Snowdon Horseshoe (Walking) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

A walk to the highest summit south of the highlands, with a circuit around part of the Snowdon Horseshoe. Despite being wildly popular, this is a walk that will reward your efforts, especially the less crowded part of the Horse shoe to Y Lliwedd.

Conditions

Good solid paths to Glaslyn, then steep rocky paths, with a scree descent, and exposed but easy scrambling to the summit of Y Lliwedd.

Hazards and warnings

Snowdon is a proper mountain and not to be undertaken lightly, especially in winter conditions. The top of the zig zags is dangerous in Snow, and the descent on the Watkins path is tricky in mist

Detailed description

Either use the park and ride from Nant Peris, or walk up from Pen-y-Grywd hotel.

Take the Miner's track up from Pen y Pass, which gradually climbs to Llyn Llydaw, before the track becomes rougher and much steeper as it climbs to Glaslyn. From Glaslyn follow the steep rocky steps up to the junction with the Pyg track, and continue up the zig-zags. The way up will almost always be busy with walkers, and poorly equipped day trippers. Beware the last section of the zig-zags especially in snow.

At the top of the zig zags follow the track to the summit. After visiting the summit, either follow the South Western ridge to the 2 m high stone cairn, and head east across the sourthen face of Snowdon, or descent directly from the summit over loose scree to meet the path. The path is rocky and over loose scree and great care needs to be taken. Additionally in poor visibility, picking the right path can be tricky, and care needs to be taken to avoid descending too far, or straying towards the near vertical eastern face.

After the slope eases the path improves and you can make good progress along the saddle between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd. Shortly after the Watkins path descends into the valley, pick up the ridge which heads to Lliwedd. The ridge is very exposed, with a huge drop to the north, but the scrambling is reasonably easy, and you can avoid the worst of the exposure by trending to the right of the ridge. After reaching the rocky west summit of Y Lliwedd, follow the path to the east summit. After the summit, the ridge starts to drop, but the path is much easier than the way up. Follow the ridge as it desends to a broad, boggy saddle.

At the saddle look for a path which heads over the side, to the north, and down towards  Llyn Llydaw. Ensure you are descending the correct path, as there are no other safe routes down from the ridge. The path is quite steep and rocky, and one particular section involves some steep downclimbing over slippery, polished rock. Once the slope eases, follow the path down to the bridge over a small stream, and join the Miner's track, and turn right to descend back to Pen y Pass.

The circuit of the southern arm of the Snowdon Horse shoe can be combined with a crossing of the exposed knife edge ridge of Crib Goch to make a truely epic days walk. Beware, Crib Goch is serious scrambling, and should only be undetaken by experienced scramblers with a calm head of heights.

Narrative

We did this walk on a reasonably clear October day. The summit was partly covered in clouds, and the skies gray. Although we found the summit in cloud, and the descent from the summit via the Watkin's Path rather scary in the mist, the cloud cleared and we had glimpes of the summit, and even some weak sunlight as we crested Y Lliwedd.

The Miners track was very busy, and the zig zag path to the summit was particularly so. Seeing large groups of people wearing unsuitable footwear such as trainers and even pumps always annoys me, as a slip followed by a nasty fall is all too easy on steep, slippery ground. Although at the time conditions were fairly good, with light winds and warm temperatures, conditions can soon turn nasty, and those who lack the right equipment and skills can soon find themselves in a lot of trouble.

Route Map

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