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Moel Siabod; a spectacular ridge hike on a lonely Snowdonia mountain

Moel Siabod; a spectacular ridge hike on a lonely Snowdonia mountain

Moel Siabod, the hard to miss lump of a mountain, sits alone just above the village of Dolwyddelan. This 9.4km route leads you up the grade 1 Daear Ddu Ridge onto the summit before heading down the crest of the mountain. It also includes two fabulous wild swimming spots that are up there with some of the most beautiful I’ve ever been to. Read on to find out everything you need to know about Moel Siabod!

At a Glance

Difficulty: Difficult - steep ascents and Grade 1* scrambling sections with exposure and self-navigation required along the ridges

*A grade 1 scramble usually requires no extra safety equipment or ropes but the use of hands will likely be needed to steady yourself and routes are often exposed

Distance: 9.4km

Total Ascent: 760m

Est Time: 4 hours (not including any rest stops)

Starting location: Roadside layby outside of Capel Curig or larger parking area next to Bryn Glo holiday home

Dog friendly: Only if confident with scrambling routes otherwise, leave them at home. 

Moel Siabod hiking guide

Before we start, let’s get the correct pronunciation out the way. 

Moel = the oel is said like “oil” in “boil” so it’s more like “moil”

Siabod = Sha-bod

It’s definitely NOT mo-el see-a-bod but if you want to infuriate a whole proud nation with that pronunciation then on your head be it!

It had been almost TWO YEARS since I last visited Wales for an adventure day and I can’t tell you how overcome with excitement I was when we passed the road sign signalling our arrival into the country. Everything in the stars had aligned; the weather was what could only be described as glorious, it was warm but not too warm and as we pulled up to the roadside layby to park it was, deep breath, EMPTY! A quick change of shoes and a few “isn’t it glorious” statements later, we were off. 

Following the road alongside the river we quickly turned left over the bridge that crosses the fst-flowing river and followed the road to the few houses of Pont Cyfyng before cutting up the track on the right which took us through the woodland.

With my hubby marching ahead, I cursed under my breath at how this never seems to get any easier but put on my best smile when he turned around, barely a change in his breath and said “you OK?”. A few mutterings later and something about pretending I’d been on a leg day at the gym the day before, I got my act together and made some attempt to catch up with him, frequently making excuses to stop and change my jacket, get a drink, take a photo, do a wild wee, change my hair bobble etc etc. 

The first section is a steep shock but it’s over with quickly and then it’s a nice gradual incline for the rest of the way. The path takes an obvious left turn with some PRIVATE KEEP OUT signs you can’t miss and as we made our way out of the tree line Moel Siabod showed herself to us.

At 872m high, it’s an imposing sight and at first glance, hiking up it can seem a daunting task. It really is a beautiful mountain - she stands on her own and maybe she could be classed as lonely, or maybe she’s just so proud of what a beautiful mountain she is, she doesn’t want to be overshadowed by any others. Rocky outcrops burst out from the side of the mountain and a cuckoo sang loudly in the distance, which I’ve read is a sign of good luck (as long as you hear it on your right). Hearing it on your left side is apparently bad luck but I can't confirm if there's any truth in this or not. 

As we made our way along the path, completely alone under the spring sunshine, we quickly reached the lower reservoir, which I confused to be a lake at first. The quarry workings are visible above and that’s where the path along the right side of the reservoir leads you to next. I recommend stopping for a swim here as the water warms up under the sunshine and next to the path are a few safe entry points. 

Continuing to follow the path you’ll soon meet the disused slate quarry buildings. It’s worth a little look around the buildings here, if that’s your thing otherwise carry on up, past the left side of the flooded quarry pit (another great swim spot). We decided to stop here for a swim and OH MY GOSH when I say this was an amazing swim spot, it really was. Entry into the water was OK but not the greatest, down a slippery and rocky bank but there was enough space to stand and then launch into the water. The sun hadn't really warmed up the water too much yet and the cold made my skin so tingly but I swam out to the middle and enjoyed the peace and quiet. With nobody else around, this felt like a hidden gem but all too soon, a hiking couple appeared, got out their phones and snapped a couple of photos of me, laughing and shouting the usual "must be cold, that!" Deciding to call an end to my tranquil swim, I clambered back out, quickly getting changed before heading off uphill again. Even on warmer days, it's really important to get warm after a wild swim so I'd recommend wrapping up in the Escape Oversized Fleece afterwards. 

