Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park
The idea of climbing Mount Snowdon always appealed to us but would the reality live up to our expectations? 12 months of talking about it and now we were actually doing it!
Ever since we climbed Pen-Y-Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales, over 12 months ago, Didem has been badgering me about climbing Mount Snowdon.
Mount Snowdon ‘Yr Wyddfa’ in Welsh is not only the highest mountain in Wales but the highest mountain in the British Isles outside of Scotland. So, topping Snowdon was an adventure we were very much looking forward to.
Getting To Snowdon
Getting to Snowdon is certainly not a problem for those who happen to live in the large population centres of northern England such as Liverpool and Manchester. In fact, Snowdon is even within a 4.5 hour drive from London. Find out how to get to Snowdonia by a variety of transport methods.
We live in Barry in South Wales and the process of getting to Snowdonia by driving up through the centre of Wales is far from a swift one! That said, the drive is beautiful which made our 6 hour, 288 km journey, a fairly pleasurable one. This is the route we took to get to our destination in Snowdonia National Park.
Where To Stay To Climb Snowdon
Once we had settled on our date to climb Snowdon we realised that we knew very little about the area and where best to stay during our visit.
We learned that the town of Llanberis was the nearest town to Snowdon and therefore seemed like the perfect option for our mountain climbing base.
Having chosen a weekend at the end of the UK school summer holiday, which also happened to a bank holiday, meant that finding available accommodation at the right price in Llanberis was far more difficult than we thought.
However, we managed to secure a room at the lovely Alpine Lodge Hotel on Llanberis high street. It cost us £160 for our 2-night stay including breakfast.
Although this was not exactly a budget hotel, we were given a high-quality king size bedroom with a view of the mountains and breakfast was also of a very high standard.
Latest Deals On Places To Stay In Llanberis
Mount Snowdon Routes – Which One To Choose?
We had already decided to take the Llanberis Path for both the ascent and descent as it is considered to be the easiest route for climbing Mount Snowdon.
Our hotel owner promptly stated that we should be using the Pyg Track for the ascent and the Llanberis Path for the descent. He emphasised that this would be more challenging but would offer far better views and a superior experience and added that none of the residents whom he had suggested this to had ever returned disappointed.
We trusted his judgement and as he seemed to be a genuine chap we promptly agreed with his suggestion and looked forward to our walk the following day with great anticipation!
Starting Point – Pen-Y-Pass
With a hearty breakfast inside us, we donned our rucksacks that were full of food, water and additional clothing for our adventure and headed down Llanberis high street to catch our bus from Llanberis to Pen-y-Pass.
We took the S2 service that delivered us to the starting point of the Pyg Track 25 minutes later, at Pen-Y-Pass. This is also the starting point for the Miners’ Track as well as the ascent via Crib Goch.
There are 7 main Snowdon walks that you can opt for. Here is a brief description of each of these to help you select the best route if you are climbing Mount Snowdon. These are:
- The Llanberis Path
- Snowdon Ranger Track
- Rhyd-Ddu Path
- The Pyg Track
- Miners’ Track
- The Snowdon Horseshoe
- The Watkin Path
Preparing For The Climb
As we had never been to Snowdon before and as all of our research had taken place via a selection of websites, we felt it sensible to drop into the information centre to seek some expert advice about the climb that lay ahead.
It also gave us the opportunity to pick up a Snowdon routes map. This not only detailed our route up and down the mountain but also indicated certain pointers to look out for along the way to ensure that we were sticking to the correct route.
This was also our last opportunity to use the toilet prior to reaching the café at the summit of Snowdon.
PYG Track – Ascending Snowdon (aerial fly-through)
We have broken the ascent down into 4 phases as they were all fairly distinctive.
The path commences at the far right corner of the Pen-y-Pass car park. It would be very difficult to pick the wrong path as there is both a signpost indicating the direction of each path plus a large stone pillar at the start of the Pyg Track.
If you are still in any doubt that you are on the right track, the towering summit directly in front of you should clear that up. Many climbers start out believing that this is the summit of Snowdon but in fact, it is the summit of Crib Goch that you can see.
The first 45 minutes of the climb is moderate in nature but there is a fair bit of rocky terrain to negotiate as we made our way to the first checkpoint along the track, at Bwlch y Moch. You will know you have reached this point as you will see a Pyg Track pillar followed closely by a double wooden style that you will need to cross.
