The Snowdonia fifty
This is my attempt to put together a list of 50 adventures to be had in Snowdonia that will work all year round in a variety of different weathers.
I wanted to put together a list that would inspire us to stay local, to enjoy what we have here in North Wales and to inspire us to get out whatever the weather might throw at us. Hence the list is not all climbing – it is meant to be something anyone can aspire too, perhaps with a bit of training along the way.
If you simply want some inspiration then print this off and away you go. I am adding route maps to this page for the walks and rides and the scrambling routes and rock climbs are covered by the guidebooks. The route maps are for inspiration only – don’t feel you need to follow them religiously and if you find a better alternative – let me know!
If you want some friendly guiding along the way then you can book us by the day to do the routes that you can’t do on your own.
If you are one of our existing clients on the lookout for new adventures then hopefully this will give you a reason to keep coming back! At the bottom of the page I give you the option to register for the challenge and then you will get a routes book that you can tick off as you work your way through. You also get a mug so that you can have brew each morning and dream of the next adventure! By registering you can join The Snowdonia Fifty Facebook group so that you can connect with a community of people all doing the same thing to share adventures, transport and accommodation.
To keep the inspiration levels topped up I am working on a series of YouTube vlogs of the routes on the list that I can release every couple of weeks. That way I can bring the routes to the palm of your hand, together with friends and special guests as we aim to show you the best of Snowdonia.
I hope you are inspired.
A quick note on the route maps: In preparing these I have assumed that people will have the skills to read a map, use a compass, match their route to their own skills, the weather and the conditions – in essence I am preparing them on the basis that you are happy to go out on your own and look after yourself. You don’t need to follow them religiously to get the “tick” and you can make the days more or less challenging to suit. I also draw your attention to the BMC participation statement at the foot of this page.
1.The Foel Fras Circuit from Llanfairfechan (Walk)
This is a beautiful walk on the Northern end of the Carneddau with stunning sea views, rolling hills and of course the company of the lovely Carneddau Ponies. This is a really peaceful and quiet part of the National Park and gets relatively little traffic so its a great choice over a busy weekend. We start and finish at my house too so the tea is on me!
2.Traverse of the Carneddau – Walk
Starting at Idwal Cottage our day sees us traverse the Carneddau Mountains to the coast at Llanfairfechan. This is a lovely high level walk that takes in some of the best views in Snowdonia, back towards Snowdon to the South and out to sea to the North. The day gets quieter the further North we venture, with only the Carneddau ponies for company by the end.
3.Cnicht – The Matterhorn of Snowdonia
This is a beautiful mountain that sits to the South of Snowdon and gives some lovely views in all directions including the bigger mountains to the North, Cardigan Bay to the SW and Cader Idris further South. The approach to the summit has a small section of scrambling to add interest and our descent takes us through some wonderfully wild spaces that feel from a different lifetime.
Suggested Route Map
4.Traverse of the Glyderau
We start in Nant Peris and head up onto Elidir Fawr before a lovely high level walk takes us across Y Garn, Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and finally Tryfan before finishing in the Ogwen Valley. This is the middle section of the “Welsh 3000 challenge” whilst the walk above is the final section. If you want to complete all of the 3000ft summits in Wales then you only need to add the Crib Goch to Snowdon route to compete the set!
Suggested route map:
(There are sections of this route where you need to choose between walking and scrambling)
5.Snowdon – South Ridge & Watkin Path
This is the quiet side of Snowdon which in itself makes it special. We start at the bottom of the Watkin Path and head up into Cwm Tregallan where we branch off to climb the South Ridge of Snowdon. This is a lovely airy ridge and if you haven’t walked it – you should do! Its worth a day out and avoids the crowds that will be on the other side of the mountain. We can choose to touch the top and dash away or avoid them altogether by dropping down on the Watkin Path where we can have a paddle in the pools as we near the end of our day.
6.Milky Way Bivvy – Walk and camp
On a clear night it is hard to beat sleeping under the stars and watching the Milky Way as it passes over the mountains. One of my favourite spots is Llyn Caseg Friath which gives some stunning views over to the East Face of Tryfan. In the summer months the Llyn gives a lovely swimming spot too – it is never more than shoulder deep and so it actually gets warm! At dawn the sun lights up the East Face of Tryfan to complete the experience.
