We quite often do the Pen-Y-Pass to Snowdon route when friends come to stay – we either go up the Miners’ Track and down the Pyg track or vice versa depending on the weather. When it is warm we enjoy spending time at Llyn Llydaw, a little wild swimming at the end of a hot walk is a fantastic reward on the way down from Snowdon.
We don’t always go up to the summit of Snowdon as the last section is a bit tough for some. It depends on who we are walking with that day – and whether we have the Diggle dog with us or not. He loves it up until the Miners’ / Pyg track crossing point – tail set to wag and a half! Sometimes we just enjoy an easy walk along to Llyn Llydaw and back – with incredible scenery, including spectacular views of Snowdon, but without the queuing to touch the famous Snowdon trig point at the summit. That is the beauty of Snowdonia, every mood and ability is catered for.
Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh, is the highest peak in England and Wales at 1,085 metres and has numerous routes you can take. Have a look at a great website called Mud and Routes for route guidance and walks galore. As a hike up Snowdon isn’t the only walk to do. We love how Mud and Routes point out any hazards you may face and give you a great idea re the time it takes to walk each route.
There are plenty of routes up Snowdon, including the magical Snowdon Railway and you need to spend a bit of time researching the best route for you. The Miners’ Track is an easy-going track until you get to Llyn Glaslyn when you are quickly reminded why you need to take care and pay attention to conditions. The mountain suddenly seems very real and you have to scramble across large rocks, inevitable but a wakeup moment after such a pleasant path so far.
The Pyg Track is the shortest route up from Pen-Y-Pass, and the path is well signposted but do take care as a bit of bad weather can cause some signs to be missed.
When the train is running the Hafod Eryri (the summit café) opens – this is normally from late Spring until October half term, give or take a snowfall or two. A great building that is a visitors centre, terminal for the railway, café and has the all-important toilets.
The Snowdon Railway
For those of you who would prefer to take the train then you are strongly advised to book online as soon as you book your holiday. It gets very busy! Taking the train is an incredible experience – running since 1896, and with just as unspoilt views, it is truly a unique way of travelling and gives you plenty of time to take photos. They even have an interactive app you can download so don’t forget your headphones so you can listen to the tour. The rack and pinion railway is a Swiss design and has a gradient of 20%, an ambitious feat of engineering that rises up to within 66 feet of the summit of Snowdon. The journey takes about an hour and starts at Llanberis Station.
If you are lucky enough to be staying in Capel Bethel, Llanberis, in either Padarn or Dolbadarn then you can park your car outside the chapel and use the excellent Sherpa buses when you explore Snowdonia. A real bonus to not have to think about parking. Take a look at our Snowdonia Holiday Cottages.
Different routes to the summit of Snowdon:
Starts at the Pen-Y-Pass car park:
- Crib Goch: a serious climb.
- PYG Track: about 3.5 miles.
- Miners’ Track: Just under 4 miles.
- Watkin Path: the hardest and longest climb. Starts at Llyn Gwnant car park. About 3.5 miles.
- Snowdon Ranger Path: easy path, great views. Starts at Llyn Cwellyn car park. Just under 4 miles.
- Rhydd Ddu Path: easy but steeper at the top. Starts at Rhyd Ddu car park. Just under 4 miles.
- Llanberis Path: hugs the railway from Llanberis, easy but a lot longer than the others. About 5 miles. This route has the added bonus of being able to stop at the Penceunant Isaf Café. It is open all year round from first light to sunset and they are so friendly. Local knowledge in abundance and great walking tales if you have the time. Diggle loves it there as there’s a roaring fire and the odd doggy biscuit just for being adorable.
Keep safe by remembering
- Look at the local weather forecast before you set off.
- Plan a route that takes conditions and ability into consideration. Buy an OS map as your phone won’t always work (Explorer OL17 is the one you need).
- Wear suitable clothing (a sturdy pair of walking boots is best – this is not a flip flop or high heels location) and plan for the weather to change even on sunny days.
- Take waterproofs, warm spare clothing, hat, gloves, food, drinks, a map, compass, torch, spare batteries and bulb, a whistle, suncream, sunglasses, first aid kit and a survival bag. Lots of thin layers are much better than 1 thick one. There are some great outdoor clothing shops in Llanberis if you need advice.
- If the weather turns nasty then turn back unless you are an experienced mountaineer with navigation skills, and even then think about it. There is always another day to try again. The cloud coming in can be very disorientating. Even though we have a great mountain rescue team it is much better to chat to them with a pint in hand at the local pub than on the side of a mountain.
- Take a mobile telephone with you but remember it probably won’t work after a certain point. It is not a reliable way to look at maps! Remember to tell someone you are off walking in the mountains and when you are expected to return.
- If you want to park in the Pen-y-Pass Car Park then go VERY early. It gets incredibly busy and is quite expensive.
- A cheaper option is the Park and Ride car park further down the hill in Nant Peris. Please note this gets very busy too and the ticket machine only takes coins.
- There are lavatories in both car parks.
- It is easy to park in Llanberis and take the Sherpa bus from there.
- Last bit of advice – have fun. Just because others are hiking off to conquer a summit doesn’t mean your achievement won’t be just as amazing. Set realistic targets and remember your camera.