Snowdonia National Park is the place to go for anyone in southern Britain who wants a bit of gnarliness. Looking for a knife edge ridge walk? You’ll find that here. Want to try a bit of scrambling? Yup – plenty of that. In fact, Sir Edmund Hillary himself deemed the area to be suitable enough to use for his training ahead of that infamous first ever ascent of Everest.
But it’s not all crash bang wallop here. There are walks to suit anyone; from gentle woodland strolls and river wanders to multi-day epics and 25+ mile high-level horseshoes. The place has it all.
As part of our recent partnership with route planning app komoot we’ve been championing the finest walking routes across the country. Previously, we looked at the best walks in the Brecon Beacons, now, with the help of OM writer and President of Ramblers Cymru, Will Renwick, its time to delve into North Wales, with a round up of the best routes in Snowdonia.
Walk 1: Wales’s Highest Mountain
OK, it might be busy – too busy, some might say. But it is undeniable that the walk up Snowdon is a good one. On a clear day, the views you get up here are quite special; with jagged peaks and ridges spurting off in each direction; the two lakes (or ‘llynnoedd’) below, not to mention the Menai Strait, Anglesey, and the two coastlines. For a quieter way to the summit, consider the Snowdon Ranger or Rhyd-ddu approaches.
Will Says: “Yr Wyddfa, to use its Welsh name, really is a fantastic mountain. It’s definitely not to be underestimated though. In bad weather it can be a truly testing environment for anyone.”
Walk 2: The Welsh Matterhorn
Due to the shapely appearance of this mountain when viewed from the approach from Croesor village, it often gets affectionately referred to as the Matterhorn of Wales. It’s a short and sharp climb to the top, and there’s a fun and easy scramble to take on which, if you don’t have a head for heights, can be avoided. Despite its nickname, the top of Cnicht actually forms a long and narrow ridge which gradually slopes down to a high moorland full of beautiful little lakes.
Will Says: “I visited Cnicht during a walk along the Cambrian Way a few years ago and had one of the most spectacular wild camps of my life where I slept right on the summit and saw the whole of Snowdonia turn red with the sunset. The little scramble to the top here is brilliant.”
Walk 3: The Fisherman’s Path
From the path that follows through the gorge of the Afon Glaslyn, at times skirting high above it across the huge boulders, to the mountain pass with its far-reaching views down the valley and over the dark water of Llyn Dinas towards Snowdon; this is a route that has a lot of variety. Don’t miss the sad memorial to Gelert, the legendary dog along the way.
Will Says: “Afon Glaslyn has some lovely swimming spots, and the gorge itself is like no other in Britain – on a sunny day you could be in Croatia.”
Walk 4: The Bare Hill Of The Hawk
If you’ve ever been to Beddgelert you will have noticed the big mountain that seems to lean right over the town. That’s Moel Hebog and the walk to its summit via the simple scramble is a rewarding one. On the big bare top, on a clear day you’ll see the whole north western coast of Wales, and sometimes even right across Cardigan Bay to the distant Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire.
Will says: “From Beddgelert, Moel Hebog is such a tempting sight. It looks like you could skip up to the summit in no time. I love the smidgeon of scrambling you get along the way – there’s enough to feel a little bit adventurous but it’s still very easy.”
Walk 5: The Snowdonia Slate Trail
Founded as recently as 2018, the 83-mile Snowdonia Slate Trail is already drawing walkers from around the world to Wales. The attraction: its mixture of stunning mountainscapes and intriguing history; passing through the abandoned slate quarries and villages that form a key part of North Wales’s heritage. The trail will take around 4-7 days to walk, but if you don’t have the time to do the whole thing, this day-long route we’ve mapped out will give you a good sampling of it. It passes through the Arthurian landscapes of Nant Ffrancon and the Ogwen Valley where you’ll get a great view of Tryfan (in all but the worst of weather…)
Will Says: “I’ve walked most of Wales’s long distance trails and I particularly enjoyed the Snowdonia Slate Trail. It’s a proper tour of some of Snowdonia’s finest spots, both natural and post-industrial, and it takes in some real hidden gems as well.”