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WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestiniog

WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestiniog


Postby malky_c » Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:29 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Allt Fawr, Manod Mawr, Manod Mawr North Top, Moel Druman, Moel Penamnen, Moel Siabod, Ysgafell Wen, Ysgafell Wen North Top

Date walked: 22/10/2011

Time taken: 10

Distance: 34 km

Ascent: 2120m

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Hewitts: Manod Mawr, Manod Mawr North Top, Moel Penmaen, Allt-fawr, Moed Druman, Ysgafell Wen, Ysgafell Wen North Top, Moel Siabod.
Other significant summits: Moel Farlwyd, Moel Meirch, Carnedd y Cribau.
Date: 22/10/2011
Distance: 34km (plus another 4km/40 minutes from the bunkhouse to the station)
Ascent: 2120m
Time: 10 hours
Weather: Sunny and windy, clouding over later

This is the meet that was never going to be for me, as I'd made enough journeys down to Wales from Scotland over the summer, and didn't fancy another one. However fate intervened, and I found myself working in Shropshire. Coming along was a bit of a no-brainer after that!

While tempted by the Snowdon Horseshoe, it was a route I'd done quite a few times, and I fancied some fresh meat. Somehow I'd neglected to climb a number of summits around Blaunau Ffestiniog, so these made up today's route. Using the train from Betws y Coed to get to Blaenau. The original plan had been to descend to Roman Bridge station after Ysgafell Wen, and get the train back from there, but as you'll see, I ended up adding a little extra to the route!


Blaenau to Siabod.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I got up far too early as I was worried about missing the train, it being a 4km walk to the station. Too early for breakfast at the hostel, I was walking by 6:50. It was still almost dark, but the sky was clear, and the light in the east looked promising. I ended up sitting around at the station for a good 40 minutes, and when I got on the train,there was only one other person on it. It was only £4.30 for a day return to Blaenau, which was very reasonable.

Betws station:
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I hadn't been down the Lledr Valley for years, so I enjoyed the train ride, getting a couple of snaps of the morning sun on Moel Siabod as we passed.

Moel Siabod from the train at Dolwyddelan:
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Then it was into the big tunnel under the Moelwyns, before popping out in Blaenau, which can be a bit of a culture shock if you've not been there before. There are piles of slate spoils everywhere, and the town has a rather run down feeling to it. It actually looked rather nice in the morning light, but could be one of the top 10 most depressing places to be stuck in on a rainy sunday afternoon in January! I grabbed a roll and sausage and some juice from a shop as my head was thumping (why, oh why does this always happen on meets? :lol: ), and started walking along the road at 8:50 am. After 10 minutes, I found access to an old inclined tramway on the left, and followed this up towards Llyn Dy-bach. A fairly easy climb to start the day.

Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Moelwyns:
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Higher up, the tramway led to a vehicle track, which I left promptly to do the rest of the ascent on grass. The air was a bit on the hazy side, marring views to the south and west, but the immediate surroundings (particuarly the Moelwyns) looked stunning.

Llyn Dy-bach and Moel Penmaen with the Glyders behind:
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Llyn Trawsfynydd and the Rhinogs from Manod Mawr:
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Vale of Ffestiniog and out to sea:
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Moelwyns again:
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Cwm Penmachno:
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Looking towards the north summit, I could see that the shortest route was barred by a massive excavation, where the slate quarrying stretched almost to the top of the hill. My route lay around to the right on a wide vehicle track, a branch of which led to within 5 minutes of the cairn. Great views again, making me wonder why I'd never been up here before.

North summit of Manod Mawr. Extra crags added!
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Descent of the northern side of Manod Mawr was steeper than I expected, and a little slippy. Llyn Bowydd was a nice secluded spot, and marked the beginning of some rather Scottish terrain. Between here and the eastern ridge of Moel Penmaen was extremely wet and hard going, although in retrospect, a line a little to the east may have been better. I contoured the summit of Foel Fras and climbed up onto Moel Penmaen, the last bit being satisfyingly steep and shapely.

Llyn Bowydd and Moel Penmaen:
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Looking back to Manod Mawr:
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The descent was quite rocky too, requiring a steadying hand in a couple of places - not what I was expecting from such a grassy hill! I went over Moel Farlwyd too, although I probably could have contoured round the south side.

Llynau Barlwyd and Moel Farlwyd:
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Loel Penmaen from Moel Farlwyd:
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Dropping down to the main A470 road at the Crimea Pass was alternately steep and shallow, dumping me on the roadside at about 11:45am. I crossed and continued a short way up the other side before picking a nice spot above Llyn Dyrnogydd for lunch.

