This is a straightforward circuit that you can do at almost any time of the year. Starting from Capel Curig, the route travels over moorland, into two beautiful valleys containing lakes, and finally some forestry (there’s got to be a down side!. Its highest point is only about 340m, and the distance about 15km.
The South Ridge path usually elicits a blank expression on most walkers when you mention routes up Snowdon. Those in the know however, realise that this is an absolute gem of a route that stands modestly in the shadows, shunning the limelight. In comparison, the PYG, Miners and Watkin are cheap, talentless reality TV z-listers desperately seeking endless attention. The South Ridge knows it’s good, and is happy to stand back a little until
Opened in 1892 as a donkey track, the Watkin Path was never truly finished. Of all the official ascents it starts nearest to sea level and so has more ascent than any other direct route, but the Llanberis Path starts off only 50m higher and involves a little more distance. Swings and roundabouts really.
One of the most scenic of all the routes up, starting off through some ancient woodland before passing a spectacular waterfall and ultimately ascending to Bwlch Ciliau and Yr Wyddfa. A pleasure to walk for most of it’s distance, the final eroded scree chute up to the summit rather detracts from the path’s overall appeal. However, no other path can boast a Prime Minister, commandos and a Carry on Film among it’s myriad claims to fame.
The PYG track is both the shortest way up Snowdon, and the one that involves the least amount of ascent. Despite this, it’s not the easiest path up as it can be steep and rocky in places but the paths are generally very good all the way and reasonably straightforward to follow. It is 5.5km in length and involves around 800m of ascent. If you’re reasonably fit, you should make it up in three hours. Remember to allow time for breaks and stopping to take in the sights, of which there are plenty.
The views of Snowdon are among the best of any route up. The PYG is also one of the busiest routes up, so consider setting off very early morning or mid-afternoon to avoid the crowds. If you do set off later in the day, make sure you’ve got enough hours of daylight left to descend safely. In winter conditions, the upper section of the path becomes very treacherous and in common with all the other routes up, should not be attempted in snow unless you’re properly equipped and experienced.Download the GPX File for your GPS device here
There’s always something special when you manage to fit a decent walk in on a weekeday. It’s almost like stolen time as we aren’t meant to do fun things on a weekday. It’s all work, work, work. So you have to work around that, and make the most of things. Well, I live so close to the hills that a bit of organisation means we can be treading the footpaths by half five (and this was later than i’d anticipated). What for? To bag a peak that’s been like a stone in my shoe for years. I’d been to Bwlch Cwm Llan somany times, and on all but one occasion gone straight over or turned left for the South Ridge. On the one occasion i turned right, i found my boots had no grip and had to turn back. So I was finally going to go up Yr Aran.
Yr Aran is an ideal easier winter summit, especially if you’re building up your winter skills. There’s a couple of sections that are steep enough to need care without being overly easy.
This is a nice, quiet walk. So close to Snowdon, you can almost hear the crowds. Indeed, you can’t fail to miss them in Rhyd Ddu where they tend to gather to climb the highest peak in Wales and England. Fortunately for us, they don’t know any better and will leave today’s destination well alone.
Mynydd Mawr is a solitary summit, perfect for a quick morning or afternoon bimble, with a walk up a pleasant grassy ridge and an alternative return via Llyn y Dywarchen and Clogwynygarreg adding interest to the end of the walk.
There’s only one way to enjoy a walk on a Bank Holiday. Well, ok, there’s 2 if you count don’t bother, but getting up just after dawn and being on the hill for 7am is the one i’d choose. Even the car park at Ogwen was empty!
So this weekend, why not try and miss the crowds by getting out of bed before them, if not you’ll just have to put up with the crowds on the tops and the queues to get past almost any obstacle! You may even get back to Ogwen when there are still some sausage rolls left.