It was Whitsun Bank Holiday week and I was staying in Snowdonia, just a few miles from llyn Arddu. Being within walking distance I thought I would pay it a visit.

Llyn yr Arddu

There isn’t much information about it, other than a brief entry in Frank Wards ‘Lakes of Wales’ book, which states it holds small trout.

Frank Wards lakes of Wales entry for llyn arddu

On the OS map the llyn was nestled in a dramatic rocky hollow at the top of a very steep slope. I would walk about 2 miles to the base of the mountain side and follow the stream coming out of the llyn all the way up to its source. It looked easy enough.

Stage 1 was a fairly pleasant walk through the Nant Mor valley. Through farm fields, tracks, meadows and finally fording a small river. This led me onto a narrow road where a small stream tumbled down from the high slopes above. This part of the journey had taken me 35 minutes.

The llyn is somewhere at the top!

Stage 2 involved a steep uphill scramble through a conifer forest. The stream ran to my left in a walled off gulley. This was a lot harder than I expected – the trees were dense, it was incredibly steep and slippery, with low branches and random boulders to contest with.

The dense forest leading up to llyn arddu.

Drenched with sweat I eventually broke through into a clearing, which led to a swampy plateau where the stream flowed under a jumble of boulders and an ancient stone wall.

Stairway to the llyn – the boulder strewn stream channel

Stage 3 involved following the stream bed, which ran through an almost vertical gorge. The stream boulders and rocks acted as a natural staircase for a time, although I had to be carefull as they were covered in treacherous slime and muck. I veered to the right of the Channel where a slightly easier route went through centuries old bilberry and heather, in parallel to the stream. This was lung busting stuff, much harder going than I expected. After many stops and starts I finally reached the summit and the llyn lay before me. It had taken me nearly 2 hours to get here.

First glimpse of llyn yr arddu

The llyn was beautifully situated with mountains and crags all around It. Further above views of Cnicht (the matterhorn of Wales) could be seen in the distance. At 6 or 7 acres The lake was circular in shape with steep rock walls to either side of me. In front of me I could see a jumble of red stained boulders in the clear water. In the margins I spotted buzzer shucks, some small sedges and a few tiny pond olives. Enough food to sustain wild brown trout I hoped. I rigged up with a 7 weight 4 section fly rod, a floating fly line and a leech pattern and took a few speculative casts.

The stunning llyn arddu with Cnicht Mountain beyond

I worked my way around the llyn, which appeared to be fairly deep away from the margins. The far side was quite open and easy to access, although the wind was blowing hard into my face. Clumps of emerald green weed could be seen here and there. It looked fishy, but I didn’t see a rise, or have any interest in my flies. I noticed the odd natural flitting about on the water, and in one corner the wind funnelled them into a wind lane, a place where fish can always be found on llyns like these. However there were no fish to be seen mopping them up….. After just over an hour I had covered all the likely spots on the llyn and had to conclude that it was empty of fish. Frank Ward doesn’t always get it right – or had the llyn been wiped out by acid rain in the 1980’s? Either way, it hadn’t been a wasted trip, it had been worth it for the breathtaking views alone. With curiosity satisfied, I headed back down the mountain. The decent was significantly easier.