Britain’s greatest scrambles: Daear Ddu Ridge, Moel Siabod

One of Snowdonia’s most easy-going scrambles, the Daear Ddu Ridge still serves up rewards aplenty for those who seek out this rocky route up moel siabod.

Britain's greatest scrambles: Daear Ddu Ridge, Moel Siabod

by Ben Weeks |

The moss and lichen-covered remains of long abandoned mining buildings. Deep, dark, bottomless blue poolsof flooded quarries. An isolated llyn cupped in the base of a wild and remote crag-walled cwm. Views. Views everywhere. Over the Glyderau, into the Snowdon massif, over Snowdonia. These are just some of the features of Moel Siabod and, specifically, taking the Daear Ddu ridge to its summit. That the mountain even has a ridge to be scrambled may surprise some; if the mountain were a clock face, a full 50 minutes would be occupied by unbroken green slopes – flecked with boulders on their upper sections but otherwise featureless. But between the hours of 1 and 3, a 10-minute chunk has been cut from the mountain, and along the southern edge of this wedge the Daear Ddu ridge climbs to the summit at its centre. And what a ridge it is. Wider and less confusing than Tryfan’s north ridge, but with exposure and views in places to rival that of the Llech Ddu Spur, it is simpler than both and an ideal destination for rookie scramblers or those making their first foray into winter ridges.

Distance 9.2km**| Ascent** 822m | Scramble rating Grade 1 | Go there almost anytime. The Daear Dhu Ridge is more tolerant of bad weather than most.

1.

From the lay-by at Pont-cyfyng on the A5 near Capel Curig, head towards Moel Siabod via Rhôs farm and the track that climbs – steeply at first then levelling out – towards the looming bulk of Moel Siabod.

2.

Pass an unnamed llyn on the left, following the path (which can become stream-like after heavy rainfall) up past conical spoil heaps and tumbledown buildings. A steep- sided and eerily deep-looking pool appears on the right as the path heads up to the skyline ahead.

Looking up at the skyline of the Daear Dhu Ridge and the summit of Moel Siabod from Llyn y Foel
Looking up at the skyline of the Daear Dhu Ridge and the summit of Moel Siabod from Llyn y Foel
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3.

The cwm containing Llyn-y-foel is now below, and the start of Daear Ddu is on the other side. The cwm can be exceptionally damp, and it’s a case of following the path as best as possible and hunting out the dry ground around the west side of the lake towards the base of the ridge. In clear weather it’s easy to spot. In poor visibility some navigating may be required to find the start.

4.

Initially Daear Ddu is broad and undefined, but it narrows as it climbs, presenting a series of rock steps and boulder clambers. The steepest, most severe drop is to the right, and although it’s possible to stick fairly closely to the ridge, some obstacles may require by- passing and this is best done on the left.

5.

A little over halfway up, the ridge gears up a notch. The drops close in and the scrambling becomes more acute with fewer route options. It’s no harder than anything that’s gone before, although the exposure may be slightly challenging for those who get nervy at height.

Getting hands-on with the Daer Dhu Ridge
Getting hands-on with the Daer Dhu Ridge
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6.

The summit trig point only pops into view when you’re almost upon it. If the Welsh weather gods have been kind, you’ll be presented with a panorama that’s said to include 13 of the 14 highest peaks in Snowdonia, although the view into the heart of the Snowdon horseshoe is perhaps the most striking element.

7.

From the summit, follow the main summit ridge north-east, eventually leaving the boulder field and descending over grass slopes to re-join the track back towards Rhôs farm and Pont-Cyfyng.

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