Mount Snowdon, Wales - ascent 895m

Climbing Wales' Highest Mountain- 12 km, 6 hrs (Rtn)

A view from the summitWALES' MT. SNOWDON TRAIL is open to walkers of all ages - parents should be mindful of weather conditions. This is one of the best experiences of walking in Wales, but you probably won't be alone, especially on holiday weekends.

JIM PERRIN has written SNOWDON: the story of a Welsh Mountain, with lots of information about the various paths to follow to the summit of Snowdon.

RHYD DDU PATH ROUTE is 12 km long and takes about 6 hours to do the return walk. Although the path is well marked, always take a map and compass with you.

The SummitRHYD DDU: The Welsh weather is unpredictable and needs to be catered for. This path up Snowdon is the quietest of the six main routes to the summit, offering the most striking mountain scenery. The first mile climbs gradually along the old track that served a slate quarry, before leaving the track and climbing 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. Some parts of the final section follow a narrow and rocky path with steep slopes below, so extreme care must be taken on these parts. When there is snow and ice on the ground this part should be left to experienced walkers with the appropriate equipment.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SNOWDON PATHS: There are six well-known paths including the Rhyd Ddu. The easiest and busiest is the LLANBERIS PATH: park in the town, walk up the road just beyond the mountain railway station and you'll find it. The PIG AND MINERS' TRACKS, both starting from Pen-y-Pass car-park at the head of the Llanberis Pass, have the least amount of climbing – hence their popularity. THE WATKIN PATH, which starts from the car park at Bethania, near to sea-level on the south side of the mountain, hence much climbing.The SNOWDON RANGER PATH starts from the youth hostel of that name located on the road between Caernarfon and Beddgelert.

Map showing main towns around Mt Snowdon, and Rhyd Ddu Path

CLIMBING PLANNER: Allocate a few days to be in Snowdonia National Park, as the weather might not be suitable for summitting on the day you have chosen. It took us three days before the weather was OK for climbing. On the off days, there are plenty of places to visit while you wait for your summit opportunity.

SNOWDON MOUNTAIN RAILWAY: The railway is a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway that travels for 7.6 km from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon. It is the only public rack and pinion railway in the United Kingdom, and after more than 100 years of operation it remains a popular tourist attraction. The railway was constructed between 1894 and 1896. Book well in advance as it is very popular. If you are staying in Llanberis, one option is to walk up the LLANBERIS PATH and catch the railway down.

YOUR SNOWDONIA ACCOMMODATION: This is usually in B&Bs or inns and should be booked in advance. Try LLANBERIS, CAPEL CURIG, BEDDGELERT or even the PEN-Y-GWYRD HOTEL - where it's traditional to enjoy a celebratory drink after successfully summitting Snowdon. There is a Youth Hostel near Rhyd Ddu - The Snowdon Ranger.

FOOD: Mostly good quality traditional Welsh food is served up at B&Bs and village inns and there are wide choices in their menu. Cider and ale are common. Most B&B owners can cater for vegetarians or people with other food preferences if given sufficient notice. PETE'S EATS in Llanberis is great value and a colourful dining establishment.

WHEN TO GO: The northern Spring or Autumn seasons are recommended as accommodation is easier to obtain and the tourist numbers are lower.

WALKING GEAR: Good walking boots and socks are critical. Your boots should have been worn in. Also important is what rain gear to take. Make sure it’s made from a breathable material. The weather can change in a moment, so have gloves, a beanie, walking poles, water and some snacks to give you a boost when you need it. Just because others may be dressed as if they're out for a stroll along the beach doesn't mean you should be any less prepared for mountain conditions.

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ITINERARY for a Mount Snowdon Ascent - 4 days, 4 nights

The following is an outline of the 4-day itinerary that we chose. We decided on this itinerary because of the locations and the available accommodation.

  • Where to Start: Beddgelert or Capel Curig or Llanberis, Wales.
  • How to get there: Car or bus.
Iitinerary: 4 days
  • Day 1. Travel to Capel Curig to your pre-booked accommodation. You can easily spend the afternoon exploring this green valley and visit the nearby Plas-y-Brenin National Mountain Centre to pick up a copy of OL 17 Ordinance Survey (OS) Map of Snowdon and the Conwy Valley. It's always advisable to have an OS map of any wilderness walk you are thinking of doing. Weather OK, looking forward to tomorrow's climb.
  • Day 2. Raining, overcast and blowy. Recommended against an ascent. Plan B - go for a walk in Cwm Idwal National Nature reserve, and then visit Beaumaris Castle. Plan B worked well, as the Beaumaris Medieval festival was on.
  • Day 3. Overcast, light rain, but heavy winds. Recommended against an ascent. Plan B - Visit Beddgelert and then Caernafon Castle. Great tour of the castle, and then dinner at Pete's Eats in Llanberis, followed by a drive through Llanberis Pass.
  • Day 4. Overcast, no rain, no wind. Recommended ascent. We drove to Rhyd Ddu carpark. Then with our gear on, including food, water and a flask of coffee we began the ascent, along with many others - this being a bank holiday weekend. It was worth the climb, with sweeping views as the skies had cleared to a sunny afternoon. After the climb, a quick visit to the Pen-y-Gwyrd hotel and back to our new accommodation at Rowen for a great dinner.
Our Take:
This is a marvelous traditional climb to the summit of Mount Snowdon, Wales' highest mountain. If you enjoy walking, and you find yourself in Wales, do it! This is one of those climbs where you can usually see your goal (on a clear day).
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