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Hiking & Trail Running

Climbing Snowdon: Our Guide To Climbing Mt Snowdon, Wales

Ever fancied climbing Snowdon? Tick off the highest mountain in Wales from your bucket list this year

Climbing Snowdon is one ascent every hiker should do before they die. Photo: iStock

Climbing Snowdon is on the bucket list of many British hiking enthusiasts. Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085m and the highest point in the British Isles (excluding Scotland).

It is set in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. From the summit of Snowdon, you will see breathtaking views across mountains and all the way to Anglesey in the west.

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Summiting Snowdon isn’t hard if you are reasonably fit – there are a number of different routes depending on how challenging you want your hike to be. It will take you around 6 to 7 hours to complete in total. Weather conditions are changeable here, so make sure you are well prepared when it comes to food and clothing.

During the warm summer months, Snowdon can get extremely busy. There is a train that takes non-hikers up from Llanberis to the top, so don’t be surprised to finds lots of people lingering on the summit, taking selfies. We would recommend going mid-week outside school holidays and start early in the morning for an uncrowded hike.

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You can climb Snowdon in the winter, but it is not easy. Strong winds, freezing temperatures, heavy fog, rain and snow can make navigation very tricky, especially if it is your first time. Climbing Snowdon in winter can be beautiful and much quieter, but make sure you are properly prepared. The British Mountaineering Council wrote this article in 2015 about climbing Snowdon in winter – it is worth a read.

Make sure you start or finish the day at Pete’s Eats in Llanberis, the well-known local cafe that serves a mean Full English with a decent cuppa.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR FOR CLIMBING SNOWDON?

There are a number of different routes to choose from when climbing Snowdon in Wales. Photo: iStock

You aren’t hiking up Everest (although Edmund Hillary did climb Snowdon as part of his Everest training), but remember climbing Snowdon is not an easy stroll. You need to make sure you are prepared for all kinds of weather – a warm sunny morning can quickly turn into a cold, windy afternoon. Make sure you wear appropriate layers, including an insulated layer and a waterproof jacket [LINK WHEN LIVE] and trousers. Wear comfortable worn-in hiking boots with good ankle support. Read our full hiking essentials gear guide here.

CLIMBING SNOWDON: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT ROUTES?

The Llanberis Path follows the train up from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon. Photo: iStock

Llanberis Path

How long? 9 miles return

Difficulty: Easy

The Llanberis Path is the easiest route up Mt. Snowdon, despite being the longest. It starts in Llanberis and follows the Snowdon Mountain Railway up to the summit. It’s not the most picturesque route but it is the easiest. You can always hike up and get the train back down if you are with easily fatigued hikers.

Miners’ Track

How long? 8 miles return

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The Miners Route is one of the easiest routes to choose when climbing Snowdon. It starts at the Pen Y Pass car park and follows the same route as the Pyg Track to begin with. The Miners’ Track is longer than the Pyg Track but very gentle for most of the way. You will have some great views of the summit on the way up, passing the beautiful Llyn Llydaw, the famous long narrow lake. The last section is steep and demanding, but easily doable if you are relatively fit.

Pyg Track

How long? 7 miles return

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The Pyg Track is similar to the Miners’ Track, starting at the same point and passing Llyn Llydaw. You’ll see the route up Crib Goch on the way and finish on the same steep uphill stretch to the summit. Many people choose to ascend using the slightly more challenging Pyg Track and descend on the gentler Miners’ Track.

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Snowdon Ranger Track

How long? 8 miles return

Difficulty: Easy

The Snowdon Ranger Track is named after John Morton, the self proclaimed ‘Snowdon Ranger’ who used to guide Victorian tourists up to the summit. It’s an easy hike with great views, a much better option than the Llanberis path. It starts at the Llyn Cwellyn car park on the furthest side of Snowdon, if you are arriving from the east.

Sunrise from the summit after climbing Snowdon. Photo: iStock

Beddgelert Path or Rhyd Ddu Path

How long? 7.5 miles return

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The Rhyd Ddu Path used to be called the Beddgelert Path. It is the quietest route up Snowdon, ascending via. the opposite side of the mountain from the Pyg and Miners’ Track. You won’t get the same views as the north side but you still get a fantastic look over Moel Hebog and the hills of Nantlle. The path is easy to follow and gradually climbs to the summit. It makes a great horseshoe hike if combined with the Snowdon Ranger Track.

The Watkin Path

How long? 8 miles return

Difficulty: Hard

The Watkin Path is definitely one of the toughest routes, which has the benefit of being slightly quieter than other routes. It starts nearest sea level and therefore has the greatest elevation of all the routes. It’s beautifully scenic with a nice waterfall en route. The top part of the route is along loose scree and can be hard to follow. Watch out for the steep drops. It was named after Sir Edward Watkin, a Liberal MP and railway entrepreneur, who had a summer house at the start of the path and created the pathway in the 19th century.

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Crib Goch

How long? 4 miles one way

Difficulty: Very hard

Crib Goch is a knife-edged arête with steep drops on either side. As one of the toughest routes on Snowdon, it is not suitable for novice hikers or those with a fear of heights. It is highly exposed, so shouldn’t be attempted in bad weather or strong winds. However, it is one of the most rewarding with stunning views across the range. The Crib Goch route is a Grade 1 scramble, so bear in mind you will using your hands much more than the other routes.

The Snowdon Horseshoe

How long? 7 miles in total

Difficulty: Moderate to very hard

If you weren’t left too jelly legged by Crib Goch, you can continue round on the full Snowdon Horseshoe, one of the most famous mountain hiking challenges in the UK. After Crib Goch and bagging the summit, carry on round and descend via. Y Lliwedd which is equally challenging and exposed, but will leave you with a real sense of accomplishment at the end. Make sure you leave between 6 and 10 hours to complete the whole route.

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