Snowdon via the Watkin Path
Avoid the crowds and head for this less used hike to the summit of Snowdon. In good weather the views from the Bwlch Ciliau down across the horseshoe are phenomenal. Often quoted as the most scenic route up Snowdon, the Watkin Path will leave you feeling smug when you meet the masses at the summit.
Heading south on the A498 towards Beddgelert, car park is approximately 9.9mi south of Capel Curig and 1.9mi north of Beddgelert. Parking costs £4 for anything over 4 hours.
|When to do|
April - October
Snowdon via the Watkin Path
Route Description for Snowdon via the Watkin Path
From the car park, cross the main road and turn left to follow the pavement a short distance alongside the road to meet the bottom of the Watkin Path. As the first official footpath in Great Britain, then Prime Minister William Gladstone opened the Watkin Path in 1892. Created by Sir Edward Watkin from an existing quarry path, the route was designed to allow walkers to reach the summit.
Follow the track up through the woodland, crossing several small footbridges and through a series of gates. After approximately 2km the path opens up into the valley of Cwm Llan and sweeps around the raging waterfalls of Afon Cwm Llan.
Soon the path passes the Gladstone Rock, which commemorates the opening of the track. The path now begins to climb more steeply up the southern slopes of Y Lliwedd. A further 0.9mi the path joins Bwlch Ciliau, the ridge running between the Summit of Snowdon and Y Lliwedd. Turn left here.
Follow the ridge for 0.5mi. For those with a steady stomach there are several paths shooting off to the right that allow you to peer across at the spectacular views of the Crib Goch and Garnedd Ugain ridges, Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn Lakes and the tourist ridden Pyg and Miners Tracks.
After this fairly flat section you will come to the Bwlch y Saethau. This next section is often considered the most challenging of the Watkin Path. The steep climb and loose scree make this difficult, however, there are larger boulders to cling on to and you will shortly meet the Bwlch Main ridge. Turn right and complete the short final push to the summit. The official trig point can be found at the top of the steps at the back of the Hafod Eryri café.
When ready to return, retrace your steps down to the Rhyd Ddu Path. At the junction continue ahead following the waymarked Rhyd Ddu Path along the south ridge. After 1.2mi and a steep descent off the ridge line, the path swings to the left and then continues to drop off towards the Watkin Path. Continuing ahead for a further 0.6mi, the path turns sharply left before rejoining to Watkin Path just above the waterfalls of Afon Cwm Llan.
Turn right and retrace your steps via the first section of the Watkin Path completed earlier in the day at the start of your hike.
Take lunch and enjoy on the slopes away from the summit for a more authentic experience away from the crowds.
If possible, wait for a clear day and head out early (if possible, avoid school holidays!).
Mallory’s at the Pen-y-Pass is a good spot for a celebratory drink!
If you're up for a bigger challenge, Watkin Path is one of The Rock triathlon.
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