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).

Trail (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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

AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

In Blae­nau Ffes­tin­iog, Pis­gah Guest­house, 01766 831285, www.snow­do­niaguest­house.net In Capel Curig, The Rocks at Plas Curig hos­tel, 01690 720225, www.the­rock­shos­tel.com

PRAC­TI­CAL­I­TIES

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.

TOM BAI­LEY

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.

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