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Best Walks in Snowdonia | 10 Mapped Routes

OM's Will Renwick picks out his favourite walks in North Wales's beautiful national park, ranging from quick routes that can be done in a morning, to huge high-level excursions

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.”

 

Walk 6: The Southern Giant

The gem of southern Snowdonia and steeped in Welsh myth and legend, Cadair Idris is another of Wales’s finest mountains. It has a long saddle, stretching for miles, with vertical cliffs either side that wrap like long arms around greeny-blue lakes down below. Many will take the Pony Path up and then back down the mountain, though it’s also possible to circle back to the start point by carefully descending via the track due north-east of the summit.

Will Says: “The last time I visited Cadair Idris my tent blew down and I had to sleep in a public toilet… I’m not holding any grudges though. It’s a hard thing to do in Wales, but try to pick a good day to climb this, or at least a day where you get a view from the top, because you get a real cracker up here.”

Walk 7: All Of Wales’s Highest In One


This unmarked route that visits the 15 mountains of Snowdonia that are over 3000ft is often taken on as a 24-hour challenge. Our recommendation is to slow it down, do it over two days and give yourself the time to enjoy the scenery and views along the way.

The journey involves a long climb to the summit of Snowdon, the grade 1 scrambles of Crib Goch, Tryfan and Pen yr Ole Wen, and a steady traverse along the high tops of the Carneddau range, bagging each 3000er one-by-one before a long descent down to the North Wales Coast.

Will Says: “This is a great weekend adventure. Doing it in one day is a suffer-fest. Doing it in two is a joy. Bear in mind, there are some big ascents, a few very exposed bits and realistically you’ll need to wild camp overnight.”

Walk 8: Snowdonia’s Best View?

Separated by wide valleys from the Snowdon Massif and the Glyderau, and seemingly far away from the other mountains within its own range, the Moelwynion, Moel Siabod has an independence or, you could say, a loneliness to it. Still, it’s near enough to those other mountains to provide excellent views of them.

The simplest way to the top is via the long and steady approach from Plas y Brenin mountain centre to the north, but if you’re happy to scramble then it’s worth ascending via the fun south-west ridge called Daear Ddu (grade 1), and then following that northern route back down.

Will Says: “I remember spending an evening up on Moel Siabod’s summit once, watching the lights of headtorches in the distance as they slowly snaked their way down from the summit of Snowdon. You look right into the Snowdon horseshoe from here – it’s a phenomenal view.”

Walk 9: Walking On The Moon


The tops of the Glyderau are like no other place in the UK. You could say up here is as near to walking on the moon as you can get without needing to travel in a rocket. The two linked summits are covered in jagged boulders, some of which have bizarre silhouettes that look almost as though they’ve been arranged deliberately – the stone crown of Castell y Gwynt for instance (Castle of the Wind) and the famous cantilever stone.

This route, though popular, is a challenging one, especially in bad weather, and good navigation skills are essential. It starts at the Ogwen Cottage, then climbs to the top of the Glyderau through the dark crag infamously named Devil’s Kitchen. The descent is via Llyn Caseg Faith and the small col that links the shapely peak of Tryfan with the rest of the Glyderau.

Will Says: “This is one of those walks that keeps you entertained from start to finish. It really is an incredible landscape to explore – just bear in mind that in bad weather it can be as inhospitable as Wales gets.”

Walk 10: The Mini Mountain

Snowdonia’s mountains seem to stand aside for the gaping Mawddach estuary. Its still waters reflect the dark outlines above, golden sandbanks appear at low tide, rich green woodland lines either side, and the whole expanse, when viewed from the Barmouth railway bridge, stretches as far as the eye can see as it cuts into the heart of Wales. That’s just the start of this walk though, because it’s Llynnau Cregennen that’s the real objective. Here, you’ll find the mini mountain that is Pared Cefn Hir, and there are two little lakes, which, when it’s calm will give a crystal-clear mirror image of the dorsal fin-shaped peak above.

Will Says: “A huge estuary, a little characterful hill, beautiful lakes and a bunch of waterfalls. There’s a lot to like about this walk found at the foot of Cadair Idris. In fact, I’d say this one’s a photographer’s dream.”

Note: Some of these walks are in challenging, wild terrain where a good level of fitness will be required. Only undertake them if you are able to navigate safely and have the appropriate outdoor clothing and equipment. Visit Adventure Smart UK for tips for enjoying Wales’s mountains safely.

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