According to MWIS there was a 40% chance of cloud-free summits in western Snowdonia today and a 60% chance of cloud-free summits in eastern Snowdonia. I therefore decided to stay east hoping that I would get some views unlike the previous three days. On looking out the window this morning there was low cloud yet again . I therefore set off driving eastbound with no particular hills in mind. After driving twenty or so miles, I pulled into a lay-by to check out Viewranger for nearby Sub2000ft Marilyns (I have them all programmed in). I noticed two Marilyns that could easily be combined in a single walk from Horseshoe Pass. I therefore programmed the starting point co-ordinates into the SatNav to get to Horseshoe Pass.

On arriving in the pass the weather was not too bad. Visibility was good and there was no cloud on the summits. After putting on my boots, I decided to first ascend Moel y Gamelin via Moel y Faen.

Hills: Moel y Gamelin and Cyrn-y-Brain
Date: Monday 13th March 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 11.9km, Ascent: 550m
Time: 3Hrs 5Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

At Horseshoe Pass there is a café with signage advertising "The Famous Ponderosa Café and Gift Shop". I hadn't heard of it previously but perhaps it is famous in Wales or perhaps just in Denbighshire.

Ponderosa Café:

The initial ascent of Moel y Faen is alongside a slate quarry. There are various signs advising of danger in the quarry, motorised vehicles beyond this point being prohibited, and keep off the grass signs (erosion prevention/restoration) with writing so small that you need to go on the grass to read them .

Commencing my ascent of Moel y Faen:

The wide, eroded track showed signs of recent off-road vehicle activity so I assume some ignore these signs.

Wide, eroded track up Moel y Faen:

Looking back to the Ponderosa Café and across to Cyrn-y-Brain:

It didn't take long to reach the summit of Moel y Faen. I wasn't sure if Moel y Faen was a HuMP so I looked it up on my phone. It doesn't even come close with a drop of only circa 58m.

Looking towards Moel y Gamelin from Moel y Faen:

From Moel y Faen I followed the excellent track leading out to Moel y Gamelin.

Track leading to Moel y Gamelin:

As I progressed along the track I could see a small town. At first I wondered if it was Wrexham but soon realised it was too small for Wrexham. I think it is Llangollen.

Llangollen (zoom):

On approaching the summit of Moel y Gamelin I could see a bank of fog literally rolling in towards me like something out of a John Carpenter movie . So much for a cloud-free day .

At the summit of Moel y Gamelin:

View towards Llangollen from the summit of Moel y Gamelin:

As I made my way back, the fog soon overtook and engulfed me. On reaching Horseshoe Pass, I crossed the road and commenced my ascent of Cyrn-y-Brain. The Ponderosa Café was now starting to get quite busy.

Commencing my ascent of Cyrn-y-Brain:

The ascent of Cyrn-y-Brain is via wide track from start to summit. The track is there to allow vehicles to reach the transmitters. While I didn't meet anyone ascending Moel y Gamelin, I met numerous people ascending Cyrn-y-Brain.

Looking back to the Ponderosa Café and across to Moel y Faen:

Looking back to the Ponderosa Café:

As I made my way up the hill, I was really surprised to see what looked like limestone escarpment on the neighbouring hill. Over the past few days I had already walked on volcanic rock at Cadair Idris as well as lots of sedimentary slate. Wales is definitely interesting geologically.

Creigiau Eglwyseg limestone escarpment from Cyrn-y-Brain:

Thanks to the excellent track, it didn't take long to reach the summit. On looking at the map I noticed a trig point circa 1km away. As the trig point height was allegedly only 2-3m lower than the summit, I decided to visit it just in case these buggers with their accurate GPS survey the hill and change the summit location and tell me to go do it again.

At the summit of Cyrn-y-Brain:

On the plus side the low cloud was today almost hiding the transmitters from view.

Transmitter near the summit:

As I made my way out towards the trig point, I passed a party of school children possibly out doing Duke of Edinburgh activities.

Transmitter north-east of the summit:

I was intrigued to see Sir Watkin's Tower. He was apparently a well-known landowner in the 18th/19th century.

Sign pointing towards Sir Watkin's Tower:

As it happens, the tower is really not worth going to see. The remains are not much more than one metre high.

Trig point and remains of Sir Watkin's Tower beyond:

From the trig point, I returned to the summit and then back down to Horseshoe Pass and the Ponderosa Café.

I couldn't not visit the café so ventured in for a look. The food looked good so I ordered Steak Pie and Chips. I got a giant-sized portion at the bargain price of £5. It tasted good too. If visiting the pass, definitely pop in past the café for some food.

After lunch, I needed a hill dessert so I again looked at Viewranger for another nearby Sub2000ft Marilyn. Mynydd Rhyd Ddu fitted the bill. After also looking at the Hillbagging website to get a starting point, I programmed this starting point into the SatNav and was soon on my way. The drive between hills was somewhat "interesting" as my SatNav decided to challenge my wee car by taking me along a narrow road with loads of potholes, with bits unsurfaced and with as much grass as tarmac.

Hills: Mynydd Rhyd Ddu
Date: Monday 13th March 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 3.7km, Ascent: 70m
Time: 55Mins

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

View from start of walk:

I climbed over the initial gate to avoid having to untie the rope tying it shut. Then, from having read the Hillbagging site, I expected to have to climb over three barbed-wire fences.

Start of walk:

I followed the wall up and along to reach the first barbed wire fence. I was able to stand on some rocks which allowed me to step over the rusty barbed-wire and come down on the other side of the wall.

Following the wall:

I then crossed through three fields but instead of climbing over more barbed wire fences, I used the gates.

Following the fence:


Through a field of old neeps:

Looking towards the hills ascended earlier in the day:

As you head towards the summit, you have to pass directly underneath one of the turbines. I never like walking below the rapidly rotating blades.

Heading towards the turbines:

Following the turbines tracks:

By the time I reached the summit, the day was becoming fairly pleasant with bits of blue sky now overhead. Just a shame it was now almost three o'clock.

At the summit of Mynydd Rhyd Ddu:

From the summit, I returned to the car via my inbound route.

On driving back, a Red Kite flew overhead just in front of the car. Unfortunately my camera was in the boot and by the time I got it from the boot the Red Kite was long gone. However a mile or so later I spotted a lovely yellow bird and stopped to take some photographs. This was the first time I have seen a Grey Wagtail.

Male Grey Wagtail:

A good day out.