The Eryri Way Long Distance Footpath
Route Summary: The Original Snowdonia Long Distance Footpath as devised by Dave Roberts way back when..
The Original Snowdonia Long Distance Footpath as devised by Dave Roberts way back when..
|133.93 km||3790 m||7 days is a reasonable duration|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Penrhyndeudraeth to Caernarfon
The Eryri Way Long Distance Footpath Route Map and GPX Download
The Eryri Way fits nicely onto a couple of maps – with the Mountain Map from Harvey Maps being the lightest option – but doesn’t include some extremities of the route!
The Eryri Way Guidebooks:
Summits and Places on this Route
- Bedd Gelert – Gelert’s Grave ( metres)
The Eryri Way Long Distance Footpath Details
Eryri is full of popular walking trails, from the paths up to Cwm Idwal to the motorways up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). What it didn’t have at the time of designing the Eryri Way is a backpacker’s long distance trail. The Cambrian Way, which failed to gain official status in 1970s – a mixed blessing – cuts north across the highest terrain and might be suitable for the peak bagger or the very fit. The Cambrian Way could also be combined with a Half-Eryri Way with a high level traverse and am mid level return to the start Then there’s the North Wales Path that cuts across from the northern end of Offa’s Dyke National Trail to Bangor. The section of the NWP across from Conwy to above Aber is possibly the best mid level walk in the area across green paths and fields the colour and texture of golf courses. Finally, there are the pretenders to the crown – the Snowdonia Way and Taith Eryri, which does seem suspiciously similar to the Eryri Way…
The idea for the Eryri Way Trail came from an idea I had in the early 90s of a walk around the old boundary of Caernarfonshire. Since then the Wales Coast Path has organised the Caernarfon to Porthmadog section of the walk so I needed to devise a suitable walk from Porthmadog to Caernarfon. Originally, it was intended to go via Cwm Ystradllyn but the path wasn’t good and finding it was generally impossible (as it wasn’t there). The second option was to follow the floodplain to Aberglaslyn, but the Welsh Highland Railway had removed some bridges necessitating a brief swim if this route is to be undertaken.
Finally, I realised that the route should start from Penrhyndeudraeth. It has the advantage of turning the first half into a Coast to Coast that would be an excellent trip if you only have three days or so to spare. You can make use of the railway system too, as there is a Ffestiniog narrow gauge railway and a regular station here. It would be possible to walk this route by public transport and return to a base at night. You can even catch the narrow gauge railway from the walks’ end at Caernarfon to Penrhyndeudraeth, which makes a fitting end or even start to the trip.
Ancient tracks lead the way, as do natural features like passes and valleys. You pass by all the highest peaks and get to see Snowdon from every different angle. You get to see Eryri in a different light, walk along rarely frequented paths and enjoy a quiet side to Snowdonia whilst still in the thick of it.
The Eryri Way Route Description
We are currently re-writing the individual sections for the Eryri Way – which means you’ll have a full online guidebook available for FREE for the entire length. We are also working out whether the Eryri Way works better as a circular route with a couple of different entry points – e.g. from Conwy, Bangor, Caernarfon, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Betws y Coed…
The walk has something for most people. Even if you want to go and bag some peaks, you can easily bolt on the summits of Cnicht, Snowdon by the South Ridge, Moel Siabod, Carnedd Llewelyn and Tal y Fan. However, while the walk itself is on good paths, some of these excursions will take you across faint paths and may well leave the path altogether in some places, so good navigation will be needed. That said, if you’re expecting to climb the above mountains on a 140km backpack, I’d imagine your navigational skills and experience would be up to scratch. We have no intention of going out there and way-marking this route – we don’t think there’s any room on some of the posts for any more markings!
The Eryri Way can be divided into 6 legs – though many will choose to reduce the longer days down into shorter ones.
