Monday, 11 June 2012

Snowdon via The Watkins Path and down PYG and Miners Track 4th June 2012

I set off from the Hafan Y Mor Holiday camp in Pwllheli early to climb Snowdon. I parked up in a car park at Nant Gwynant at the bottom of the Watkins Path.As soon as I was out of the car,I was attacked by midges,they were everywhere. I walked over to pay to park.All I could see was a £2 tariff for 4 hours. I was gonna need more time than that.So I drove a little further up the road and parked for free,Bonus!
After a short walk back to the Watkins Path,I was on my way.
 The Watkin Path is "the most demanding route direct to the summit of Snowdon", since it starts at the lowest elevation of any of the main routes. It was first conceived by Edward Watkin, a railway owner who had attempted to build a railway tunnel under the English Channel, and had a summer home in Nant Gwynant near the start of the path. It was originally designed as a donkey track and opened in 1892.

Scenes from Carry On... Up the Khyber were filmed on the lower part of the Watkin Path in 1968, with the Watkin Path representing the Khyber Pass in the film.

The start of The Watkins Path.
 The path starts through a wooded area of Park Hafod-y-llan.

The path climbs steadily towards the sound of running water.

 I pass through another gate and pass a sign explaining some of the sights to be seen up the route.

I now see a much more impressive waterfall a little way off in the distance.The sound of crashing water is just amazing.

I stop and take off my coat as I was quickly warming up and stop to take a look back at how far I have climbed and take in the view back towards Nant Gwynant.

I now continue to walk with my coat safely packed away in my rucksack.It was nice to be walking alone with only 3 guys to be seen in the distance.

The original Hafod Settlement
I stop to take in the sight of the waterfalls of the Afon Llan and take a couple of pictures.

I continue walking and nearly catch up with the 3 guys in the distance,they veer off to the left and start climbing.I check my map and see that I continue onwards across a ford and to my right is a large wall of rock.

I walk onwards and near Plas Cwmllan, is the large boulder known as Gladstone Rock, which bears a plaque commemorating a speech given in 1892 by William Ewart Gladstone, the then 83-year-old Prime Minister, on the subject of Justice for Wales.

 It had started raining again and I reluctantly put my coat back on.I walk further on and soon pass the slate workings in Cwm Llan were opened in 1840, but closed in 1882 due to the expense of transporting the slate to the sea at Porthmadog. Various buildings, including barracks and dressing sheds, remain.

  The path now starts to climb steeply, I pass a family and stop a little further up to take my coat back off as I was in danger of overheating. The family I had passed had caught up and I chatted to a woman to enquire where they were from. I had guessed right by the accent that they were from Germany on Holiday,Munich to be exact. After a short chat I said my goodbye and pressed on upwards.
Looking back to where I had came.
The steep path upwards

Another view back

An so the path goes on

A Mountain Goat
I paused for one final glance back before all I could see before me was a large wall,that needed to be climbed. I was unprepared and had no idea that this path had a hard scramble up loose scree! I didn't know if the kids with the German family would be able to make it up.I never found out as I didn't see them again,maybe they turned back.

The final look back before the scramble

The path leading to the scramble.
I stopped a little way up,the picture doesn't do justice to the gradient of the scramble.
View down to Llyn Llydaw Reservoir

From here,the path heads west to meet the Rhyd Ddu Path at a standing stone shortly below the summit of Snowdon.

  I now follow the Rhyd Ddu Path to the summit,There are now loads of people on this path.After The climb I just had I can see why many people don't choose the Watkins Path!

The lazy way up,Mountain railway from Llanberis
I now reach the summit for the customary photograph,before a cup of tea in the cafe and to buy some gifts for the kids. £1.95 for a cuppa but it was worth every penny! Once on the summit it was a mixture of snow and sleet...lovely!

The new RIBA Award-winning £8.4 million visitor centre, Hafod Eryri, designed by Ray Hole Architects in conjunction with Arup and built by Carillion, was officially opened on 12 June 2009 by First Minister Rhodri Morgan

I now start my way down the other side of the mountain to take The PYG track.

View down to the PYG track.

The "Pig Track", or "Pyg Track" , leads to Pen-y-Pass.
Nobody knows for sure why this path is called the Pyg Track. It's possible that it was named after the pass it leads through, Bwlch y Moch (translated Pigs' Pass) as the path is sometimes spelled 'Pig Track'. Or, maybe because it was used to carry 'pyg' (black tar) to the copper mines on Snowdon. Another possible explanation is that the path was named after the nearby Pen y Gwryd Hotel, popular amongst the early mountain walkers.

This track was far busier than the Watkins Path,Too busy for my liking really.

View down to Glaslyn
 I was thinking of going back down via the Crib Goch a ridge,but with the rain,the rocks coming up were slippery and didn't fancy chancing the ridge.Maybe another day!

Crib Goch

How busy??!!
Not quite sure for the reason for a pole filled with coins!

I now made the decision to leave the PYG track and drop down to the Miners track to scout along the water.

Glaslyn (Welsh: Blue lake)

I stop off to cool my feet in Glaslyn, the water really is as cold as it looks. Had the route not been so busy,I may have been tempted to even have a swim.

view back to the summit

Llyn Llydaw Reservoir (from the Welsh meaning Brittany lake)

View across Llyn Llydaw to Snowdons summit

The final stretch before Pen Y Pass
I now arrived in Pen-Y-Pass,I walk to the bus stop to get a bus back to my car. A quick look at the timetable shows the next Snowdon Sherpa bus was due in 2 hours and 15 minutes! I was horrified,I know it was a bank holiday and all but I couldn't believe it. So my walk wasn't over as I decided to walk however many miles it was back to the car. A look at the map showed a footpath that leads to Nant Gwynant.So off I trekked.

The ground in places was extremely boggy and I had to navigate across carefully,some spots my stick disappeared in the bog!
  I came up to a power station where the pipe that ran off from Llan Llydaw reservoir ran to.The pipeline featured in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

Cwm Dyli Power Station
After more walking I eventually came to,Llyn Gwynant and the campsite and finally my car. I was knackered but it had been a great day! 12.2 miles in all but felt like so much more!

Llyn Gwynant


  1. Nice one. The Watkin is one of my favourite ways up Snowdon. That's a great route you accidentally came up with too - may well have to give it a try.

    1. Thank you, was a nice walk and the Watkins path was a lot quieter than other routes too!

  2. Hi mate, somehow I missed this post, looks like you had a good day. Post with coins in it was on bizarre, probably someone jammed a coin in it and everyone else followed suit. How many miles did you have to walk back to the car?
    Good post mate, enjoyed reading it.

    1. Im not sure how many miles it was extra,but it was a great walk all the same.


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