Moelwyn Bach

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 52.97430°N / 3.99602°W
Additional Information County: Gwynedd
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Toprope
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 2329 ft / 710 m
Sign the Climber's Log


"There are miles of high crags along the south slopes of the Nantlle valley and many more on Moelwyn Mawr... all inviting places that can be explored and re-explored by naturalists without exhausting the possibility of new discoveries, new delights."

William Condry (1918-1998)

Moelwyn Bach is best known as the little sister of its neighbouring peak, Moelwyn Mawr. Some 50 metres its junior, the mountain is rarely an objective in its own right and is most often done in conjunction, via the ridge of Craigysgafn, with the larger Moelwyn. Despite its smaller size, the mountain is a much more complex beast, being home to a variety of rock climbs and mini-scrambles. The mountain’s Southern-Western Cliffs, in fact, offer some of the Moelwynion's best mid to high grade routes, notably Man in the Moon (E5 6a), Igam-ogam (E1 5b), Maen Tŵr Og (E2 5c) and Expose (E4 6a/b). Despite boasting a high number of quality routes, climbers rarely visit the mountain, preferring instead to stop short at one of the area’s more accessible crags, such as Clogwyn y Bustach, Clogwyn yr Oen and Craig y Wrysgan. Expelling the extra effort to reach Moelwyn Bach therefore, can pay huge dividends for those looking for somewhere quiet to climb, but unwilling to compensate on quality.

Moelwyn Bach (left) and Moelwyn Mawr (right) (Photo by mills)

Rock Climbing

The climbing on Moelwyn Bach is split between its Summit Cliffs, the Summit Nose, the Southern-Western Cliffs and Craigysgafn. The South-Western Cliffs are by far the more complex of these and has the greatest number of routes.

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.

Please be aware that the Moelwynion are a trad climbing venue and bolting is strictly prohibited. Routes are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. Technical grades are generally only given to climbs graded adjectivally as Hard Severe (HS) or above. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available: download it 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.

Summit Cliffs

The crag beneath the summit on the east side of the mountain (SH 663 338) is around 45 metres high and gives a few climbs of Difficult to Very Difficult standards.

Summit Nose

The prominent nose (SH 660 440) seen from the Moelwyn Ridge is about 27 metres high an can be climbed anywhere at about Difficult standard. There is a short overhanging section, which is obviously much harder, giving a brief but strenuous problem.

Moelwyn BachSummit Cliffs
(Photo by Nanuls)
Llyn StwlanCraigysgafn
(centre left)
(Photo by Nanuls)
Moelwyn BachSouthern-Western Cliffs
(Photo by Nanuls)

Southern-Western Cliffs

These cliffs take the form of a series of scattered outcrops on Moelwyn Bach’s southern ridge (SH 655 434). They’re home to a number of great routes on that perfect Moelwyn quartzite, furthermore, they’re south facing and catch the sun all day.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
2. They'll Never Keep Us Down 10m 1 E4 6a 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
3. Moonrazor 15m 1 E2 5c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
5. Man in the Moon 25m 2 E5 6a 3 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
6. Igam-Ogam 39m 2 E1 5b, 5b 3 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
7. Non Welsh-Speaker's Conundrum 40m 1 E4 5c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
8. The Dogs Dinner 21m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
9. On Easter Island 20m 1 E4 6a 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
10. Maen Tŵr Og 20m 1 E2 5c 3 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
11, Yr Holltalluog 21m 1 HVS 5a 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
12, Beneath the Underdog 46m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
13. The Misfortunes of Elphin 23m 1 E2 5c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
14. Exepel of Air 15m 1 E4 5c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
15. Cym Haul 18m 1 VS 4c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
16. Sundance Kid 18m 1 HVS 5a 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
17. The Slot Machine 20m 1 E4 6a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
18. Expose 15m 1 E4 6a/6b 3 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
19. Agenda 24m 1 E1 5b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
20. On Impulse 6m 1 E5 5c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
21. Thor's Wall 20m 1 E5 6b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
22. Loki Crack 18m 1 HVS 5a 2 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
23. Fifth Anniversary 18m 1 E2 5c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
24. Penbwl Corner 37m 1 VS 4c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS


SH 657 443) on the ridge connecting Moelwyn Bach and Moelwyn Mawr gives a number of poor, short routes on friable rock. It is not worth listing any of the routes here and, for the most part, they do not have names anyway.

