Moel Siabod is a slightly isolated mountain in Snowdonia in that there is quite a walk from it to its nearest neighbour peak. However it apparently does allow you to view 13 of the 14 highest peaks in Wales from its summit. We thought we’d give its 872m a go as something slightly energetic to do over the bank holiday weekend.
We stayed in the Gwdyr Hotel which was not particularly special in any respect. It was polite without being friendly and seemed to be unsure of what style of hotel it was. The room was fine, but the big spacious and empty bar was in desperate need of some attention and would not be a very appealing place to spend the evening. The town of Betws-y-Coed, where the hotel is situated, has many hotels so I don’t think we’ll be staying in this place again.
My Dad had chosen this walk for Carmel and I, and met us for breakfast. Wynn also had also travelled to Betws-y-Coed, but had chosen to try out a lowland walk he had spotted in the paper. We started walking at 9:30am after parking the car near Pont Cyfng at the Bryn Glo cafe.
The route we chose took us around the mountain from the north east to the south east before we started our actual ascent. The sun that had accompanied us at the start of the walk was looking more and more likely to leave us as we walked around the base of the mountain. When it started raining the three of us took the opportunity to put our waterproofs on. Just jackets would suffice in the intermittent showers we thought.
The first stage of the ascent was up through a small pine forest following a stream to Llyn y Foel. The forest was fairly full of mushrooms – vegetation that I rarely see in such quantities and in such variety. There were some decent and poisonous looking red ones and some bigger browny ones. I briefly wished I knew more about mushrooms, but luckily the feeling passed and I’m quite content to refer to them as red and brown varieties.
Coming out of the forest, the path become much steeper as we ascended to the Llyn y Foel lake. It didn’t take too long, and with a few short breaks we were soon at the lake.
From the lake our route took us up the south ridge towards the summit. This route requires quite a bit of scrambling as there is no well-trodden path. The scrambling was as difficult as we wanted it to be, with plenty of easy choices if we didn’t fancy the more tricky climbs. Very little of the scramble up the ridge is exposed, so we felt comfortable to test our scrambling skills without having to deal with a very rational fear of falling off the ridge.
As we clambered over rocks and boulders and pulled ourselves up through little gulleys we found our views of the lake below becoming obscured by the cloud that had made its permanent residence over the summit. It was around this point that the intermittent rain become more consistent and we started getting properly wet.
Every now and again, though, we had the excuse to pause our climb to look down on the lake which by now was a long way beneath us.
As we approached the top of the summit the cloud became much thicker and we could not see too far ahead. The rain was really getting to us now and we were looking forward to the summit and then starting our descent.
We saw the summit for the first time about 25m before we got there. The cloud at the top was thick, and the wind extremely strong and blowing rain and hail into our faces. The temperature was ridiculously low for an August bank holiday and my hands were becoming numb without any gloves. Carmel and I battled against the wind to the trigonometry point marking the official summit and then waited a few minutes in the battering wind for my Dad to arrive. The photo we took at the summit was like most of our British summit photos – in cloud and with us being tested by the elements.
From the summit we wandered around a little. It is easy to get disoriented in the cloud as the summit plateau is quite large and featureless. Carmel and I were relying on my Dad for the route and it was a little disconcerting when we headed off in the wrong direction before he asked if we had a compass and a map since he had neither. While I had a map, I had no compass, but I was aware of the direction we had come from and the GPS device that I had could indicate the direction we were walking in. However I did curse the compass in the device that had never worked properly. So along with the need for head-torches, from a previous lesson we had learned, we have now added compasses to our list of essential walking equipment.
The path down from the summit was fairly straight forward, but we were really quite cold and miserable. Around this point my socks became sodden with water and I realised that a waterproof jacket had not been sufficient weather protection. The rain had soaked through my lightweight trousers, which was not a problem, but had then soaked my socks, which was a problem. By half way down the mountain all three of us were squelching with every step. None of us had waterproof trousers or gaiters on – but all of us were stupidly carrying them in our backpacks.
The walk down did seem to take a while and we didn’t talk much. We were all too wet and bedraggled. The highlight of the day had certainly been the scramble up the ridge to the summit. This was really great fun, and contained very little of the fear that accompanies me on Crib Goch. I later vowed to give Tryfan a climb next year, having already climbed Bristly Ridge many years ago. Wynn volunteered to guide us up there, much to my Dad’s horror.
Oh, we obviously have absolutely no first hand experience of how many of the highest peaks in Wales you could see from the summit. Absolutely no idea.
Duration 5:30 hours
Distance 8.3 miles
Path (Google Earth)