappy at all their parking places being taken by visitors, so I recommend parking further away from the start point.

In the town of Bethesda, there is a pay and display car park just off the A5, and also a free car park (here’s a map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/5VY8rsgZ6oM8Kc8C8 ). Both are a short walk from the start of the route.

The Approach

Getting to the start of the Crib Lem takes about an hour and a half and the initial path is difficult to follow and very boggy after rain.

  1. From Bethesda, head along Gerlan Road.
  2. Go into Ffordd Gerlan (road).
  3. This road soon narrows to a single lane.
  4. Go over the bridge over the stream.
  5. Soon, a marked footpath is visible to the left.
  6. Follow the path south east, with the stream on your left.
  7. Follow this path (faint in places initially) all the way into the head of the valley, with the stream (Afon Llafar) always on your left.

I suggest using a mapping service such as All Trails as I found the start a little tricky to find when I first tried this route.

Crib Lem map

Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies

The Start of Crib Lem

Viewed from below, it’s difficult to tell exactly which ridge is Crib Lem, the white lines on this image mark the way. The initial section is a hike and involves a zigzag up the side of the mountain.

Start of Crib Lem

Above: Follow the faint path with a waterfall on the right.

Getting to the start of Crib Lem

Here I’m making my way up the zigzag path to the start of Crib Lem.

Starting point

This marks the starting point of Crib Lem, note the quartz slabs.

Getting to the start can be difficult in poor visibility and strong navigation skills are required. This is not a popular route and the path is faint in places.

The entire scramble is on the All Trails app and I found it very accurate.

Here’s a map showing the zigzag path:

Crib Lem map

Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies

The scramble proper starts at the quartz slabs and the initial section offers blocky holds and good quality scrambling firmly at grade 1.

The main hazards I found on this section were wet rocks that could be slippery due to algae/lichen.

Most of the holds I encountered were solid, with very few loose rocks.

Scrambling on Crib Lem

The scrambling here is typical of Crib Lem; solid holds, a few bridging moves and some mossy, lichen-covered rock.

View down the valley

Me looking down the valley with the stream just visible in the distance.

Christmas tree section

This section looks like a Christmas tree can be slippery when wet. The terrain shown here is typical of Crib Lem.

Navigation on the ridge is straightforward, I just stayed true to the ridge for the most part.

This part of Snowdonia is often misty and very atmospheric as you can see here:

Crib Lem ridge viewed from my drone
The rocky ridge

Reaching The Top of Crib Lem

Near the top of Crib Lem, the ridge gradually loses its identity and the final section is scree up to the summit of Carnedd Daffyd.

Continuation

There are several options from the summit of Carnedd Daffyd:

  • Take the path up to Carnedd Llywelyn and follow the ridge north/northwest back down to the village of Gerlan.
  • From Carnedd Daffyd, take the faint path northwest parallel but above the stream, back to Gerlan (difficult to follow at first).
  • Continue exploring the Carneddau (perhaps via Pen yr Ole Wen) and get a bus back to Gerlan.

Route Profile and Information

Scrambling Grade: Grade 1.

Suitability for Beginners: This is a classic grade 1 scramble, and the usual dangers are present; however, navigation and wet rocks were of concern during my visit.

Navigation: The initial path can be difficult to follow as can the route up to the quartz slab. Good navigation skills are required for the approach.

Dangers: As expected for a grade 1 route, plus wet, lichenous rocks and navigation issues finding the route.

Time (car to car): 5-8 hours, depending on which route is chosen for descent.

Popularity: This is a quiet route.

Fun Rating: 8/10.

My Dislikes: None.

Similar Routes in Snowdonia:

More:

I’ve only scrambled Crib Lem twice but I enjoyed it both times and will be back again soon.

This scramble is also included in Steve Ashton’s “Scrambles in Snowdonia”, which is a bible of sorts for scramblers.

If you’re new to scrambling or want to find new routes, try this compact book that is small enough to fit in your backpack and maybe even your pocket.

Recommended Guide Book:

Scrambles in Snowdonia

Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)

About Daniel Woodley

These photos and route descriptions were created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler and this page forms part of the Carneddau Scrambles.

From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors but scrambling is his real passion.

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Daniel Woodley

Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler

Have fun, keep safe. Hopefully I’ll see you on the mountains one day

By The Bald Scrambler

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