Another day, another route up Snowdon. This is my fifth and final ascent to the top of the highest mountain in Wales in under two weeks.
Today I was finally taking on the most popular route, the Llanberis Path, the so-called “superhighway” But just because something is popular doesn’t make it good, does it? I mean look at how many people watched Mrs Brown’s Boys for instance.
Popular often means easy. Which is what Llanberis Path is supposed to be. Is it? And is it any good? With four other routes fresh in my legs I feel qualified to find out. So let’s go climb Snowdon and find out.
The Llanberis Path gets its name not from an obscure Welsh myth but from its starting point, the popular tourist village of Llanberis which sits in the stunning Llanberis Pass. The village confidently bills itself as Pentref yr Wyddfa, Snowdon’s Village.
To the summit and back is a 9-mile out-and-back gradual climb. By “gradual” I of course mean this relative to the other routes up Snowdon. You are still hiking up a mountain path so don’t expect a stroll in the park.
The Llanberis Path is probably the easiest to access. It’s in a popular tourist village “packed with enough attractions to keep visitors busy for weeks.” Or so says the tourist board.
I’m not sure about this. It seemed kinda small but I was only there for 5 mins, but it definitely had enough to keep me busy for that.
What I am sure of is that it has a giant car park just across from one train station that is home to Snowdon Mountain Railway and another the other way home to the Llanberis Lake Railway.
A space in the large car park here will cost you £11 for a day pass. Much cheaper than the Pen-Y-Pass car park which sits 5 miles further down the Llanberis Pass. If you arrive after 3 pm it will cost £6.
You can pay via the RingGo parking App, or in person.
In the last two weeks, I’ve been up to the summit of Snowdon five times by five different routes and experienced twelve different weathers.
I’ve been sunburnt and gasping for water. I’ve been soaked to the skin and slapped around by beastly gusts of wind. And this was all in June, the height of midsummer. Snowdon, like any mountain in the UK, is an unpredictable beast.
Pack a warm layer and waterproofs obviously, bring sun cream, and carry more water and snacks than you think you will need. And most of all, wear sensible shoes.
The Llanberis Path I’d heard was the easiest of six main routes up Snowdon. It’s for sure the most hiked. Some refer to it as the “tourist route” which seems a bit snobbish.
I’d done four of the other five, (see all Snowdon routes by difficulty) in the last two weeks so I was looking forward to comparing the most popular route against my current favourites Rhyd Ddu and Miners’ Track.
The Llanberis Path is the longest at 9 miles out and back but has the most elevation gain at 980m from start to summit, but it’s got the most gentle incline of the lot and there are no scrambling or zigzags to contend with.
Does that mean it’s boring? Hmm, let’s find out.
Llanberis is a tourist destination in its own right, so there is a range of gift shops and food stops. This makes it a good place to separate you from your money but also fuel up pre or post-hike.
I was already loaded up with more NikNaks and Skittles than you could shake a stick at but I did pick up a coffee. It wasn’t gourmet but it was caffeine-filled. So did its job and perked me up nicely.
As I began the path I walked past one last gift shop and noticed it had a few essentials like hats in case you’ve forgotten yours on a sunny day and didn’t want to get a burnt neck. No such worries today looking up at the gathering dark clouds.
From here I wandered through Victoria Terrace, a residential road that leads to the beginning of the Llanberis Path and I couldn’t help but wonder how bananas busy this must get with tourists in peak summer.
Before long I said goodbye to the last of the houses, crossed a cattle grid and began the trail.
Train bridge across the Afon Arddu
It’s just a few hundred metres before it gentled out but it was enough to get me overheating and removing half my gear.
Just after the next corner after the tearooms, I heard the Snowdon Mountain Railway chugging away. I saw the steam rising over the trees before it rumbled into view crossing the Afon Arddu River on a picturesque stone bridge.
I’d had mixed feelings about there being a train up a mountain. It didn’t seem right. But to tell you the truth it’s a very pretty train, and if it means people can enjoy a mountain top who otherwise couldn’t then who am I to be a grumpy hiking snob?
Sure, there’s only every single other mountain in the country that I can climb if I want to avoid trains.
The clearly marked Llanberis Path, I hope you like pebbles.
The path is wide and gravely, and it’s very easy to walk. Apart from the mild risk of slipping on a pebble, you are going to be fine. It’s steady (some would say plodding) and relaxing with a gentle incline and zero scrambling.
It’s the busiest route by far but because of the wide paths and absence of super steep sections like the Igam Ogam zig zags, I’d be very surprised if there were traffic jams as you can find on the PYG or Miners tracks.
The path follows the Snowdon Mountain Railway track for much of the way so now and again you are blessed by the picturesque sight of a steam train chugging away, a sight that never gets boring.
Moody train shot. That cloud is about to cause problems.
The first few miles had been very pleasant, everyone I met was full of smiles and good humour. It was currently a nice day to be outdoors.
About 3 miles into the hike, you reach the bottom of Allt Moses, one of the steepest few hundred metres of the entire Llanberis Path hike as you climb the slopes of Llechog to the saddle where Clogwyn Station sits.
