The Snowdon Horseshoe is one of the finest ridge traverses in England and Wales, covering highly interesting terrain including the knife edge arete of Crib Goch, as well as Crib y Ddysgl, Garnedd Ugain, Snowdon, and Y Lliwedd.
The Route begins at Pen y Pass, at the top of the Pass of Llanberis on the A4086, and can be approached by road from Llanberis (towards Bangor and Caernarfon), Beddgelert (towards Porthmadog), and Capel Curug (towards Betws y Coed). There is a small car park, but this often fills up very early so you may need to use the park and ride service from Nant Peris which runs a regular bus service, and is in fact a cheaper option than the car park at Pen y Pass itself. A regular bus service, the Snowdon Sherpa, also offers services from all of the principal towns in the locality.
Route DescriptionEast ridge of Crib Goch
: From the Pen y Pass car park follow the marked path westwards to the col of Bwlch y Moch. Turn right here and approach the East Ridge of Crib Goch. From here, roughly 70m of sustained scrambling completes the lower part of the ridge. From here, paths tempt you left or right away from the rock step which characterises the upper part of the ridge, but it is far better to stay on the crest of the ridge, where the rock is finest. The East and North ridges of Crib Goch meet at the east end of Crib Goch and this is generally known as the summit (though it is not, in fact the highest point on the ridge).
Traverse of Crib Goch
: The traverse of Crib Goch consists of a knife edge ridge followed by three pinnacles. The first part of the traverse is simple enough, but care should be taken, especially when encountering high winds, moisture, or snow. At the pinnacles, it is best to go by the first on its left hand side, then, traverse the second, again by the left. Following a series of exposed ledges slanting left to right, gain the summit of the third, and descend a simple gully and scree path to Bwolch Coch.
Crib y Ddysgl
: The ridge traverse continues over Crib y Ddysgl, which is best tackled head on to gain the crest, again resisting the temptation of left and right flanking paths. Ascend the ridge by climbing a series of slabs and chimneys on the left, finally reaching the summit, marked by a trig point.
Traverse of Snowdon
: From the summit of Crib y Ddysgl join the main path from Llanberis and continue to the summit of Snowdon. From here, descend the south-west ridge for about 200m to a 2m marker stone, leaving the ridge here to descend a scree path to Bwlch y Saethau. Continue along the path to the foot of the north-west ridge of Y Lliwedd.
Traverse of Lliwedd
: The ascent of Lliwedd is uncomplicated. Stay to the left for the best scrambling and for the tremendous views of the north-east face. Having crossed the two summits fork left and scramble down ledges onto scree and follow the ever improving footpath to the shores of Llyn Llydaw and follow the Miner's Track back to Pen y Pass
Unless under the cover of snow, no specific gear is required except a good pair of walking boots. Nervous parties may also wish to take a rope.
Under snow cover the route becomes a far more serious undertaking, and an ice axe, crampons, rope etc. should be carried.
As well as being an enjoyable and exhilirating route, the Snowdon Horseshoe also provides the opportunity to see some of the finest examples of Devensian glaciated landscapes in the UK.
These features include:
-Crib Goch arete,
-the cascading cirques of Glaslyn and Llydaw,
-the moraines of Llydaw,
-the pyrymidal peak of Snowdon,
-the riegel between Glaslyn and Llydaw,
-as well as the striations visible in the rocks, especially at the Llydaw causeway when water levels are low.
www.snowdonia-npa.gov.uk - Snowdonia National Park Authority
www.traveline-cymru.org.uk - Public transport information