UK's Best Walks and Hikes Part 2: Snowdon via Crib Goch
Written By: Gerda Lejasmeiere
In part 2 of our series featuring the UK’s best walks and hikes, our SportsShoes Hiking ambassador, Gerda Lejasmeiere, tells us about her latest adventure on Snowdon in North Wales.
SNOWDON VIA CRIB GOCH - THE FUN WAY!
The first time I climbed, or even walked to the top of Snowdon, it was on the Llanberis path which is definitely the easiest way up and especially if you’re well rested and have comfortable shoes on! It’s fair to say that this route is probably one that doesn’t offer the best views on the climb itself, but reveals some breath-taking views at the top - If you’re lucky with the weather that is!
But today I’m not writing about that, I want to tell you all about my favourite way to approach the summit of Snowdon - via Crib Goch (the Red Ridge), which is 923 metres above sea level at the highest point on the arête!
Please be warned: this route is not suitable for everyone, only for those with a real taste for adventure, a head for heights and confident on exposed scrambles, as steady feet and sure-footedness are required when tackling this route! Do not attempt this route if you have any doubts or concerns about your ability and safety.
I recommend starting at the visitor centre at Pen-y-Pas, where here you are presented with a choice of two routes - either head up the Pyg Track or the Miners Track. Here, there are also signs with daily updates for the weather forecast, however, if you’re an early riser I would recommend checking the weather yourself as it might take a while longer to update on the board.
For most of our group, the chosen path to go up was Pyg Track and for those that were a little more adventurous, the plan was to split off to tackle Crib Goch instead.
The initial path goes up and keeps going up. Depending on your fitness levels you may need a break or two. After walking a while, there is a nice rock formation where you can take a rest and get some great photos. But I do remember thinking that the views will only get better!
Continue a little further and you will reach a point where the path splits - this is where things start to get interesting. You will have a choice to either turn left and continue on the PYG track or turn right and head up towards Crib Goch.
TOP TIP: If you are going up in different groups, or on different paths, I would advise you to share your locations with each other on WhatsApp. You won’t have signal at all times, however, when you do this is a good way to keep an eye on your group to see how everyone is doing!
The Crib Goch route is a challenging scramble, even though the trail runners that regularly run across it might disagree with that statement. Ha!
TOP TIP: For this walk I would advise wearing some very comfortable shoes! My choice was the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 trail running shoes, instead of hiking boots, as I wanted to have light shoes with more precision for crossing the ridge.
You may lose the path at points, so it’s good to do some research beforehand and perhaps even upload the path on your watch as a back-up (which is what I did) and always carry a compass and map with you, but most importantly learn how to use it!
Check out our Beginners Guide to Hiking and Trail Running Navigation here.
*WARNING! An important piece of advice - If the weather is mild & dry and you are sure-footed, then feel free to challenge yourself on Crib Goch. However, if it is raining - I strongly advise you to skip this section, as the ridge you need to cross for Crib Goch in rain gets very slippery and very dangerous!
Once you cross Crib Goch ridge, you may experience a wave of relief and think that the end is near. However, when you reach the other side your knees may start to tremble as you are faced with another rocky ridge giant - Garnedd Ugain, standing tall at 1065m. If you’re not enjoying the exposure and dizzy heights then don’t worry - I’ve got you!
Just before you begin to tackle the rocky ridge in front of you, there is a path to your left that will bring you around to the other side and safely deliver you onto the Miners track and the steps up to the top!
If you have the strength to carry on and the weather permits, feel free to tackle Garnedd Ugain. As scary as it looks, it is much easier to ascend than Crib Goch, but if you don’t feel very well or the weather has turned, like it had in our case, the path to the Miners track will be your saviour!
These days, it seems that there will always be a queue on top of Snowdon to reach the trig point. It can often take around half an hour, however, if it’s the weekend and the weather is good it may even take a little longer! The reason the queue exists is to take a picture at the very top, but if you are simply wanting to touch the trig point, you may politely ask to skip past. But please be mindful and don’t try to sneak a picture in, as everyone who is at the top and in the queue has done a tough walk like yourself and deserves mutual respect.
It’s worth mentioning that there is also a café and toilets at the top. The mountain train runs regularly from Llanberis to the summit and back, so you could catch it in either direction, or both ways so you don’t have to walk up or down, but what would be the fun in that!
For our route back to Pen-y-Pas, we chose the Miners Track as it is relatively straightforward with a steep-ish and rocky descent at the top. However, the gradient does ease and the footpath is very obvious and well-trodden, passing 3 lakes on the way down. Feel free to swim in them! Quite a few people do and the water looks so inviting, especially after the long hike you’ve just done. Either of the two larger lakes, Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw, are great places to pause for a snack break too!
TOP TIP: For a route of this length and difficulty, it is important to make sure that you have enough fuel, so take plenty of snacks and water with you and take the opportunity to have a rest at one of these beautiful lakes.
Once you reach the third lake you will turn a corner that will seem like the end, but it will not be it! As much as the path may seem to be never-ending, just continue on and you’ll get back in no time. There are toilets and a café back at the visitor centre, where a hot chocolate is definitely well-earned!
Photos: Gerda Lejasmeiere
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