Moel Siabod (with Tryfan poking out on the left) from above the Crimea Pass:
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Lumpy ground lower down led to the shapely ridge of Iwerddon, then the steeper slopes of Allt-fawr. It was a great ascent route, one I would have done ages ago if I'd known it was this nice. I'd always dismissed Allt Fawr as a big plateau with no interesting features.

Allt-fawr from Iwerddon:
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Back to Iwerddon, Llyn Iwerddon and Moel Penmaen:
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The summit views across Llyn Conglog were spectacular. Oddly, using the Marilyn classification, Allt Fawr is the Marilyn summit rather than the much more prominent and popular Cnicht. Typically, I'd done Cnicht countless times, but never Allt-fawr.

Llyn Conglog, Cnicht, Moel Hebog and the Nantlle ridge from Allt-fawr:
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Moelwyn Mawr and Cnicht:
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The walk along the plateau to Ysgafell Wen was good fun, although there was an electric fence to contend with (turned off thankfully, as I'd already grabbed it before realising what it was :? ). The summit of Ysgafell Wen was a heap of rock on the plateau, fun to climb up. I also nipped over to an adjacent grassier summit, just in case it was higher.

Snowdon and the summit of Ysgafell Wen:
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Looking at the time, I could see that I was way too early for my train, but probably just too late to catch an earlier one, so I wondered what I could do to fill the time (Roman Bridge station has even less entertainment than Achnashellach station). I thought about continuing further along the ridge before cutting back down to the valley, or possibly even continuing to Moel Siabod. I then realised that from the top of Moel Siabod, I may as well just walk back to the hostel. With the weather being so great, that seemed like a top notch idea, so I went with it.

Glyders, Llyn Edno and Moel Meirch:
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With all my previously unclimbed summits behind me, I was on familiar territory. One of my favourite parts of this area is Llyn Edno and the little summit of Moel Meirch which lies behind it. I made my way there now, noticing a couple of tents by the lake. No sign of their owners though.

Llyn Edno backed by Yr Aran:
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Campers under Moel Meirch:
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Moel Meirch has a summit made of large blocks, which require a couple of scrambly moves to get onto. Rather reminiscent of Sgurr na Diollad in Glen Cannich. The valley which leads back east from here is also a nice walk, but it wasn't where I was headed today. The section north of Moel Meirch was extremely rough and boggy, with quite a few deep swamps that were just too wide to jump over. The day was becoming more overcast, although there were still shafts of sunlight working their way around the hillsides.

Finally Moel Siabod looks close enough to walk to:
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Back to Moel Meirch:
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Some wildlife:
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Moel Hebog:
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...with Llyn Gwynant:
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Crossing the pass of Bwlch y Rhediad, I knew this was my last chance to head for the station. I didn't take it, and carried on up the scrambly and heathery south side of Carnedd y Cribau. I had forgotten to fill my water bottle at any streams, so I used a boggy pool on this ascent. While the water looked clear enough, it had a rather foul aftertaste. I hoped I wouldn't need to use too much of it :?

Carnedd y Cribau is under 2000 feet high and doesn't have much prominence, so doesn't really appear in any lists. However it is a pleasantly rocky little summit with good views down onto Llynau Diwaunydd, on the less visited side of Moel Siabod. Oddly, the strongest winds of the day caught me on the next bump, Clogwyn Bwlch y Maen, and I worried that it might be howling on the top of Siabod.

Siabod and Llynau Diwaunydd:
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Clogwyn Bwlch y Maen and Siabod from Carnedd y Cribau:
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Back to Carnedd y Cribau:
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Sky to the west of Moel Hebog looks like it may produce a good sunset:
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I had always thought this approach to Moel Siabod was unpopular and little-used, but it was here that I saw more people than at any other point of the day. Prior to now, I had seen people on the next summit along, or disappearing off into a side valley, but never been within talking distance of anyone. Even now, as I passed the party ahead of me (who were going the same way), the wind was too noisy to do anything more than shout 'hi' at them. They seemed to be rather puzzled, looking at the map and then the summit, but they didn't ask me where they were. It seemed pretty obvious really.

Walkers on the ridge ahead:
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Pen y Helgi, Pen Llithrig and Creigiau Gleision:
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I carried on, the wind helping me from behind, and was on top before long. Here, three guys with walkie talkies seemed a bit unhappy about the fact that they would have to stand around until after dark. They appeared to be marshalling for some kind of challenge, and were rather happy when I told them that there was a party of 4 just on the other side of the summit. Whatever they were doing, they must have been last!

