Best Mountain Walks in Snowdonia
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About Best Mountain Walks in Snowdonia
Snowdonia has such a wide selection of mountain walks, it’s a challenge to choose from them. While some of the absolute classic walks and scrambles such as Tryfan and Crib Goch are a shoo in, the remainder might be a bit harder to choose from.
So we’ve limited the choices to no more than 2 routes from a range in order to keep the list short and ourselves focused. We’ve also limited this to actual Snowdonia – not like some best walks in Snowdonia posts which then go on to list walks that are NOT even partially in the National Park or go on to boast a list of best walks in Snowdonia and then list 5 or 6 mediocre walks in Snowdonia as that’s all they’ve actually got to offer.
Anyone having walked all of these routes will have walked all the main walking routes in Snowdonia – bar something like the Miners’ Track and PYG Tracks, which owing to the rules we gave ourselves to include only two from each range, were excluded.
A wide expanse of high mountains in the north of the park, the Carneddau has plenty of big walks and the largest expanse of high ground south of Scotland. There are numerous routes up to the highest point of Carnedd Llywelyn, but these are the best two walks in our opinion. We have a soft spot for a circuit from Rachub to Carnedd Llywelyn, but it’s not as grand or exciting as these two routes.
Height Gained – 900 metres , Distance -16.5 km, Time –7 hours
Some will take the steep and direct walk up Pen yr Ole Wen from Ogwen, but what to they know! Just around the corner, Pen yr Ole Wen’s East Ridge provides an excellent scrambly approach to the Carneddau. With only one section of proper scrambling (seen below), it’s much easier than the direct route which has sections of scree and isn’t the most pleasant route (it can also be tricky to find in descent). Taking in the excellent Carnedd Dafydd – Carnedd Llywelyn Ridge, and a descent down Craig yr Ysfa that requires the negotiation of a ‘bad step’ – there’s plenty of variety. Ending with a descent past Ffynnon Llygwy, you could extend the walk to include Pen yr Helgi Du and Pen Llithrig y Wrach
Height Gained – 1100 metres, Distance – 16 km, Time – 6 -7 hours hours.
There are a number of options here – with our favourite option being an ascent via Yr Elen NE ridge and descending the Mynydd Du ridge from Carnedd Dafydd. This route has an impressive approach through Cwm Caseg and a straightforward scramble up to Yr Elen before the final climb up to Carnedd Llywelyn which can be found here along with the remainder of the Cwm Llafar Horseshoe. The ridge walk to Carnedd Dafydd is one of the best in Snowdonia, and the final descent back to Gerlan is straightforward enough although along sketchy paths for most of the way.
Glyderau and Tryfan
One of the most distinctive areas of mountain in the country, with almost all the summits well known stars of the mountains. Best viewed and walked from the Ogwen side, the mountain of Tryfan is included on both routes – for good reason. The first route is the best for non-scramblers – and could exclude Tryfan completely. The second is for experienced scramblers only!
Height Gained – 1200 metres , Distance –12 km, Time –7 hours
The first appearance of Tryfan, which we’ve included on both our Glyderau routes, and one of the must do Welsh mountains. This route starts off up the NE ridge of Y Garn, a better route than the popular Devil’s Kitchen route, before taking in both Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach with an optional scramble over Castell y Gwynt. The final summit of the day is Tryfan by the South Ridge, a totally optional final leg which can be excluded for those who really don’t want to scramble.
Height Gained – 875 metres, Distance – 6.5 km, Time –6-8 hours.
The ultimate scrambler’s route – including four named scrambles! Ascending Tryfan North Ridge, before continuing along Tryfan South Ridge and up Glyder Fach via Bristly Ridge. Finally, it’s down Y Gribin to end one of the best scrambling horseshoes in the country.
Wyddfa / Snowdon Range
Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and has so many routes to the summit that it should be difficult to select a best walk. However, a number of routes stand out head and shoulder above the rest and these are unequivocally the best routes up Snowdon in our opinion and not one mention of Llanberis anywhere.
Height Gained 1040m, Distance 12km, Time 6 hrs+
From one of the best scrambling route to what’s arguably THE best scrambling route! Traversing the spectacular and exposed Crib Goch and then Crib y Ddysgl on the way to the summit of Snowdon before descending over the scrambly summit of Y Lliwedd. Not recommended for those without a good head for height and some proper mountain experience.
Height Gained – 1530 metres, Distance – 17 km, Time – allow 8 hours.
While Crib Goch is the best scrambling route up Snowdon, it’s the South Ridge that takes the crown for the best walk. We distrust anyone who talks of six routes to the summit of Snowdon and choose to exclude this absolute gem of a route. While arguably it joins the Rhyd Ddu Path for the final section, so does the Watkin Path. From the north, every other path from Llanberis, Ranger, Miner’s and PYG Tracks join up to the summit – so that argument doesn’t wash.
The route also includes the summit of Y Lliwedd and descends down via Yr Aran, both worthy summits. You can also ascend the Watkin and descend the South Ridge directly to Nant Gwynant, excluding Yr Aran, if you want a less challenging route.
The Eifionnydd hills nestle to the west of Snowdon and despite being so close to the most popular mountain in the UK, provide some top quality quiet walks. There’s the outlying Mynydd Mawr, which stands alone and is our local Mud and Routes mountain – yet we haven’t included it in our top walks – Mynydd Mawr From Fron.
Height Gained – 1050 metres, Distance – 14 km, Time –6 hours.
