Climbing Snowdon is no easy task. Many people assume that because Snowdon is located in Wales it can’t be that hard of a climb.
Well, that’s simply not the case.
Wales may not evoke images of Everest or K2, but hiking Snowdon is difficult in its own right. At over 1,000 metres (3,500 feet) above sea level, Snowdon is no hill and when the Welsh weather takes a turn for the worst, it can be dangerous!
Despite this, hiking Snowdon is something that most people should be able to accomplish.
If you’re backpacking in the UK, walking up Snowdon is definitely one of the best hikes you can do in the country.
If you’re located in the Northwest of England, Snowdon is easy to reach, and you can be up and down in a reasonable time if you’re fit!
Without further ado, let’s get into my guide for climbing Mount Snowdon!
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Not only is Snowdon the highest mountain in Wales, but it’s also higher than any in England. The name of the mountain in Welsh is Yr Wyddfa, which means monument or tomb.
According to legends, the mountain is the tomb of the ogre Rhita Gawr, who reached his end when King Arthur climbed to the top of Snowdon and killed him.
Snowdonia is part of an area of jagged peaks and mountains along the North Wales coastline stretching into Anglesey. If you’re a hiker, this area offers spectacular views and great climbs in a variety of locations.
Throughout its history, Snowdon has been mined for copper. The evidence of this is still present, with old mine buildings and tramways dotting the landscape as you drive to the foot of the mountain. They are also visible as you climb Snowdon too!
If you want to visit Snowdon, my advice would be to base yourself in Chester. It’s easy to reach from the city, and with a lot of places to visit in Chester, you can include it as another part of your trip!
It’s somewhere you have to include on any North Wales itinerary!
Getting to Snowdon
Snowdon is located in the Snowdonia National Park in North West Wales. The nearest town to the base of the climb is Llanberis and depending on where you are coming from it can take a while to get there.
If you’re in the North West of England, you can reach Snowdon in at least 2 hours, depending on where you are. If you’re coming to Snowdon from further afield, you will need to plan accordingly. The journey will take a lot longer if you’re not based in the North West.
The main road you will have to get on is the A55, which starts from Chester and snakes through the North West of Wales to Holyhead.
Driving to Chester first and then onto the A55 is the way to go. Once on the A55, just keep on going until you see signs for Llanberis and then follow them through to the town.
By road is really the only way to access Snowdon. If you don’t own a car then it might be best to hire one. No trains go into the town and buses to Snowdon are few and far between.
If you’re looking to stay in Snowdon overnight, there are a few hostels and hotels. However, another option is to go glamping in Snowdonia. Glamping is camping but in more luxurious circumstances.
You’ll be able to admire the beauty of Snowdon, while not having to deal with the freezing cold, or rain that often frequents the area!
What to Take to Snowdon
Climbing Snowdon takes a while, approximately 2 hours to the top for the average person, add or subtract a few minutes depending on your fitness level. Regardless of your fitness level, it is best to pack a few essentials when hiking Snowdon.
Food and water are essential items for anyone going up Snowdon. Although there is a cafe at the top, it’s not wise to go at least an hour and a half before you get there without any water, so definitely pack these.
There are definitely items from a UK packing list that you will need when hiking Snowdon, such as a jacket and a decent pair of hiking shoes.
This being Wales and Snowdon being a mountain, the weather conditions can be considerably different at the top than they are at the bottom. I would definitely bring a jacket or hooded top, as it will most likely be cold at the top.
One of the best times to climb Snowdon is during the summer as the weather is likely to be decent. This makes Snowdon one of the best places to visit in the UK in June, for example, as you’ll be treated to spectacular views as you make your way up the mountain!
Once you get to the top, you’ll most probably want to get a drink and something to eat from the cafe. Therefore, I’d advise taking some money with you. There is also a cable car that goes to the top, so if you don’t fancy the walk back down, you can pay to go back down on this.
It should be noted that the cable car and cafe are not always open, so do bear this in mind when you set out on your hike.
Hiking in Snowdonia
Snowdonia National Park is one of the best places in the UK to go hiking. There is a range of trails that suit climbers of all abilities.
What’s not known so widely about Snowdonia is that there is a wide range of terrain in the national park. As well as the mountains and hikes, you also have sandy beaches, lakes and rivers.
If you don’t want to climb Mount Snowdon, you can take a stroll in one of these places and enjoy the beautiful views of Snowdonia National Park!
There are six tracks you can take to get to the top of Snowdon. The most commonly used routes start at the Pen-y-Pass car park opposite the YHA hostel in Llanberis. These include the Miner’s Track, Pyg Track and Crib Goch.
Of these, the Miner’s and Pyg tracks are the easiest for climbers of all abilities and also offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
When climbing Mount Snowdon, you should give yourself a good six to seven hours to complete any hike. This is the case even if you are attempting one of the easier routes.
Conditions can vary when you’re hiking Snowdon, and it will almost certainly not be the same at the top as they are at the bottom. Although most people will be able to ascend and descend Snowdon quicker, six hours gives you enough time if the weather turns for the worst.
On a good day, the views from the summit are exceptional and offer the most extensive views of the British Isles. Ireland, Scotland, England and the Isle of Man are all visible.
A common method of hiking Snowdon as part of the Three Peaks challenge, which encompasses climbing the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland in 24 hours. As well as Snowdon, participants climb Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis.
Hiking Snowdon is a great way to spend a summer’s afternoon with the views that are offered on the way up the hike and from the top. As one of the best places to visit in Wales, it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Below are the various routes you can take to hike Snowdon, and what to expect from each of them.
Please note that the times indicated include getting to the top and back down again.
