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On top of Wales – Our guide to climbing Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa

If you love walking, you probably already love Wales. With miles of beautiful trails, Wales is a walking haven for experienced hikers and beginners alike. Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) is the highest mountain in England and Wales but with the right preparation and weather it’s summit can be an achievable walk and a fabulous day out. Whether you’re looking for a personal challenge or a chance to stand at the very top of Wales, we have the information and advice you need to enjoy a day on Snowdon.

I want to climb Snowdon, how high is it?

In the UK a mountain is classed as a landform that rises to 2,000 feet or 610 metres above sea level. At 1,085 metres, Snowdon offers thousands of people each year a chance to climb their first mountain. There are several routes to the summit starting at different locations. Each route has its own character and degree of difficulty. Snowdon’s Watkin Path for example takes you past a beautiful set of waterfalls but has a disconcerting scree slope just before the summit. Snowdon’s Llanberis Path is nearest to the Snowdon Mountain Railway and the one taken by most first-time climbers. Whichever route you choose, it’s important to remember that getting to the summit is only half of your journey.

What are the Snowdon views like?

In good weather, one of the best things about climbing any mountain are the views, not just from the top but also as you climb and descend. From the summit of Yr Wddfa (Snowdon) you might be lucky enough to see England and Scotland as well as most of Wales, but mountain weather is changeable, and being so high, you could well find yourself inside a cloud. On any mountain walk you can be in sunshine with good visibility one minute and in heavy mist or rain the next. Which means it’s important to plan your route and prepare properly.

Are there other mountains in Snowdonia?

If you’re thinking about walking in Eryri (Snowdonia) and wondering how high some of its other mountains are, you might have also heard of Tryfan at 915 metres and Cadair Idris at 893 metres but it’s important to remember it’s not necessarily the height of a mountain that makes it suitable for inexperienced walkers.  Some, like Cadair Idris have clearly defined paths that are reasonably easy to follow, others such as Tryfan are not so suitable for beginners as they have sections that require scrambling (using your hands) as well as more difficult navigation.

Are there any Snowdonia webcams?

If you don’t live near a mountain or visit Snowdonia regularly, you might find it tricky to imagine what you’ll be letting yourself in for on your mountain walk. One way to get an idea of this is to spend some time exploring Snowdonia by webcam. The Snowdon webcam isn’t always available, but it’s based at Lodge Dinorwig and shows views of Snowdon’s northern slopes, including the Llanberis Path and the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The Tryfan webcam gives another impressive mountain view.

How can I check the weather for Snowdonia?

Looking at webcam footage can help you see mountain weather, but it won’t help you understand what it’s going to feel like when you’re out walking in it. One of the best weather websites for this is the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS). They collect all the relevant weather information for different mountain regions and issue a downloadable daily bulletin. As well as letting you know your chances of getting a view at the summit, this bulletin will also help you understand:

  • How the wind level will affect your ability to walk (strong gusts can blow you over)
  • The height of cloud level (above which navigation can be tricky)
  • The difference in temperature mountain wind can make
  • Whether or not you’ll be walking into snow and ice

If the summit of Snowdon is your goal, then the Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) ground conditions report will explain what you’re likely to encounter as well as the type of equipment you’ll need. It’s worth remembering that the weather at the foot of your path will almost certainly be much more friendly than the weather you’ll encounter further up.

Once you’ve absorbed this information, you’ll be in a better position to prepare carefully and decide where to walk. It’s perhaps important to point out here that Snowdon has plenty to offer even if you decide not to head for the summit. For example, the Miners’ Track from Pen-y-Pass, is steep and rocky at the top but the two beautiful llyns or lakes lower down are on a good path and both worth visiting.

What do I need to climb Snowdon?

If you prepare well for your mountain walk, you’ll enjoy it more and keep yourself and your family safe. Thousands of people walk safely up and back down Snowdon each year but in mountain environments, accidents can happen. You may well not use all the items listed below but should the weather change or something happen to keep you out longer than you planned, you’ll be ready to cope if you have them. Making sure everything is suitably protected from rain, try to pack:

  • Plenty to eat (at least 3,000 calories per adult plus emergency snacks)
  • Plenty to drink (at least 2 litres of water per adult plus a hot drink)
  • A first aid kit
  • A torch and spare batteries (in case your descent takes longer than you planned)
  • A fully charged mobile phone (inside a plastic or dry bag)
  • Some means of navigation (a map and compass are best but if you’re using a phone, carry a charging device as well)
  • Waterproof top and trousers (these will keep the wind out too)
  • Extra warm layers for everybody (including a hat and gloves)
  • Walking boots (to protect your ankles)
  • Sunhats and suncream in hot weather
  • A survival bag (cheaply available from most outdoor suppliers)

Where’s the best place for Snowdon parking?

There are several different Snowdon routes so you need to make sure you choose the right car park for the one you’re planning to take. If you prefer sustainable travel, the Snowdon Sherpa bus service routes stop at the base of the main summit paths with a reduced timetable out of season.

It’s worth noting that the Pen-y-Pass car park for the Pyg and Miners’ Tracks gets very busy, and you’ll need to book a space in advance during the summer months. Alternatively, the park and ride bus service from Nant Peris is available between Easter and the end of October.

Can I catch a train to the top of Snowdon?

The Snowdon Mountain Railway locomotives are pulled up the steep gradients by toothed wheel or pinions, which also act as brakes on the way back down. Snowdon’s weather permitting, the railway is open between April 1st and October 31st each year (with journeys stopping at Clogwyn Station instead of the summit until the middle of May). It will take around an hour for your train to reach the summit (45 minutes to Clogwyn) and you’ll have a 30-minute stop to explore before your return journey.

From yurt to summit

Any mountain walk will leave you feeling deservedly tired. And where better to recover from the exertions of your mountain day than in the comfort of your own cosy yurt. With private hot showers, proper beds and a wood burner to help you relax, our yurts and cabins are the perfect reward for even the steepest of mountain excursions. 

Strawberry Skys Yurts offers a peaceful alternative to staying in busy Snowdonia. And using us as your base for a mountain adventure is perfectly doable. 

If you plan on climbing Snowdon while staying at Strawberry Skys we would suggest walking either The Rhyd Ddu Path or The Ranger Path and parking in either Rhys Ddu car park or Lyn Cwellyn car park for The Ranger Path. These are the quickest car parks to reach from Strawberry Skys. You will need to allow 1.5 to 2 hours travel time so be prepared to get up early, but I promise you, it will be worth it!  

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