Walk 3231 - printer friendly version
Moel Hebog, Meol yr Ogof and Moel Lefn from Beddgelert Walk
Author - Peter Smyly
Length - 6.8 miles / 11 km
Ascent - 3450 feet / 1045 metres
Grade - mod/hard
Start - OS grid reference SH587481
Lat 53.011504 + Long -4.1075646
Postcode LL55 4YJ (approx. location only)
Moel Hebog is a name that is likely to be known only to the Welsh mountains connoisseur, although within that context, it is one of the more familiar names. I have seen this walk described in walking books suggesting four to five hours to complete it. While it is always a subjective matter as to how long a walk should take, my own view is that one should allow around six hours or more. The walk features three summits over 2,000 feet along a ridge, the route itself being of a circular nature, starting and finishing at the Welsh village of Beddgelert. Navigation should be straightforward in good visibility.
According to walking books, the round is normally done in a clockwise direction. It makes sense to do Moel Hebog first since it is easily the highest of the three tops and the climb up it involves the steepest and hardest ascent of the three peaks. Further, it is very steep going down the grassy slope from Moel Hebog to Bwlch Meillionen and therefore it is better to do this section going down rather than up.
From the centre of Beddgelert, follow the pavement by the A4085, passing an outdoor shop on the left and shortly afterwards, cross the next bridge over the river on the left. Now walk along the road ahead which crosses the Welsh Highland Railway twice and leads past a stream on the left and the way to go next is along a signed public footpath just past a barn on the right. The path soon gains height as it winds its way up the felllside. However, the steepest section, much higher up, is the reddish-brown scree-like section, visible from down below in Beddgelert which leads up to a grassy ridge, Y Grisiau. Before reaching Y Grisiau, cliffs are seen on the right as part of the main ascent but the path steers clear of them. Another uphill rocky section leads to the summit plateau after Y Grisiau and at the top it is then a stroll south-west across the plateau. A trig point marks the summit of Moel Hebog (the "Hill of the Hawk") and a dry stone wall leads steeply down a grassy slope with a semblance of a path appearing lower down. Owain Glyndwr's Cave can be glimpsed to the right of the felllside beyond the bwlch below and sometimes walkers can be seen trying to find it from the Moel Lefn direction.
From Bwlch Meillionen the path continues uphill through a cleft between rock walls, an impressive landscape feature, and then the path crosses a wooden walkway across a pool of water. It is around this point where a digression from the main route needs to be made, to the right, if in search of the elusive cave. The way ahead is less clear in terms of a lack of path but the general right direction is ahead as you walk up across and among rocky outcrops to the top where a small cairn marks the highest point. Moel Lefn is similarly reached by way of a traverse of the ridge through rocky outcrops and this, the third and final summit of the walk has two tops of similar height, neither of which has a summit cairn.
Care needs to be taken with the descent to the Beddgelert Forest as the grassy, pathless slopes might suggest the terrain is like this all the way down. It is not; instead, by traversing left, join a clear path which sensibly veers to the left lower down and the reason is revealed by the sight of a cliff to the right. Once at the foot of the felllside, the path bears left where a dry stone wall "dog legs" and leads down to the forest where a turn right over a broken down part of the wall leads into the forest. On emerging from the first section of mossy woodland, bear left (the right turn being a dead end anyway) and follow the main track down as it meanders its way roughly due east. The path crosses an open area of the forest with Llyn Llywelyn just glimpsed between trees below to the left, following occasional waymarkers, before re-entering the forest. The main track now heads south-east to Meillionen and through woodland at Parc Ty'n-y-Coed where a turn off to the right through trees leads across a stream before emerging into the open again and the path leads down to Cwm Cloch and so back to the start point of the walk.