Walk up Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach from Pen y Pass

Route Information

Pen-y-Pass, Snowdonia National Park, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55, UK


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Route Summary:

A quieter walk up the Glyderau that’s not as exciting as the routes from Ogwen, but makes up for this to some extent with views towards Snowdon and Crib Goch.

Distance: 10 Kms

Ascent: 800 metres

Time: 4-5 hours

Start and Finish: Pen y Pass to  Pen y Gwryd Hotel, or return to start.


Cafe, parking WC.

Hazards: Navigation can be tricky. some clambering over boulders.

Public Transport:

Sherpa Buses from Llanberis and Betws y Coed.

Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav: Limited in Pen y pass 

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather


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Walk up Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach from Pen y Pass

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This walk up Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach, aka the Glyderau, is a slightly unusual walk in many respects. Not many people find their way to Pen y Pass, fight the crowds and then cross the road to the Glyderau rather than climbing Snowdon. You’ll also be bucking the trend as most people ascend Glyder Fawr from Ogwen rather than Pen y Pass.

This is an exploration of the less known side of the Glyderau, and hopefully too, less popular. Be warned though, that the path is indistinct in places and can be difficult to follow even when visibility is good.

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The Route

1 The ascent of Glyder Fawr from Pen y Pass starts from the stile to the left of the youth hostel. The path takes you left and you are soon crossing boggy land. At this initial stage, the path is relatively easy to follow. If you spot some crimson splotches of paint on the rocks, then these way mark the route (unofficially) and are worth following (though they disappear when most needed) even if we think they’re vandalism. Within minutes, the lake of Llyn Cwmffynnon appears below Moel Berfedd. This minor summit is surely one worth visiting at some point, being in such a central position.

2 The path continues up the broad shoulder of Glyder Fawr, and from now on, care should be taken with navigation as the path is sketchy and easily lost. Just ensure you are going uphill, as bar one flat area (with a large rocky pavement), it is all slog.

3 Once you can see the summit rocks, there is no reason why you cannot aim straight for it, especially as the paths you’ll follow will often vanish with no warning! Thankfully the summit is rather obvious in clear weather, having two large mounds of jagged rocks. You’ll need to climb up both, just for the hell of it.

4  From Glyder Fawr, head across the rocky plateau to the Bwlch y Ddwy Glyder. It can be tricky in mist, but there are plenty of cairns that help you navigate.

5 After Bwlch y Ddwy Glyder, veer right where a path should see you contouring below Castell Y Gwynt. The climb isn’t obbvious, but keep an eye out for a bouldery scramble to your left which brings you out at Castell y Gwynt.

6 This is an interesting crenellation of vertically shattered rock that is nothing but a distraction on these mountains. What other, less well endowed, hills would do for a summit like this! Keep close to Castell y Gwynt, or better still, scramble over it, before crossing the boulder strewn summit of Glyder Fach. The summit proper is a pile of rounded boulders, so contrasting in character to it’s larger sibling that lies only a kilometer away. Today I skipped the summit and skirted it to the left to find the Cantilever and the Miner’s Track.

7 OK, stop here and take your photos of the Cantilever if you must. Try and tip it too, whatever. You won’t be alone. The path that veers left takes you to the top of Bristly Ridge, don’t go this way (it is easily recognised as it has a cairn). Instead carry on over the summit to find the Miner’s Track. It is a decent path in places, and easy to lose in others.

8 But you soon arrive at the bwlch where the Miner’s Track leaves Ogwen and drops down to Pen y Gwryd. Follow it right over some boggy ground, there are dried up ponds here, so be careful in poor visibility. When you see the ground dropping away, veer right.

9 From now on, the path is easy to follow, although rough. It has a stream flowing down much of it, and is generally a steep descent. The only problem now is the final section that is exceptionally boggy. There is a faint path, but aim for the stile or footbridge that you should be able to spot in most situations from the higher ground just before. The path from here is a couple of hundred metres, and you’re in the Pen Y Gwryd Hotel for a pint of whatever.

You can return to Pen-y-pass by following the second stage of our Moel Berfedd walk.

For more walks up Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach, visit our All the Walking Routes up Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach article.

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