Walk the Snowdon Horseshoe – virtually
One of the classic UK hill walking challenges – forget the 3 peaks!
Start and Finish: Pen-y-pass - Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon - Pen-y-Pass
Time: 6 hours plus
Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Café and toilets at Pen-y-pass as well as a Youth Hostel opposite with a café bar
Lots of exposed scrambling, you need plenty of experience before you can consider this route.
You can reach Pen-y-pass using the Sherpa’r Wyddfa bus service from Porthmadog/Beddgelert, Llanberis, Caernarfon and Betws-y-Coed. Park and ride available from Nant Peris.
See our page on Walking up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) using Public Transport
IN SEASON – LIMITED & PRE-BOOKING required! 8 hrs – £18 / 8-12hrs – £25 / 12-24hrs – £40. Park in Nant Peris for the Park and Ride.
Off Season – £10 a day – card only
Post Code for Sat Nav: LL55 4NY
Walk the Snowdon Horseshoe – virtually Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
Download file for GPS
Walk the Snowdon Horseshoe – virtually
There’s no walk more epic in Snowdonia than the Snowdon Horseshoe over Crib Goch, Garnedd Ugain, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and Lliwedd. Setting off up the knife edged arete of Crib Goch isn’t for everyone, but even sat in your plimsolls at home you’re still better equipped than some who attempt it! You’ll need a head for heights to cross the ridge, with the 360° photo-spheres somehow making the route seem narrower. It’s up Crib y Ddysgl next, and joining the riff raff from the easier path to the summit of Snowdon. Finally, the Snowdon Horseshoe finishes with a flourish on Y Lliwedd, what could disparagingly be called a poor-man’s Crib Goch. There’s no doubt that it’s overshadowed by it’s more illustrious and exposed neighbour, but is still one of the finest ridge walk and scrambles you’ll find in the UK.
While this isn’t your usual 3 peaks option, we’re more than just the national three peaks and anyone who takes on the challenge needs some decent walking options.
The views across towards Snowdon on this route are amongst some of the best on the mountain, and we’re sure they’ll be getting you chomping at the bit to attempt this in real life.
1 – Start of the PYG Track up Snowdon
The Snowdon Horseshoe starts off from Pen y Pass on the PYG track, a manufactured path that wastes no time gaining height. The mountain you can see ahead is indeed Crib Goch, and not Snowdon as many of those not familiar with the mountain will initially think. The section as far as 3 is on Street-view, so you can follow the entire path.
2 – Start off up the PYG Track
The PYG heads on uphill, with views down the Llanberis Pass opening up.
3 – Bwlch y Moch
When the PYG reaches Bwlch y Moch, the Crib Goch route finally splits off. Bwlch y Moch translates as Col of the Pigs – and one of the theories why the PYG is called the PYG, or Pig Track. It’s invariably called the PYG these days, correctly or not, most probably after the Pen-y-gwryd. You might wonder why not the PYP Path, but there’s a good path from the Pen-y-gwryd all the way to Pen-y-pass. Incidentally, te summit of Craig Fach is just off this bwlch, and is regarded as the proper start of the Snowdon Horseshoe, but few ever start up Carreg Gwalch and The Horns on the Snowdon Horseshoe.
4 Start on up Crib Goch
The initial section should not be taken as an indication of how hard the route will be as you head on up a good path on grassy slopes. It may be a cliche, but this is the calm before the storm.
5 Let the Scrambling Commence
Finally, after a fair bit of ascent, the route becomes almost vertical as you’re forced to scramble up to the summit ridge. Is that guy in blue really wearing plimsolls?
6 Crib Goch
This is it! The classic view of the classic section of Crib Goch. That section ahead is the one that gets people all het up and dizzy. I think that the Street-views make it look even more exposed than it is, but you should only attempt this if you’ve a good head for heights, experienced and well equipped. That’s in stark contrast to a significant proportion who attempt it and invariably contribute to the workload of the Llanberis MRT!
7 Cross the Ridge and the Pinnacles
While Crib Goch gets the attention for being hairy (any welsh speakers think it should be renamed Crib Blewog?), it’s actually the pinnacles that are most problematic. With a couple of airy steps that could, especially if you’re an extra in the first 20 minutes of an episode of Casualty, lead to disaster, these do need some serious respect as there have been fatalities here. That’s why it’s best to traverse the ridge in dry conditions or from the comfort of your own lounge.
8 Bwlch Coch
Just after descending the pinnacles, is this little oasis of calm where many walkers wonder what they’ve just done and whether it really was a good move. The other half are relishing the remainder of the ascent, with the under-rated Crib y Ddysgl yet to come.
9 Crib y Ddysgl
While not as exposed as Crib Goch, there are still some scrambling challenges along the way. Not long now and you’ll finally be on the summit of Garnedd Ugain.
10 Summit of Garnedd Ugain
It can be a surreal experience as you stand at the summit of Garnedd Ugain, looking across to the vast crowds on nearby Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon. It is only 20 metres lower, and to be fair on both summits, we’re fortunate that it isn’t the other way around as Snowdon is just more shapely and distinguished.
11 – Bwlch Glas
You now leave the more exclusive Crib Goch route and join the much busier Llanberis and Snowdon Ranger Path to the summit of Snowdon. There’s also the Snowdon Mountain Railway which runs parallel nearby. You can follow the Street-view from here as far as section 15 if you wish.
12 – The Summit of Snowdon
On a walk such as this, the highest point of the route will not be the highlight. Looking down you’ll be able to see the entire route already walked as well as the ridge of Y Lliwedd that’s yet to come.
13 Descend the Watkin Path
From the summit, the Watkin Path is followed, along with the Rhyd Ddu path, until they split up and the Watkin Path begins the descent towards Bwlch y Saethau. It looks to be taking you over a cliff in the first instance, which is why this can be tricky in mist, but does descend steeply to the col.
14 Bwlch y Saethau
The Watkin Path continues along the col known as Bwlch y Saethau (Pass of the Arrows), but the superior route is to keep as high on the ridge as possible. The ridge provides even more interest on what’s already one of the best hill walks in the UK! Either way, the views are sublime with the Watkin offering them into Cwm Tregalan while the ridge also provides a bird’s eye view towards Llyn Llydaw.
15 Up Lliwedd
At this point we must leave the Watkin Path and we head on up the path towards the summit of Y Lliwedd. There are some sections of scrambling further up.
16 The Summit of Y Lliwedd
With views like this – we don’t need to write anything.
17 Down Lliwedd
The views continue as you descend, with Crib Goch ahead and the ridge of Y Lliwedd leading up to Yr Wyddfa in the other. Purists may wish to walk to Gallt y Wenallt, the final nail in the Snowdon Horseshoe, but like Craig Fach, very few do.
18 Final Descent from Y Lliwedd
Some sections are loose, but if you slip from the sofa, we take no responsibility. The path heads towards Llyn Llydaw to join the Miner’s Track back to Pen-y-pass.
19 – Llyn Llydaw
Finally – the route joins the Miner’s Track which meanders inoffensively back down to Pen-y-pass.