The best way up Moel Siabod is the Daear Ddu ridge from Llyn y Foel, but for my descent I chose the NE ridge. I haven't done this very often, probably because it always seems to be cold and windy, and you can't really do it with your hands in your pockets. It was worth it though, with some impressive rock scenery.

NE ridge of Moel Siabod:
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Looking at the SE ridge (Daear Ddu):
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...and across the Lledr Valley to the morning's summits:
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Couple of fun rocky bits on the NE ridge:
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Back up the NE ridge:
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Lower down, the rock changed to slippery slate, the ground got boggier, and I remembered why I didn't tend to use this route very much! Still, I was on the track up to the quarry before dark, all the rough terrain behind me. In order to cut out some road walking, I took a right and passed Rhos Quarry (sign still says private: conveniently ignored as there is no obvious reason why you can't go this way). An easy grassy vehicle track led me to Bryngyfeiliau farm, where I took a wrong turning and failed to cut the final corner. Half an hour back along the minor road, and then the A5 in the dart brought me to the hostel at Swallow Falls.

Moel Siabod and the ruins at Rhos Quarry:
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One of my favourite days out in Snowdonia in a long time - good enough to make me forget about all those great days out I had planned for the Highlands this autumn which won't get done (At one point I had planned to be on Rhum this weekend - probably a good thing I wasn't there in retrospect!)

As ever, the meet was a good laugh (why is Monty the butt of all jokes? :lol: ). It was great to see some familiar faces again, and I'm glad everyone seemed to enjoy Wales despite the long drive. A big thank you to Alan for organising such a great meet and being quizmaster two nights in a row, and to Martin and Jane who were kind enough to pick me up and drop me off back in the flatlands. Sadly I didn't get to meet Kevin and Mackenzie, but that's my fault for being antisocial and going of on my own again!
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby mountainstar » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:00 pm

You have sorted this TR as quickly as you walk!
Could that be a record for number of summits in one day on any TR on WH?
Well I was going to say thats a long long walk, but for you its just "the norm"
You've gone over some of my favourite hills for wildcamps (what have been numerous around your route) a great place to "get away from it all"
It was great to see you again, as you have missed the last couple of meets. I might have organised it, but it's you guys that make it :D
PS It was clear to all that your hill knowledge is 2nd to none (only Carol could possibly dispute that) having won my Mountain quiz easily although having 1 less in the team compaired to the others, well done :clap:
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby walk aboot » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:25 pm

Terrific report and photos, malky_c, the route looks fantastic. I can see you must have been in your element :D .

I wish I was a morning person. I keep telling myself I'm going to start getting up at 6 to enjoy the mornings for longer but it never happens! :?

I like all the slate too. We used to pass a couple of slate house villages when we were visiting, which used to turn almost black in the rain 8) .
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby Rekrab » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:24 pm

todays weather was lovely i'll be spending most of next month walking all of those hills. that was an walk of paddy buckley proportions!!

we just did a quick nip up Tryfans north ridge it was a good stretch of the legs.

MacKenzie,
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby monty » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:35 pm

Another epic walk malky. Such dedication. Superb set of photos. Top man. :D
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby Jockstar » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:04 pm

Brilliant walk and report. I'm tired just reading it!!! :lol:
Also can I recommend that people visit the slate mine at Blaenau as I thought it was brilliant. You have to go to appreciate what these people had to do to make a living..6 days a week and chapel on Sunday and whole families worked there including youths of 7 or 8 years old... :( Mind blowing....
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby foggieclimber » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:30 pm

Cracking report of an epic walk.
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby pollyh33 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:18 pm

Cracking report Malky with amazing photos :D

Really love the ones of the chunky, block styled rocks on the NE ridge. Looks like Mother Nature was trying her hand at an early form of Jenga :)

Off to have another read at your report, I won't have taken it all in the first time! :lol:
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:14 pm

Wow, some numbers there Malky :shock: . As for the obligatory WH meet headache... I have no idea what you are talking about :shifty: .
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:48 pm

Another epic report malky.
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby malky_c » Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:32 pm

Thanks for all the comments :D

It was a great meet, well organised by Alan. I'll have to see if I can make some excuses to be allowed on the Kintail one now...
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Re: WH Meet: Moel Siabod (and the rest) from Blaenau Ffestin

Postby Johnny Corbett » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:51 pm

Eight blue Welsh ballons for ten hours walking, not bad going. Well done :D
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