Climbing Mount Snowdon: Snowdon’s Paths
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 it 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 it is Snowdonia National Park that brings most visitors to the region as Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales at 1085 metres high and a fantastic day out. For those who do brave the challenge to the summit then there are still plenty of choices as there are many routes 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.
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 terrain can be challenging and 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 mount Snowdon summit weather 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. 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 up but for me the least exciting route. It is less challenging because it is over a greater distance which means the gradient can be levelled out. So you will have to walk further but with very few times that will take your breath away.
Parking: Plenty of options. Toll and free
Beginning Altitude: 126m
The Miners’ Track
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 that takes you across a bridge over a beautiful sapphire lake. It’s here that if a clear day you can see the challenge that lies ahead as you can follow the entire route to the 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
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.
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. 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
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 Snowdon then 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.