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Snowdon

Home > United Kingdom > National Parks | Outdoor | Walks
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published December 17th 2013
Snowdon is Wales' highest peak, but is still not particularly high, at 1,085m, and can offer a wonderful day's walking, achievable for even moderately fit walkers or those with pushchairs. Wales in general offers extremely beautiful countryside, and a trip to Snowdonia offers a range of other peaks to climb, mines into which to descend and other activity centres to test out. You can find out more through the Visit Snowdonia website. Part of the three peaks challenge, people will often climb Snowdon as part of the same trip as Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike, the highest peaks in Scotland and England. The trip has to be completed within 24 hours, and is a popular challenge for school groups and other adventure training enthusiasts.

Llanberis is probably the most obvious place to stay in order to climb Snowdon. There are plenty of affordable small and medium hotels, all of which area geared up for walkers. Llanberis itself is teeming with camping shops ready to sell you anything you need for a good trip.

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The Pyg track, Snowdon


There are easy moderate and difficult ways up the mountain. For a reasonably gentle walk, try the main Llanberis path, which runs from Llanberis to the top, following the train line. The train (see Snowdon Railway) will take you from Llanberis to the top, with one station half way up.

The Miners and Pyg tracks both start at Pen-y-Pass, a few miles from Llanberis, and both offer a moderately challenging route. At Pen-y-Pass there is a youth hostel, car park and café. This allows walkers to start here in comfort. There is also a shuttle bus from Llanberisduring peak season, but the route can be walked.

pen-y-pass, snowdon, wales
The walk to Pen-y-Pass


The two tracks snake round the side of the mountain, with Pyg making a slow but stead ascent, and Miners going around the bottom of the lake and then straight up. Both join the main track over a ridge, for the last few hundred meters. You can detour from these two to try the more challenging Crib Goch, but need to be an experienced walker / climber to do this. It takes 2-3 hours for the average walker to climb Snowdon, allowing for the odd water / food break. There are other, longer, ridge walks up the back of Snowdon, but these are the main ones for casual walkers. The routes are all summarised online. It is worth taking a decent (1:25,000 or 1:50,000) map, and a compass with you, because although the paths are well-marked, mist can come down and hamper you, it might be necessary to go off-path, and it is otherwise good practice to do this when walking.

Once at the top, the views over Snowdonia, the Menai Straits and over to Anglesey can be amazing. It's the one place in the UK where it is possible to see Scotland, England and Wales all at once, at least in theory. There is a small map / monument at the very summit, reached by a spiral staircase. To one side of this, in the shelter of the side of the mountain, is a café and visitor centre. This is only open when the train is running, and also acts as the train station. You can buy hot food and drinks, and a range of Snowdon souvenirs. On a nice day during the holidays there can be several hundred people at the top. Conversely, if the weather is not so good and the train is shut, you can find yourselves the only ones up there. Either way, reaching the top gives you a great sense of achievement.

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Looking down on the Miners' Path, Snowndon


Make sure you check the weather forecast when you go out, on e.g. Snowdon Mountain Weather Information Service. The weather can change quickly, and conditions at the top can be very different to those at the bottom. You do not want to be calling out Mountain Rescue. Wales is notoriously wet, and in very wet weather, snow or high winds, it would be foolish to attempt the ascent. Asking locals is a good way to ascertain whether it is safe to go up.

snowdon, wales, llanberis
The snow-line on the Llanberis path, Snowdon


Once you've come back down, a favourite refuelling station is Pete's Eats in Llanberis. Otherwise, there are a number of restaurants and pubs to relax into after a good climb.

snowdon, llanberis, wales, mountain, climbing
Sunset over Snowdon, Llanberis
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Why? Wales' highest peak
When: main walking season April - September
Where: Snowdonia
Cost: free, but some parking costs
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