1 Penrhyndeudraeth to Beddgelert (16km) (20km with Cnicht).
2 Beddgelert to Capel Curig (30km)
3 Capel Curig to Conwy (28km)
4 Conwy – Rachub (33km)
5 Rachub – Llanberis (23km)
6 Llanberis – Caernarfon (16km)
The divisions above are one possible division of the walk. The walk can be walked in longer legs by a fit person, but 5 days for the walk would be very good going. We are in the process of adding a full route description to the above sections that will be linked to from this page.
From Penrhyndeudraeth, the old tracks take you over to Croesor, offering the classic views of Cnicht before entering the Aberglaslyn Gorge and up into the picture postcard village of Beddgelert. Follow the valley upstream, past Llyn Dinas and Gwynant, before crossing some high and wild moor to Dolwyddelan and the castle of the Welsh Princes. Continuing north, we enter Capel Curig (though there’s also the option of detouring to Betws y Coed, I’m undecided!), make use of its facilities and make our way past Llyn Cowlyd – the deepest in the park – and Eigiau before dropping down to Llanbedr-y-Cennin and into the Bull for a swift pint. It’s then back up and around Tal y Fan and it’s megalithic remains, to Sychnant and the optional extension to Conwy.
The next section of the route is across land that doesn’t feel high but is probably at a higher average height than any other section as you remain at about 400m. While the North Wales Path takes an unwelcome descent into Llanfairfechan necessitating an immediate re-ascent to regain all the lost height! The Eryri Way contours around the base of Tal y Fan and while it isn’t a clear path, it is very easy ground to follow and the summit itself not overly hard. On contouring around, you arrive at the Bwlch y Ddeufaen roman road and the North Wales Path which takes us down to Aber and the spectacular Falls, before crossing green hillsides and across high cols to Rachub.
The final leg shows another change in the character of the hills. We cross the heathery slopes of Moel y Ci, down to Llyn Padarn and see yet another classic view of Snowdon. We start to see more human history, and there is plenty here for the industrial archaeologist. Another Welsh castle is passed, and the old track over Cefn Du where Marconi sent radio signals to Australia for the first time, and down to Waunfawr and the Gwyrfai valley. A final high on Moel Smytho, before descending via farmland and country lanes to Caernarfon and its mediaeval castle.
So it’s got something for all tastes. History, nature, great views and scenery, some of the great little trains of Wales and some pubs that sell some excellent beer.
As for following the route by bike, there are definitely large sections of the route that are on Bridleways. With just minor modification, you could easily travel as far as Abergwyngregyn before you really need to get off the Eryri Way. Even then, a pleasant alternative can be followed along country lanes to Llanberis and the walking route followed from there to Caernarfon.
If you’ve completed the route, why not join the Eryri Way Group to share experiences and suggest alternatives?
We’ve an alternative Circular Eryri Way – something that we realised was an option with the opening of the Lon Gwyrfai between Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu. The idea would be to start it from any of the main points, but without the need for the dog leg to Caernarfon ,from Penrhyndeudraeth to Beddgelert or to Conwy. In fact, we devised it as a bit of a challenge walk as it comes in around the 100km mark. Better still – you could complete those dog legs to join the circuit. We’ll add more information as we work it out.
The Eryri Way Public Transport
Whether you drive or arrive by public Transport, you’ll end up making use of the trains and buses. If you park in Penrhyndeudraeth, then the obvious way back is via the Welsh Highland Railway and Ffestiniog Railways that now run all the way from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog (with a change ar Porthmadog)
Snowdonia is reasonably well provided for by the Sherpa buses. Trains also serve some of the west coast and Dolwyddelan and Blaenau Ffestiniog. While the timetable varies annually, it is generally along the same routes and similar frequency. It must be remembered that many routes only operate from Easter to the end of September and the services may be limited in the winter.
There will also be more transport during school holidays on some routes (though some may then lack the school time buses). I have tried to give details of what bus to catch for each route, but they change annually so it is vital that you acquire the bus timetables for the area, free from the county council website. There are also trains operating along the north coast and down the Conwy valley to Dolwyddelan and Blaenau Ffestiniog. These are detailed in the timetable.
