Snowdonia by Ramble Guides
A short guide to Snowdonia in a continued series on the UK's National Parks in collaboration with Ramble Guides.
I first rambled through Snowdonia National Park in wintertime, when the tarns were covered in a thin sheet of ice and a light dusting of snow graced the mountain peaks. Our hands were freezing but we were ecstatic with the views and the complete sense of solitude we found there in early November. I vowed to return and did so again in summertime, when it was almost an entirely different story. What remained the same was the beauty; the peace of the mountains and the solitude you could find there - just with a little more searching to escape the crowds this time. This Ramble Guide takes you to some of the best hikes and sights I explored in Snowdonia. I still have much to discover in the park, so the guide will continue to be updated on ramble-guides.com.
Exploring Snowdonia National Park feels in many ways like having been transported to another world; where clouds roll between high peaks and water shimmers in mountain tarns, cotton sways in the breeze on prairies and waves crash into rocky shores. Yet only an hour and a half from Liverpool, or two hours from Manchester, Wales' largest National Park is certainly not a world away from civilisation. Indeed, on a sunny Saturday in July it can be crowded with people, while on a Tuesday in November you’ll have the mountains all to yourselves. Regardless, it’s not hard to find a quiet corner in a forest to escape it all - Snowdonia has 2000km of greenery and coastline to be explored.
Probably most famous for Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales at 1,085m, Snowdonia National Park actually has over 90 peaks, 100 lakes and 200 miles of coastline. Activities include hiking, climbing, canyoning and mountain biking, while surfing, wake-boarding, sailing and paddle-boarding can be enjoyed on the coast. Villages like Beddgelert and Betws-y-Coed are iconic and picturesque, while the beautiful scenery of the Ogwen Valley and dramatic features of places like Devil's Kitchen are what make Snowdonia be considered so epic.
With mountain peaks, rich green forest and a picture perfect coastline, it would take much more than a few days in Snowdonia National Park to experience it all. Our guide will help you make the most of your trip to this beautiful Welsh corner of the U.K.
Cwm Idwal - Site
A glittering tarn nestled amidst the craggy peaks of an area known as Devil's Kitchen, beneath the hills of Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. At the northern edge there is a small beach area - the perfect place to stop, sit down, take off your boots and watch sparkling water lapping against the shoreline. This is probably one of the most serene and beautiful places in Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: Park in the pay & display carpark at Ogwen Cottage, just off the A5. There is also plenty of free parking in lay-bys along the road beside Llyn Ogwen.
Hike: From Ogwen Cottage, follow an easy path for less than a kilometre to reach the tarn. Alternatively, link with longer walks to Y Garn, Glyder Fach or Glyder Fawr.
Snowdon via Pyg Track & Miners Track - Hike
The highest peak in England and Wales, and one of the UK’s renowned Three Peaks, Mount Snowdon sits at 1,085m and is one of the most popular destinations in the National Park. With six possible paths you can take to the summit, we’d recommend starting early and taking the Pyg Track there and Miners Track back. A route that takes you past the glistening lakes of Llyn Llydaw and heart-shaped Glaslyn, before the final strenuous ascent to the summit. The Snowdon summit offers a 360 degree eagle eye’s view of the Welsh Coastline and surrounding mountain ranges - a highlight of Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: This route begins from the carpark at Pen-y-Pass. The carpark fills up early in the summer (sometimes before 7am on a weekend), so alternatively you can park roadside at Pen-y-Gwrd (A498), from where there is a 3 miles off-road track to Pen-y-Pass. Loose change required, not accepting the new pound coin (visited May 2017).
Hike: This is a hard mountain walk. The whole route is around 7 miles and takes between 4 and 6 hours. Use OS Explorer Map OL17.
Gear: We’d recommend walking boots and bringing plenty of water, food and warm clothing. There is a cafe at the summit serving drinks and snacks.
Stay: There is a Youth Hostel at Pen-y-Pass open all year. There are also a number of surrounding campsites. We’d recommend Nant Gwynant campsite for the great facilities or the R. O. Jones & Sons campsite at the edge of Llynau Mymbyr for the idyllic location.
Food & drink: The YHA Youth Hostel at Pen-y-Pass serves drinks and food, however we’d highly recommend Moel Siabod just a ten minute drive away for the hearty post-hike meals and atmosphere.
Llanberis - Village
The little village of Llanberis is a great place to stop for a bite to eat during a day in the National Park. Pete’s Eats serves excellent burgers and an array of delicious post-hike meals. Visit Georgio’s on a hot, summers day for creamy Italian ice cream, or have a barista-style coffee and slice of cake in the garden at Pantri. Take time to sit by the lake and take in the beautiful mountain views. Llanberis is a wonderfully Welsh, idyllic mountain village in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: Llanberis is situated on the A4086.
Y Garn - Hike
Views from the summit of Y Garn are arguably some of the best of any hill climb in the whole of Snowdonia National Park; looking down onto Llyn Idwal, Llyn Ogwen and the mountainous layers of the Ogwen Valley. The route takes you first past the craggy shores of Llyn Idwal, nestled within the beautiful glacial amphitheatre of Cwm Idwal, then you can ascend through Devil's Kitchen (which is definitely quite a scramble), or up the north east ridge to Y Garn. This walk is highly recommended as a beautiful but strenuous half-day walk, taking in the breathtaking scenes of the Ogwen Valley.
Hike: The hike is 4.5 miles and is a strenuous hill walk. Use OS Explorer Map OL17.
Gear: Wear walking boots due to the scrambly sections. Bring a warm, windproof jacket for the summit.
Food & drink: We'd recommend heading to Moel Siabod after the walk for a warming meal, or nearby Bethesda has plenty of pubs and restaurants. you can buy snacks ad drinks from the Visitor Centre at Ogwen Cottage, at the start/finish of the hike.