Distance: 5.6 km (3.4 miles) | Ascent: 853m | Time: 5 hours
Crib Goch is without a doubt the toughest route to the top of Snowdon and certainly isn’t for inexperienced mountaineers. It has claimed the lives of even experienced climbers.
What makes it so dangerous is that route features sheer drops on either side. If you’re with a dog, or not used to hiking mountains, I would avoid this route. It’s more of a scramble than a hike.
You will be on your hands and knees for large parts, due to the nature of the climb!
The path starts at Pen-y-pass and follows the Pyg track until there is a fork where you can choose to continue on the Pyg track or go up Crib Goch.
The path is mostly a scramble until you reach the end of Crib Goch and the path rejoins the Pyg track to the summit of Snowdon.
With exposed precipices on either side, it is a dangerous, yet stunning track to take to the summit of Snowdon. It should not be attempted on a rainy or windy day, due to how exposed it is. You could easily lose your life if you’re not careful!
The Watkin Path
Distance: 12.8 km (8 miles) | Ascent: 1,015m | Time: 8 hours
Although certainly not as tough as Crib Goch, the Watkin Path is one of the toughest routes to the summit of Snowdon. It’s tough, but it’s also one of the most scenic routes to the top of Snowdon.
What makes the Watkin path one of the toughest ways to climb Snowdon is that large parts of the track are indistinct. It can be hard to distinguish where the track is at times. If you’re climbing Snowdon in poor weather, I would avoid this track, as it is an accident blackspot.
The track starts near a road junction at Nant Gwynant. As I stated before, the route is scenic and will take through ancient woodland, a waterfall, and some old quarries too.
It gets tougher the higher up you get as the track becomes hard to read, but if you’re an experienced mountaineer, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views as you traverse your way to the top.
The Rhyd Ddu Path
Distance: 13.6 km (8.5 miles) | Ascent: 895m | Time: 6 hours
If you want a path up Snowdon that is easier than the two previously mentioned tracks, Rhyd Ddu may be the route to take!
The path starts at the WHR Station, and you will need to cross the railway near the car park to access the gate to start the path. Once you start the path it winds up a gentle slope for the first kilometre or so before becoming a bit steeper.
The path branches off to the left once you reach Pen ar Lor, but it’s clearly signposted so there is no danger of getting lost.
The further you go up the path does become narrower. If you get vertigo, it may be a good idea to try a different route.
As you reach the South Ridge and then Rhos Beath, the path does become more treacherous. There is scree around, and you will need to take care as the ridge is quite narrow.
The Rhyd Ddu path is one of the easier and lesser utilised paths you can take to climb Snowdon, but it can still be difficult if you’re inexperienced.
The Pyg Track
Distance: 11.2 km (7 miles) | Ascent: 723m | Time: 6 hours
The Pyg Track is one of the easier routes to the top of Snowdon and can be accomplished by anyone who is moderately fit.
The path starts at 357 m (1,170 ft) above sea level and is the shortest route to the summit you can take. Still, the Pyg track can be difficult in places, with steep climbs dotted along the way.
Perhaps the best thing about the Pyg Track is the views. There are plenty along the way, and it is easily one of the most scenic ways to climb Snowdon.
This route is one of the most popular ways of climbing Snowdon. It can get crowded at times. If you can set off early in the morning or mid-afternoon, you will find the route is a lot less crowded!
The Snowdon Ranger Path
Distance: 12.8 km (8 miles) | Ascent: 936m | Time: 6 hours
This path is another one of the easier routes up Snowdon.
The route starts close to the Snowdon Ranger Hostel, from which it takes its name. The route starts near the railway, and you will follow it part of the way up.
The path alternates between zig-zagging and steep gradients as you make your way to the summit of Snowdon. Parts of the track may be steep, but this only means you will get to the top faster!
This view is scenic and offers some great views as you ascend Snowdon. One thing to note is that the path starts near the railway station. If you don’t fancy walking back down you can take the train back down and save your legs!
The Llanberis Path
Distance: 14.4 km (9 miles) | Ascent: 975m | Time: 6 hours
The Llanberis Path is perhaps the most famous of the paths you can take while climbing Snowdon. It is popular with tourists and is one of the busiest routes to the top.
The path starts off at a steep rate, but it does even out after a while. Then it returns to type, with a lot of steep steps as you make your way to the summit of Snowdon.
While the path isn’t the most interesting, there are still a lot of sights to see! Like all the paths up Snowdon, it becomes more treacherous in poor weather. Even if you’re an experienced hiker, it can be difficult if conditions take a turn for the worst.
Always prepare for these eventualities and take care when navigating the path in poor weather. It’s easy to take a wrong turn as you hike Snowdon!
Frequently Asked Questions
How high is Mount Snowdon?
1,085 metres (3,560 feet)
How long does it take to walk up and down Snowdon?
It should take you 3 to 4 hours depending on your route and level of fitness.
Is it easy to climb Snowdon?
This depends on the route. The Llanberis path is the easiest, while Crib Goch is the hardest. All routes are classified as ‘hard, strenuous walks.’
Is Snowdon dangerous?
Hiking Snowdon can be dangerous if you are not well prepared. Make sure you bring adequate clothing, food and drink, and take care if you’re going up in adverse weather.
When should I climb Snowdon?
April to September are the best months weather-wise.
Climbing Snowdon is one of the best things you can do in the UK. It might not sound like a difficult hike, but it can be tough depending on your level of fitness. Snowdonia is one of the most beautiful national parks in the UK, and climbing Snowdon is a great way to see a large portion of the park!
Hiking Snowdon is a great experience, and if you do it in conjunction with climbing Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis as part of the Three Peaks Challenge, you will have an immense amount of fun! Just remember to take precautions and pack accordingly!
Have you climbed Snowdon? What were your thoughts on Snowdonia National Park? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!