Moel Famau - Route instructions? Who needs route instructions?
by Craig, Wigan
It was on our summer holidays in North Wales that the kids announced they wanted to go hill walking. OK fine, we'll try a couple of low ones - no problem.
So, when we get home its off to the outdoor shop for kids walking boots, waterproofs etc - and a new rucksack for moi who gets to carry it all.
I decide our first 'hill' as a family will be Moel Famau in the Clwydian Hills. I'd been there on a course a few months earlier and reckoned it had just about everything - not too far away, bit of woodland, good views, something on the top for the kids to climb on. Perfect.
The weather forecast for the day was rain late pm, so we got there for 10.30am. Plenty of time to get up and down in the dry.We got out the car at the car park into the delightful welsh drizzle, but hey ho. Never mind.
The route from the car park was not a problem, it was the first fork that threw me - did I go left or right last time? I chose the green way marked route instead of the red, assuming this would be the easier route and last time I had had very little climbing except up near the summit. The OS map didn't give any clues (darn Forestry Commission with all their tracks).
I chose wrong and ten minutes later we were climbing what the wife described as the north face of Everest!
Anyway, after this little diversion we made the top, which was completely surrounded in low cloud, by a completely unplanned route. Visibility at the top was at about 10m. Family wet and disappointed, dog looking like a drowned rat, no view.
Determined not to make another mistake I checked the map and compass while we ate lunch.
"Ah" I said "now I know what happened, and which way we go back!"
Nobody, including the dog, looked convinced.
"Its easy, the path we want is the third from Offa's Dyke path, that's the Offa's Dyke path there so we go via that style there."
We packed up and started walking. Two descents and one ascent later I was losing confidence. When we arrived at a huge T- junction I knew we had not come the way I thought we had.
"Turn right" I said confidently. Nobody believed me. 500m later I had to admit it.
"I'm lost" I said
"What??!!" said a very wet and bedraggled missus.
"It's the Forestry Commission" I said, making my excuses. "None of these paths are on the OS map!"
The low cloud meant I couldn't even identify a feature in what appeared to be a wide valley below us. Back-up plan was to backtrack to a path we passed signed Loggerheads. I knew where that was.
The wife was not impressed.
The kids were not impressed.
The dog still looked like a drowned rat, but a not impressed drowned rat.
We went back, and down the other path. Thankfully a couple of walkers were coming the other way.
"How far to Loggerheads?" I asked.
"Oh 500m down here, turn right and it's a couple of miles."
Great. 500m and a couple of miles later and we were climbing, not dropping. The cloud was lower. The rain heavier and I was not at all convinced I was still in North Wales. None of the paths bore any similarity to the map and I couldn't see far enough to check any features.
In the distance I heard a car. Then another one, and another.
The path veered right, but I pointed straight-on along a smaller track and into a field. The wife, kids and drowned rat looked at me as if I was mad. We passed through a farmyard and onto the road.
It was familiar. Somehow we had managed to miss Loggerheads by about a mile and a half, but were now just half a mile from the car park.
"See - told you I knew where we were." I said.
Nobody believed me.
On my own, this experience would have been inconvenient and frustrating. With a 4yr old and 8yr old, a very miffed missus and a wet dog I was quite worried for my health.
“Great story. Surprisingly easy to go over the wrong style/gate etc from the top of Moel Famau, especially in the mist! Consequences being you can end up miles from the touristy car parks, surprised it doesn't happen more often tbh... at least you got back to the car... eventually! Enjoyed your tale of woe !”
“Funny story though I'm sure not so funny for you at the time. I know Moel Famau well and I'm trying to work out from your story which route you ended up taking but couldnt figure it out. It's not pleasant to get lost in the best of weather but in the rain with 2 young kids in tow it must have been horrendous - but at least it's a good story you can all share for years to come. Hope it doesnt put you off returning!”
Pocoh Whit, Buckley
“To find walks up Moel Famau without getting lost see Walks on Moel Famau”
The views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.