Snowdon South Ridge from Rhyd Ddu
Route Summary: Snowdon via the South Ridge is the best walk up Snowdon.
Snowdon via the South Ridge is the best walk up Snowdon.
|6.43 km||849 m||3 hours (one way)|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Rhyd Ddu to Snowdon Summit
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Snowdon South Ridge from Rhyd Ddu Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Snowdon South Ridge from Rhyd Ddu Details
The Snowdon South Ridge path usually elicits a blank expression on most walkers when you mention routes up Snowdon. Those in the know however, realise that this is an absolute gem of a route that stands modestly in the shadows, shunning the limelight.
In comparison, the PYG, Miners Track and Watkin Paths are cheap, talentless reality TV z-listers desperately seeking endless attention. The South Ridge knows it’s good, and is happy to stand back a little until you realise it! One of the best routes up Yr Wyddfa has to be the South Ridge, and if you’re lucky enough to do it on an misty evening you’ll have a good chance of seeing Brocken spectres on the clouds below.
The walk starts off steady enough, following an old quarry track to Bwlch Cwm Llan before following the South Ridge up to the narrow Bwlch Main ridge and finally the summit. It’s usually quieter than the Rhyd Ddu path, which join up together at Bwlch Main and so makes a natural descent for this walk.
Snowdon South Ridge Route Description
1 From the car park at Rhyd Ddu, facing the mountain – walk to your left to the end of the WHR platform and cross the railway at the second gate (waymarked for Snowdon). Continue on this track for a 100m until the track splits – taking the right hand fork uphill.
2 The track is wide and good, and being a former quarry track ascends gently as it meanders its way up to the path junction known as Pen ar Lon.
3 At Pen ar Lon, continue dead ahead, with the paths left and right being way-marked for the Rhyd Ddu path and Lon Gwyrfai respectively. The route ahead isn’t way-marked, and continues the gradual climb as far as Bwlch Cwm Llan through old quarry workings. You will need to take care of open workings near the path in places. At SH602 521 keep left and continue up a step slate path rather than taking the stile to the right (which also brings you out at the Bwlch, just a bit further south than you need to be.
4 At Bwlch Cwm Llan you join the loose path from Nant Gwynant which starts the initial ascent up the South Ridge proper. This is a steep slog up a path that’s initially scree, but soon along well built steps.
5 The ascent becomes steady along the South Ridge, which climbs gently upwards. You’ll need to scramble up one section, which comprises of jagged rocks that can be uncomfortable in light footwear, but adds definite interest. Once the path begins to ascend steeply, you know you’re almost at the end of the section and onto Bwlch Main.
6 Bwlch Main is a short walk (with a couple of sections needing hands that are too minor to call scrambles) with some exposure along the way. You’ll also join the Rhyd Ddu Path up Snowdon, and while you may well have had the path to yourself since leaving that path at Pen ar Lon even in high summer, you’ll need to share Bwlch Main. The views down into Cwm Clogwyn on your left and Cwm Llan and Lliwedd on the right makes this an exceptional way to approach Snowdon.
7 After only a brief section, Bwlch Main is over far too soon as you reach a flat area just below Snowdon’s Summit. The going becomes busier as the Watkin Path also joins this final section as you ascend first to Hafod Eryri, and then on to Snowdon Summit. We recommend descending via the Rhyd Ddu path.
The South Ridge in Descent.
You’ll need to find the path, by finding the entrance into Hafod Eryri. The path descends clearly, to the junction with the Watkin Path. Head onwards and over Bwlch Main. Keep an eye out for where the path splits with the Rhyd Ddu path – instead keeping on the ridge as long as possible rather than descending along a contouring path.
The only section to be wary of on the South Ridge proper is the short section of down scrambling around half way down. It’s rough underfoot and requires some care. The final descent to Bwlch Cwm Llan is also steep, but does have good steps for most of the way. At Bwlch Cwm Llan, turn right and follow the track to re-join the Rhyd Ddu path at Pen ar Lon, and then down to finish the walk at Rhyd Ddu.
More Snowdon South Ridge Photos