Snowdonia National Park
Distance: 7.25 miles Time: 4 hours Type: Round trip
A hike to the summit of the tallest mountain in England and Wales (3560 feet) is achievable for most and therefore a very popular walk for people of all abilities. We made our ascent over an Easter weekend and were very lucky to have perfect walking weather: clear skies, crisp air and plenty of sunshine.
The conditions were so good in fact that seemingly half the population of Wales decided to tackle the mountain that day (with dogs and children in tow). The routes we took are generally the quietest but on this occasion they were busy to say the least; the summit point itself was so crowded that we only stood there for a very quick photo op before retreating to slightly lower ground. But we were more than happy to share the mountain when the weather was so kind, considering that most people's summit view is obscured by cloud and rain.
There are 8 routes to the summit of Snowdon: the Llanberis Path, Pyg Track, Crib Goch, Miners’ Track, Y Lliwedd, the Watkin Path, the Rhyd-Ddu Path and the Snowdon Ranger Path.
From the north (Llanberis):
Llanberis Path: 5 miles, gentle but busy route.
From the east (Pen-y-pass):
Pyg Track: 3 miles, popular express route.
Crib Goch: 2.8 miles, the shortest but most challenging route.
Miners’ Track: 3.5 miles, popular route passing Lyn Llydaw.
Y Lliwedd: 4 miles, fairly challenging route that joins with the Watkin Path.
From the south (Bethania):
Watkin Path: 4 miles, tough route with the biggest ascent.
From the west:
Rhyd-Ddu Path: 3.75 miles, quietest route from the village of Rhyd-Ddu.
Snowdon Ranger Path: 3.5 miles, gentle route from Llyn Cwellyn.
We were staying at the YHA Snowdon Ranger Hostel across the road from Llyn Cwellyn and therefore decided to make our ascent by the Rhyd-Ddu Path and descend directly to the hostel by the Snowdon Ranger Path.
These routes involve fairly gentle gradients and are quieter than the routes to the north and east, but still offer great views and some interesting hiking. The summit itself is a little Disney-fied, with the mountain railway carrying people all the way from Llanberis and a strangely modernist visitor centre perching on the mountain top, complete with its own café. You may also see some seagulls, which adds to the surreal atmosphere.
On our return to the hostel we celebrated with some beers and prosciutto by the shore of Llyn Cwellyn.