Snowdon - Yr Wyddfa in Welsh - is the highest mountain in Wales at 3560 feet (1085 metres) above sea level.
It’s been described as the busiest mountain in Britain – and if you’ve ever visited Penceunant Isaf in the height of the season you’ll know that to be true. But you can still find plenty of peaceful corners, especially out of season.
The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1639, although there are tales of earlier ascents going back to the time of Edward the 1st’s conquest of Wales in 1284.
Once you get to the top there are (weather permitting) stunning views – on a clear day you can see Ireland, Scotland, England and the Isle of Man – and allegedly 24 counties, 29 lakes and 17 islands.
Apart from year round walkers and climbers, the mountain is very popular with charities undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge, runners and those undergoing mountain training. Sir Edmund Hillary was one of many mountaineers to practice on Snowdon before heading to Mount Everest.
The rocks that you see about you were produced by volcanoes in the Ordovician Period, although they’ve been moulded over the year by glaciers. Snowdon is in the northern part of the Snowdonia National Park which was established in 1951.
It’s home to several rare plants including the Snowdon Lily – which can also found in the Alps and in North America. It was first discovered by Edward Lhuyd.
Snowdon has an important place in the history of rock climbing in the UK. Clogwyn Du’r Arddu (Cloggy) was the site of the first recorded climb in 1798. Peter Williams and William Bingley were looking for rare plants at the time. It’s considered one of the best cliffs in Britain for rock climbing. Other Spectacular cliffs include Y Lliwedd – which was used by Edmund Hillary in preparations for the 1953 expedition. There are some equally spectacular lakes on the mountain. Llyn Llydaw is one of Snowdon’s deespest lakes at 190 feet (58 Metres). Slightly higher up is Glaslyn. According to myth and legend the lake is bottomless! And Llyn Ffynnon-y-Gwas, close to the Snowdon Ranger Path was enlarged to be create a reservoir. Other smaller lakes include Llyn Du’r Arddu which is just below Cloggy, and Llyn Teyrn near Pen-y-Pass.
There are several well trodden routes to the summit. Whichever you choose, do make sure you prepare well, and wear the right clothing for the conditions. If you are unfamiliar with the tracks it’s very easy to come down via the wrong one. In the summer this is less of a problem as there’s a good Sherpa bus service around the mountain to help you get back to your starting point.
Please Read our notes on Mountain Safety and support Llanberis Mountain Rescue
Visit the Adventure Smart Wales for up to date walking conditions.
The main paths are as follows - clockwise from Llanberis:
The Llanberis Path
This is the longest route, but is considered the easiest because the gradient for the most part is quite shallow.
The Pyg Track
The Pyg track starts at Pen-y-Pass car park and climbs up over Bwlch y Moch (Pig’s Pass) on the eastern side of Crib Goch.
The Miners’ Track
This also starts at the car park at Pen-y-Pass and is the most popular route to the top of Snowdon
The Watkin Path
This is regarded as the most demanding of the paths up to the summit
The Rhyd Ddu Path
This is sometimes called the Beddgelert Path. It starts from the village of Rhyd Ddu.
The Snowdon Ranger Path
The Snowdon Ranger Path starts from the A4085, at a youth hostel next to Llyn Cwellyn, near the Snowdon Ranger Railway Station
Snowdon by Train
The Snowdon Mountain Railway – built in 1894 - is not just a means to get to the top of Snowdon – it’s s tourist attraction in its own right.
At the Top
The first building at the top of Snowdon was built back in 1838. A new station and cafe was built in the mid-thirties and was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the creator of the Italianate village at Portmeirion. That building was replaced in 2006 with the slate clad Hafod Eryri building that we see today.
Please note that the facilities at the top of Snowdon are NOT open all year round, and the small café at Halfway House is open during the season and sometimes at weekends out of season.
Penceunant Isaf Tea House is open 365 days of the year.