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 Geograph.org.uk 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.
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: