UK Walks: Mount Snowdon Via Y Lliwedd, Snowdonia

Snowdon Via Y Lliwedd, Snowdonia
  • Distance – 7.5 Miles
  • Ascent – 1486M/4,875 Ft
  • Highest Point – Snowdon ( 1,085 meters/3,560 ft)
  • Time Taken – 5 Hours
  • Difficulty – Basic to Medium

Route Two for our long weekend in Snowdonia involved climbing Snowdon and another brutal day climbing with already saw legs, but again some of the best scenery this area has to offer.

First up today was the Y Lliwedd Summit at 2,946 ft (898 m). What’s interesting about this area is the eastern side of the hill which is probably the birthplace of Welsh rock climbing and while it’s is very much ignored today, it offers some fantastic climbing and views.

Our second stop took us up and over Snowdon which is the highest mountain in Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.

Our route is not the longest at about 7.5 Miles, however, the accents and descents are going to be difficult on the legs. This area also offers a variety of different routes depending on whether you want to climb to the top or scoot around the side, while still enjoying some fantastic views.

Pen y Pass Car Park

The starting point of our route was the Pen y Pass car park which can be easily reached by taking A4086 that runs between Llanberis and Capel Curig. If you’re going to take this starting point, make sure that you start early in the morning as the car park is rather small and does fill up very quickly. If you think you’re going to pop up after lunch, the chances are that you’re not going to get a car parking space.

Our day started early, and it was a good day to be walking as the sun was out, and it was warm. This area is famed for its cold mountains and snow. If you’re walking in the winter, make sure you have the right equipment; otherwise, you will have problems.

Miners Track

From the car park, there are two routes (PYG Track to Snowdon and Miners Track to Y Lliwedd) depending on whether you want to hit Snowdon or Y Lliwedd first. In our case, we headed to the eastern end of Llyn Llydaw, following the Miners Track from Pen-y-Pass.

The Miners Track was built in the early part of the 19th Century to carry copper from the Britannia Copper Works near Llyn Glaslyn to Pen y Pass. It’s an obvious path and a straightforward walk for the first 1.5 miles towards Lake Llyn Llydaw. At this point, the track splits, straight ahead and the route takes you straight up to Snowdon, turn left, and you can follow the path to Y Lliwedd.

Y Lliwedd

This is where the fun really starts. The boring miner’s track is replaced by a rough pathway, and the hard-packed soil, replaced by jagged rocks and open countryside. The route also starts to get seriously steep and very hard on the legs.

From the split of the miner’s tracks, its about 1.8miles, and about 1,800FT of accent to the summit. In places the route is steep, however, it’s an enjoyable hike. The last 800 meters, you effectively end up hiking along the peak where to the North the steep sides offer a fantastic view of Lake Llyn Llydaw and the surrounding area. The path continues past the minor summit of Lliwedd Bach on to the twin summits of Lliwedd.

Snowdon Peak

Image – Andy Harback (Taken by Plane)

From the summit of Lliwedd, we headed North-West and joined the Watkin’s Path at Bwlch y Ciliau to head directly to the summit of Snowdon. The Watkin’s pathway starts at Bethania and brings a huge number of climbers to the summit. It’s not uncommon to summit Y Lliwedd and not see another person on the hillside, but this will all change at Snowdon.

The Watkin path’s start’s of gently with a slight descent, and then a slight accent, however, once you hit the bottom of the steep south face of Snowdon, things start to get much steeper. From this point onwards, you now have over 700 feet of ascent on a loose path that is hard to follow in poor weather. The pathway does not take a direct frontal approach, but rather goes across the slope bringing you to a large marker stone on the South Ridge. From here, it’s just a final short, steep walk to reach the summit.

The summit of Snowdon is at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) and is a very busy spot given it’s possible to arrive at the summit by train if you don’t want the walk. After a rather a long walk with the majority being steep mountainside, the body cools down very quickly. While the view is amazing and shows what the countryside in this part of Wales really has to offer, watch out that you don’t get cold and start to freeze up. Remember, it’s still a couple of hour walk to get home.

Home to The Car

Note the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the right heading back down the mountain

From the summit of Snowdon, head North down the Llanberis Path until you reach the fork where you can join Pyg Track which will take you back to the car park.

If you want to extend the walk further, there is the possibility to follow the Llanberis Path to Crib Goch Summit. If you’re going to take on this route, make sure you have specialist equipment to deal with Grade One/Two scambling, as with a summit of 923 metres (3,028 ft), you need to be an experienced climber with the right equipment in place to take on this route safely.

In our case, the legs hurt too much after three days climbing, and we headed home. The Pyg Track is about 5.5km in length and involves around 800m of ascent. The track contours along the hillside below Crib Goch and above Llyn Llydaw and is a good path all the way, just take care in the wet as the rock is well polished in places.

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