The Nantlle Ridge is a range of mountains in Snowdonia National Park. The circuit loop that will take you through an 11.1km journey features imposing peaks with magnificent views of Snowdonia. While the route is rated as brutal and features substantial scrambling, it is well worth the hike with breathtaking scenery in what is regularly referred to as one of Britain’s finest walks.
The trail is used for various activities, including hiking, running, nature trips and walking. It’s puzzling that this area is not as popular as other parts of the Snowdonia National Park despite its beauty.
Nantlle Ridge Walk Routes
You can use various routes to get to the summit of the ridge, depending on your route plan and the sights you have in mind. Regardless of the route you choose, it’s hard to find another walk that features so many summits in the same distance as this one does.
Some of the summits (the middle ones) are not as exciting, but they are full of character. The summits that meet you while on the walk include the Y Garn before you get to the Mynydd Drws y Coed after a brief scramble, then the Trum y Ddysgl and Tal-y-mignedd, followed by the Craig Cwm Silyn and finally the Garnedd Goch.
The highest of the summits is the Craig Cwm Silyn, identified by its wide plateau. On the descent, you will come across the last of the Nantlle Ridge range summit, which is Mynydd Graig Goch.
The Nantlle Ridge Linear Route – Rhyd Ddu (Route A)
Most climbers prefer this classic route, which covers all the summits. However, with this route, you have to work out how you will return to the start. That shouldn’t be a problem because you have several options you can use.
The route is short enough for you to complete the circuit twice in a day, but it’s not the shortest. For the best experience, you should complete the route in clear weather to enjoy the vast array of views on your way up.
The best place to part is at the car park alongside the A4085 Beddgelert to Caernarfon Road at Rhyd Ddu. From here, you can cross the main road into the footpath that leads downhill across some marshy ground.
Turn left at the Aafon Gwyrfai to the footbridge and follow the signs to the exit. At the B4418 road, turn left off the road and follow the track. You will pass the Drwsycoed Uchaf farm and a footpath with stiles that start to climb upwards towards the ridge.
The route to Nanttle Ridge walk is clear and well-marked. It quickly becomes very steep with steep crags to your right. The gradient then gives way and has a few easy slopes that give way to yet another stony summit.
From here, you can enjoy the 360-degree views while catch your breath. Afterward, follow the narrow ridge towards yet another summit. This time around, the path is quite clear and runs between the remains of a stone wall and some precipitous crags. The path will lead you to the foot of the third summit. To get to the top, you will need to get over an easy scramble. Just as you get to the summit, watch out for the boulder fondly called by its victims the “head banger.”
After enjoying the views, there’s a downward slope that leads to a small col. There a path that climbs steeply, but there shouldn’t be any difficulties. This leads to the summit of Trum y Ddysgl and also the end of the ascent for the day.
There are some stunning views to take in on this summit, more so to the east where the Snowdon massif lies and to the south for the Moel Hebog.
The descent is much easier. It starts at the almost level grassy plateau with seemingly no clear path. Take the edge of the steep ground on the left. The route will turn southeast to a broad and grassy ridge with a sharp steep opening to an easier angle into the valley. From here, you can follow the path into the forestry plantation past the Bwlch-y-ddwy-elor. You should have an easy time finding your way down with lots of help from the boulder marked with a white arrow where you began the steep climb.
From Rhyd Ddu (Route B)
The first route is the most popular and often preferred because of its proximity to Snowdon. You will always come across climbers on this route because it is busier.
If you don’t mind climbing in silence, this second route is for you. It’s even better because it offers excellent views and you might climb the entire day without coming across another climber.
The route starts on the west side of Snowdon in the village of Rhyd Ddu. The route has grade 1 and grade 2 scrambling sections, and there’s an exposure of Mynydd Drws-y-Coed on the ascent. There’s no easy way to avoid the scramble, so it’s best to skip this route if you’re not comfortable scrambling on the bare, steep rock ridges.
You should also avoid this route if the weather is wet or windy. Numerous descent routes and spectacular views are some of the other reasons why you should try this route.
The route begins at the car park at Rhyd-Ddu. You can pass through the metal kissing gate on the waymarked footpath across the field. There are some slate slabs that act as stepping stones to avoid most of the marshy grounds. Once you go past the gate, ignore the private bridge and turn left for about 20 metres towards the public footbridge. The route will tactfully take you through all the summits of the Nantlle Ridge range.
The descent is scenic, with plenty to see. Some landmarks to look out for on your way down include a wall, a fence, then a gate after some rocky ground and finally a rocky farm track that opens up to a public path.
There are several cafes and places to rest nearby where you can turn in for the night if you don’t get back to your starting point in time. These include Cwellyn Arms, where you can get some rest and a meal. It’s also dog friendly so that you can bring your pet along.