Welsh Walks

Moelwyn Mawr & Moelwyn Bach

Date: 28th Sept 10
Distance: 6.4 miles
Ascent: 2950 feet
Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
With: Dave
Start Grid Ref: SH683453

Route Summary: Tanygrisiau - Cwmorthin - Rhosydd Quarry - Moel yr-hydd - West Twll - Moelwyn Mawr North Top - Moelwyn Mawr - Craigysgafan - Moelwyn Bach - Llŷn Stwlan - Tanygrisiau.

Walk Summary: For my second walk of our holiday I picked a fairly short walk which would enable me to indulge in some gratuitous Nuttall bagging while, at the same time, climbing one of the more prominent mountains in northern Snowdonia.

I had been tempted to start from Croesor and include the magnificent looking Cnicht but as I was with my father-in-law, whose most meaningful walk this year had been the short walk to the top of Bull Hill back in January, I thought including Cnicht would be pushing it.

Instead we started from Tangryisiau and to be honest I'm glad we did as I thoroughly enjoyed the walk up the Cwmorthin valley and up to the Rhosydd Slate Mine. While I'm not necessarily a fan of some of the larger open cast quarries that are still in use I do find the remnants of past mining activity quite fascinating. With this in mind I don't think I've come across many more interesting sites than Rhosydd. Apparently surface excavations began in the 1830's but by the 1850's the majority of the workings were underground and by the 1880's it was one of the largest underground workings in Wales with 170 chambers.

In the shadow of Moelwyn Mawr and with a great view of Cnicht I wonder if the hundreds of people who would have worked the mine in its heyday appreciated the location. While we mainly saw the remnants of the surface buildings we did have a peer down an adit, while the huge open cast hole of West Twll was a most impressive sight.

While I was out to bag peaks Dave just wanted an enjoyable walk in the mountains so while he made a beeline for Moelwyn Mawr I made a couple of detours to visit the tops of Moel-yr-hydd and the so-called Moelwyn Mawr North Top. The former was definately worth while with great views down into the Cwmorthin valley, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Tanygrisiau Reservoir. The latter is the kind of insiginificant bump which gives the Nuttalls a bad name, in fact if it had not been included in their book as a top I would seriously doubt that it even meets the necessary requirements.

After a final short steep climb we finally made it on to the top of Moelwyn Mawr where we enjoyed a fine vista with nearly all the main mountain ranges from Cadair Idris to the south to the Carneddau in the north in view. We spent quite some time on the summit soaking up the views, eating our lunch and taking numerous photos.

Eventually we descended via the short rocky ridge of Craigysgafan the highest point of which is a Nuttall in its own right. This was an excellent section with some good views down to Llŷn Stwlan. The final summit of the day was Moelwyn Bach which looked quite imposing from Craigysgafan. Dave decided to give it a miss and instead stayed on Craigysgafan to take photos of me with his fancy new camera as I toiled up the steep path on to the summit of Moelwyn Bach. Upon reaching the top I was able to take some retrospective pictures back at him.

Meeting back down at Bwlch Stwlan we descended to Llŷn Stwlan and then followed the access road all the way back to where we had parked the car. This was a walk full of interest with some great long distance views as well. After all my Pennine walking this year it was also nice to get into some more mountainous terrain. One of my favourite walks of the year without a doubt.


1. Looking back down the Cwmorthin valley

Looking back down the Cwmorthin valley

2. An adit in Rhosydd Quarry

An adit in Rhosydd Quarry

3. Cnicht


4. Moelwyn Mawr from Rhosydd Quarry

Moelwyn Mawr from Rhosydd Quarry

5. Allt-fawr and Llŷn Cwmorthin

Allt-fawr and Llŷn Cwmorthin

6. Snowdon


7. The deep hole of West Twll

The deep hole of West Twll

8. Looking back at Moel-yr-hydd

Looking back at Moel-yr-hydd

9. The so-called Moelwyn Mawr North Top

The so-called Moelwyn Mawr North Top

10. Dave by the trig point on Moelwyn Mawr

Dave by the trig point on Moelwyn Mawr

11. A more distant shot of Dave on Moelwyn Mawr

A more distant shot of Dave on Moelwyn Mawr

12. The rocky ridge of Craigysgafan

The rocky ridge of Craigysgafan

13. Llŷn Stwlan

Llŷn Stwlan

14. The not so little Moelwyn Bach

The not so little Moelwyn Bach

15. Dave on Craigysgafan

Dave on Craigysgafan

16. On the summit of Moelwyn Bach

On the summit of Moelwyn Bach