We take a look at the options...
There are many routes up Snowdon. Actually, unless you are a climber there are eleven routes for walkers if you include the scramble of Crib Goch (I suppose there are twelve routes if you include the train but let’s not get carried away). It’s a great accident of geology that the highest peak of England & Wales has such a variety of paths, all different in their nature and moods, and all worthy of attention.
Of course getting to the top is just one way of a two-way journey, so if you have all these routes to select on the way up and just as many on the way down that leads to a startling number of possible combinations, 121 to be precise.
Has anyone ever done all possible combinations of walking route? I have no idea, but it would seem to be a strange tick-list. Maybe a worthier goal is to walk all the routes at least once, up or down, which leads to the obvious question, which one is the best?
Do you start in the woodland of Hafod y Llan and head up into the quiet Cwm Llan, or head up the Ranger’s path from Lyn Cwellyn? Or perhaps make your way up to the bowl of Glaslyn beneath the trinity face via the Pyg Track or Miner’s Track? Or simply roll out of bed in Llanberis and take the long line of the Llanberis path while waving at the passengers in the train going past?
It probably comes as no surprise at this point when I say I don’t think there is a ‘best’ route. Everyone may have their favourite, which is normally governed in my experience by how good the day has been rather than the route itself. Far better to be out in the mountains with people you like, on a day of good weather with comfortable boots and the sights of the mountains all around, than to be forced onto what someone arbitrarily says is the ‘best’ route with people you’re not that keen on and relentless drizzle.
And it’s far more interesting to have your own favourite, after all there are plenty to choose from, and favourite routes depends as much on what you can see than on the ground under foot. Are you a fan of the dramatic Llanberis Pass, the wooded and peaceful Nant Gwynant, or the forested and wild Nant y-Betws?
Favourites mean better stories too, and I always like hearing people’s preferences when it comes to mountain journeys. There is enough on Snowdon of industrial heritage, Arthurian myth, wild animals and plants, sheep farming and the history of mountaineering to keep anyone interested for a lifetime. And each route has these in varying proportions.
What you should certainly do with a mountain like Snowdon is refuse to be drawn into the state of mind where people reaching the summit say that they have ‘done’ the mountain. They may have had an excellent day, and seen much of one route, but with so many other faces to Snowdon there is simply no ‘doing’ it, there is just the gradual process of learning a bit more each time you go.
So do not write Snowdon off just because you have reached the summit by what someone says is the best route – go back and walk another side, and I promise you will see a totally different but equally fascinating mountain.
Large Outdoors runs a full schedule of both day walks and walking weekends all taking in the Summit of Snowdon along a variety of different routes. You can view full details of our upcoming events on our dedicated guided walks to the summit of Snowdon page.
Author: Alex Kendall
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