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Snowdonia Peaks

Monday, 13 January 2014

Moel Siabod 11-Jan-2014

Well what a start to the new year, better late than never, but well worth the wait. Again, this was another last minute decision as Jill was working all weekend and by Friday I found out that I wasn't and the best day weather wise looked to be on the Saturday so the decision was made to start the new year off on my favourite Welsh mountain, Moel Siabod. I had tried to start the year off on Snowdon on new years day but the weather hasn't played ball at all, lots of rain and gale force winds don't make walking the mountains much fun for me so when a day like Saturday comes round, you have to take advantage if you can. The forecast was for a good clear day with plenty of sun and very little wind but when I left home and traveled down the motorway, something wasn't quite right! Lots of rain, wind and even a hail storm made for quite a slow drive and luckily there was not much traffic about.
Dark stormy skies on the drive down
Although the weather was pretty bleak on the drive down, by the time I pulled in the car park at the Bryn  Glo Cafe it had stopped raining and the skies looked promising. So boots on and all things in check it was off, past the raging Afon Llugwy waterfalls, over the bridge and up the steep lane past the farm and the newly built Siabod Cottages and onto the track with great views of Moel Siabod ahead.
Afon Llugwy waterfalls
Rhos Farm with the Crimpiau, and the eastern fringe of the Carneddau as a backdrop
Moel Siabod Cottages
Moel Siabod ahead
It was on this path that I missed my turning to the left as I was chatting to another walker and forgot all about the path I wanted to take!! I was hoping to take the path that goes through the old quarry with lots of old buildings and follow the path around towards an unamed Llyn and across rock outcrops and come up behind Llyn y Foel. I have wanted to do this different approach to Moel Siabod for sometime now so I guess I'll have to make another trip to do it. Any excuse :-) When I got to the unamed Llyn on the main path I decided to take a left and work my round and across some slightly boggy ground towards other rocky outcrops and get on the ridge that I had set my sights on a bit earlier. It was quite easy going and it provided some great views of Siabod and all around
On the approach to the unamed Llyn
The way round the Llyn on an old dam wall
Following the stream towards the lefthand rock outcrop
View towards the descent ridge and another old slate quarry on the main path
View down to the Llyn I was hoping to visit
Iced over grassy gully I took
View back down the gully
As I made my way through heather, boggy ground and rocks, the views of Moel Siabod and the distant Carneddau started to open up and this is where I had my first good 15 minute rest just enjoying the solitude and the awesomeness that this place has to offer
Moel Siabod from the wild side
Cloud and snow capped distant Carneddau
Moel Siabod reflections
Just taking it all in
From here it's an easy walk ahead following a small ridge that takes you above Llyn y Foel and the start of the exciting scramble up the Deaer Ddu Ridge. It's a way up that can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. There are various lines to take and plenty of foot and hand holds on the rock. There are also plenty of grassy gullies and also a path that skirts around the bottom that takes you away from any scrambling if you so desire. There are enough ways up for all. Me, I prefer the excitement of the rocky scramble
Easy walk towards Llyn y Foel
Sunbeams over Dolwyddelan
Looking back
Llyn y Foel and the Daear Ddu Ridge
Llyn y Foel and Moel Siabod
Wild and Rugged
Start of the Daear Ddu Ridge
After another 15 minute rest it was time for the excitement to begin. Now I'm no mountain goat and I prefer to take things a bit on the easy side, take timeouts for the views and to just enjoy the day, and as it happened it was turning out to one of those days that you don't want to end. Sun was out, a small amount of mist would roll in and out, very little breeze and a bit on the cool side. There was a bit of ice around and some of the rocks had wet moss on them so a bit more care was taken. There was a small amount of snow from earlier in the day when the hail storm that I went through on the motorway a few hours earlier, had dumped a bit of snow over the mountains. Not enough for the use of spikes or anything, just a few token milimetres or so to make the place more wintery. It was just one perfect day :-)
Looking down on Llyn y Foel
Up the ridge we go
I like to stick by the edge but there are more gentle ways up
Mist rolling in and out
Misty views towards the coast at Barmouth
High view down the ridge and Llyn y Foel
View along the descent ridge
Moel Siabod Summit
On reaching the summit I decided that I wouldn't sit in the shelter as there was minimum wind and all the main tops were clear of any cloud so I just found a spot and enjoyed the views in one of the best lunch spots I know. There was one or two other walkers about taking advantage of one of the best days of the year so far. A joy to be able to forget about the daily routines for a bit although I did wish that my daughter and Jill could share the day but hey, there'll be others so I got on with it :-)
Obligatory summit photo
Snowdon Massif takes centre stage surrounded by the Hebog range, Gyderau & Carneddau ranges
Cnicht on the right, Moelwyn Mawr on the left
Lunchtime view
Sunny view over Southern Snowdonia
Snow capped Snowdon Horseshoe
I was here about 30 minutes or so before the cold told me to get a move on so it was a gentle pace on down towards the ridge for another exciting rocky scramble. To be fair, it's not really a scramble as such, only in a few places do you use hands on rock but it is a great way to descend with the stunning views continuing all the way. Again, there was a bit of ice knocking about and some of the rocks were a bit on the slippy side so it was another good excuse just to take my time and make it last.
Descent with a view
Daear Ddu Ridge
Look back to a winter sun soaked summit
It's a long way down
The rocky ascent ridge
View down to Llyn y Foel
Views go on for miles
Another long way down
Look back along the ridge
Snow capped Carneddau and the twin lakes Llynnau Mymbyr
The last bit of the descent ridge
View down to the old quarry and the Llyns
View back up to the end of the ridge
Coming off the ridge is pretty straight forward as you follow a scree path and grass bank down towards the main path of the ascent. Care is needed as it can get quite wet/slippery/icy, depending on the weather. Today was all three and as the sun isn't on this area for long at this time of the year you do have to watch your step. Having said that, there was two fell runners that past me at quite a speed running down!! A different breed that lot. Too fast indeed to even get a photo of them!
On the way down with the shadow of Moel Siabod on it's way over Capel Curig
A bit icy
Rocky section of the path
Starts to get a bit boggy in this gully
Made it safe and dry
Before I made my way back to the car I took a detour to look round the old quarry pit and buildings where I should of been earlier in the morning.Quite a few old buildings and a large fenced off pit shows how hard life was back in the day. A good way to finish off the days walking that most people seem to miss.
Old quarry houses
Quarry pit
After a good look round it was back to the car and the short drive to Plas y Brenin for one last photo of Moel Siabod and Snowdon as the sun was going down. The cloud had rolled in over the summit of Snowdon but Siabod was all clear. A great end to another awesome day on my favourite Welsh mountain, Moel Siabod
Moel Siabod from Plas y Brenin
Sun going down behind Snowdon
The approximate route I took with a detour round the quarry at the end