Six easy South Downs circular walks
Six easy circular walks to follow if you are visiting the South Downs. All easy to reach by bus or train if you fancy leaving the car behind.
There are many routes to the top of Snowdon itself (in Welsh 'Yr Wyddfa') with some big paths that can get crowded, but when you look across the horizon of a hundred hills you'll know why it's so popular.
The Snowdon range consists of glacial corries, knife-edged aretes and some very big mountains. There are many routes to the top of Snowdon itself (in Welsh 'Yr Wyddfa') with some big paths that can get crowded, but when you look across the horizon of a hundred hills you'll know why it's so popular.
There are a variety of routes to the top of Snowdon with different degrees of challenge, but all with tremendous scenery and breathtaking views. Llanberis path and the Ranger track are the easiest way to the top, with Rhyd-Ddu, up the Pyg and down the Miner's tracks other popular routes. The Snowdon Horseshoe should only be tackled by experienced walkers with steady nerves.
The oldest and one of the most amiable ways up Snowdon. Technically it's on a par with the Llanberis Path, yet it's quieter and scenically far more compelling. It curves around the sheer-sided cirque that lulls the waters of Llyn Du'r Arddu, before joining four other routes for the final march to the top.
One of the finest walks up Snowdon; it's quiet, it's not too taxing, and the views are breathtaking. This route starts at the village of Rhyd-Ddu, before winding up Snowdon's western incline to the sharp curve of the Llechog Cliffs and Bwlch Main. This ridge is a treat - narrow enough to be fun (needing just the occasional steadying hand), but wide enough to be a reassuring foothold in the clouds - with big panoramas of the Nantlle Valley and Moel Hebog. Huge views and fun hiking.
The Pyg Track is a pretty straightforward hike up Snowdon's eastern slopes, with occasional gnarlier boulders to make things interesting. Progress is lung- stretching from the start with a stiff haul from the car park, a levelish hiatus, then muscle-burning zigzags to the summit. Fortunately, the views just have to be stopped and gazed at often.
The Miners' Track starts with a steady clamber to Llyn Llydaw, across the causeway and on to Glaslyn. Look west and you'll spot the summit crowning a sheer wall of crag, but don't panic - this route ascends well-built steps to join the Pyg Track, before sweating up those infamous zigzags to the top. Most folk go up the Pyg and down the Miners'.
It's narrow, high, hands-on and for many the best walk ever, but for some just too scary. It shares its start with the Pyg Track before taking a sharp turn right - vertically - at Bwlch y Moch (Pass of Pigs) to Crib Goch. This boot-width spine of rock is the ultimate test, making the subsequent wide summit of Snowdon seem easy. Y Lliwedd adds spice to the horseshoe's return curve, with a vertigo-inducing view down to Llyn Llydaw, before a relatively easy 'stroll' along the Miners' Track. Best left to very experienced hillwalkers with a head for heights
Known as one of the hardest routes to the top, and therefore less travelled. Dangerous loose scree and rocks on the upper stretch, a hard to follow path in places, some scarily steep drops, and tricky footing, all demand extra care especially in bad weather. The route passes an abondoned quarry, Cwn Llan, Bwlch Ciliau below Y Lliwedd going up and the usual descent is via the Pyg and Miners' tracks.
Is there a better way for a walker to get to grips with Wales' highest peak than this; the classic circuit using the Pyg Track and Miners' Track? Probably not. A glorious ascent, full of mountain spectacle, but easy enough for almost any fit walker.
The walk starts at a height of 359m at the top of Pen-y-Pass. Pass, meaning some of the hard work is done for you, and it's pretty direct from there. Watch out for the awesome views of Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd, as well as the Irish Sea coast. The descent on the Miners' Track allows for plenty of adoring backward glances at the magnificent peak you've climbed.
Locate the start of the path heading due west from car park (to far right, with Crib Goch in view on the horizon). Follow this path for one mile as it climbs steadily above Llanberis Valley, eventually reaching a col on the skyline, where the path diverges at a post signed 'Pyg Track' (ahead) and 'Crib Goch' (right).
Follow marker for Pyg Track - under no circumstances follow the Crib Goch sign, it leads to a terrifying edge. The track continues into Snowdon cwm, with Llyn Llydaw below. The track then hugs the flank of Crib Goch, with a fabulous view opening out to Snowdon, dead ahead. There are some stepped sections and a few tricky rocks along this stretch. Passing above Glaslyn lake, the path steepens and becomes flagged as it climbs to the summit ridge, emerging on the ridge next to a large marker stone. Turn left on the ridge and follow the Snowdon Mountain Railway line to the summit, where you'll find the new summit station 'Hafod Eryri', and eventually the summit itself.
From the summit, descend on the same path as you came up and return to the marker stone at the top of the Pyg Track. Turn right and descend the Pyg Track. At another marker stone, branch right on the path descending directly to the shore of Glaslyn below. This is the Miners' Track, and despite some maintenance work, parts of it are still a little indistinct. The path gets clearer from Glaslyn onwards; follow it due east and descend to Llyn Llydaw reservoir.
Skirt the edge of the reservoir, passing some abandoned buildings, to reach a causeway across the water. Cross the causeway and continue on the Miners' Track, taking time to admire view behind of the Snowdon Horseshoe. The path weaves around the side of a small hill (separating it from the Pyg Track), and finally returns to the car park.
It's the smoothest approach, and the most popular. The wide gravel trail winds up beside the gentle gradient of the Snowdon Mountain Railway for much of the ascent, so navigation is a cinch. The downside? Maths dictate an easier slope is a longer one and those five miles can feel a bit of a slog. Take a break at the Halfway House cafe beside the path 570m up.
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