There are a number of options for completion of the Nantlle Ridge, from the linear traverse to a number of circular options. We’ve opted here for the traditional linear traverse of the Nantlle Ridge from Rhyd Ddu to Nebo, including all the summits from Y Garn , Mynydd Drws-y-coed , Trum y Ddysgl , Mynydd Tal-y-mignedd , Craig Cwm Silyn , Garnedd-goch to Mynydd Graig Goch .
Height Gained – 975 metres, Distance – 15 km, Time –5-6 hours.
The mountain of Moel Hebog is highly visible from Beddgelert, which makes it a popular walk. It it also a surprisingly tough climb, with the route being harder to find in places than those up Snowdon. It’s not hard in hill walking terms, but still has enough variety along the way to keep your interest. The return leg over Moel yr Ogof and Moel Lefn however, really brings the level of the whole walk up.
Moelwynion and Siabod
Grouping Moel Siabod and the Moelwynion together is rather a marriage of convenience, with Siabod really more of a stand alone mountain and that it is connected to the Moelwyion to the south by high ground unbroken by any roads. One option that nearly made the grade is a full traverse of the Moelwynion and Moel Siabod – best served as a two day trip.
Height Gained – 830 metres, Distance – 12 km, Time –4-5 hours.
Standing alone, Moel Siabod is often thought of as a half-day walk, usually from Capel Curig. However, there are many routes up Moel Siabod with the Daear Ddu scramble the best of the lot. It’s one of those scrappy scrambles, and you might even miss most of the hand on rock action if you’re not careful. You can also seek out a harder line along the crest, if you so wished. You can then descend along the Pony Path or the NE Ridge directly to Pont Cyfyng.
Height Gained – 1000 metres, Distance – 16 km, Time –6 hours.
This is one of the classic Snowdonia walks, with our version taking the alternative anti-clockwise approach. Most will ascend Cnicht from Croesor first, before crossing Bwlch y Rhosydd to Moelwyn Mawr and finally Moelwyn Bach. We’d also recommend extending the walk across to Ysgafell Wen and the outlying summits if time permits. Cnicht might seem a simple mountain – but there are enough walks up to the summit to justify it’s own All the Walks up Cnicht article.
Best Walks in South Snowdonia
This includes all the ranges from the Rhinogydd, Arenig, Cader Idris and Aran Fawddwy. So while there are four walks here, we’re certainly not suggesting that this is one range and we’re grouping them together as there are only one walk per range.
Height Gained – 900 metres, Distance – 17.5 km, Time – 6 hours.
Arenig Fawr and it’s smaller partner, Moel Llyfnant, stand quite apart from other hills in the centre of Snowdonia. While there are other summits in the Arenig – it’s more of a geographical area than a mountain range. Arenig Fach and Carnedd y Filiast stand on the opposite side of the main road and are more correctly joined to the Molewynion than the Arenig (or actually, all the hills from the Crimea Pass to Llyn Celyn should be classed as the Migneint Hills – as that’s the one unifying feature between them).
Owing to it’s central location, the views are absolutely superb, with the same geographical isolation ensuring that it’s also reasonably quiet.
Height Gained – 1660 metres, Distance – 31 km, Time – 12 hours or longer owing to the tough terrain – or over 2 1/2 days.
While you can climb the Rhinogydd hills from a number of different locations (we’ll be publishing a complete guide soon) – there’s no doubt in our mind that a two or three day trip is the best way to enjoy these mountains. Camping wild, in one of the many mountains tarns, you can chop the walk down into a reasonably short first and third days with the bulk of the walking in day 2. This makes getting to the start and from the finish by public transport much easier. You may be wondering why we’d need to take 3 days to walk 30km. These are the Rhinogydd, and the section from Moel Penolau to Rhinog Fach comprises of rough terrain that’s unlike any other in the country. It’s not nicknamed “The Badlands” for nothing. It’s tough to navigate and has numerous vertical drops into canyons that need scrambling down and then back up from! It’s all good fun and you’ll enjoy it even more if you’re not fighting the clock.
If this is too much for you, then we recommend you try the shorter walk – Rhinog Fawr and the Badlands from Cwm Bychan.
Height Gained – 1240 metres, Distance – 23 km, Time –8 hours.
The real highest point in Mid Wales is Aran Fawddwy at 905 metres high. It doesn’t quite make the grade as one of the 14/15 Peaks – which is really convenient as the challenge wouldn’t really work if Aran Fawddwy had to be included, or would feel contrived by excluding it. It’s a tough call between the route from Llanuwchllyn and Aran Fawddwy from Cwm Cywarch, with our preferred route to be a linear walk across the Aran range. However, the start and end points are quite awkward for leaving two cars, and a tough call by public transport (though if you can get to Dinas Mawddwy early enough in the day from Dolgellau, then certainly doable)
This route also includes Aran Benllyn and a rather rough return over a couple of summits that are possibly more Hirnant than Aran, though the boundary between the ranges in this area does become rather blurry!
Height Gained – 950 metres, Distance – 9.6 km, Time – 5 to 6 hours
Cader Idris is the most popular mountain in South Snowdonia, and for good reason. The Minffordd Path is generally regarded as the best route up, and for once – we’re reluctant to disagree! Starting off via a wooded gorge, with a mountain tarn (Llyn Cau) and a ridge walk before the final climb to the summit – it’s one of the most varied and scenic walk in Snowdonia along with the Watkin Path up Snowdon.
We recommend the descent via Mynydd Moel in order to create a satisfying circular walk.