Gradually the path will rise leading you to Llyn y Foel -  a beautiful mountain lake made even more spectacular with the imposing Daear Ddu ridge alongside it. 

“That looks impossible!” I said to my husband, knowing fine well it wasn’t but enjoying adding a bit of uncertainty into his mind, since it was me who had planned the route. Not falling for it, off he went, looking for the best place to start the ridge from. As the path curves round to the left, look out for a little path showing the obvious starting point for tackling the ridge. 

The Daear Ddu ridge is an exciting route and the views get more and more spectacular the higher up you get. There aren’t any tricky moves on the ridge but I couldn’t help but notice that the exposure could be quite intimidating if you aren’t the biggest fan of heights. Some of the rocks are large and you need to be able to navigate between or over these meaning good balance, co-ordination and full concentration is needed for this section!

Following my husband up and enjoying the views it was over all too quickly. The scramble is short and the path disappears at times meaning you have to choose the best route yourself so confidence in route choosing is a good skill to have for this one. As we reached the top, the trig revealed itself with a cloud covered Yr Wyddfa in the distance. 

The view here is spectacular with 360 sweeping views all around you. We found a lovely little sun trap to have lunch at and basked in the sunshine with our sandwiches. Originally, I had planned to head down the mountain path towards the tree line (which is an option if you want to avoid anymore scrambling) but we had enjoyed the scramble up so much that we decided to change the route and head down the ridge on the crest of the mountain. 

Looking back at the Daear Ddu ridge made it look more dramatic than it felt and as we headed along the boulders along the crest, we quickly descended to follow the main path down. The scree paths here were a nightmare and my well worn knees were struggling but just to the left was a much nicer grassy path which followed alongside it. 

Eventually, we reached the point where we rejoined our original route from earlier in the morning just below the reservoir, but, unwilling to end the adventure here, we backtracked up to the reservoir for one final swim of the day. 

The route back down is as simple as retracing your steps, back to the trees, over the bridge and back to your car. 

This is a fabulous route if you enjoy a scramble and still a quiet mountain so while you’re enjoying a peaceful route, you’ll be able to revel in your smugness at the crowds of people you know are just across the valley queuing for a summit photo on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon).

Map and key locations 

Access the route on the OS Map App here.


1: Parking at either the roadside layby outside of Capel Curig or larger parking area next to Bryn Glo holiday home

2: Lower reservoir/lake - perfect swim spot!

3: Disused quarry with ruined buildings and quarry pool for another wild swim

4: Start of the ascent up the Daear Ddu ridge

5: The summit of Moel Siabod

6: The ridge descending down from Moel Siabod

Komoot App

Have you ever tried Komoot? Komoot allows you to access routes planned by others or plan your own which you can then download to your phone to follow while you are out. Komoot is free to join and access and you can find the route for his walk here.

Top Tips

  • Although this is a much quieter area of Eryri, the parking areas can still fill up quickly so arrive early to secure a space
  • There are no facilities on this route
  • You can avoid the ridges if you wanted to by continuing past the first ridge and following the path up then from the summit, following the path down to the tree line and the river instead
  • The scramble up the Daear Ddu ridge is a grade 1 scramble which you will have to self-navigate as the path disappears for the scrambling sections
  • If you choose to wild swim in the quarry pool, be mindful that it’s deep and cold. Quarry pools aren’t always the safest places to swim in due to hidden machinery, dead animals or hidden currents/tunnels

For additional UK outdoor adventures, wild swimming, hiking routes and more, check my other blog posts here on MY URBAN TRAIL and follow me @Wild_0utdoors on Instagram.

Happy adventuring!