The Route Less Trodden   14 comments

Bank Holiday Weekend and a family trip to Snowdonia. I arrived a day early so had the Saturday to myself. Weather forecast was for a sunny day with “occasional” showers in the afternoon so I was up early and parked up just after eight.

I had route planned around Snowdon but even at this early hour spaces were at a premium. If you are ever planning a Snowdon walk from near Pen-y-Pass I have a few tips. Don’t bother trying to park at Pen-y-Pass itself. Your chances of finding a space are pretty much zero and even if you did its a whopping £10 a day! Much better to park down at Pen-y-Gwryd especially now that there is a rather nice path back up to Pen-y-Pass rather than the scary walk back up the busy road. They charge you now to park in the lay-bys here (£4 a day) however if you walk towards Capel Curig a few hundred yards, and into the Local Authority next door, the lay-bys are completely free – all for the sake of an extra 5-10 minutes walk. Don’t ever say my blog isn’t informative🙂

Anyway the gloomy conditions of earlier were replaced by extending patches of blue sky and sunshine

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The new path up to Pen-y-Pass is rather nice and a huge improvement over the road option. That is until you emerge into the rowdy chaos that is the car park and join the hundreds of other people looking to attempt the summit. The views were some compensation and it was exceedingly warm even at this early hour

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The path was a constant stream of people some of whom were already struggling within 30 minutes of leaving the car park. I don’t think they have any idea that even from the high start its a pretty long and tough trek to the summit. I had other ideas though and was planning a route taking in Crib Goch by its little used North Ridge. Its the one on the right in the photo below (the ridge on the left is the more common East Ridge)

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My guide book said there is a cairned path that leaves the PYG Track but I never found it. As soon as you branch off you are instantly in a different world of peace and quiet in amongst the wild hollows of Cwm Beudy Mawr. I was alone, save for the traffic in the Llanberis Pass far below me. It’s a very rough route that traverses this wild corrie, across the top of Dinas Mot and up towards Cwm Uchaf below Crib Goch. There were only a smattering of sheep tracks and no sign of the promised path. It was hot and humid and hard work but the rewards when reaching Cwm Uchaf were worthwhile

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Its a stunning spot. Crib Goch and Crib y Ddysgl tower above, Llanberis nestles beneath. This was one of the spots we’d hoped to camp on the aborted Easter trip a couple of months ago. I can now confirm that its perfect if you can find a dry pitch (it was pretty soggy). I found a large flat rock to sunbathe on and catch my breath

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I’d also wanted to look at the lake of Llyn Glas but I ended up far above it as its decidedly hard to find. It has a small island and someone was camped on it

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Getting onto the North Ridge involves a short tedious pull up a loose scree slope very reminiscent of Tenerife. The North Ridge is much narrower than the common East Ridge and actually pretty exposed in places. However having it all to myself made the extra effort to reach it all the more worthwhile

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On reaching the summit the views across Snowdonia were mighty fine although dark clouds were beginning to build

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Photos never quite do justice to just how narrow and exposed the main the ridge of Crib Goch actually is. I’ve done it many times and whilst technically its very easy with only a few places needing hands, you do need a head for heights. Several people turned back while I sat and took in the views, all bearing the look of people who hadn’t expected this sort of thing

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I enjoyed the scrambling and was quickly onto the less narrow but equally rocky and scrambly ridge of Crib y Ddysgl. However rain was now in the air and by the time I reached its summit it was heavy enough for waterproofs. Having said that, such was the humidity I was dripping wet with sweat anyway.

You are suddenly transported back into chaos as you reach the point where four of the main routes up Snowdon converge. There is little point walking the extra ten minutes to the summit to share a summit I’ve done many times, with no view and with five hundred strangers so I headed down. I passed through hundreds of people on the way up. Most were poorly equipped and most looked decidedly unhappy at the turn of weather. As I descended I came out of the cloud and the sun came out. Glaslyn looked like an ideal spot for a stop

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I found a quiet spot on the far side of the lake away from the crowds and lazed in the sunshine for an hour enjoying my lunch and a brew. Snowdon eventually peeped from its cap of cloud and suddenly all was very fine indeed

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Then I headed down and and everything went pear-shaped. It started to rain, light drizzle at first but within a few minutes it was a heavy downpour that lasted the best part of an hour until I squelched back into Pen-y-Pass car park. I was completely soaked through although I suppose one heavy shower, albeit an hour long classifies as “occasional”.

