Climbing Mount Snowdon: Snowdon’s Paths

North Wales

I have just read that North Wales has been selected number 4 as the best in travel for 2017 according to Lonely Planet. I couldn’t be happier for the region where I spent the majority of my summers growing up. Hopefully, this generates the tourism that Wales deserves.

I would say that North Wales is best suited for the outdoorsy type but if that’s not you then don’t worry. There is still plenty of sleepy villages to discover and relax in. From the sheltered slate villages to the tall Victorian seaside resorts, across the rolling green hills to the rough spine of Snowdonia National Park. You will be surprised how much there is to see for such a small hidden pocket of land.

Snowdonia National Park

I think that it is Snowdonia National Park that brings most visitors to the North Wales region. From the Cregennan Lakes located in the south of the park to the jagged peak of Mt Snowdon up in the north.

Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales, standing at 1085 metres high, and is a fantastic day out. For those who do brave the challenge to the summit then there are plenty of choices as there are many routes up Snowdon that will take you to the top. Some family friendly, others only for the more adventurous. I have tried five routes myself and I know which I prefer but let’s find out which is best suited to you.

Summit of Mt Snowdon

Planning your walk up Snowdon

360,000 people reach the summit of Snowdon each year! But as popular as it is, it should not be taken lightly as the terrain can be challenging and the weather very unpredictable. I have experienced all weather conditions near the summit. Shrouded in clouds so I could only see a few metres in front of me, I’ve hit snow and ice on the paths as late as April and have been baked under the sun in 26° C temperatures. When climbing Snowdon, make sure you check the Snowdon summit weather website before you leave but use it only as a guide. You should still pack something warm and waterproofs too. If it is hot then ensure you have plenty of water as there is zero shade the whole way. Sadly, there is a cafe at the top which for me nullifies the accomplishment but it does mean that you can grab some extra snacks and drinks if you’re feeling a bit peckish. Don’t count on this being open though as I have seen it closed several times. A lot of people have asked me ‘how long does it take to climb Snowdon?’ This can vary; depending on fitness levels, hiking Snowdon can take anywhere from 2 1/2 hours to 5 hours for a complete round trip. Remember once you reach the top you are only half way there.

The Llanberis Path

Beginning in Llanberis where there is plenty of parking, it is probably the easiest way to climb Mt Snowdon, but for me, is the least exciting route. It is less challenging because it is over a greater distance which means the gradient is less steep. So, you will have to walk further, but there are very few times that the hike will take your breath away.

Parking: Plenty of options. Toll and free

Beginning Altitude: 126m

The Miners’ Track

This is my favourite route for taking first timers up Snowdon. This track begins at the Pen y Pass ranger station. A gentle uphill walk at first takes you across a bridge over a beautiful sapphire lake. It’s here that you can see the challenge that lies ahead (if it is a clear day that is) as you can follow the entire route to the Snowdon summit. It can be overwhelming at first, but step by step you will get there, literally. For once you have crossed the bridge the steps begin. The steps are the most difficult part of this track but the gradient does deter a little once you have passed them.

Parking: Limited. Arrive early. £10 per day

Beginning Altitude: 356m

Lake on the Miners Track, Hiking up Snowdon, Wales

The PYG Track

The PYG Track is the shortest route of them all to the summit with the smallest elevation gain. It begins at the Pen y Pass ranger station, the same as the Miners’ Track, but more to the rear of the car park. This track gets you stuck in straight away with a relatively steep climb but once you have gained enough elevation it slowly levels out giving you an incredible view of the Miners’ track and the lake below. It then connects with the Miners’ Track about half way along the route.

The Crib Goch

WARNING: This should only be taken by experienced hikers. Many fatal accidents have occurred on this trail.

My favourite the Crib Goch is an alternative knife edge ridge walk to get you to the summit of Snowdon. Not for the faint hearted and most certainly not for the fearful of heights, it’s definitely one of the more challenging walks in Snowdonia. You pick the trail up about a quarter of the way into the PYG Track. If you can call it a trail. It is fenced off with a danger sign just to make it clear how crazy you are. After you pass the fence it is then a steep scramble to the top at 921 metres. If it’s a clear day then the views will be incredible if you can bring yourself to look away from your feet. One side is a sheer straight drop while the other is still an unforgiving slope. The trail takes you across the ridge of several peaks before it connects with all of the other trails for the final push. Take either the Miners’ or PYG track for your descent as passing on the Crib Goch can be difficult and dangerous.

The Rhyd-Ddu Path

This path begins at the WHR station in Rhyd-Ddu. There are also a couple more trails that can be accessed from here too so pay attention to signposts. The paths on this side are usually less crowded but are still just as beautiful. The Rhyd-Ddu path does take you over some questionable heights but it never becomes a scramble. Just be aware if you’re hiking with children.

Parking: Plenty of free spots

Beginning Altitude: 191m

The Train

I feel dirty just telling you this but there is also a train from Llanberis that can take you to the very top. I know! There’s nothing worse than making it to the pedestal at the top before being barged out of the way and splattered with ice cream. I suppose it’s good in a sense because it offers people with difficulties to access the inaccessible but if you’re not one of these people then get your arse off that train and get walking! It’s a huge satisfaction conquering the tallest thing in the sky.

Operates: March to October

Price: £23 to £37 depending on train and time of year

If you are thinking of hiking up Snowdon then also please take a look around the rest of North Wales. You never know what you might miss. If you need some inspiration then check out our post on Betws-y-Coed. In my biased opinion, I think it is one of the best places to visit in Snowdonia.

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Jamie Richardson

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