Walk of the month
An achievable two days with a wild camp, exploring Snowdonia’s Moelwynion peaks from Tanygrisiau to Capel Curig, by Kate Worthington (and her dog).
Discover Moelwyn Mawr
North Wales’ National Park has a big hole smack in the middle. In that hole sits the historically maligned – but culturally coveted – town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, with its quarries and slate spoils and huddled terraces. It’s odd for a National Park to be shaped like a doughnut, but it does come with the dubious novelty of being able to walk into Snowdonia as you walk up a mountain.
All this aside, this 770m summit and its neighbour – 710m Moelwyn Bach, linked by the excellently involving Craigysgafn Ridge – is one of the most underrated and unfairly dismissed of all the Welsh mountains. Yes, you’re walking through the ruins of the slate industry, but there aren’t many places in Snowdonia truly disconnected with mining, and for better or worse it’s an intrinsic part of the aesthetic here.
And the central location of these mountains mean that the views are awesome: there are few Snowdonian summits you can’t see from here. Weird quartz veins run through some of the outcrops, you get a fascinating aspect on the extraordinary cauldron of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the twins of Moelwyn Mawr and Bach are knotty, engaging and unexpectedly rewarding. We guarantee you’ll be talking about this walk for years to come.
Quietly unassuming, but impressively iconic: the Moelwynion range of classic Welsh summits in northern Snowdonia packs many punches. The first day meets three peaks with a difference: Moelwyn Bach, Moelwyn Mawr and Cnicht. Modest grandeur. The second day romps along via boulder, bilberry and heather, keeping high until the bittersweet finale, descending from Moel Siabod into the clutches of Capel Curig. The distance is kept achievable for shorter daylight hours and should see you back off the hill in time for a good dinner in the valley. Delight in the very best this range offers, with views from coast to coast at Porthmadog to Conwy in the north, to Cadair Idris and Carnedd Llewelyn. Be immersed and surrounded by northern Snowdonia, for just a little longer. TRANSPORT
On day 1 it may be possible to park early in Capel Curig and use buses to access Tanygrisiau (arriving at about 9.30am). Always check seasonal timetables of S2 (01248 722694), X19 (01492 640320), 37 (01766 831781) services and the Gwynedd Council website www.tinyurl.com/gwyneddbus
PUBS/GRUB In Capel Curig try Bryn Tyrch, www.bryntyrchinn.co.uk and Moel Siabod Café, www.moelsiabodcafe.co.uk In Plas y Brenin try Yr Wyddfa Bar (with food), www.pyb.co.uk
In Blaenau Ffestiniog, Pisgah Guesthouse, 01766 831285, www.snowdoniaguesthouse.net In Capel Curig, The Rocks at Plas Curig hostel, 01690 720225, www.therockshostel.com
Cash machines, food and supplies from Blaenau Ffestiniog, Bethesda or Betws- y-Coed.
LOCAL INFO Betws-y-Coed Information Centre, 01690 710426. Advice from The Rocks hostel and Plas y Brenin in Capel Curig, and Siop Antur ’Stiniog in Blaenau Ffestiniog, 01766 832214.
Looking back to Moelwyn Mawr (right) and Moelwyn Bach from Moel yr hydd. The Snowdonia National Park boundary runs horizontally right through the middle of this shot.
Heading down from Moel Siabod.
Investigating marshy rock pools at 670m.