7.The Druids Circle Ride – MTB Ride
This is one of my favourite MTB rides from home in Llanfairfechan. It takes in some amazing sea views along the North Wales coast to the Sychnant Pass before returning back via Penmaenmawr. There is no hard riding, its just beautiful scenery and smooth grass terrain which can be as fast as you want it to be. This tick is a half day out – we can then have a spot of lunch in the cafe and if you have enjoyed the morning we can ride Drum in the afternoon.
8. Drum, Northern Carneddau – MTB Ride
Setting off from the sea front at Llanfairfechan we head to Abergwyngregyn on the Cycle Path before starting our climb uphill. Initially on tarmac the route switches to a LandRover track which pulls its way all the way up to the summit at 770m to give some stunning views across Anglesey and Puffin Island. The ride down is just mega. It has everything from LandRover track to fast and flowy grass at the perfect angle. In no time at all we are back at the cafe for tea and cakes 🙂
9. Tour du Moel Siabod – MTB Ride
This is a great ride that starts and finishes at the Moel Siabod Cafe. It doesn’t have a great start though – there is a long tarmac section, followed by a carry, followed by a boggy section. After that though it gets really good and lets you explore a wild part of Snowdonia that you wouldn’t get to otherwise, including a visit to Dolwyddelan Castle which is really pretty. Technically straightforward riding, some swoopy fun descents and some exploring – cool!
grade 1 scrambles
10. South East Ridge of Moel Siabod – Daear Ddu – Grade 1-
A beautiful walk from the Moel Siabod Cafe that takes in some simple scrambling which can be easily bypassed if the weather is not playing ball. This is a great route for introducing kids or friends to scrambling and Moel Siabod gives some lovely views across the rest of the Park.
11.The Nantlle Ridge (Grade 1)
This is a lovely walk with a great ridge scramble in an area of the Park that sees a lot less traffic. The route starts at Rhyd Ddu with an easy ascent of Y Garn and then some lovely grade 1 scrambling takes us along the ridge itself. The logistics of the day mean a second car or a bike are useful to get back to the start as its a linear route rather than a circular one – well worth the effort though.
12.Y Gribin, Lliwedd – Grade 1
This is a beautiful ridge that gets seen by thousands of people as they walk up Snowdon but very little actual traffic. It gives knife edge scrambling that gets steeper with height on rock that is good in the dry. The setting is wonderful as you look down to Glaslyn on one side and Llyn Llydaw on the other. The route tops out and leads us nicely onto the top of the Watkin Path so that we can traverse Lliwedd itself before descending.
13. Seniors Gully, Cwm Idwal – Grade 1
This is a great option for a wet and windy day as it is nicely sheltered in the back of Cwm Idwal and the rock gives good scrambling however wet it gets! There is even a pitch of ice climbing in a good winter freeze! If you want to make this route harder you can break out onto the Idwal Slabs descent climb and follow grade 2 ground up into Cwm Cneifion – you don’t need to though to get the tick.
14. Llech Ddu Spur (Crib Lem) – Grade 1
A world class scramble in a beautifully remote mountain setting that gets a surprisingly small amount of traffic. The scrambling is exposed and keeps on giving but at the same time it is straight forward and the rock is good. We top out on Carnedd Dafydd and have a number of options for the descent – including flying off as the Northern flanks make for a good hike and fly option for paragliders!
15. Little & North Gullies, East Face of Tryfan – Grade 1
Another great option for wet and windy days as the route is nicely sheltered from Westerlies and the rock is fine when wet. If its really horrible then you don’t need to summit – you can escape off to the lower section of the North Ridge and run away!
16. The Bochclwyd Horseshoe (Grade 1 scramble)
This is a great day out on grade 1 scrambling ground – perhaps one of the best in Snowdonia. We start on the North Ridge of Tryfan, head over the summit and down the South Ridge, climb Bristly Ridge onto the Glyderau and then descend The Gribin Ridge. Plenty of miles and plenty of smiles!
17.Crib Goch to Snowdon (Grade 1 Scramble) – probably my favourite scramble in Snowdonia. If we can get an early start and catch sunrise from the ridge it makes the day even more special – and means that we can park at Pen Y Pass. If we can’t then we can head up the North Ridge which makes for a quieter ascent and means parking is easier in the Llanberis Pass. We then traverse over Crib Y Ddysgl which is just as good in its own right, finishing on the summit of Snowdon assuming its not teeming with people or otherwise diving off for a quieter descent somewhere.
18. Cyfrwy Arête, Cader Idris (Grade 3)
Perhaps the hardest of the Grade 3 scrambles in Snowdonia (unless you ask Huw – he has done it so many times he can do it blindfolded now) and certainly one of the most aesthetic. A true mountaineering classic with some ace exposure and some big rock architecture. There is a really nice cafe in Dolgellau too that I like to visit each time I am passing. It has some beautiful old wooden racking that takes up the whole of the one wall and feels like a cafe from a time gone by – lovely.
19. The Cneifion Arete, Cwm Cneifion (Grade 3)
Perhaps one of my favourite Grade 3 scrambles in the Snowdonia – it definitely gives the best scrambling but it could just do with being a bit longer. You don’t want it to end as you reach the top! I normally combine it with an ascent of the Idwal Slabs first and this gives more of a day out and a nice warm up.
20. The Clogwyn Y Person Arete – Grade 3
A wonderful Alpine style ridge that forms a natural line straight down from Crib y Ddysgl on the Snowdon horseshoe. The route is hard to escape from and has one or two sections that are quite physical for a scramble. It is in one of the finest positions of all of the scrambles in this list and as we top out we still get some lovely grade 1 scrambling to finish – either back along Crib Goch or on along Crib Y Ddysgl.
21. Foel Goch North Arete (Grade 2+)
The North Wales Scrambles guidebook describes this as ” A gem of a scramble, superb positions, continuously interesting and with good rock too. Set amongst a fascinating sprawl of irregular shaped pinnacles and buttresses, it is steeped in atmosphere”. The route is best saved for a dry day but it does dry quickly and it gives some lovely views down the Nant Ffrancon valley and across to Anglesey. Having topped out we can enjoy a high level route back to the car via Y Garn and the Devils Kitchen.
22. Dolmen Ridge (Grade 3)
Dolmen Ridge gives nearly 1000ft of grade 3 scrambling on the Main Cliff of Glyder Fach. The crux is the Dolmen Buttress which provides a pitch of Moderate rock climbing with some ace exposure. As you gain height the ridge becomes less steep but narrower to give a true Alpine feel. An outstanding route that takes you through some fantastic mountain architecture and can then be combined with Bristly Ridge or the Gribin Ridge in descent.
23. East Face of Tryfan Linkup – Grade 3
The East Face of Tryfan is plastered in fine scrambling lines and lends itself to lots of different link-up options for those moving well. For this list I have chosen my favourites – best saved for a dry day as it can all feel a bit pokey in the wet!
Start up Nor Nor Buttress (3+), descend Bastow Buttress (2), climb Pinnacle Scramble (3+) and descend Little & North Gullies (1) to give you the best of the East Face in one good day!
24. Pinnacle Ridge, Braich Ty Du, Pen Yr Ole Wen – Grade 2
This is a quick hit route as it is only 20 minutes from the car park at Ogwen Cottage. It is still spectacular though with plenty of excitement and some lovely views. It is ideal for filling a gap between showers or a half day out.
25. East Ridge of Y Garn (2/3)
A great place to be if Westerly winds mean you want to get a bit of shelter and a lovely ridge scramble in its own right. The crux moves can feel quite hard and the narrow ridge section in the middle is exposed enough that you will remember it! If the weather is fine we can carry on over Y Garn; if it’s not then we can duck down into Cwm Idwal.
26. Chasm Face Route, Glyder Fach (3+)
This is a good physical scramble that gives nearly 1000ft of fun, high above Cwm Bochclwyd on the Main Cliff of Glyder Fach. The position is fantastic and you get a bit of everything from burly physicality to airy scrambling. A top day out, especially if combined with Bristly Ridge or The Gribin in descent.
27. Llechog Buttress, Llanberis Pass (Grade 2)
With a short approach of a little over half an hour this is another quick hit route that packs a nice punch. Lovely scrambling with big views will make you wonder why you haven’t done it before and why it doesn’t get done more often – it is rare to see another soul on it!
28. Jammed Boulder Gully (3) Llanberis Pass
OK so this isn’t a classic line, its not even pretty but it will produce a lot of giggles and so its worth being in the list just for that reason. If this list is all about making memories then this route earns its place. It has to be dry though! Like properly dry!
Here is the guidebook description “A scramble to be reckoned with. The main challenge isn’t the high degree of technical difficulty; it is more coping with the gullies inherent slipperiness….team tactics are really where the fun lies”
29. Bryants Gully, Glyder Fawr/Llanberis Pass Grade 3-
A watercourse gully scramble that gives over 500m of fun on the sunny side of the Glyderau. It needs to be dry though as the rock isn’t great when its wet and the protection is limited so you need to be moving well. We top out on the summit of Glyder Fawr and then descend back via either Nant Peris or Pen Y Pass.
30. Tryfan – West Face – Grade 3
This is a great mix of continually interesting scrambling that ultimately takes us to Adam and Eve on the summit of the mighty Trfyan. We kick off with Milestone Buttress Scramble (3) which has some nicely exposed moves, before dropping down to do Wrinkled Tower (3) and then blasting up the North Ridge to the summit. Ace!
31. Bilberry Terrace, Lliwedd (3)
Perhaps the longest of the grade 3 scrambles in Snowdonia and in an amazing situation overlooking Llyn Lydaw and Snowdon itself. This wonderful scramble has some difficult route finding but takes an impressive line up the steep North Face of Lliwedd. I have never seen anyone else on it!
32. Sentries Ridge, Mynydd Mawr – Grade 2+
We are in real Huw Gilbert country here – an out of the way scramble that “oozes atmosphere”. The ridge calls for good technique as although it is not technically difficult the rock itself requires judgement and it feels serious at times. It is a great line though and takes you to an area of the Park that you would not otherwise visit.
33. Tower Rib, Cwm Cneifion – Grade 3
This route sits all on its own at the very back of Cwm Cneifion. It feels pretty remote and gives some spectacular views – it also has very little in the way of traffic. It is worth the effort of getting to it though, it’s an Alpine style ridge that produces its fair share of smiles and lands you on the top of the Glyderau giving a choice of descent routes.
34. Craig Lloer Spur, Pen Yr Ole Wen – Grade 3
This is another of Snowdonia’s hidden gems. A grade 3 scramble on good rock that is East facing and so catches the sun whilst being sheltered from Westerly winds. It has one or two moves that make you think and the situation above Cwm Lloer is beautiful.
35. Hawks Nest Buttress Scramble, Glyder Fach Main Cliff – 3+
One of the harder scrambles in Snowdonia that takes a committing line up the Main Cliff of Glyder Fach. Burly, physical and thuggish in places!
36. Amphitheatre Buttress, Carneddau – V Diff
A long mountain adventure – it rivals Grooved Arete for the longest route in Snowdonia I think – on some wonderful rock and with some memorable pitches. A true Alpine style mountain journey that will definitely feed the rat. You might well recognise the photo as it made the front cover of our paper brochure after it was voted Facebook favourite by our followers.
37. Flying Buttress – Dinas Cromlech – Llanberis Pass – V Diff
“One can be overawed by this technically easy climb that works its way up an imposing cliff” Classic Rock quote from Roger Grimshaw.
Probably one of the most straightforward rock climbs in the Pass and yet when you stand at the bottom and look up it gives a buzz of excitement – it is on the most famous crag in Wales and perhaps that is part of the reason. The route definitely has an alpine character with big holds, good ledges and some ace exposure on the higher pitches.
“As you heave your carcass up comforting final jugs, think of Edwards feat – solo, climbing into the unknown on an unexplored cliff” – John Menlove Edwards climbed 22 new routes in the Pass, including this one – solo.
38. Idwal Slabs – Hope & Lazarus
The Idwal Slabs in Cwm Idwal are where many climbers get their first taste of multi pitch climbing and rightly so – they are set at a very friendly angle, have big ledges and lots of gear placements and are in a wonderful setting. On this day we tick off the Classic Rock routes of Hope (V Diff), and Lazarus (Severe) before enjoying some big boot scrambling up into Cwm Cneifion.
39. Grooved Arete – Tryfan – V Diff
The second “Classic Rock” tick in this list comes courtesy of Grooved Arete. This one needs to be enjoyed mid week as its justifiable popularity means that there are lines of people on it at weekends or bank holidays. First climbed in 1911 this 10 pitch route is probably my favourite line in the Ogwen Valley. Great climbing in a great situation that finishes 10 minutes scrambling from the summit – ace!
40. Outside Edge Route, Cwm Silyn – V Diff
One of the great Welsh mountain routes. It takes a superb line across the buttress, finishing in a glorious position on the upper ‘outside edge’. Six pitches of wonderful climbing in a quiet corner of Snowdonia with an ice cream shop on the way home – ace!
