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A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills


Postby poppiesrara » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:44 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Foel Gron, Moel Cynghorion, Moel Eilio

Date walked: 02/01/2011

Time taken: 3

Distance: 12.75 km

Ascent: 830m

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A first walk of the New Year on a very frosty day to keep us amateurs well away from the higher mountains... This was a straightforward and easily-navigated route on clear paths throughout, but even here - on the lower slopes - in sheltered spots the surface snow had frozen solid to make for some pretty treacherous going.

This route started from the ruined farm of Maen-llwyd-isaf, above and south-west of Llanberis. A word of warning here in that, while this is suggested as a relatively unfrequented parking place in several published routes, everyone else seems to have cottoned onto this now! Even fairly early on a cold January morning it was only just possible to squeeze into the last available spot, and so I'd imagine that in summer driving the single-track road up from the village (with very few passing places) would be a chaotic and unrewarded experience... Probably safer to swallow an extra 150-odd metres of (perfectly pleasant) ascent and park in Llanberis instead.

From the end of the road, the route up Moel Eilio is clear and on a good grassy track, albeit quite a long slog and surprisingly steep in places. At the summit, you are rewarded with a large (and, on this day, very welcome!) stone shelter and a surprisingly good viewpoint in all directions for such a relatively low peak,with this being perhaps the only angle that shows Moel Hebog to be the steep and testing climb it seemed like at the time!
2. Moel Hebog and Nantlle Ridges from Moel Eilio.jpg
Moel Hebog and Nantlle ridges from Moel Eilio

6.Elidir Fawr and Foel Goch with Carneddau behind from Moel Eilio.jpg
Elidir Fawr, looking a perfect 'mountain', and the Glyder Foel Goch, with Carneddau behind

8. Yr Eifl and Llyn Peninsula from Moel Eilio.jpg
Yr Eifl and Lleyn peninsula from Moel Eilio

10. Foel Goch & Foel Gron from Moel Eilio.jpg
Foel Goch & Foel Gron from Moel Eilio


From here, the undulating route along the ridge-edge is delightful walking, with the 'glacial' curved escarpments reminiscent more of the Brecon Beacons than of much of Snowdonia. Surprisingly, the lower 'minor' peaks of Foel Gron SE Top and Foel Goch are much the more shapely, with the descent from Foel Goch to Bwlch MaesGwm being a slippery scramble in these conditions. There were terrific views of the surrounding and higher snow-topped peaks throughout.
12. Moel Eilio from Foel Gron.jpg
Moel Eilio from Foel Gron

14. Llyn Dwythwch, Llanberis and Elidir Fawr from cornice on Foel Gron.jpg
Llyn Dythwch, Llanberis and Elidir Fawr from cornice on Foel Gron

15. Nantlle Ridge behind slopes of Mynydd Mawr from Foel Gron.jpg
Nantlle Ridge behind slopes of Mynydd Mawr from Foel Gron

17. Snowdon from Foel Gron.jpg
Snowdon above an icy Cwm Clogwyn from Foel Gron

18. Elidir Fawr, Mynydd Perfedd and Foel Goch from Foel Gron.jpg
Western Glyderau, with some of the crags above the Llanberis path in foreground


The climb from the bwlch to Moel Cynghorion seems rather longer than it appears on the map, especially done as a straight out-and-back, and in any other conditions the 'bowling-green'-flat top looks like it might have been a boggy morass. But the view to the top of the Snowdon over the Clogwyn Du'r Arddu cliffs is quite something, making this very friendly (up some routes in the summer at least) mountain look a lot more threatening...
19. Clogwyn cliffs with Snowdon behind from Moel Cynghorion.jpg
Clogwyn cliffs with Snowdon behind from Moel Cynghorion

and there is a good retrospective of the earlier part of the ridge:
20. Foel Goch, Foel Gron and Moel Eilio from Moel Cynghorion.jpg
Foel Goch, Foel Gron and Moel Eilio from Moel Cynghorion


The path back down to the starting-point through the Maesgwm valley has been very thoroughly levelled and surfaced for what might seem a quite minor route and makes for very easy walking (or - it seemed from most of its other users - fell-running), even if it is sad to see so many former farms in ruins beside it. Combined with the higher part of the Snowdon Ranger path and an easy descent of the Llanberis route, it might make for a (longer, but more easily-graded) alternative to the traditional Snowdon horseshoes.

