The routes up Snowdon
By the standard of any mountain range in the world, the Snowdon massif
is exceptional. What this moutain lacks in height by global standards,
it more than makes up for by the complexity of its architecture.
Depending how you look at it there are up to 10 distinct natural lines
of ascent on this hill, but even these leave almost unlimited scope for
variation, taking in the little visited cwms and gulleys that abound
its flanks. Starting at the North (Llanberis) end, and working
clockwise round the mountain, here are the 10 routes that we regularly
take groups on:
The North Ridge
The North ridge route begins close to LLanberis and follows a route
more or less parallel to the railway track and the crest of the ridge.
It is mainly a steady uphill walk with one or two slightly steeper
The ascent via Crib Goch is the most demanding of the routes listed
here. It starts from the car park at the crest of the LLanberis Pass
and involves some scambling (that is hands as well as feet on rock).
Close proximity to some very long drops is a feature of this route so a
head for heights and a preparedness to accept being in a slightly scary
situation would be rewarded with a real mountain route.
The Miners' track and the
These two paths start from the same place as the Crib Goch route and
have the same height gain. The start point is fairly high so actual
height gain by walking is somewhat less than on the other routes.
The Miners track follows the well made dirt road that used to serve the
Brittania copper mine. The first few miles are at a fairly gentle
gradient and there is pleasant waterside walking. A steep section
follows as the path leaves the dirt road and wends up the back of the
cwm to gain the summit ridge. Half way up it joins the PYG track.
The PYG track by contrast begins along a rocky path and gains height in
several steps. It is more of a mountain route than the Miners track and
provides high level views over the two lakes; Llyn Llydaw and Llyn
Glaslyn. The two paths meet at the back of the cwm and zig zag up to
the finger stone at the Bwlch (low point or col) on the summit ridge.
This route, includes the independent twin peaks of Lliwedd. These are
high exposed summits with a steep drop to the East. Once past these
tops the route joins the Wadkin Path. Traditionally the LLiwedd ridge
forms part of the route known as the "Snowdon Horseshoe" which ascends
Snowdon via Crib Goch and descends via Lliwedd.
The Watkin Path
This begins at a lower elevation than the others so it has the greatest
height gain (by a few metres). It is a route of historic interest as it
was officially opened in 1892 by Prime Minister Gladstone, and passes a
large memorial plaque to the event on the way at "Gladstone Rock". The
route is a well defined track that traverses the lower slopes of
Lliwedd. There are occasional steep parts on the way up to the final
Scree slope. When the path was opened this section was made passable
with wooden decking and rails, but these have all disappeared apart
from the occasionally scrap of timber to be seen in a gully here and
there. Consequently the upper section has become more challenging and
requires careful progress. Watch for stones dislodged by parties above
you on this route.
The South Ridge via Cwm
This route follows the Watkin path for a mile or so before taking a
line left accross broad hill side to the bwlch (pass or col) that lies
at the end of the South Ridge below and the independent peak of Yr
Arran. The route then follows the South ridge to the summit
incorporating some (avoidable) easy scrambling at one point. Higher up
on the ridge there are some spectacular situations with long drops on
either side. But this route does not have the exposure of Crib Goch and
makes a great route for walkers.
The South Ridge via the
Rhyd Ddu Path
The start of the Ryd Ddu path provides an approach to the North Ridge
from the opposite side of the mountain to Cwm Llan. In fact the route
only follows the Rhyd Ddu path for half a mile or so at which point it
continues along another one of Snowdon's quarry tracks. Just before
gaining the South ridge the route passes thorugh extensive slate quarry
workings. A tunnel close to here with a hidden entrance leads to a deep
quarry pit to which we take groups en route to the summit; time
The Rhyd Ddu Path
From the narrow guage railway station at the village of Rhyd Ddu this
route meanders up the hillside to gain the ridge of Llechog. Llechog in
turn joins the South ridge fairly high up on the mountain and above the
scramble mentioned on the Cwm Llan route earlier. There is a section
requiring care at the junction with the south ridge but this is an
ideal route for walkers.
The Ranger path
This is another ideal route for walkers and is often combined with the
Rhyd Ddu path to make a traverse of the mountain. It begins a little
over a mile from Ryhd Ddu and follows a well defined trail that Joins
the North Ridge roughly where the Crib Goch, Miners and PYG routes also
meet the ridge.