My son is doing the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award this year. He had a training day at Moel Famau, so I thought I would take the opportunity to go for a walk. The weather was looking good, with clear skies forecast all day.
We arrived at the car park around 9:45am and my son went off to join his group. I decided that I wanted to traverse the ridge to Moel Arthur and then make my way back along the valley to Cilcain and back over Moel Famau to the car park. However, I wasn't sure if I would have enough time, as I only had around 5hrs before I needed to be back.
As I climbed up the track towards the monument, I could hear the wind blowing through the trees. There was an icy cold wind blowing around the monument and I went round to the lee side to shelter for a few minutes. I had a brief chat with someone while I sorted out my gear and found my gloves. As usual there was quite a crowd round the monument, one of the reasons I don't come here too often as I prefer to have the hills to myself. However, once I started off along the ridge I soon left the crowds behind.
I could make out a snow covered mountain in the distance, but it was slightly hazy and I couldn't see any other mountains which would help me to identify it. This was a bit of a disappointment, as I had lugged the telephoto lens up with me in the hope of getting some decent long distance shots. I fell into conversation with a man whose son was currently doing the silver D of E award. We chatted for a while and then he set off down towards the pub in Cilcain. The wind varied in strength on different sections of the ridge and I was being really buffeted on certain parts. I reached the start of the drop down to the road around 11:30am, so I had plenty of time to go over to Moel Arthur, as I didn't have to be back until around 3:30pm.
Crossing the road, I took a direct line up to the summit Moel Arthur where there is a small pile of stones marking the top. I couldn't see any sign of the ancient hill fort. I decided to eat lunch on the summit event though it was windy and there was no shelter. I sat with my back to the wind, but one big gust blew the hot chocolate out of my cup.
I decided not to bother trying to return along the valley to Cilcain. The last time I had done this route the path was unclear in places and I had to negotiate a high sheep fence on the edge of a steep bank. Also, I much preferred being up on the ridge than down in the valley. In any case the views are always different if you do the walk the other way round!
Rather than follow my direct line of ascent on the way down, I stuck to the path that initially heads off NE and then contours back round the hill down to the road. Once back on the main ridge, I was walking directly into the wind. I stopped for another drink and Kit Kat by the cairn at SJ 1502963255. The wind was very strong on this part of the ridge and the cairn provided only partial shelter. I was soon back at the monument and retrace my route of ascent back to the car, arriving about 2:30pm in good time to meet my son.
Cairn: OSGB36 Grid ref: SJ 1502963255