A scramble up Moel Siabod

I’ve been slightly further afield for this post.  From Wirral across the Dee estuary is North Wales.  Close to home are the Clwydian and Berwyn hill ranges.  But further on into Wales we come to Snowdonia a national park of 823 square miles consisting of more open and mountainous land.

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On Easter Monday we decided to climb Moel Siabod from Capel Curig, at 2,861 feet or 872m it is the highest peak in the Moelwynion mountain range and the twentieth highest top in Snowdonia.   Moel Siabod is translated from Welsh as ‘shapely hill’ which it is from the south eastern approach but it rather featureless from Capel Curig and the north.  It’s a while since I’ve done some serious mountain walking and I’m not as fit as I used to be particularly since I last climbed this mountain when I was only 28.

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We parked up and started our walk from the UK National Mountain Centre, Plas-y-Brenin, which is located at the foot of Moel Siabod.  The building was originally built by the owner of the Bethesda quarry as the Capel Curig Inn in 1801 which served the Royal Mail coach carrying Irish mail from Holyhead to Shrewsbury.  It was visited by a number of monarchs and was renamed the Royal Hotel in 1871.  During the war it was used as a training centre for mountain warfare and whilst it was returned to a hotel after the war it was purchased in 1954 as an outdoor recreation centre and has been developed to what we now know as Plas y Brenin.

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Crossing the lakes Llynnau Mymbyr from the road (which goes onto the Llanberis Pass) we got a great early morning view of the rugged mountain range of the Snowdon Horseshoe and its individual peaks of Grib Goch; Crib y Ddysgl; Snowdon and Lliwedd.  We crossed the footbridge over the lake and then walked along the Afon Llugwy when until we reached the bridge at Pont Cyfyng.  From there we headed upward to the wild countryside and made a gradual climb up the eastern flank of Moel Siabod.

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The path skirts along a lake and then rises to an old Rhos slate quarry with spoil heaps, disused buildings and past a deep sinister pit filled with dark deep water with a cascade tumbling down on its far side.

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The Capel Curig Slate Quarry Company has long since gone.  The quarry was worked from the nineteenth century and was later amalgamated with others to become the Caernarvonshire Crown Slate Quarries Company in 1918 but like many others closed down later in the twentieth century.  The slate barracks and old mine buildings are almost gone but they must have been an inhospitable place to live and work.

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From the quarry we climbed steadily up to the large isolated lake of Llyn y Foel and onto the ridge of Daiar Ddu.  Climbing the ridge involved a scramble over a range of rock slabs before we emerged onto the summit just below the Ordnance Survey trig point.

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From the top of the mountain, it is reputedly possible to see 13 of the 14 highest peaks in Wales on a clear day without turning one’s head.  Easter Monday was like a mid summer’s day and at 22 degrees centigrade was the hottest day of the year so far.  We sweltered in the heat but the views were clear from the summit.

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Close by are the dramatic peaks of the Snowden Horseshoe which we had seen earlier down in the valley.

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Tryfan was close at hand standing out on its own. Its one of the most recognisable peaks in Britain, having a classic pointed shape with rugged crags.  It is 917.5 m (3,010 ft) above sea level and is the fifteenth highest mountain in Wales.

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To the north stand the more rounded backs of the Glyderau and the Carneddau.  To the south the mountain falls away to Llyn Foel with the hills of southern Snowdonia stretching out beyond Glyn Lledr.

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We walked along the ridge past a large stone shelter and started the descent.

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Looking back there was still a fine view of the mountains around us from the Carneddau. The Carneddau are the largest continuous stretch of mountain land in Wales and England, as well as having six or seven of the highest peaks in the country.

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We took a bearing off left and headed down the old Victorian pony track further down the mountainside following it down into the woodland south of Plas y Brenin emerging next to the river Afon Llugwy and the Llynnau Mymbyr lakes. In some of the lower stages of the route the conifers had been harvested leaving a more sparse environment.

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A short hop over the foot bridge and back to the car and a slow drive home in the Bank Holiday traffic.

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