Snowdon by the Miners’ Track and the Pyg Track

The Miners’ Track and the Pyg Track are two parallel tracks up Snowdon from Pen-y-Pass; the head of the mountain pass, the Pass of Llanberis, on the east side of the mountain.

These paths are each 3½ miles long and while not the most challenging of the routes to the summit are very punishing in stretches and make for a good challenge for those with strong thighs.

As a confession, I have never climbed by either path yet, and only a couple of pictures here are mine, so thanks to for the others.  I am though familiar with Pen-y-Pass, and I have several times looked down on the Miners’ Track meaning to tackle it next.

The Miner’s Track begins – and a Caernarfonshire county flag!

Each path begins at Pen-y-Pass; it is a busy spot with a large car park and a café.  From here, the track splits.

The Miners’ Track begins at a gate leads gently up and round, with only a gentle climb to a small tarn named Llyn Teryn and westward to the end of .  The lake has an odd name: “Brittany Lake”, but the name might be coincidental and unconnected with ‘Little Britain Beyond the Sea’.  I am quite sure it used to take stepping stones over the lake, but there is a causeway now.

From the crossing of the lake, the track is a gentle walk beside the lake shore for a short way: then it climbs steeply to Llyn Glaslyn (source of the river of the same name, the one that has a string of lakes south of Snowdon before prettifying Beddgelert).  From here the track becomes much steeper as it zigzigs scaling up the crags below Crib Goch.  Amongst these crags the Miners’ Track meets the Pyg Track, which has come the high route, below Garnedd Ugain.

The two then march together the short way to the summit.

From the summit the path of the Miners’ Track across the lake is clear and inviting, until you follow it to the precipitous climb.

The Pyg Track heads upwards earlier.  It is considered the toughest of the standard routes to the summit after the Watkin Path (which I have walked, but that is another article). There are competing theories about why it is called ‘Pyg’; some say it is named after the black tar, or ‘pyg’ carried up the copper workings on this track; others that walkers named it from the Pen y Gwryd Hotel (which is why the name is often written in capitals as if an abbreviation), and others that the pass here was named ‘Bwlch y Moch’ (‘Pig Pass’).  Whatever the origin, this a well known and popular route, but not for the fainthearted and not for bad weather.

This is perhaps the shortest route to the summit, as a direct one, and the views of the mountain this way are unequalled.  It can be busy.

This track diverges at once at Pen-y-Pass, heading west.  It climbs the flank of Crib Goch, not to the summit ridge (that is another route, but not one of the classic ones).  It is somewhat rocky and paved with large stones.  The most spectacular section is a long climb up a rock staircase built into the side of the mountain (which by all accounts is ‘interesting’ in the rain).

The track continues upward beneath the crags of Crib Goch then Crib y Ddysgl, and is eventually joined by the Miners’ Track, climbing from Glaslyn, with the 3.494-foot summit of y Garnedd Ugain (‘Peak of Twenty’) looming above.  About half a mile one from here the tracks meet the ridge that carries the Llanberis Path to the summit.

Here at the summit it wild beauty and isolation to be found, if you can ignore a hundred other visitors and the café in Hafod Eyri just below the summit itself.  You can look back down the whole course of the walk, with Llyn Llydaw beneath and reflect on a job well done.

Maps for the walk:

The best maps for Snowdon are of course the Ordnance Survey maps; the ‘Explorer’ at 1:25 000 and the ‘Landranger’ at 1:50 000:

See main article:

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Snowdon by the Llanberis Path

The Llanberis Path is the classic path up Snowdon, and by far the most popular. It is the gentlest route and consequently the longest of the paths to the summit, though no route up the mountain is easy.

I first walked the Llanberis Path in my school days, as a family walk, and it is popular with individual walkers and with families in season, if they are families of a rugged persuasion. Even so, it should not be underestimated and particularly in poor weather in its topmost section it has deadly hazards.

The path begins at Llanberis at the foot of the northern slope of Snowdon. There are capacious car parks here and the compulsory visitor centre and attractions: as Llanberis is also the base station of the Snowdon Mountain Railway it attracts more visitors than it would were it just catering for fell walkers. It is pretty village to visit in any case.

The path is some 4½ miles long, with an ascent of 3,100 feet. Guidebooks estimate that it will take 3-4 hours, though this may be an underestimate, depending on your fitness and tendency to stop for photographs.  It climbs at a fairly even gradient up the south slope of the mountain (pursued doggedly by the mountain railway).

Following the path from the hotel, it runs south-west above the River Arddu close to a little waterfall on the river, and follows the road for just a short while before heading south up onto the rough pasture.  Then it is a long haul up what is effectively a broad ridge.

Approaching the summit (Llanberis Path)
Approaching the summit (Llanberis Path)

Below Garnedd Ugain (‘the Peak of the Twenty’; no, don’t ask me but I do not follow the romantic frame of mind among of those who claim it was named after the Legio XX whose fort was at Segontium where Caernarfon now stands) – here the path runs over the narrow between crags and becomes much steeper until the final push to the summit.

Here at the summit it wild beauty and isolation to be found, if you can ignore a hundred other visitors and the café in Hafod Eyri just below the summit itself.

Maps for the walk:

The best maps for Snowdon are of course the Ordnance Survey maps; the ‘Explorer’ at 1:25 000 and the ‘Landranger’ at 1:50 000:

See main article:

Twenty favourite walks, according to Ordnance Survey anyway

The Ordnance Survey have published a list of the top twenty places for walking, by grid square, all calculated scientifically, apparently.  It strikes me then ,shouldn’t we here have a set of walks for each of these?  It’s a big task to be completed over a time, but worth starting soon.

These are worthy places with many of which I am familiar.  Five of the are Edale though, which is a fine place with great walking, packed in season- but can’t somewhere else have a go too?

Anyway, while I look at the walks, what do you think of the list? –

  1. Snowdon (Summit) SH6054 (OL17 – Snowdon; Landranger 115) (and see article)
  2. Edale SK1285 (OL1 – Dark Peak Area; Landranger 110)
  3. Scafell Pike NY2107 (OL6 Lake District South Western Area; LR90 – Penrith & Keswick)
  4. Allen Crags NY2308
  5. Great End / Long Pike NY2208
  6. Helvellyn NY3415 (OL5 – Lake District North Eastern Area; Landranger 90 – Penrith & Keswick)
  7. Edale (Hollins Cross) SK1384 (OL1 – Dark Peak Area; Landranger 110)
  8. Hope Cross SK1687
  9. Crookstome Hill SK1587
  10. Fairholmes SK1789
  11. Dungeon Ghyll / Raven Crag NY2806
  12. Ambleside NY3704 (OL7 – English Lakes Southeastern Area; Landranger 90)
  13. Longthwaite NY2514
  14. Edale (Mam Tor) SK1283
  15. Great Lngdale NY2906
  16. Edale Head / Jacob’s Ladder SK0886 (OL1 – Dark Peak Area; Landranger 110)
  17. Edale Cross SK0786
  18. Fairfield NY3511
  19. Nethermost Pike NY3414
  20. Pen-y-Pass SH6455 (OL17 – Snowdon; Landranger 115)

For the Ordnance Survey press release, see: ‘Britain’s most Trodden Paths‘.