Moel Ysgyfarnod

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 52.89088°N / 3.99387°W
Additional Information County: Gwynedd
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Bouldering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 2044 ft / 623 m
Sign the Climber's Log


There can be few places in Snowdonia, nay Britain, that can match the rare qualities of the northern Rhinogydd. Here the sandy shores of Cardigan Bay give way to acid grassland, blanket heather, gritstone slabs and oligotrophic lakes, and what can loosely be described as civilisation giving way to a rough but tempered wilderness. Tier upon tier of gritstone edges rise up along the hillsides, edges that would not look out of place in the Peak District of England, but are framed by the rugged outlines of Snowdon, the Eifionydd and the Moelwynion rather than the softer hills of Derbyshire. This remote corner of Snowdonia was once described by one of Wales’ most prolific Medieval writers as the “rudest and roughest district of all Wales”, and while the quarrymen and miners have now come and gone and the woods aren’t quite as dense as they once might have been, the statement remains true to this day.

Moel Ysgyfarnod (623m), which roughly translates as Bare Hill of the Hare, is the highest peak in these parts. In isolation it’s a fairly unremarkable summit, which is not to say that it lacks interest, but is arguably less spectacular than the range’s other hills. What makes so Moel Ysgyfarnod special is its position and the journey that must be undertaken to reach it. The approach, whether it be from Trawsfynydd in the east or Eisingrug in the west, must be one of the most underrated hikes in the region - there are few paths here, and consequently, even fewer visitors. Those who enjoy solitude and the freedom to pick their own line will find much to satisfy, and with every twist and turn of the landscape, this freedom is rewarded with a multitude subtle wonders.

Rock climbing has been a fairly late arrival to the hill, but it has now arrived, though given the area’s complexity one may find it hard to find the established routes. Better, would be to pick your own section of rock and establish your own lines - effectively, this is still virgin territory and much remains to be explored.

Moel Ysgyfarnod and Foel Penolau from Llyn Trawsfynydd (Photo by Nanuls)

Rock Climbing

The climbing at this spot is split between a number of small compact buttress which surround the peak, namely the South West Escarpment, the Main Wall, the Minus Seven Wall, the Llyn Du Crag and the Llyn Corn-Yswc Crag.

Unless otherwise stated, routes are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the Climbers Club Guide to Meirionnydd, so for full descriptions, please refer to this source. The Climbers’ Club have also produced a free pdf, which provides details of first ascents recorded after 2001: download it here. Technical grades are generally only given to climbs graded adjectivally as Hard Severe (HS) or above.

Please be aware that the Rhinog Range is a trad climbing venue and bolting is strictly prohibited. Routes are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available HERE!

Route Symbols:

NO STARS A so-so route, neither good nor bad. Not unpleasant unless otherwise stated.
1 STAR A good route which is definitely worth a climb.
2 STARS A very good route, one of the best on the crag and well worthy of attention.
3 STARS An excellent route, one of the best in the area, and probably in Britain too.

Used to indicate that there are currently no restrictions, either seasonal, temporary or permanent, affecting a route.


Used to indicate that there are restrictions, either seasonal, temporary or permanent, affecting a route. See the Red Tape and Access Section for more details.

South West Escarpment

This is a long escarpment with many jumbled blocks, intersected by good towers and faces just below a summit plateau which also has two good escarpments. Approach along the miner’s track.

A spectacular feature is the prominent nose jutting out over the path of the miners track.

The Miners TrackCrags of the Miners Track
(Photo by Nanuls)
Miners TrackEvidence of mining
(Photo by Nanuls)
The Miners TrackCrags of the Miners Track
(Photo by Nanuls)

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
1. Isengard 18m 1 E1 5b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Main Wall

This crag sits on the western edge of the summit plateau. At 9 metres the crag isn't particularly high but makes up for its lack of stature with some immaculate rock. Its also south facing and has fantastic views.

The left side of the wall has a wide discontinuous crack: just left is an overlapped wall leading to a rib.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
5. The Day the Wall Came Down 9m 1 VS 4b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
6. Silver Silence 9m 1 S 4b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
7. Don’t Fly Away 6m 1 E1 5b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Moel Ysgyfarnod (left) and Foel Penolau (right) (Photo by Nanuls)

Minus Seven Wall

Another good south facing but smaller wall sits 50 metres further to the east on the same rock plateau.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
8. Done and Rusted 5m 1 VS 4c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
9. Doubtful Digits 6m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
11. Minus7 6m 1 E2 6a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
13. Pale Pinkies 6m 1 S NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Llyn Du Crag

Continue to the end of the miners track to the small dark lake on the col. At the end of the miner's track is a perfect little lake nestled in a small col. Take the path leading south from the lake for 20 metres along the spine of the range to the tall north facing slabs left of the path. The rib bounding the right edge of the slab gives Solace (Very Difficult).

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
15. Colder Play 15m 1 E2 5b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Llyn Eiddew-bachLlyn Eiddew-bach
(Photo by Nanuls)
Llyn DuLlyn Du
(Photo by Nanuls)
Moel YsgyfarnodLlyn Dywarchen
(Photo by Nanuls)

Llyn Corn-Yswc Crag

A 7 metre wall overhanging by 1 metre above the west shore of Llyn Corn-y-Stwc.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
16. Cool Grit 7m 1 E1 5b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
17. Cross the Threshold of Insanity 7m 1 HVS 5b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
18. Corn of Plenty 6m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
19. Unstuck at Ystwc 6m 1 E1 5c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

The Miners Track (Photo by Nanuls)

Mountain Conditions

This section displays the mountain conditions for the Snowdonia National Park, of which Moel Ysgyfarnod is a part. Click on the widget for maps and further details.

This Snowdonia weather forecast is generated by the Met Office Weather Widget

When To Climb and Essential Gear

Moel Ysgyfarnod and Foel Penolau can be climbed at anytime of the year, however, in poor conditions the mountain's rock routes are best avoided, particularly if the weather has been wet. March to April offer the most reliable conditions. Of course this all depends on ones ability as a mountaineer/climber, and what might be comfortable for some may seem daunting for others.

If your lucky enough to climb the mountains in winter conditions then an ice axe and crampons are essential.

SnowdonThe summit
(Photo by Nanuls)
Moel YsgyfarnodSummit crags
(Photo by Nanuls)
Moel YsgyfarnodMoel Ysgyfarnod
(Photo by Nanuls)

Getting There

Moel Ysgyfarnod is located in the northern half of the Rhinogydd and is one of the range’s least visited summits. It can be approached from its east via the A470(T), which runs from Dolgellau to Conwy and Colwyn Bay, or the west, via the smaller A496, which runs along the coast from Llanulltyd near Dolgellau and around to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the north.

If approaching from the east you will need to leave the A470(T) at the minor junction at Cefn-gallt-y-cwm (SH 710 345) and travel in a westward direction along the southern shores of Llyn Trawsfynydd. A second junction will be reached after around 1.5km (SH 696 347), take the right fork here and continue along the western shore of the lake. Park near Moelfryn-uchaf (SH 684 358) and follow the nearest right of way into the range. Soon the paths will run out and you will have to find your own way.

An arguably better approach is from the west, which takes slightly longer to get to. Leave the A470(T) at Maentwrog (SH 665 407) and follow the A496 westwards along the river towards Harlech. After about 10km you’ll reach the junction with the B4573 (SH 606 349). It’s an unusual junction, because rather than turning off onto the B4573 you carry straight on (the turn off is actually for the A470(T)). Continue along the B4573 past the row of houses at Glan-y-Wern until you reach a small stone bridge over a stream. There is a junction at this bridge signposting Eisingrug (SH 615 345); turn off here and follow the minor road to Eisingrug. At Eisingrug take the second minor road on the right (it’s hard to spot, joining the road your on between a field boundary and a stone building), and follow it to its terminus. Here you will find a small grassy parking area and the start of the Miners Track (SH 628 342). There is a payment of £2 to be made for using the car park, which is placed in a box attached to the landowner’s gate. Payments made for parking are donated to the Wales Air Ambulance Service.