My blood was pumping and my heart thumping as I reached the saddle and as I walked under the short bridge the railway line goes over I emerged onto the top of Cwm Glas Bach.
The moment I stepped out the other side, the hike changed personality entirely. I was now exposed to the elements which today were coming from the North East.
And the beast from the North East was whipping wind and rain. But I plodded on of course. Past a gaggle of teenagers who had taken shelter in a bit of a cove and decided they couldn’t make it any further. Why they hadn’t retreated under the rail bridge I have no idea.
As I wandered past one of them broke ranks and made a dramatic attempt to persevere, keeping himself as low to the ground as possible like he was in a movie trying not to be blown away.
I walked past chewing on a breakfast bar giving him a quizzical look. It was nowhere near as dramatic as all that, but it was pretty bad.
From here to the summit whichever way the path turned seemed to magically move my face directly into the oncoming rain.
From the Clogwyn Station at Cwm Glas Bach, the Llanberis Path continues up Carnedd Ugain. On a good day, the view down to your right would be of the mighty cliffs of Clogwyn Coch, but today had already turned into “not a good day”. Weatherwise.
You’ll notice the lack of photos from this point onwards. I didn’t want a drowned phone so I kept it firmly in my bag.
It really could’ve been quite depressing hiking in this weather but the benefit of being on the “tourist path” was there was a steady stream of hikers coming down past me. And they were very generous with their warm grins and words of encouragement.
We all knew we were as mad as each other for being on a mountain in such a downpour.
I’d seen an experiment once on TV where strangers at one table were given super spicy food and strangers at another were given regular food. The spicy strangers bonded quickly, the non-spicy strangers didn’t.
The theory is that sharing a challenging situation, such as eating super spicy food, makes it easier to overcome social awkwardness and bond with strangers.
I contemplated this as I squelched on swapping smiles and calls of “lovely day” with complete randoms.
Out of the mist and rain appeared a father and his children. They stopped to ask for directions to the Miners’ track. As I was dispensing my wisdom, another group appeared also looking for the Miners’ Track.
Suddenly I felt like a guide. Two weeks ago I’d never set foot on this mountain and now I was leading a gaggle of soggy people in complete confidence. It felt good.
It felt less good when they asked me if the cafe was open and I had to tell them, nope, it was still closed for one more day. I’ve never seen faces drop so far, so fast.
As we reached the standing stone at Bwlch Glas indicating the route to the Pyg Track and Miners’ Track one way, and the Ranger Path the other, I said my goodbyes.
For reference, the Llanberis Path is the central path here.
I watched them squelch away, not a single one had a coat, and their hoodies were soaked to the skin. I felt sorry for them but it reminded me once again Snowdon is not to be messed with.
If you’ve read my PYG Track report you’ll know on that hike we saw a man passing out from heat exhaustion and now this gang was destined for snotty noses for the rest of the week.
Standing on Bwlch Glas watching the soggy gang vanish downward into the mist, I looked up at where the summit should’ve been and I almost considered not bothering with the peak at all today and following them downward.
But what sort of award-winning (one day) hiking blogger would I have been then? So I continued for the last 15 minutes of wind and rain to the summit.
As I approached the peak there were lots of relieved and sodden people. It was here I understood what I must do. I must risk my phone’s life and take a selfie for my fans.
So I dug deep into my bag and took the worst most gremlin-like summit selfie the world has ever seen. But there you go, HikerHero fans. I know that’s what you came here for!
Not even the seagulls were out today.
Photo taken, I quickly scuttled off the peak before the wind stole my hat. This was not a day for contemplating. This was a day for getting the hell out of dodge. So I started the descent.
Despite the downpour, there was still a steady stream heading toward the peak. It was now me giving big grins and bellowing “Not too far now” to the brave climbers.
Everyone enjoys fun things. Eating an ice cream on a sunny day etc. That’s Type 1 Fun. Type 2 Fun however is the kind of experience that feels terrible while you are doing it but rewarding once it’s completed.
Today was shaping up to be the ultimate type 2 fun day. I knew I was going to feel all fuzzy inside once I got back to base. But first I had to get home. So I put my head down and motored as quickly as the conditions allowed.
The nice thing about the Llanberis Path having no scramble sections is that you can move quite quickly. Even in poor conditions.
So I flew past the standing stone at Bwlch Glas, making sure I chose the central path, and in no time at all, I was almost back at the Clogwyn Station at Cwm Glas Bach.
Amazingly the gang of teenagers taking shelter in the cove were still there. They hadn’t moved at all. They must’ve been waiting for someone hitting the peak, or maybe they were doing some Gen Z TikTok challenge an old Millenial like me couldn’t possibly understand.
Whatever they were up to they were for some unknown teenager reason “sheltering” in the windiest most exposed section of the entire hike.
I had been hoping once I passed back under the railway bridge the weather would magically switch back the other way and be lovely for the final half of the descent. I didn’t. It remained utterly truly manky.
A couple of different groups of hikers going up asked me if I’d made it and how bad it was up there. I didn’t sugarcoat it but I tried to remain positive. “I survived”, that kinda thing. