Snowdonia Walker

Guided Walks in the Park

Here is a plan of some of the routes on Snowdon, it will give you a rough idea of the locations of each path.

The one obvious omission is the South Ridge which I tend to use in combination with either the Watkin or Rhyd Ddu Paths.


Snowdon is the busiest of all the mountains in Britain due to the many ways the peak can be accessed, apart from the railway there are 6 main routes up: All the main routes take approx 6 hours there and back dependent on weather and fitness levels .Everyone with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to get to the summit.

The following three paths ( Llanberis, Pyg & Miners) are the most popular and busiest.

Llanberis Path: opened in 1832 is considered the safest, broad and well defined with three steep sections but it is also the longest at 4.7 miles each way, starting at near sea level it also means an accent of 975mtrs.

Originally, tourists were carried up this path on ponies and mules, and to this day it continues to be a pony path.

Pyg Track: 3.5 miles each way with an accent of 732 mtrs, although short in length this is quite a rugged path and the most technical of the three tourist paths. There is some uncertainty about the origin of the word Pyg. It is believed that the path was named after Pen y Gwryd Hostel by climbers who stayed there. Another possible origin is that the path was named after Bwlch y Moch (the pass of pigs) since the path crosses it, as it is sometimes spelled as Pig in English. Or it could have been named Pyg due to the fact that this was a path used to carry pyg (black tar) from the Britannia Copper Works in Cwm Glaslyn.

Miners Path: 4 miles each way with an accent of 732mtrs, the path as far Llyn Llydaw has now been improved to allow the passage of disabled persons.

Following the opening of the Llanberis pass in 1832, The Miners’ Track was built to serve the Britannia Copper Mine on Snowdon but it is not the route originally used to serve the mine. In the beginning, miners lugged the copper up the eastern side of the mountain, to be drawn down the other side to Llyn Cwellyn by a sledge drawn by two horses. From Llyn Cwellyn, the copper was taken by horse and cart to Caernarfon. The road from Llanberis to Pen y Gwryd (the A4086 today) was opened around ten years later, and so this more practical route was used.

The mining came to an end in 1916, remains from the work can still be seen on the path to this day.

The following three paths (Watkin, Rhyd Ddu & Snowdon Ranger), are quieter but slightly more challenging.

Watkin Path: 4 miles each way with an accent of 1015mtrs the most of all the main paths. This path was named after Sir Edward Watkin, Liberal Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur who retired to a chalet in Cwm Llan on the foothills of Snowdon. A track to the South Snowdon Slate Quarry through Cwm Llan already existed, so to enable visitors to walk all the way up Snowdon, Edward Watkin created a path from the quarry to the summit. This was the first designated footpath in Britain, and the first step towards opening the countryside to walkers. The path was officially opened in 1892 by the Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was 83 years old at the time. He addressed a crowd of over 2000 people from a rock on the side of the path, which is known today as the Gladstone Rock.

This is thought to be one of the most hard going paths up Snowdon, as it starts only a little above sea level. The path starts off wide and quite even, but becomes rocky towards the second half, and then crosses loose scree to the top.

Rhyd Ddu: 3.75 miles each way with an accent of 895mtrs.This path used to be known as the Beddgelert Path since it was from this village that walkers started their journey to the summit. This is the quietest of the six main routes to the summit, and the one that offers the most striking mountain scenery, especially towards Moel Hebog and the hills of Nantlle.The first mile climbs gradually along the old track that served the Bwlch Cwm Llan slate quarry, but it then leaves the track and climbs quite steeply over rocky terrain to Llechog ridge. The path follows the ridge over bare and exposed ground and then along Bwlch Main before the final climb to the summit.

Snowdon Ranger: 4 miles each way with an accent of 936mtrs, begining near the ‘Snowdon Ranger’ youth hostel, near Llyn Cwellyn. This path up Snowdon is thought to be the earliest and easiest of the six main routes to the summit. Before the road through Llanberis Pass was built, men lugged copper ore from the Britannia Copper Mine on Snowdon up the eastern side of the mountain to Bwlch Glas. Horses would then draw the ore down on a sledge along this path to the shores of Llyn Cwellyn to be transported by horse and cart to Caernarfon.

The path was named in English after a mountain guide called John Morton who called himself the ‘Snowdon Ranger’. At the beginning of the nineteenth century he built an inn on the site where the Youth Hostel stands today, opposite the car park. The inn was known as the ‘Snowdon Ranger’, ‘Snowdon Inn’ or ‘Glanllyn’ (meaning ‘lakeside’), from where he would guide visitors to the summit of Snowdon along this path.

