Snowdon via the Rhyd Ddu and Snowdon Ranger Paths

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North Wales is blessed with some of the finest mountains in the UK, but the one that draws most attention is the highest: Snowdon, or to use the Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa. There are many other fine hills, but Snowdon is the one that people come to see – in this case, size is important. Even the National Park is the Snowdonia National Park.

For those who are unable or unwilling to reach the summit on foot, the Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis lets the train take the strain. For the more energetic there are several routes on this website. The Llanberis path (Walk 947) runs almost parallel to the mountain railway and can be combined with a one-way train ride. To the east the Miner's and Pyg Tracks (Walk 267) and the Snowdon Horseshoe (Walk 4965) start and end at Pen y Pass on the A4086 near Pen y Gwryd.

This route tackles the mountain from the west side and uses two well-known ways, the Rhyd Ddu and the Snowdon Ranger Paths. Because the west side of Snowdon isn't immediately as dramatic as an approach from the east, these two paths tend to be much quieter. So, if you wish to go up Yr Wyddfa and enjoy a bit of solitude on the way, this is the route for you.

Having a route with different start and finish points can present problems, but in this case the Welsh Highland Railway provides the solution. The walk starts at the village of Rhyd Ddu and gains height gradually at first before joining the ridge of Llechog. An element of drama is introduced with the traverse of the narrower ridge of Bwlch Main, but this is short and the exposure isn't too imposing.

The summit, with the Hafod Eryri Visitor Centre, follows soon afterwards – be prepared to mingle with the crowds! After that comes a steady descent of the slopes of Clogwyn Du'r Arrdu, which in due course takes you down to The Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel, with its adjacent railway station.

Many mountain-lovers would say that there is no place for a railway and visitor centre on a mountain, especially in the UK. I agree in principle, but would argue that Hafod Eryri is a special case. The old summit café was in poor condition and had to go, but demolition and removal would have left scars that would have taken years to heal. The new building has been designed to fit into its environment and does a reasonable job of that.

Critics of the building should also consider local people. The railway and summit building are a huge tourist magnet for Llanberis and the surrounding area and support many local workers and businesses. Also spare a thought for those who can only get to the summit by the railway; they have as much right to be there as we who walk. So, let Hafod Eryri stay.
But no more, please!

Wales - North Wales - Gwynedd - Snowdonia


Cafe, Gift Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Lake/Loch, Public Transport, Toilets
10/27/2013 - Angela Henstock

Had a fantastic day doing this walk, we left our car at the Rangers station and caught the bus to Rhyd Ddu station, walked up the Rhyd Ddu path and came down the Rangers path. It took us 3 hours to get up and 2 and a half to get back down. This was our first time doing Snowdon and it worked out so well for us. Absolutely fantastic day. Would recommend this to any one, we are normally ramblers and did this with ease.

7/9/2011 - Christine Bibby

Thoroughly enjoyable walk. My one comment is to leave the car at the Snowdon Ranger car park and take the train (or bus) to Rhydd Ddu to start the walk.

9/18/2009 - michael whiteside

An excellent walk and a great day out. I know the routes are fairly obvious but it was reassuring to have the directions to hand especially when the cloud closed in. Thank you