What you will see
As you start this section of the climb you will notice the wonderful views to the right of the Glyderau mountain range and of the Llanberis Pass. As you progress further up the path you will see Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn lakes at the far end of the valley.
The next phase of the climb is relatively easy as the track climbs gradually to the point when the Pyg Track and the Miners’ Track join. You will know when you have reached this point as you will again see a Pyg Track pillar.
What you will see
As you commence this phase of the climb you will see Llyn Llydaw lake to your left. As you continue along the route towards the intersection of the Pyg and Miners’ tracks, you will see the beautiful Llyn Glaslyn lake with the majestic summit of Snowdon towering some 500 metres above it.
This is the point at which things become a little tougher as the track steepens, as you commence the climb to the top of the crest ahead of you, known as Bwlch Glas. ***This section is an accident blackspot and is considered to be very dangerous especially under snow and ice conditions***
What you will see
As you approach Bwlch Glas, the view back over Llyn Llydaw and Llyn Glaslyn lakes becomes ever more impressive. As you reach the top of the crest at Bwlch Glas you are suddenly exposed to the magnificent views down the other side of the mountain as well.
At this point, the Pyg Track joins the Llanberis Path. Here you turn left and head for the summit. The hard work is now complete and you have little more than a 15-minute leisurely climb to Snowdon’s peak.
Finally, you have made it!
What you will see
Now, you will see the track of the Snowdon Mountain Railway for the first time. Some will be thinking, “why didn’t we just take the train?”
Of course, you can take the train if you so choose but you will miss out on this amazing climbing experience. The return train ride from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon takes 2.5 hours and this includes just 30 minutes at the top!
What’s more, a return ticket for an adult will set you back £29! Check the latest prices and terms & conditions.
If you are lucky enough to be blessed with beautiful weather, like we were, you will enjoy amazing 360° views. You will see the Llŷn Peninsula to the south-west and Anglesey to the north-west. To the south, you will be looking across the full extent of Snowdonia National Park.
When the visibility is especially good it is even possible to see all the way to Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Lake District.
It really is hard not to be mesmerised by the beauty that you will witness at the summit of Snowdon. It was really no surprise to us that the view from the top of Snowdon was named as the UK’s top sight in a 2017 poll.
Hafod Eryri – Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre
It is now your opportunity to truly soak in the views, grab some refreshments and use the toilet facilities prior to commencing the mountain descent.
You may also wish to pick up a souvenir of your visit to the highest mountain in Wales from the visitor centre.
Snowdon is a very popular destination both for climbers and visitors using the mountain railway. Therefore, the visitor centre can become very busy especially during weekends and holidays, as we certainly experienced.
It took us 30 minutes just to get 2 cups of tea and the queue for the toilet seemed to take an eternity!
The Descent Using The Llanberis Path
Llanberis Path – Descending Snowdon (aerial fly-through)
Using the Llanberis Path for the descent of Snowdon is fairly straightforward in terms of directions as it pretty much follows the route of the mountain railway.
This route is also deemed to be the easiest of the Snowdon walks and is therefore, the most popular. It is hardly surprising that this route is also known as the ‘Tourist Path’.
As you drop down from the summit of Snowdon you will first pass the turnoff to the Pyg Track on your right. Shortly after, you will see the Snowdon Ranger Path break off to your left.
Soon you will start a steep descent down the slopes of Garnedd Ugain. ***This section is an accident blackspot and is considered to be very dangerous especially under snow and ice conditions***
What you will see
Along this initial section of the descent, you will see Llyn Padarn lake some distance ahead of you. Llanberis is situated on the shores of this lake so you really get a sense of just how much walking lays ahead.
Off to your left-hand side, you will see Clogwyn Coch which is simply the left side of the famous ‘Cloggy’ cliff. This cliff has been referred to as the ‘Killer Convex’, referring to the convex shape of the hillside, which has claimed the lives of many walkers over the years.
Soon, you will reach the section of the walk known as Allt Moses. At this point, you will pass through a tunnel under the railway track. For this stretch of the descent, the railway track will run above you and to the right.
As you continue down Allt Moses, Llyn Du’r Arddu lake will come into view on your left and sits at the foot of Clogwyn Coch.
Not long after reaching the bottom of Allt Moses you will come to the Halfway House. This is your final chance to grab a toilet break and warm up those weary bones with a hot drink. Then it is time to commence the final 4 km stretch of the adventure!
The Finishing Line
Shortly you will pass under the railway track once again and continue the fairly gentle decent until you reach the end of the mountain path. At this point, you will pass through a wooden gate. Join the road and head right down the hill.
