Snowdon and Glyderau Horseshoe
|29.2 km||2275 m|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish:
Public Transport: Traveline for UK Public Transport
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav (where applicable):
Check out our Best Mountain Weather Forecast?
Snowdon and Glyderau Horseshoe Route Map and GPX Download
Summits and Places on this Route
Snowdon and Glyderau Horseshoe Details
If you want a tough walk, or an excellent 2 day backpack, then this walk gets you to the summit of three ot the five welsh 1000m peaks of Carnedd Ugain, Yr Wyddfa and Glyder Fawr.
Start the walk in Llanberis with the intention of following the least interesting path of them all up Yr Wyddfa. This makes a steady walk up with a pack, though if you take care with your pack weight this should hardly slow you down. Those after a more interesting and much tougher challenge should ascend via Moel Eilio and Ranger Path.
There’s a blunt ridge that parallels this path, and if you find the hordes of tourists to be a less than auspicious start to a two dayer seeking peace and quiet in the hills then attain that grassy ridge where there’s a faint path and certainly less people! Half way, of a sorts, is another of the cafes on Snowdon which is either a boon or a curse, depending on your point of view. I don’t think this is the place for cafes, but I’ve certainly been grateful for it’s presence on a hot day before now!
Once on the Summit, taking time on a decent day, you need to descend the way you came, but at Bwlch Glas where the Llanberis and Pen yPass Paths meet, there’s a third way between them up to Carnedd Ugain.
If anything, this is a finer viewpoint than it’s higher sibling. It’s certainly quieter, though still quite busy on a summer’s day.
You retrace your steps back to Bwlch Glas, though there’s always the option of descending via Crib Goch that’s the superior, if tougher option. From here, you follow the PYG track to Pen y Pass, which is generally easy enough to follow, just be careful not to lose it above open mine workings above Glaslyn. Though it’s generally those trying to find the Miner’s Path that do that, and if you do want to follow that path then there’s an obvious waymarker at where the two paths diverge.
On reaching Pen y Pass, the more hardy can stay at the Youth Hostel (is this hostel ever free of entire schools of kids?) while those who appreciate a night’s kip and like to choose when they sleep can continue onwards and wild camp between Pen y Pass and Llyn Cwmffynnon. It was a wonderful wild camp, sometime last spring, but it was both bitterly cold in the morning and the grass so dry as to make using my meths stove very difficult.
The path onwards up Glyder Fawr from here isn’t distinct, but shouldn’t pose too much problems to follow. Oddly enough, this path has been removed from the latest OS maps (online), which makes me on one hand how they decide which paths to include and on the other wonder why they bother at all considering how many obvious paths they omit and how many impossible to find paths are still included. For more instructions – this route goes into more detail.
From Glyder Fawr, in clear weather the descent to Llyn y Cwn is easy to find, while a bearing will be helpful in mist. However, once you’re off the more bouldery terrain the path becomes abundantly clear. The next section is directly down what is essentially a scree chute, which should be OK if you take your time and other parties are equally responsible. Poles are useful and walking next to the rocks provides help with balance. There is another path down that has less scree and is less eroded, but it’s difficult to find from the top and less clear in places.
Llyn y Cwn provides a natural break in the day, with an outlet stream for topping up the water bottles (though purification is essential here) and rocks for lying about like lizards.
Ahead lies a steady slog up Y Garn – which is yet another viewpoint worth talking your time over.
Finally, descending from Y Garn, the ridge becomes grassy and the path easy to follow to Elidir Fawr. Baggers can take in one of the hills named Foel-goch, with little additional effort before descending a short but steep scree path back to the main ridge.
The path contours around the head of Cwm Dudodyn, with views down towards the Marchlyn Mawr reservoir, Crib Goch and Ogwen being particularly spectacular.
Elidir Fawr is the final summit, though again you can divert and bag Mynydd Perfedd, though it’s only a slight rise on the side of Carnedd y Filiast and doesn’t really merit being called a mountain in it’s own right (those interested in minutiae will disagree). Despite that, it’s still worth climbing, probably as a dog leg to the summit of Carnedd y Filiast as well.
Elidir, or Carnedd Elidir with the newer name probably an OS fabrication to mirror the Bach and Mawr on the neighbouring Glyderau, has a deep summit shelter that provides respite in most conditions as it is walled all the way around.
Your final leg is a descent to the bump of Elidir Fach, with the scree path being difficult to find, requiring some excellent navigation and guesswork in mist. If you do miss the path, then you can continue along the summit ridge and contour off to your right once the terrain eases to reach Elidir Fach. There’s a half cairn marking the descent path, but it seems to have been destroyed by vandals – unfortunate as it is one of the few cairns in Snowdonia that I can think of that is truly useful for navigation.
From Elidir Fach, there’s a fence that you can follow (not on the map) all the way to the track marked on the map at SH600 609, which is obvious when you arrive as there’s a huge overflow hole in the mountain related to the Dinorwig hydro plant surrounded by a double fence.
Follow the tarmac road, which is strange at such an altitude, around a hairpin bend and where it next curves around you leave it for the quarry track.
Be warned that there is no official access on the next section! You can follow the tarmac road and a country lane directly into Dinorwig and rejoin this route at SH591 606 if you have any doubts!
That said, every time I’ve walked down this there have been plenty of others here, so while it’s discouraged it’s used by many. This downhill section is popular with mountain bikers too. I don’t recall any warnings at the top gate, other than keep to the tracks, which you’d do well to heed.
It wends it’s way down, on a steady track all the way down as opposed to taking short cuts along inclines and such like. The picture to the right sums up the access rights perfectly!
At the bottom of the track, you turn left towards the viewpoint (worth taking a look down) and past it along an old incline. This is one of the Padarn CountryPark trails and waymarked. After about 500m, turn right along the Anglesey Barracks, and left at the end of this abandoned terrace. This final section is known as the Zig Zags locally, and was part of the quarrymen’s route to work. It is now eroded in parts, and while you can mostly follow the original path with it’s high slate walls, some sections are diverted.
This soon arrives in Llanberis, where you turn right towards the slate museum, but then left over the footbridge before it to cross a wide flat field at the head of Llyn Padarn. The path leads into the village of Llanberis, with the option of a pint at the newly refurbished Heights Hotel (without doubt the best beer in town – three in an hour last time I was there it was so good!) or Pete’s Eats.