Where to Stay on the Eryri Way
Wild Camping and Bothies.
I have wild camped and bivvied along the length of the path, and it is possible to camp wild along most of its length. You may well find a couple of legs need to be longer to reach a suitable camp, and others shorter. I’ve bivvied in the forest on one leg, and it was a superb night. It was probably too early in the year to have done so and I froze, but it was still one of the best nights out in the open I’ve ever had, gazing at the stars and spotting meteorites and the International Space Station whizz past.
If you do choose to wild camp, follow some sensible rules that ensure you leave no trace. This may seem common sense, even down right patronising, but if you visit some of the popular wild camping spots and see the mess that’s been left by irresponsible individuals and groups (who are, thankfully, in a minority) you’d understand why.
You will need to be aware of the laws and un-written rules of wild camping. It is technically illegal to wild-camp without the land owner’s permission. Unfortunately, the Right to Roam act failed to provide the common sense access laws that Scotland have, where wild camping is now legal within reasonable limits. However, it is tolerated in Wales provided that people observe some common sense.
Camp high, not in a field full of grazing cows next to the farmhouse.
- Camp late and leave camp early.
- Leave no trace. Your site should not be an obvious campsite the next day. Take all your litter out.
- Human waste should be deposited 200m away from water, downstream and solids buried. Paper should be burned (but beware the fire risk), or if you use wet wipe tissues, then you can double bag them out. Yes, this sounds disgusting, but you will have a rubbish bag anyway, so they’d be in that too (triple bagged). I’ve not had problems yet.
That said; remember that you could still in theory be asked to move along by the landowner.
That out of the way, you can really get to grips with the mountains when you can stay there after everyone else has gone home. It will often be just you and the hill. You need a water supply, a dry and flat place to pitch, out of sight of buildings and ideally with a cracking view.
Official Campsites, Youth Hostels, Bunkhouses, B&Bs and Hotels.
It is possible to use official campsites for virtually all the route. Each day ends at a village where there will be some sort of facility available. This has the advantage over wild camping in that you are usually within walking distance of pubs and cafes, so it means you don’t have to worry about carrying enough food.
Youth hostels and bunkhouses are passed at Nant Gwynant, Capel Curig, Ro Wen, Conwy, Bethesda and Llanberis. There are more salubrious accommodation available along the route and you should not have any problems in finding suitable hotels or B&B rooms along the route if you book in advance. Check the business on the Eryri Way at the top of the post for more information
Shops and General Supplies.
The route is very well provided for on most stretches. I doubt you could travel for much more than 15km without passing some sort of pub or café, with very little detouring needed. There are basic shops on the way too, in Beddgelert and Capel Curig that provide simple supplies. Dolwyddelan, Conwy, Bethesda and Llanberis have much larger convenience stores where most items may be bought. As for outdoor supplies, Beddgelert, Capel Curig, Conwy and Llanberis have outdoor stores where you can pick up gas for stoves. We also found the Spar in Dolwyddelan sold meths which I used on one traverse of the way.
Ultrarunning and fastpacking The Eryri Way
The route, being designed to be as easy to follow as possible, makes it suited to an ultrarunning challenge. It’s up to the individual runner how they choose to tackle this, but it’s doable in one day for the super fit. A decent challenge for fast packers would be to complete it in 3 days.
Some would say that running it misses the point that the runner sees less than the walker. As someone with feet firmly in both camps as it were, I have to disagree. If you’re aware enough, you see a lot while running. I find that as you move faster, you tend to catch wild creatures unawares and get a glimpse that would be long gone by the time the walker arrives. You probably talk less running, and the silent traveller at whatever speed will see more than the pack of noisy pedestrians more interested in each other than their surroundings. I’ll guarantee you that the solo traveller, whether running or walking, has the best of it in this regard.