The road steepens and in approximately 1 km you will cross a cattle grid with a Snowdon information board on your right-hand side.
You have completed your Snowdon adventure!
Climbing Mount Snowdon – Our Thoughts
Overall, our Mount Snowdon climbing experience was a hugely enjoyable one! Of course, there were parts that we preferred to others.
Using the Pyg Track for the ascent and Llanberis Path for the descent was a great idea. We can thank the owner of our hotel for that advice!
We definitely enjoyed the climb most of all as the landscape and views varied so much. Reaching the summit was a real treat especially as we were blessed with super weather and equally spectacular views!
Although the descent was pleasant it wasn’t quite as interesting and exciting as the ascent.
As beautiful as the views are coming down, they are not quite as varied as those that we experienced during the ascent.
The Llanberis Path is also the longest of all the Snowdon routes and as we became more tired, the return leg just seemed to drag a little.
What also didn’t help was that half of the UK’s population appeared to have had the same idea as the two of us! It therefore didn’t really surprise to discover that 582,000 individuals climb Snowdon each year.
It felt at times as if most of those were up there with us!
All that said, we wouldn’t have changed anything! Yes, we were tired but we did feel a real sense of accomplishment. We had also met a number of interesting people along the way and shared our experiences which was great.
If you are considering a Snowdon adventure, we can endorse it wholeheartedly!
Snowdon Safety Tips
Climbing Mount Snowdon may not be anywhere near as challenging as the mountains found in the Alps, Rockies or Himalayas. However, it still demands a certain level of respect.
Check The Latest Snowdon Weather Forecast
Always check the latest Met Office Snowdon summit weather forecast and be prepared to turn back if the weather conditions worsen during the climb.
Take Appropriate Kit With You
It is always best to plan ahead so think and pack your rucksack accordingly. Prepare for both the best and worst scenarios. The weather and temperature conditions can vary significantly between the base of the mountain and the summit.
Recommended Items That You Should Be Wearing/Carrying
- Walking boots
- Waterproof trousers and jacket
- Hat and gloves
- Map and compass
- Spare warm clothes
- Fully charged mobile phone
- Plenty of food and water
- First aid kit
Additional Recommended Items If Climbing In Winter
- Ice axe
- Ski goggles
Plan A Route Suitable For All Members Of Your Group
Choose and plan your route in advance. It is important to know how long it is supposed to take and at what time it gets dark. Always choose a route that suits not only the experience levels but also the fitness levels of each member. Always leave details of your planned route and timings with a friend or family member.
If You Get In Trouble On The Mountain
Things can go wrong and so often do. If you get lost or injured on Snowdon or anywhere else in Snowdonia National Park, contact the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team.
It is a voluntary service that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Mount Snowdon Facts and Other Useful Tips
How high is Mount Snowdon?
1,085 metres (3,560 feet)
How long does it take to walk up Mount Snowdon?
This is a difficult one to answer as it depends on which route you take, the weather conditions, how many times you stop and how fit you are. It took us 6 hours up and back with breaks totalling 90 minutes and we are reasonably fit. The official map that we purchased prior to the walk suggests 6-7 hours regardless of which route you choose.
How Many People Climb Snowdon Each Year?
582,000 people visit Snowdon annually making it’s the busiest mountain in the United Kingdom.
Have People Died Climbing Mount Snowdon?
Absolutely! If you just Google “Snowdon Deaths” you will be amazed at just how many people have lost their lives in the past few years. In fact, less than 30 days prior to our Snowdon climb, a man fell to his death on the very same track that we used to climb the mountain! However, don’t let this put you off as huge numbers climb the mountain successfully each year. We even saw a number of individuals in their 70s and 80s who had reached the top!
What Is The Postcode For Llanberis Car Park?
If you are looking for parking in Llanberis for Snowdon walks, there are a number of car parking options. The one nearest to the start of the Llanberis Path is located on Victoria Terrace (postcode: LL55 4TU).
What Is The Postcode For Pen-y-Pass Car Park?
What is The Nearest Railway Station To Snowdonia National Park?
The North Wales Coast Line from Crewe to Holyhead connects you to Bangor at the north-western edge of Snowdonia National Park. From there you can take the Conwy Valley Line as far as Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Cambrian Line from Shrewsbury takes you along the southern sections of the park, up the coast to Porthmadog. Not only will you experience fantastic vistas but a multitude of points from which to start exploring the park.