Tell your mountaineering mates that you were walking in Eifionydd last week, and they will probably look at you blankly. The Eifionydd Hills are the ones sandwiched between the Snowdon Range and the Llŷn Peninsula. Sandwiched is perhaps the wrong word though, inferring some kind of inferiority – this is definitely not the case.
The Eifionydd Hills contain the Nantlle Ridge (post #21), one of the great ridge-walks of North Wales, as well as the impressive mass of Mynydd Mawr (post #30), but the hill that overshadows the others is situated above the pretty village of Beddgelert – Moel Hebog is an impressive looking hill from most directions, but when approaching Beddgelert from Capel Curig it simply dominates the landscape.
Paradoxically, the ridge of Moel Hebog, Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn can’t be seen in the village itself, but once out on the rising hillside things start to open up. The height gain is fairly steady, which gave my photographer mate John Bamber plenty to go at, whilst giving me the chance to muck about on whatever bits of rock happened to be in the way.
Towards the summit we ran into the mist that wasn’t supposed to be there, though the steeper ground was a good indication that we were getting near the top. The summit was indicated by a battered Ordnance Survey Trig Point, but the continuation of the ridge to the north was just different shades of grey until we eventually emerged from the cloud.
Following on from Moel Hebog (‘Bare Hill of the Falcon’) we continued to our next peak of Moel yr Ogof (‘Bare Hill of the Cave’) passing through an impressive cleft along the way. There is, in fact, a cave said to have been used by the Welsh leader Owain Glyndwr whilst hiding from the English, but we gave it a miss and pressed on to our final summit of Moel Lefn (‘Smooth Bare Hill’)
Then, after all the ups and downs of the broad Moel Hebog ridge, it was time to head down. A good amount of the accumulated height gain was descended over a fairly short distance, but it made it a quick way to lose altitude, bringing us to the upper reaches of Beddgelert Forest.
We all have our likes and dislikes, and I’m afraid walking through commercial forests doesn’t come high on my list of things to do on a mountain day, but after the delights of the high ridge we had to pay our dues. So pay them we did – soggy, boggy paths soon gave way to hard-surfaced forest rides, with one last tantalising view of Moel Hebog with (you’ve guessed it) a cloud free summit!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber