Saturday, 3 June 2017

Snowdon via Moel Eilio, Moel Cynghorion & The Snowdon Ranger Path

Open Space Web-Map builder Code

Route: Llanberis, Bwlch-y-groes, Bryn Mawr, Moel Eilio, Bwlch Cwm Caseg, Foel Gron, Foel Goch, Bwlch Maesgwm, Moel Cynghorion, Bwlch Cwm Brwynog, Snowdon Ranger Path, Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, Bwlch Glas, Snowdon, Bwlch Glas, Garnedd Ugain, Gryn Las, Clogwyn Station, Llechog, Tryfan, Llanberis Path, Llanberis

Date: 03/06/2017
From: Llanberis

Parking: Llanberis
Start Point: Pete's Eats, Llanberis
Region: Snowdonia - Snowdon

Route length: 14.1 miles (22.7 km)
Time taken: 06:36
Average speed: 2.1 mph
Ascent: 1,752m
Descent: 1,774m

Summits: Moel Eilio (726m), Foel Gron (629m), Moel Cynghorion (674m), Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) (1,085m), Garnedd Ugain (1,065m), Llechog (718m)

Other points of interest: Cwm Dwyhtwch, Snowdon Ranger Path, Hafod Eryri, Clogwyn Station

This long route to Snowdon is one I've had in mind for a few months now; I nearly did it instead of the Cwm Eigiau Horseshoe I completed a few weeks ago. This walk joins a number of outings into one continuous route and includes a large proportion of the Moel Eilio Horseshoe, the main section of the Snowdon Ranger Path and an easy descent down the Llanberis Path. It promised to be a great day.

We deliberately delayed our start time until late morning, not planning on arriving at Snowdon until early evening. While Snowdon is a great mountain, it can be crowded on a summer day so we were anticipating it being a little less busy by the time we arrived which would also, hopefully, coincide with some brighter weather - the threat of showers would accompany us for much of the day.

Starting in Llanberis, we made our way along Goodman Street to reach Ffordd Clegir and the old slate quarries to the west of the town. A signposted path wends up through the spoil heaps to Bwlch-y-groes and the bottom of Moel Eilio's north ridge.
Woodland above Llanberis
Elidir Fawr behind the slate spoil
More slate spoil approaching Bwlch-y-groes
Mountains surrounding the Llanberis Pass
A large shower over Penygroes
The climb up to Moel Eilio is longer than it first seems - the map shows a fairly unimpressive ridge that would perhaps wouldn't give a second thought to. The ridge, however, lasts for around 2km at a pretty even gradient, steepening for the 200m blast to the summit. View to the north are pretty good but behind you so you don't see a great deal until reaching the summit.
Grey skies over Llanberis
The line up Moel Eilio
Showers begin to clear
Llanberis and Elidir Fawr
A superfluous stile
Approaching the summit
The summit is broad and grassy and immediate views from the large wind shelter are unimpressive. Take a short wander east though, and a huge panorama over Cwm yr Hafod and Llyn Dwythwch is revealed thanks to Moel Eilio's steep, scree tinged eastern face.
Caernarfon Castle from Moel Eilio
Moel Eilio's summit shelter
Cwm yr Hafod
The Menai Strait
The ridge walk ahead is a delight with steep crags providing superb views over the many cwms of the horseshoe. The route undulates over the two tops of Foel Gron, over the minor summit of Foel Goch and down into Bwlch Maesgwm, a mountain pass that will get you from Rhyd-ddu to Llanberis without having to go over Snowdon or any of the Moel Eilio range.
The Moel Eilio ridge
Moel Eilio from Bwlch Cwm Cesig
Cwm yr Hafod and Llyn Dwythwch
Cwm Cesig looking to Foel Gron
Moel Eilio over Bwlch Cwm Cesig
The dramatic Nantlle ridge
Foel Gron and Foel Goch
Cwm Cesig
Llyn Cwellyn
Foel Gron
Foel Goch
Foel Gron and Moel Eilio
Moel Eilio
Looking along Maesgwm
Moel Cynghorion
The weather was noticeably improving as we traversed the ridge with clouds lifting off the dramatic mountains of the Nantlle Ridge and slowly creeping higher on Snowdon itself. Another substantial climb from Bwlch Maesgwm awaits, up the western ridge of Moel Cynghorion, along Bwlch Carreg y Gigfran.
The path leading along Bwlch Carreg y Gigfran
Foel Goch above Maesgwm
Llechog and Cwm Clogwyn
Panorama from Moel Cynghorion
The Snowdon Ranger Path
The summit ridge of Moel Cynghorion
Moel Cynghorion's summit
Like Moel Eilio, Moel Cynghorion has a broad, grassy top that limits the views, however, Snowdon is ever present, as is the excellent-looking Clogwyn Du'r Arddu ridge. The Snowdon Ranger path follows this ridge from Bwlch Cwm Brwynog at 500m, all the way to Snowdon's summit - an ascent of nearly 600m.
Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
From Moel Cynghorion, the path follows a fence steeply down Clogwyn Llechwedd Llo to Bwlch Cwm Crwynog where it meets the Snowdon Ranger Path. The Ranger Path is thought to be the oldest of the main routes to Snowdon's summit, it's beginnings being in the mining industry.
Bwlch Cwm Brwynog below Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas
Cwm Clogwyn and Llechog
The path was named in English after a mountain guide called John Morton who called himself the ‘Snowdon Ranger’. At the beginning of the 19th Century, he built an inn on the site where the YHA Snowdon Ranger stands today. The inn was known as the ‘Snowdon Ranger’, ‘Snowdon Inn’ or ‘Glanllyn' from where he would guide visitors to the summit of Snowdon along this path.
Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
Snowdon's summit
Moel Cynghorion
Though it appears steep, the path uses a number of zig-zags the climb the main Clogwyn Du'r Arddu ridge until it reaches a broad, grass shoulder at Clogwyn Coch. Here, it sweeps south to meet the Mountain Railway and the Llanberis Path immediately before the Pyg Track joins at the stone finger-post at Bwlch Glas. Views over Cwm Clogwyn to Llechog are outstanding. A final 100m climb follows the railway to Snowdon's summit.
The Snowdon Ranger path
The path as the gradient starts to ease
Looking down into Cwm Clogwyn
The Nantlle Ridge and Mynydd Mawr
Snowdon's summit
Looking down the Snowdon Ranger Path
Snowdon from Bwlch Glas
The famous Snowdon Mountain Railway
Snowdon's summit
Though busy, as is usually the case, our plan of leaving late appeared to have worked. There were much more people leaving than were arriving. What didn't pan out so well was the weather, a dirty grey cloud settled itself on the summit just as we arrived.
Another empty summit photo
After wandering around a bit, using the facilities at Hafod Eryri and generally wasting time, the crowds started to thin out leaving a momentarily free summit - time to grab that all-too-rare empty summit photo. Luckily, our procrastinating did mean we saw some of the fine views over Glaslyn as the clouds briefly lifted.
Yours truly
Crib Goch, Llyn Llydaw and Y Lliwedd seen from the summit
Y Lliwedd and the Watkin Path
Crib Goch
Moel Siabod plays havoc with the exposure
The Pyg and Miners' Tracks meet above Glaslyn
Our next port of call was Garnedd Ugain, Wales' second highest mountain and perhaps one of its most overlooked. It's only a short distance from Snowdon and has an excellent view of the cliffs below Snowdon's summit. The trig pillar seems to have taken a bit of a hammering since I was last here in 2016.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway climbs to the summit
The Pyg Track at Blwch Glas
Garnedd Ugain
Snowdon and Y Lliwedd
Y Lliwedd
Garnedd Ugain's trig pillar
A glimpse down Cwm Glas to the Llanberis Pass
We returned to the Llanberis Path and followed it to the top of the Gryn Las ridge to survey the impressive scenery around Cwm Glas and Cwm Uchaf. The view of Crib Goch from here is pretty impressive. We returned the path and crossed to Clogwyn Station, following the ridge top to Llechog - the final peak of the day. Again, after a short climb, views from the top an excellent and it's unlikely you'll come across many people up there.
Clogwyn Station and Llechog
Cwm Uchaf
Crib Goch
Llechog and the Llanberis Pass
Glyder Fawr
We stuck to the ridge top, enjoying the views of the Llanberis Pass and the Glyderau which were catching some early evening sun. Tryfan even makes an appearance through the gap between Glyder Fawr and Y Garn. Tryfan was to be our next port of call, though not the 3,000ft variant - there is a similarly named section of the ridge as it translates to 'three peaks' or 'three rocks'.
The Mountain Railway
Sun over the Moel Eilio ridge
Clogwyn Station
Y Garn and Glyder Fawr
Moel Cynghorion and Moel Eilio
Llechog's unmarked summit
The Llanberis Pass
The ridge route to Llanberis
Glyder Fawr
Moel Cynghorion
The Llanberis Pass
Clouds still covered Snowdon
Moel Cynghorion
Two of Tryfan's three peaks
Llanberis and Llyn Padarn
Elidir Fawr
From Tryfan, a steep grassy slope leads back to the Llanberis Path which, in turn, took us back to Llanberis via the steep at Coed Victoria. After tramping along a few more back roads we returned to Pete's Eats where we had begun several hours earlier. The joy of walking in summer meant that, despite it being around 9pm, there was still plenty of light.

Climbing Snowdon is always exciting and this long route is no exception, combining the excellent Moel Eilio horseshoe and the Snowdon Ranger Path to create an awesome mountain day out.