VOOM Ambassador and top class marathon and mountain runner Russell Bentley talks us through one of the best fell running routes in Snowdonia, if not the whole of North Wales.
Interestingly, The Snowdonia National Park has a ‘hole’ in the middle encircling the old slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and nestled to the West of this ‘hole’ sits the often overlooked Moelwynion mountain group. There are some fantastic trails to run amongst the Moelwynion and Russell has kindly shared his local knowledge. So, over to Russell…
A Russell Bentley Training Route
Snowdonia, or Eryri as we call it here in Wales, is famous for its big mountain ranges, The Snowdon Massif, the Carneddau and the Glyderau. But the Moelwynion, located in central Snowdonia is perhaps even more beautiful and much less travelled. As the UK's newest World Heritage Site, now is a perfect time to visit.
This is a brilliant 7 mile loop, taking in quality running trails, three summits and all of the views on offer! During this route you'll conquer Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach as well as earning fantastic views of Wyddfa.
Step-by-step run route
1) Start by parking at Cwmorthin car park, as shown on the map below.
2) Head up the quarry trail, with cascading waterfalls on your left. Keep going straight until you come across the stunning mountain lake, llyn cwmorthin.
3) Passing the lake on your right, follow the path up to Rhosydd quarry, where you can explore the old barracks. The slate quarry workers lived, worked and died here for over a hundred years. In these hostile and remote conditions, the average life expectancy of a worker was just 44 years.
4) Up past the quarry entrance, you take on two steep quarry inclines heading south until you get out onto the open fells of Moelwyn Mawr. This section starts off boggy but quickly becomes a firm and steep hill climb swinging West. You are rewarded with stunning views at the top with The Irish sea, the summit of Wyddfa, all laid out majestically in front.
5) Next is an exciting section of Welsh ridge running heading further South to the smaller sister, Moelwyn Bach. Then a brilliant track passes above the tranquil Stwlan Dam. 1 mile long and extremely well made, considering the remoteness. Initially the dam was constructed by the workers to get their barracks safely, it cuts an almost straight line to the base of the final hill of the day, Moel Y Hydd.
6) After looping around the reservoir, it's a proper fell runner's descent right back to Cwmorthin lake, then Lakeside Cafe for breakfast!