#146 – Moel Famau – Little hill, big ‘attitude’!

On the ridge from Moel Famau to Moel Llys y Coed

On the ridge from Moel Famau to Moel Llys y Coed

When it comes to mountains, Snowdonia is more than a jewel in the crown – it is the crown.  There are plenty more mountain riches though, including our local hills.  The Clwydian Range is the first high ground that you pass through as you enter North Wales from England – running south from Prestatyn on the coast, the hills gradually gain height until they reach a high point at Moel Famau. 

Clwydian Iron-Age Hillfort, Moel Arthur

Clwydian Iron-Age Hillfort, Moel Arthur

Situated roughly between Yr Wyddgrug (Mold) and Rhuthun (Ruthin), Moel Famau is a mere 554 metres in height, but like many hills on the fringe of Snowdonia it is a hill with ‘attitude’ – it’s certainly not a hill to treat in a casual manner, especially when a cold wind is blowing from the northwest.  Which is exactly the wind we had on our last visit.

Leaving Cilcain village

Leaving Cilcain village

Gaining height ….

Gaining height ….

…. gaining more height ….

…. gaining more height ….

Looking back towards Cilcain

Looking back towards Cilcain

Nearly at the summit

Nearly at the summit

Starting from Cilcain village to the east of Moel Famau, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security – the hills act as a barrier to the icy winds coming from the northwest, which is probably why the village is situated where it is.  The path from Cilcain gains height gradually, rising a little over 300 metres in height over 3 kilometres, and the summit of Moel Famau comes as a sudden surprise, with views opening up to Snowdonia 40 kilometres (25 miles) away.

Distant views of Snowdonia ….

Distant views of Snowdonia ….

…. and the Vale of Clwyd

…. and the Vale of Clwyd

Descending from Moel Famau on the Offa’s Dyke Path

Descending from Moel Famau on the Offa’s Dyke Path

On the ridge towards Moel Llys y Coed

On the ridge towards Moel Llys y Coed

We didn’t spend long admiring the view on this trip, though.  The cold north-westerly breeze was like a knife, but as the old adage goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.  So, having zipped, buttoned and secured everything possible, we set off for Moel Llys y Coed, following the Offa’s Dyke Path.

Starting the descent to the foot of Moel Arthur

Starting the descent to the foot of Moel Arthur

Solid stone path on the descent ….

Solid stone path on the descent ….

…. steep in places ….

…. steep in places ….

 …. before easing off

…. before easing off

At Moel Llys y Coed the Offa’s Dyke Path heads downwards towards the foot of Moel Arthur, an Iron-Age Hillfort at least 2000 years old (see post #99).  The path here is quite steep, and was the site of a minor avalanche during the snows of last March (see the end of post #124 for photographs).  There were no problems with snow on this trip, but the icy blasts reminded us that winter is well on the way.

Heading back to Cilcain

Heading back to Cilcain

Looking back to the Moel Arthur car park

Looking back to the Moel Arthur car park

Afternoon view of Moel Famau on out way back to Cilcain

Afternoon view of Moel Famau on out way back to Cilcain

We stopped for a bite to eat at the car park below Moel Arthur, but there was little incentive to linger in the cold wind.  A gradually rising ramp took us round the shoulder of Moel Llys y Coed, before pointing us on a steady downhill back to Cilcain.  The Clwydian hills may not have the drama of Snowdonia, but they have their own charm and for me they are the hills that I now regard as home.

Back in Cilcain village

Back in Cilcain village

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s. There is an excellent pub in Cilcain – it will not surprise regular readers of the blog to hear that it was closed when we got there!

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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19 Responses to #146 – Moel Famau – Little hill, big ‘attitude’!

  1. Isn’t Famau the one with the huge monument on top? Or am I thinking of another in that area? It’s nice to have a range of decent hills on your doorstep…

    • Yes Carol, it’s called the Jubilee tower – Denbighshire County Council did some restoration work there over the summer. The Clwydians are great hills, but it’s also good that Snowdonia is just down the road 🙂

  2. johndburns says:

    Yup Famau has got a folly on top, or urination target as I prefer to call it. My first hill that one.

  3. I am sure I have been up there years ago – one of the people in our caving club was Welsh and he was always trying to get us up into the mountains – we did a couple with unpronounceable names (haven’t they all) and this one seems familiar – especially with it being close to the English border. The hardest, biggest walks aren’t necessary the best (especially when you are getting older) 😉

    • I agree totally about the ‘best’ walks SP, though I have to confess that when I’m on the Clwydians, my eyes are always drawn across to the mountains of Snowdonia.

  4. Beautiful shots! I love your saying. . No bad weather just bad clothing. The avalanche post got me actually thinking I’m glad I live in the flatlands 😊 But we’ll be enjoying snowfall for a few days coming. Eh. Not a fan of snow. We’re going to Alabama for the next week. Going to camp at an Indian reservation that is restoring the habitats for box turtles. Weather average 65F. THAT’S more my speed! Happy Holidays to you!

    • Thanks for that 🙂 Enjoy your balmy 65F – a typical UK Christmas is grey and bleak, with the snow arriving a week or two later. We’ll probably get 7-10C (about 45-50F) but with wind chill making it feel colder. Having said that, we rarely get the extremes of cold that you get in some parts of the USA. Happy holidays to you also 🙂

  5. lanceleuven says:

    “There is an excellent pub in Cilcain – it will not surprise regular readers of the blog to hear that it was closed when we got there”

    Hah! You don’t have much luck with pubs do you? 😀

  6. LensScaper says:

    The distant view to Snowdonia gives a real sense of distance, Paul. There’s a pub near here, close to a National Trust property, that is always closed when we pass by. Do some publicans not want passing trade?

  7. I can remember a time Andy, when the perfect end to a hill day was a good pint of something or other – looking back to those days, it was a more difficult challenge to find a pub closed in a mountain area, whereas now the opposite applies.

  8. Pete Buckley says:

    It’s an area I never tire of – nice post Paul.

  9. Pingback: #147 – Ring out the old … 2013 hill memories | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  10. Pingback: #157 – Cyrn y Brain on the Ruabon Moors | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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