The path climbs gradually up to, and around the slopes of Moel Cynghorion to Bwlch Cwm Brwynog. It then climbs steeply over the shoulder above Clogwyn Du’r Arddu before merging with the Llanberis path, and then the Pyg and Miners’ tracks at Bwlch Glas, and then on to the summit.

The next two routes (Snowdon Horseshoe & South Ridge) are recommended for experienced walkers

Snowdon Horseshoe: Starting at Pen y Pass this famous classic route is only recommended for experienced mountain walkers and those with scrambling experience. With lots of exposure over the ragged knife edge of Crib Goch and the pinnacles of Crib y Ddysgl giving a very airy feel to the walk (scramble), the return south east on the Watkin Path from the summit then takes in the ridges of Lliwedd before descending onto the miners path back to Pen y Pass.

South Ridge: This route is for experienced walkers with some scrambling experience. The South ridge starting at Bwlch Cwm Llan can be reached via the Watkin Path or the from the Rhyd Ddu path, this crosses Clogwyn Ddu before joining Bwlch Main to reach the summit, a possible extra peak can be added by ascending Yr Aran (747mtrs) to the South of Bwlch Cwm Llan.

There are many other ways to access the Snowdon summit, either by a combination of paths mentioned above and perhaps some not mentioned, for those wishing to make the day longer and more interesting other peaks could be taken in on the way up or down!

SNOWDON: Some Interesting Facts:

SNOWDON situated in the top North West of the Park, Snowdon stands at 1085 mtrs (3406'), it is the highest peak in Wales, England & Ireland but only ranks at 57th against those in Scotland.

The name Snowdon is believed to be from the old English name Snaw Dun meaning Snow Hill, while some say it means Snow Peak that name being given by sailors on trading ships travelling from Ireland.

The Welsh name for Snowdon Yr Wyddfa translates as tomb of the monument which is believed to have been given to mark the resting place of Rhitta Gawr the Ogre killed by King Arthur, Rhitta Gawr was believed to have made a cloak out of the beards of kings he had slain and fought King Arthur (unsuccessfully on the top of Snowdon.

*The first person believed to have reached the summit of Snowdon was Thomas Johnson in 1639.

*William Morriss a miner, sold refreshments at the summit in 1838.

*Two hotels opened in competition to each other, Cold Club and The Roberts and Owens Bazzar Hotel these were both taken over by the railway company in 1898 two years after the railway was constructed.

During the second world war the hotels were taken over by the Military, they never reopened again.

SNOWDON MOUNTAIN RAILWAY which was completed in a remarkable 13 months opened on Easter Monday 1896, unfortunately the opening was marred by the only serious accident ever to occur which resulted in the death of a passenger Ellis Roberts the owner of the Padarn Hotel in Llanberis who did in fact jump clear of the accident but broke his legs one of them so badly that caused awful bleeding and despite a swift rescue he died later that night in hospital.

*The railway is 8km long and the average gradient is 1 in 7 the steepest being 1 in 5.5. Return journey time is 2.5 hours.

HAFOD ERYRI (Snowdon Summit Cafe) cost £8.3 million to build and was funded by Snowdonia National Park Authority; the Welsh Assembly Government; Visit Wales; Objective 1 European funding; Snowdon Mountain Railway Company and by public appeal.

It had to be really strongly built to cope with the extreme weather in the most exposed location in England and Wales.

If wind speeds are over 42mph at Clogwyn, the mountain railway cannot proceed, so the workmen building the centre walked to the summit on many a day. Many work-days were also lost due to inclement weather.

There can be up to 200 inches of rain in a year, and with winds blowing at over 150 mph ......much of it comes down horizontally!!!

Temperatures, including wind chill, can fall to minus 20 Centigrade!

The granite walls, roof and floors are built from stone from Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd and Portugal. Much of the stone was cut on site by stonemasons due to the curvature of the stone. The walls curve and lean.

The building has a steel frame, first erected in Shotton steelworks in North Wales, to iron out any problems, and then re-built on site on the upper flanks of Snowdon, after being carried there on the mountain railway.

The internal walls of Hafod Eryri are lined with Welsh Oak .

A time capsule has been laid in the floor containing contents brought by children from Llanberis and Beddgelert schools in Snowdonia.

After Hafod Eryri opened in June 2009, 1000 visitors a day can travel up on the Snowdon Mountain Railway to view it on the 2.5 hour return train journey.

Snowdon Routes in Detail