The first of the hills to be tackled is Moel Gyw, surmounted by a barrow to add incentive. Offa’s Dyke path has been re-routed to avoid the climb up to the summit, but on such a beautiful day there is no way I was going to miss out on the views. Rashly, I choose to go for a direct approach from the northwest, which turns into a mistake that can’t easily be rectified once started. The climb is extremely steep, through and over dense, deep heather. I find myself clinging to the bushes above me as the only way to gain enough purchase to carry on upwards. By the time I finally emerge on to the hilltop next to the cairn, I am knackered, my knees are aching from scrambling over the heather, the laces of my boots are festooned with bits of vegetation and under my warm winter clothes I’m boiling alive. Not the best route to choose, it would seem. But, oh boy, was it worth the effort. The views are utterly magnificent. To the south, the flat moorland expanse of Cryn y Brain that we hope to be tackling later can be seen, the shapely, Sugarloaf-esque peak of Llantisylio Mountain further to the SSW, with the start of the Berwyns range beyond. And then, rising over the temperature inversion of the valleys, the serried ranks of the ranges of Snowdonia, that I will later come to know as the Arans, Cadair Idris and the Arenigs, and the mightiest peaks of the Snowdon massif itself, the Glyderau and Carneddau. Eyes dragged away north from this vista also get a view of Foel Fenlli, illuminated briefly in the rays of the early winter sun.
The sides of the cairn itself are buried in heather, but the centre is clear and an inevitable excavation scoop into the stone construction is visible. The positioning is interesting, being set back from the steep western edge of the summit, where the Ordnance Survey have built their trig pillar and a slate upright marks Offa’s Dyke Path, which no longer comes up here. For such a modest height (whatever my legs tell me), this is a spectacular place, one of the undoubted highlights of the Clwydian range.