The Snowdon Horseshoe
The Snowdon Horseshoe has to be the most epic mountain walk there is. It’s rugged, breathlessly beautiful, with awe-inspiring views that will send chills down your spine.
The journey around the Snowdon Horseshoe starts at the Pen-y-pass parking. The drama builds with every step you take on this dramatic scramble. It’s not for the faint-hearted and requires ample preparation and gear before embarking.
The legendary climb, perfect for the hardiest hill walkers, takes between 5 to 7 hours can be divided into several stages.
Pen-y-Pass to Crib Goch
The climb starts at the Pen y Pass car park. It’s advisable to arrive at the car park early since the slots fill up fast. You can also take the bus from Llanberis. But the service is not frequent so plan in advance to avoid blindsides.
The walk quickly becomes exciting as soon as you slowly start ascending the rocky-stepped Pyg Track as you head to the pyramidal peak of Crib Goch. Thoughts of an exhilarating scramble will fill your mind as you approach one of the most daunting and scariest scrambles n Britain.
Follow the Pyg Track for about 500m. At the Stile marked Crib Goch, turn right. The scramble eases into a rocky path that snakes up the mountainside to the base of the East Ridge of Crib Goch. At first, the scramble looks daunting, especially because of the steep, rough terrain. After the first hurdle, everything eases up if you choose to stick to the route directly up the ridge.
As you come to the crest of the ridge, the scramble eases as you welcome the full exposure of the ridge. After taking in the view, keep left of the knife-edged arete make your way to the summit of Crib Goch, which will be roughly 100M from the ridge.
Garnedd Ugain & Crib y Ddysgl to Snowdon
The next stage on the circuit is just as exciting. Other than the continued scrambling, it offers stunning views of Snowdonia. Unlike the scramble to the peak of Crib Goch, the path to the summit of Garnedd Ugain is straightforward, and if you pick a smart line, you shouldn’t have any issues.
At the summit marker, you can take in amazing views of Crib Goch as well as views towards Snowdon and Y Lliwedd.
Expect the route to Snowdon summit by the Llanberis Path to be busy because it usually is. You will more than likely join hundreds of other walkers on the final 1km, which is an easy uphill walk. Three popular paths converge at this point.
Snowdon to Lliwedd
After taking in views from the might Snowdon, you can take on the next challenge in the circuit by walking past the café. Head south to join the path for Watkin and Rhyd Ddu routes. You can see the market stone indicating the Watkin Path after walking about 200m. Head east towards Y Lliwedd, which is a rocky peak.
The loose scree paths are steep, heading down to the flat Bwlch y Saethau. Expect some scrambling when bearing down. Amazing views of Cwm Daly reward your trouble coming down. You can venture close to the edge but remain cautious.
Don’t pay attention to the main route down the Watkin Path. Keep along your current path. Shortly, you will start scrambling towards the summing of Y Lliwedd. There are multiple lines you can use. But the best is near the edge. It allows you to soak in the views and the exposure as you work your way towards the peak.
The first peak of y Lliwedd happens to be the highest point. It’s known as the west peak, with a height of 898m. Carry on with the scramble along the tops. You will hit a rocky, visible path after Lliwedd Back that descends steeply down the mountainside on your way to Llyn Llydaw.
There’s a small bridge where the path joins the Miners’ Track for the final 2km. It’s an easy stroll back to Pen-y-Pass via Llyn Tayern.
At this point, you can stop, take a look back and bathe in the pride of completing one of the best and most rewarding walks in Britain as it lays in its entirety spread out with all the ridges and summits visible right in front of you.
A Word of Caution
The Snowdon Horseshoe is more than the most magnificent walk in Britain. It is also a formidable opponent. It’s not for the faint-hearted and should only be attempted by experienced walkers with a good head for heights and the ability to find the route over rock grounds. You should also be willing to use your hands when needed.
When planning for the walk, ensure you’re fully equipped. Knowing when to turn back when the weather takes a turn for the worst if vital and is a strength and not a weakness.
Navigational ability is crucial especially considering that most of the horseshoe circuit will be slippery and hazardous after heavy rains and strong winds. The best time to tackle the course is on a clear day with a gentle breeze. You will get to enjoy the vast scenic views, and you have less to worry about.