Walk up Snowdon’s South Ridge from Nant Gwynant
Route Summary: The best route up Snowdon’s Allt Maenderyn, or South, Ridge.
The best route up Snowdon’s Allt Maenderyn, or South, Ridge.
|6.55 km||1012 m||3.5 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Nant Gwynant - Snowdon Summit
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Walk up Snowdon’s South Ridge from Nant Gwynant Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Walk up Snowdon’s South Ridge from Nant Gwynant Details
The South Ridge up Snowdon is, surprisingly, not one of the six routes to the top of Snowdon, despite being the best of the lot! While the South Ridge is often started from Rhyd Ddu, the approach via The Watkin Path and Bwlch Cwm Llan from Nant Gwynant is a much more natural line to take and we think is the better approach. It helps that it’s quieter and is ideal for those who don’t want to follow everyone else up the Watkin Path, then this might be more suitable.
It’s also more correctly known as the Allt Maenderyn Ridge – according to Dewi Jones the park warden, and he knows what he’s talking about!
Snowdon Allt Maenderyn (South) Ridge from Nant Gwynant Route Description
1 From the Nant Gwynant car park, head left towards the bridge and cross the main road to the start of the Watkin Path. The path winds its way pleasantly through woodland, before emerging on the original Watkin Path as this woodland section has only been added recently and isn’t marked on some maps.
2 The track is easy to follow, and contours around the hillside high above the Afon Cwm Llan and its waterfalls. Higher up you’ll spot small pools in the river that are popular spots for cooling your feet on the descent – or even for sitting in on those very rare hot summer days.
3 The Track finally enters the upper section of Cwm Llan, which is marked by the micro hydropower plant built by the National Trust. At this point turn left up the less distinct track, which after a clamber over the initial section becomes a clear track pulling uphill to the tramway. The tramway makes the route easy to follow, with the going good for 600m or so.
4 Ensure that you head off the tramway after 600m – with the path being faint and easy to miss. There’s work afoot to improve this footpath, which after this non-existent beginning becomes a built path in places. Head towards the obvious col at Bwlch Cwm Llan, which has the path ahead clearly visible. The final pull up to the bwlch is short but loose in places, with one section of very easy scrambling where hands may be needed.
5 From Bwlch Cwm Llan, the path continues onto the South Ridge proper along a steep staircase before the going relents. The ridge ahead is now a combination of small rocky steps, often just large enough to require an easy scramble, and flat easy paths. The main obstacle, dare I say the bad step, is just past the summit of Allt Maenderyn just past the wall at SH604 529. There’s a short section of scrambling along jagged rock that’s rather unpleasant to walk on. It does add some interest!
6 After the short scramble, the path relents before it takes on a serious uphill effort to bring you up to Bwlch Main with around 200m of climbing in around 0.5km.
7 Bwlch Main is a narrow, grassy ridge that’s one of the highlights of Snowdon. It’s the green ridge to the red of Crib Goch, and appropriately easier to boot. There are a few sections of easy scrambling, with extensive and airy views down into Cwm Tregalan to one side and Cwm Clogwyn and its lakes to the other. It would be best to avoid in strong winds, though only a couple of sections have mild exposure to both sides at once, the path does keep an airy route to one side of the ridge and then the other. It should be a delight for anyone who regularly walks mountains, though question your choice of route if you’re not!
8 Eventually the highlight of Bwlch Main is behind you as you join the Watkin Path to the summit of Snowdon, and the crowds of people jostling for their place on the summit proper.
It’s a good descent route, and it’s the recommended descent if you’ve ascended via the Watkin Path. There’s no real difficulties other than noted above, except you need to take care when the path splits from the Rhyd Ddu path to ensure you continue on the ridge as far as possible rather than heading off right. The Bad Step mentioned above is also tricky, but is more unpleasant underfoot than anything technically difficult. The descent from Bwlch Cwm Llan is steep and loose, with one section needing particular care in descent.