The sun came out on the way back to the car and I was pretty done in by the time I reached it. Not surprising as I’d done 11 miles and fair amount of ascent

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I was still soggy enough to need plastic bags on the seats to drive back to the campsite!

Then another “occasional” shower. Well cloud-burst would be more accurate. The A5 became a river as I drove past the Swallow Falls. For around ten minutes it all went dark and was like the end of world. Back at the campsite it wasn’t as bad but it rained pretty incessantly until around 8pm. In contrast to the heat and humidity of the morning, I was now cold enough to need the heater on in the camper.

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The rest of the family turned up later in the evening, their arrival seemingly forcing the rain to stop. The day finished with some fetching views across the campsite and we hoped for better weather the rest of the weekend

14 responses to “The Route Less Trodden

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  1. Great circuit despite the mixed weather.
    I’ve been pondering a visit to Cwm Glas for ages using the fabled path from Pen-y-Pass, but accounts differ wildly. An old guide book says the ‘dependable’ path starts at a cairn 200 yards north of the point where the highway swings up towards Bwlch y Moch, but many don’t find it and it’s nigh-on impossible to locate in the other direction, one walker finding himself traversing dangerously steep rocky slopes. I rather thought Llyn Glas might be a magnet for discerning campers, we’d better go well out of season, probably straight up from the Nant Peris road.

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    • Hi Geoff. I thought I was being pretty watchful but I never found the path. Providing you stay low in the traverse the terrain is pretty easy and the climb up from Dinas Mot whilst a bit rough and heathery is fairly easy. Considering it was a BH weekend the corrie was pretty much deserted although I was there fairly early. There are loads of places to camp higher up although some of what look like perfect flat pitches are pretty squelchy! I had the N ridge all to my self and I only saw one other group on it before the clouds came down. I would guess away from a main weekend it would be equally deserted. It is a bugger to get to!🙂

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  2. Have to say I had looked at Crib Goch for my walk on Tuesday, glad I picked the Glyders via Bristly Ridge instead. No tourists to be seen!!!!

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    • We did Tryfan and the Glyders the next day – much better weather. I decided to save Bristly for when my young apprentices have had a bit more experience. I’m a lot more cautious than I was when I was younger. Post coming soon

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      • Have to say I got lucky, I’d just come down from Tryfan and was looking up at Bristly Ridge. Two Mountain leaders walked up and stood next to me, asked if I would like to follow them up. Without them I would never have made it. Its a mixture of technical grade 1 scramble, 4 points of contact most of the way, exposure and hanging on for dear life!!!

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        • Very handy. I have done Bristly several times but the last time (a couple of years ago) it seemed harder and more exposed than I remember. I would have gone up had I been solo but I’m a little more circumspect when I have the kids with me

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  3. Good day out then! I have done Crib Goch many years ago, but I will admit to it possibly being my least favourite walk ever. Going up the east ridge was no problem at all, but the ridge itself was certainly more exposed than I like. It was a horrible, wet, greasy day too. Not like the sunshine you looked like you had……😉

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    • Just after I finished the ridge it rained and was pretty miserable for a couple of hours. When its dry the narrow bit is not too bad. Just need a head for heights and walk a couple of feet down on the LHS using the top of the ridge like a handrail. Only the foolhardy (like me when I was younger) try and stick right on the very crest. It is sensationally exposed though. Great fun if you like that sort of thing

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  4. I’ve never done the North Ridge, I’m sure I read somewhere that it’s a bit fierce. Didn’t we, one very foul winter day, ascend Snowdon via Cwm Glas and some dodgy vegetated scrambling on Dinas Mot?

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    beatingthebounds
    • There is one very short move on the North Ridge that’s quite exposed but other than that its just a narrow ridge walk, much looser than the main ridge. Main thing is its quiet, I had it all to myself from start to finish.
      That day you are thinking of was actually May but it was an appalling day. The Viscount Chaise-Lounge almost got himself killed on a horrid greasy slab on Dinas Mot. We did some really stupid things in those days. My abiding memory of that day was sitting squeezed between the walls of the nasty old train station/cafe and the rock in the cloud and rain. That must have 1986 I think

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  5. Glad you were able to summit!

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