41. Horned Crag, Lliwedd – V Diff
A big, long mountain rock climb – one of the first climbs on the impressive North Face of Lliwedd and a genuine adventure even today. You need fine weather and dry rock to enjoy any of the routes on Lliwedd which make them all the more special. To get the full tick you also need to finish with a drink in the Pen Y Gwryd and check out the signatures on the ceiling!
42. Crackstone Rib, Llanberis Pass – Severe
This is a lovely two pitch climb in the Llanberis Pass on great rock and in a superb situation. The two pitches contrast really nicely and they each have their own qualities – an ace route and one to remember.
43. Ski or snowboard descent of Snowdon
This isn’t quite as rare as you might think – I have managed it most winters that I have lived in Wales since 2008. You just need to be happy carrying your kit to the summit (board or skis) and then dodging the rocks on the way down. There are some sections where you can get some nice turns in and some where you can’t – either way it is a pretty cool feeling to be skiing down Snowdon!!
44. Broad Gully, Cwm Lloer – Grade II
This is a great snow gully that climbs from Cwm Lloer up onto the East Ridge of Pen Yr Ole Wen and comes into condition fairly reliably with a proper winter. In the video I climb it with John and then we ski off – you don’t need the skis for this tick though.
45. Tryfan in winter via the North Ridge (Grade I)
With a covering of snow (and it doesn’t need to be much, one night of snowfall is enough) the North Ridge of Tryfan changes character completely. It goes from being a great summer scramble to a really great winter mountaineering route where good crampons skills are essential. You need to be in the right place at the right time or be prepared to drop everything when the conditions come good to catch this one, but it is worth it!
46. Bristly Ridge in winter (Grade II)
This is another of Snowdonia’s great winter mountaineering routes that doesn’t require a lot to bring it into condition – just a dusting of snow really. Its height means that this happens most winters and then you have a route that rivals anything in the UK for interest and aesthetics – ace!
47. Crib Goch in winter – Grade I winter mountaineering
There is perhaps no finer day out in Wales than a traverse of Crib Goch under a blue sky and with snow under our feet. The epitome of mountaineering, a slender ridge with exposure on either side, snow covered mountains and blue skies. The conditions to occur every winter – you just need to be able to drop everything and go when they do. It’s worth it as you will remember it for the rest of your life.
48. Central Trinity, Snowdon – Grade I
Probably the most popular of the grade 1 gullies in Snowdonia in winter this route gives straightforward climbing in an amazing situation. This is one of those routes that needs some snow and then a thaw followed by a re-freeze to produce the neve required. Hence you need to be able to grab it when its in – when its good its really good!
49. Hidden Gully, Clogwyn Ddu – Grade I
Clogwyn Ddu is one of the highest cliffs in Snowdonia and so it builds and holds winter conditions well. To the left hand side of the cliff is Hidden Gully, a lovely snow route that winds its way up past some spectacular terrain to finish on the Glyderau Plateau. If you are climbing well then you can do it in descent after something harder on Clogwyn Ddu!
50. Any Snowdonia Ice Route
Ice climbing conditions in Snowdonia are just too fickle to be choosy on a specific route so I have left this one vague. It does happen though and we do get to go ice climbing in Snowdonia, perhaps every other winter on average. Routes include Sergeants Gully (pictured), The Idwal Stream, South Gully, The Screen, The Curtain and even Aber Falls! There are plenty of others too, we just need to be in the right place at the right time.
join the snowdonia fifty
If you would like to join the fun and register then hit the button below. Your registration fee gives you a Snowdonia Fifty Mug and a printed off list that you can use to track your progress. Registration is completely optional, its a great way of supporting us as a small business and so much appreciated but I fully appreciate that not everyone can afford to do that and I want the challenge to be open to as many people as possible.
Price: £25.00 which includes your Snowdonia Fifty Mug and Routes List. The routes list is just a tick list rather than a guidebook. If you want to tick the routes off yourself then you will need the relevant maps, the North Wales Scrambles Guidebook and the North Wales Rock Climbs guidebook. For the walks and the mountain bike rides I am slowly adding maps to this page to show my favoured lines.
I will set aside several days per month for the Snowdonia Fifty that you can book with us as private guiding. The days will be run at a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio and we can also arrange days on an ad-hoc basis to suit gaps in our combined diaries. Everyone registered can join our Snowdonia Fifty Facebook group so that you can share days if you want to.
The fun starts here!
Price: £225 per day.
This can be shared by two people booking together or run on a 1:1 basis.
BMC Participation Statement:
Climbing, mountain biking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.