Off the Beaten Track in Snowdonia
Snowdonia, like all of the popular National Parks has its well known attractions and honeypots. If you mention you’ve spent the weekend in Snowdonia then invariably someone will ask if you’ve got a photo posing on the Cantilever, jumping between Adam and Eve and defying gravity on Crib Goch. While these landmarks are popular on merit, you may well be missing out on some of the real Snowdonia by just sticking to the well-known spots.
The Carneddau are the most expansive area of high ground south of Scotland, which makes them excellent for long tough mountain days. Little do most people know that you can walk a bite size section of the North Carneddau along a delightful mini ridge that has a bit of everything! While this walk from Aber to Yr Orsedd may only be 6km, the views and grandeur more than make up for the altitude and distance.
Those looking for more adventure should head directly into the heart of these mountains via the little known Cwm Caseg, which is one of the longest approaches in North Snowdonia. This hidden cwm is secluded and has a somewhat Scottish feel. It comes complete with a high mountain tarn, Ffynnon Caseg, and finishes with an easy scramble up to Yr Elen. You can then continue to the rest of the High Carneddau, with the ridge between Llewelyn and Dafydd able to take its place as one of the best ridge walks between any two UK mountains.
Across the Ogwen Valley, lie the Glyderau where the attention is usually on the same few places; Tryfan, Glyder Fawr and Fach, especially the Cantilever and Castell y Gwynt. However, you can approach these hills from another angle with this rough and ready yomp up Braich y Ddeugwm. This ridge runs parallel to Tryfan, with impressive views to match and is wild yet still provides the walker with the opportunity to cross towards the main attractions as well.
At the other end of the range you can explore some delightful corries below Carnedd y Filiast, worth a leisurely afternoon’s walking. This is for the experienced walker only, and the final descent is a bit ropy, but totally worth the effort.
Despite the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, even Snowdon has its quieter sides. While one option would be Y Gribin scramble, which is highly recommended, there’s an even quieter route. Cwm Clogwyn is strictly for those who love to walk off the beaten path, and shouldn’t be rushed. This route explores a hanging valley, passes a number of small tarns (prime wild camping locations!), before heading up between broken crags to finally join the Rhyd Ddu path. While this may be popular, the final section along the Bwlch Main is one highlight of Snowdonia that should not be missed.
For the imaginative and adventurous hill walker, you can still venture out onto the busiest UK mountains and find your own path. Your own adventure. You just need to be prepared to walk the unknown and accept that a few of these trips will be rough, steep, bog-trotting slogs. But when you do find that gem of a route, it’ll belong to you and you alone. Those are the hill days to cherish.