#329 – – Moel Hebog and Owain Glyndwr’s cave

Looking southwest over Llyn Gwynant, with Moel Hebog rising in the distance

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

The Snowdonia National Park, now more correctly referred to as Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri, recently made the decision to use the Welsh names for Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) and Snowdonia (Eryri) instead of the English forms.   About time too – I’ve been ahead of the game in using the Welsh (or should I say Cymraeg) name for the mountains for some time now, after all we don’t call Mont Blanc ‘the White Mountain’, do we?   Australia’s ‘Ayers Rock’ is now Uluru, ‘Mount McKinley’ in Alaska is now Denali, so it’s been long overdue to give Yr Wyddfa its proper name.

Closer view of Moel Hebog, seen from just outside Beddgelert

Some of the Cymraeg names of the mountain ranges of Eryri are easy enough to recognise for us English speakers, such as Carneddau for Carnedds, Glyderau for the Glyders and Moelwynion for the Moelwyns, and personally I think that they sound more interesting and romantic when the Welsh name is used, but one mountain range that might have English speaking hikers scratching their heads over is Eifionydd

North Wales, with the walk start point at the blue cross

The main problem for English speakers is often in the pronunciation of the Welsh language, but once you know a few basic rules, Cymraeg is far more predictable than Scots Gaelic, for example.  So, try saying  Eifionydd as ‘Eye-vi-on-ith’  – not perfect phonetically, but a Welsh speaker would recognise what you were saying.  The range lies to the west of Beddgelert, Rhyd Ddu and Tremadog and the main highlight for many is Moel Hebog (‘Bare Hill of the Hawk’) above Beddgelert.

Moel Hebog, with the start point (blue cross) and Owain Glyndwr’s cave (red cross)
Closer view of the route

I’ve had a few trips out on Moel Hebog over the years (see posts #93 and #164) and I’ve usually gone for the continuation ridge route over Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn, but this time the intention was to cut down to the east side of Moel yr Ogof to make a shorter walk for Chris and to try to spot the cave reputed to have been used by Welsh rebel (or hero depending on your point of view) Owain Glyndwr whilst hiding from pursuit by the English.

Setting out near Beddgelert ….
…. with Moel Hebog rising above
At last – getting a bit closer ….
….with the northeast view looking towards Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) ….
…. and the southeast view looking towards the mountains of the Moelwynion (Moelwyns)

Our route set off from Beddgelert, with Moel Hebog initially hidden from view – the ascent doesn’t seem to make much headway at first, but after a while the ‘Bare Hill of the Hawk’ starts to look a bit closer.  If I’m honest though, at this point the best views are towards Yr Wyddfa to the northeast and the mountains of the Moelwynion to the southeast.

After looking at the views, it’s time to get stuck in to the ascent ….
…. with Beddgelert now looking a long way behind

Eventually, things start to get a bit steeper, and Beddgelert starts to look a long way behind.  I had forgotten that there are a couple of short rock scrambles on the higher section – these aren’t technically difficult but slowed Chris down enough for me to offer her the security of a confidence rope.  I didn’t have to offer twice, and after a short scrabble in my pack for the rope, we were moving again – the bit that unnerved Chris was no more than a couple of moves, but better a short delay to deploy the rope than a long delay (or worse) if she had slipped.

Finally – The summit with views over Bae Tremadog (Tremadoc Bay) looking south ….
….and the Nantlle Ridge to the north (Moel yr Ogof the nearest peak below and left)

And then it’s all over, with the summit coming into view.  The view down to the sea at Tremadog was a bit hazy, but the view north to the magnificent Nantlle Ridge (see post #21) made up for that.  From the summit viewpoint, it’s possible to spot (haze allowing) just about all of the mountains of Eifionydd including Mynydd Mawr (see post #30) to the north of Nantlle.

The descent from Moel Hebog, with Moel yr Ogof below on the left
Below the East Face of Moel yr Ogof ….
….with Ogof Owain Glyndwr (Owain Glyndwr’s Cave) peeping out

Having finished with the mountain spotting, it was time to start to head down.   At the col between Moel Hebog and Moel yr Ogof, we swung to the east to go round Moel yr Ogof instead of my usual route over the top.  This gave us a view up the steep east side of the mountain towards Ogof Owain Glyndwr (Owain Glyndwr’s cave).  Caves seem to be fairly popular with fugitive national heroes such as Glyndwr, Robert the Bruce or Bonny Prince Charlie, but far be it for me to undermine a local legend, it seemed to be a mucky scramble to reach an exposed hole in the crag.

The descent continues, with a bit if minor bushwhacking

Heading up to the cave had not been on the menu for the day, though I think it would soon have been vetoed had I suggested it to Chris.   Instead, we cut down through the forest on narrow paths that almost qualified as minor bushwacking, before we hit the wide forest ride that joins the Rhyd DduBeddgelert bridleway.  It was time to head for home.

Time to head for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

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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8 Responses to #329 – – Moel Hebog and Owain Glyndwr’s cave

  1. Arvor Life says:

    Hey there!
    The scenery and views sound amazing even if the walk was is challenging. Thanks for sharing!
    Charlotte 🌿 http://www.arvorlife.com 🌊
    With you from mountain to sea


  2. Well I’m blowed… me and my compatriots from our Welsh climbing club used to spend ages looking for that cave and we never found it! How hard to you think it would be to get up to it?

    I used to really like Moel Hebog – one hot day I walked it in my bra – the descending hordes were split 50:50 – half were offended (or reckoned they were), the other half admiring (until their wives gave them an ‘eyes front’ command! 😉


    • It looked ‘do-able’ as far as access is concerned, but a bit scrappy – might involve digging fingers into steep grass, though to be honest I didn’t look all that closely. Wait for a hot day and do it in your bra – should be a good distraction for any companions 😉


  3. just tried to enter a comment on your Eastern Nantlle Ridge post (on another website) and it wouldn’t let me. I turned back from that scramble on Mynydd Drwys y Coed and led a whole group of other people back down to go around it. We saw guys going across it just hanging from their hands and suchlike and decided that wasn’t for us. Are you saying it’s actually easier than that and perhaps the guys had got it wrong?


    • I honestly can’t remember any difficulty, in fact the Nantlle Ridge is often recommended for a first scramble before attempting Crib Goch, etc. I know there has been one fatality there, but the rock is slate and would be like verglas if wet.
      It looks like the other group were ‘laiking about’.


      • well they might have been. You never know, now I’m far more experienced and more confident, I might find it completely fine. I remember on that particular day, I was even a bit worried about the steepness of Y Garn and that’s just grass!


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