Chasing the Moon and the Milky Way at Glaslyn
Night walk on one of Snowdon’s main trails. Note that the distance is one way and allow plenty of time if you’re walking this at night.
|5 km||328 m||4 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Pen y Pass
There’s a good cafe at Pen y Pass these days, as well as public toilets in the same block. Over the road you’ll find Mallory’s Bar in the Pen y Pass Youth Hoste
The mountain environment is challenging the daytime – so extra care and equipment will be needed for this trip.
Sherpa Buses from Llanberis, Betws-y-Coed, Beddgelert, Caernarfon and Porthmadog stop at Pen y Pass at varying frequencies. Check out the Snowdon Sherpa page on Walk up Snowdon for the latest Snowdon Sherpa rundown.Traveline for UK Public Transport
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav (where applicable):
Pen y Pass is the obvious choice but a £10 fee and limited availability often rule it out. You may need to arrive before 7am to get a space.
Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?
Chasing the Moon and the Milky Way at Glaslyn Route Map and GPX Download
Chasing the Moon and the Milky Way at Glaslyn Details
Sometimes, walking to the summit of Snowdon may not be for you. Maybe you’re after a shorter walk to suit your fitness or group, perhaps you want to avoid the snow or you want something that can be followed in the dark. The Miner’s Track as far as Glaslyn fits all these criteria (though it depends on snow levels obviously!!) being a straightforward path that ends at one of the most spectacular spots in Snowdonia.
As Snowdonia is an internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve, we followed this route in order to take some night shots of the Milky Way, or failing that at least some stars, with the moon being the consolation prize if it did cloud over. We even had a travel telescope with us that we’re still trying to review properly on the hill![alert variation=”alert-danger”]This route can still be a challenging proposition! It’s comparatively easier than walking to the summit of Snowdon, but this is by no means an ‘easy’ walk and we’ve classified it as a HARD WALK![/alert]
1 The route starts in Pen y Pass – which you should find a space late in the day, but there will be no public transport. If you’re based in the Youth Hostel, then that’s perfect! The Miner’s Track starts at the far left of the car park (with your back to the main road) and is well signposted. There’s also a weather forecast that’s updated daily at the start of the path, it’s recommended you keep an eye on this!
2 The Miner’s Track ascends gently, rather endlessly at times, past Llyn Teyrn and then on to Llyn Llydaw. If time is short, then this makes a perfectly good walk in itself, with the views towards Snowdon being nothing short of superb. It is from this angle that the mountain looks it’s most rugged and dominant.
3 The Track meanders gently around Llyn Llydaw, adding a bit of distance to the trip, before ascending quite sharply up to Glaslyn. It’s only the first section that’s steep and rough underfoot. The angle thankfully relents as you walk the final section to the mountain tarn – Glaslyn.
4 At Glaslyn, you can continue along the lakeside as far as the copper mine ruins and river at the far end. Snowdon absolutely dominates the view, and I struggled to get any sort of photographs here even with an ultra wide angle lens.
It was also getting dark, with a few stars beginning to appear, and looking promising. We had half an hour before the moon rose and washed out the stars, so the window of opportunity was rather limited. Anything we got tonight would be a bonus. Of course, there was a few clouds about as we asscended, and this quickly became total above the summit as we arrived at Glaslyn! It was clear we weren’t going to get any Milky Way shots tonight, it was both cloudy and there was still a hint of sunset in the sky making it just too light. The travel ‘scope didn’t leave the pack.
Even so, you only need a few gaps in the cloud to get a few shots that may not be spectacular, but worth taking.
And then here was that moonrise. Even if we didn’t get the Milky Way, a few snaps of the moonrise over Llyn Llydaw made it worth it. We’d have liked more time, but the walk had been longer than expected, it was bitterly cold and the hospitality of Mallory’s at Pen y Pass was calling.
Oh yes, you can always create your own photos at night rather than relying on the night sky.
Our top tips on catching the night sky –
- Weather forecast – Keep an eye on the cloud cover. You may get a short break in the cloud that may just make the trip worth it.
- New moon – The moon washes out a lot of detail. The new moon is the best time, or when the moon hasn’t yet risen.
- Be ready at a moment’s notice – Planning ahead is a bit pointless, you need to take advantage of the perfect condition when they appear.
- Patience and pragmatism – Odds on you’ll get clouded out. It seems that 9 times out of 10, despite the forecast, we get clouded out. We may well be unlucky, but that’s the mountains for you! So make the trip worth doing in itself, with anything else a bonus, and allow plenty of time to wait for conditions to change. By the time we reached Pen y Pass, it had improved!