Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Moel Siabod

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Route: Capel Curig, Pont-Cyfyng, Rhos, Rhos Slate Quarry, Llyn y Foel, Daear Ddu ridge, Carnedd Siabod, Moel Siabod, Rhos, Pont-Cyfyng, Capel Curig

Date: 25/05/2016
From: Capel Curig

Parking: Moel Siabod Cafe
Start Point: Pont-Cyfyng
Region: Snowdonia

Route length: 8.0 miles (12.9 km)
Time taken: 03:35
Average speed: 2.1 mph
Ascent: 866m
Descent: 877m

Summits: Carnedd Siabod (872m)

Other points of interest: Llyn y Foel, Daear Ddu, Moel Siabod

Drawing to a close our extended weekend in Snowdonia, we were searching around for something to occupy a morning before we were back on the road home and the name of Moel Siabod had been turning up time and again. Isolated from all other mountains, it doesn't present itself for an extended epic, rather and entertaining few hours and a few rocky scrambles - the ideal end to what had been a superb few days in North Wales.

As I mentioned, Moel Siabod (or more strictly speaking, Carnedd Siabod) is an isolated peak, high above Capel Curig, where we had been staying. After a short stroll around from our campsite we arrived at Pont-Cyfyng, a popular spot for white water kayaking. From Pont-Cyfyng, a lane leads uphill towards a few holiday cottages before leading out onto a wide track towards the abandoned Rhos slate quarry.
The Afon Llugwy at Capel Curig
Moel Siabod pokes up above the trees
Crimpiau and Pen Llithrig y Wrach
The quarry road
It's an easy climb that passes around a dammed lake before threading it way through the ruins of the old quarry buildings and up to a second, small and more interesting lake fed by a pair of waterfalls. 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 one of the levels still exists.
The dammed lake
The track leads around the edge
Slate spoil with Moel Siabod behind
The old quarry
Entrance to one of the mines
Past the quarry, the path reaches the shores of Llyn y Foel, an isolated lake cradled beneath the cliffs of Moel Siabod. Although the lake bears the name Llyn y Foel, it does have another name - Llyn Llygad yr Ych, the Lake of the Ox's Eye - which recounts a tale about an ox that lost an eye under the strain of pulling the dreadful afanc from Betws y Coed to Glaslyn below Snowdon.
A dark quarry lake
Looking back down into the valley
The Daear Ddu ridge
Llyn y Foel
Paths pass either side of the lake, both are fairly boggy and neither is easier than the other. We kept to the right of the lake, moving around the foot of the Daear Ddu ridge. The ridge presents an interesting and rewarding way up to the summit. Keeping left presents an easier route or to the right for a more challenging scramble. The scrambling is easy and enjoyable and shouldn't cause too many problems. Moel Siabod quickly changes character and soon becomes a proper mountain as you work your way to the rocky summit.
The Daear Ddu ridge stretching up
Looking down to Llyn y Foel
More scrambling on the Daear Ddu ridge
Llyn y Foel starting to look smaller
The north east ridge
Looking down the Daear Ddu ridge
The summit if topped by a trig pillar and it is alleged that you can see 13 of the 14 3,000ft peaks without turning ones head. We were lucky to see the base of them as the clouds drifted in and out just above Moel Siabod's summit. We were a little disappointed but at least it was dry and we had enjoyed a few excellent days before hand.
Llyn y Foel and the Daear Ddu ridge
Approaching the summit
The obligatory trig pillar shot
We loitered in the summit shelter before starting our descent back towards Pont-Cyfyng. A broad rocky ridge stretches out to the north east, some 800m in length and not losing much height until towards the end. The path simply sticks to the highest part of the ridge and descends in a very straight north east direction for two and a half kilometres. The only difficulties you'll find will be walking over the flat slabs in wet weather. It's a superb way off the mountain.
Something resembling a view
The summit shelter and the north east ridge
The view looking back towards the summit
A framed Llyn y Foel
Moel Siabod's north east ridge
Looking towards Capel Curig
Llynnau Mymbyr through the haze
An obvious track leads back to Pont-Cyfyng
Moel Siabod and the end of the north east ridge
The straight quarry track to Pont-Cyfyng
Afon Llugwy
We retraced our route back down the quarry road to Pont-Cyfyng and along the road back to the car. As estimated, the total route only took us a few hours and it's an ideal way to spend a morning or afternoon. The route livens up after a fairly tedious beginning and the Daear Ddu ridge is an entertaining climb that can be as easy or as challenging as you wish. It's just a shame the clouds were down today but I doubt this will be my last time on Moel Siabod.