Mountain Conditions

This section displays the mountain conditions for Snowdonia, of which Moelwyn Bach is a part. Click on the widget for maps and further information.

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

When to Climb and Essential Gear

Moelwyn Bach can be climbed at anytime of the year, however in poor conditions the mountain may be best avoided. April to September offer the most reliable conditions and one will need all the equipment one usually carries for a day in the mountains, which in Wales means full waterproofs and sturdy boots as a minimum.

If you’re lucky enough to climb the mountain in winter conditions then an ice axe and crampons would be very useful.

Moelwyn Bach Summit Cairn 711metresThe summit
(Photo by daveyboy)
Moelwyn BachStay away from mine shafts!
(Photo by Nanuls)
Moelwyn BachMoelwyn Bach
(Photo by Nanuls)

Getting There

Moelwyn Bach is located in the southern Moelwynion, between the valleys of Cwm Croesor in the west and the Vale of Ffestiniog in the east. The mountain can be approached from either of these valleys, both giving an interesting walk in.

Cwm Croesor may only be reached from the south. If you’re coming from the east therefore, leave the A487 in Penrhyndeudraeth (SH 611 389) and take the A4085 north in the direction of Beddgelert (SH 590 481). Just after the village of Garreg (SH 612 416), there is a right hand turn (SH 614 420), which is signposted for the village of Croesor (SH 630 447). The village is reached after around 3km. Park in the small National Park run car park in the village. There's also a great parking spot at the highest point of the Croesor to Rhyd road (SH 635 434), just outside the forested area on the Rhyd side and directly below a prominent telegraph pole.

If you’d rather start your walk from the Vale of Ffestiniog, the most convenient starting point is the small car park just above the village of Tanygrisiau. To reach it, leave the A470 at the roundabout in Blaenau Ffestiniog (SH 697 460) and take the A496 in a southerly direction over the railway line. Continue along the A496 for a kilometre or so to a small junction on the right hand side (SH 688 448). Take this junction and then turn left immediately, following the signs for the Ffestiniog Power Station; 500 metres down the road there’s a café on the left hand side; it’s a great place to start and end a day in the hills. Pass the café and follow the curving road up the hill to the car park at the top of Tanygrisiau (SH 683 453).

Moelwyn BachMoelwyn Bach
(Photo by Bryan Benn)
Moelwyn BachMoelwyn Bach
(Photo by daveyboy)
Craigysgafn CragsCraigysgafn
(Photo by daveyboy)

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.

Moelwyn Mawr from Moelwyn BachMoelwyn Mawr
(Photo by daveyboy)
Large Caves North of Moelwyn MawrOld slate workings
(Photo by daveyboy)
Moelwyn Mawr Trig PointSummit trig point
(Photo by daveyboy)

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


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

OS 1:25k Explorer Series OL 17 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa

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

OS 1:50k Landranger Series 115 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa

OS 1:50k Landranger Series 124 Porthmadog & Dolgellau

Harvey Map Services 1:25k Snowdon and the Moelwynion

Harvey Map Services 1:50k Snowdonia British Mountain Map

Road Maps

OS Road Map 9 Wales/Cymru & West Midlands


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 Moelwynion.
Hillwalking in Snowdonia Hillwalking in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton

A guidebook to nearly 70 hillwalking routes throughout Snowdonia, including the Moelwynion.
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.
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 Moelwynion. An essential purchase if you plan to do a lot of climbing in Mid Wales.

External Links

Moelwyn BachMoelwyn Bach (Photo by Nanuls)
CraigysgafnCraigysgafn (Photo by daveyboy)
Moelwyn RangeMoelwynion (Photo by daveyboy)
Moelwyn Bach from Moelwyn MawrMoelwyn Bach (Photo by daveyboy)

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