This was a lovely winter route, and - in easier conditions and without the effort that the 'on-paper' ascent might suggest - could easily be extended to include the top of Snowdon too.
Last edited by poppiesrara on Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:00 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby yorkie bagger » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:10 pm

That's a really great first report! Really nice to see those hills - I do Moel Eilio and the Foels quite a lot but don't do Cynghorion that often. That path you said is well made is a fairly major pass, although how much use it gets nowadays I'm not sure. I always like to see all the old ruins on the way back along there - gives it more atmosphere somehow :D
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby poppiesrara » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:03 pm

Thanks!, 'yorkie'.

Well, I'm quite glad that all that work on the Maesgwm path hasn't been wasted. I can see that it would have been an important pass through the higher peaks before motor transport, but quite hard to see where it obviously leads now - I walked it once 20-odd years ago, between the Snowdon Ranger and Llanberis youth hostels (which would seem the only definite use), and don't remember it being it being nearly as easy then. But I was still at school (and pretty lazy!)then, so that may be a pretty fuzzy memory....
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby yorkie bagger » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:21 pm

:lol: I was pretty lazy at school too... My parents used to drag me up the hills though. Remember staying at Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel quite a lot - liked it there. Also liked Bryn Gwynant one too...
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby malky_c » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:15 pm

Nice report. Like yorkie bagger I've done Moel Eilio to Foel Goch often, but have only been over Moel Cynghyrion a few times, usually when connecting these hills to Snowdon. Not been up there for a few years though, so a nice reminder :)

Maesgwm is quite a popular mountain biking route as well as fell running.
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby colgregg » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:52 pm

malky_c wrote:Nice report. Like yorkie bagger I've done Moel Eilio to Foel Goch often, but have only been over Moel Cynghyrion a few times, usually when connecting these hills to Snowdon. Not been up there for a few years though, so a nice reminder :)

Maesgwm is quite a popular mountain biking route as well as fell running.


I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon jaunt round Moel eilio and foel goch. I went up the Maesgwm path, passing a couple of pony trekking parties, to the pass summit first then cut up the hill side. It's a great walk, not over strenuous but with superb views.
079.JPG

075.JPG
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby yorkie bagger » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:30 am

The pony trekkers could have been from the Dolbadarn Hotel in Llanberis... although I didn't know they went up onto the mountains - they definitely go along the Maesgwyn track though...
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby colgregg » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:26 pm

yorkie bagger wrote:The pony trekkers could have been from the Dolbadarn Hotel in Llanberis... although I didn't know they went up onto the mountains - they definitely go along the Maesgwyn track though...

They were on the track.
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby MarketBoy » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:45 am

Lovely shots - and a great picture of Cloggy.
Absolutely classic crag, steeped in history and dripping with stories of legends such as Brown and Whillans. :)
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby Rekrab » Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:10 am

Hey,

doing this walk tomorrow and it's gonna be baking outside do you rekon I could do this walk wearing hill walkers sandals?

MacKenzie,
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby poppiesrara » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:07 am

Hi Mackenzie,

Might be a bit late now, but definitely a yes to that! Mainly grassy slopes and then a good path - shouldn't be a problem at all.

Hope you enjoy it, I imagine the views today would be wonderful.
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby Rekrab » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:07 pm

I decided at the 11th hour to go with a light pair of boots.

did it in 4.5 hours sun and views over to Anglesey and Natle ridge were amazing!!!
we went up the Llanberis path to where it meets the Snowdon ranger then headed over to Moel Cynghorion and then the other tops.

walk report to come!!

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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby Mendonca » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:07 pm

My sister and I did this route yesterday. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire route, thank you.

The car park you suggested only had one vehicle in it, so no problems there. The slog up Moel Eilio was superb, with great views opening up. The big peaks were hidden in cloud, but the whole of this route lay below the cloud layer, allowing for exciting conditions in the high wind!

The stone shelter was a most welcome tea break. Marching onwards the views remained superb, with the Lllanberis path in full view, offering fond memories from a boyhood ascent of Snowdon. Being on Moel Cynghorion felt like the perfect view of the railway.

Some ridge walks offer a less rewarding return leg through the valley back to the car. Not this route though, the excellent track whisks the walker down a historically interesting path directly to the car. One point to note is that the recent rainfall has taken its toll on a river crossing 200 yards short of the car. A slightly more daring leap of the river was the alternative.

A superb route.
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Re: A circuit of Snowdon's western foothills

Postby ChrisW » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:20 pm

Great stuff P, that looks a good grunt to start then you get your reward (and your breath back) on the top :lol: You can almost feel the cold in some of those photos :shock:
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