Red Tape and Access

No red tape or access issues here!

For climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) runs a Regional Access Database, which holds mountain/crag specific information on matters of conservation and access, including issues such as nesting restrictions, nature designations and preferred parking.

Regional Access Database

If you are in any doubt about any particular access arrangement, or need to report an incident, you should contact your local BMC Access Representative or the BMC Access Officers for Wales: Elfyn Jones.

(Photo by Nanuls)
Perched Erratic on Striated Bedrock (exciting stuff I can tell you)Moel Ysgyfarnod
(Photo by Nanuls)
Llyn Eiddew-mawrLlyn Eiddew-bach
(Photo by Nanuls)

Camping and Accommodation

There’s an almost unlimited supply of accommodation within the Snowdonia National Park so it would be inappropriate to list it all here. For budget accommodation it’s worth checking out some of the following sites:

Youth Hostel Association in Wales

Independent Hostel Guide

Campsites in Gwynedd

For more local options, there are a number of campsites that surround the range; Cae Adda (SH 690 355), which is near Llyn Trawsfynydd or Bryn Bwbach (SH 620 368) on the opposite side of the range.


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

Ordnance Survey 1:25k Explorer Series OL 18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala/Y Bala

Ordnance Survey 1:50k Landranger Series 124 Porthmadog & Dolgellau

Harvey Map Services 1:25k Rhinogs/Rhinogydd

Harvey Map Services/BMC 1:40k Snowdonia South

Road Maps

Ordnance Survey Tour Series 10 North & Mid Wales


Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) by Merfyn Williams with contributions from Ian Mercer and Jeremy Moore

A handy book full of useful information and interesting facts about the National Park.
The Mountains of England and Wales: Vol 1 Wales The Mountains of England and Wales: Vol 1 Wales by John and Ann Nuttall

A classic book covering the Welsh ‘Nuttalls’, which obviously include the Rhinogydd.
Hillwalking in Wales Vol 2 Hillwalking in Wales Vol 2 by Peter Hermon

The second of two guidebooks describing walking routes up every 2000-footer in Wales – covers the Moelwynion to the Tarrenydd.
Hillwalking in Snowdonia Hillwalking in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton

A guidebook to nearly 70 hillwalking routes throughout Snowdonia, including the Rhinogydd.
Climbers Club Guide Wales: Meirionnydd Climbers' Club Guide Wales: Meirionnydd by Martin Crocker, John Sumner, Terry Taylor, Elfyn Jones, with contributions from Mike Rosser, Mike Lewis and Dave Wrennall

The definitive climbing guide to the area. Contains detailed descriptions and excellent diagrams of all known rock routes in the Rhinogydd. An essential purchase if you plan to do a lot of climbing in Mid Wales.

External Links

Foel PenolauFoel Penolau (Photo by Nanuls)
Moel YsgyfarnodMoel Ysgyfarnod (Photo by Nanuls)
Moel YsgyfarnodMoel Ysgyfarnod (Photo by Nanuls)
RhinogyddMoel Ysgyfarnod (left) and Foel Penolau (right) (Photo by Nanuls)

Government Bodies and Official Organisations

Snowdonia National Park Authority

Council for National Parks

Association of National Park Authorities

Natural Resources Wales


Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales

Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

Snowdonia Society

The National Trust

Hiking, Climbing and Mountaineering Organisations and Companies

British Mountaineering Council

The Climbers’ Club


Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre

Hightreck Snowdonia


Mountain Weather Wales

Weather from the Met Office

BBC Weather

Tourist Information

Visit Wales

North Wales Tourism Partnership

Local Information from

Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net

North Wales Index


Welsh Public Transport Information

UK Train Timetable


Youth Hostel Association in Wales

Pete's Eats

Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel

Maps and Guidebooks

Ordnance Survey

Harvey Map Services

Cicerone Guidebooks

Climbers’ Club Guidebooks


North Wales Bouldering

Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop

Wildlife and Conservation

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Natur Gwynedd

North Wales Wildlife Trust

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds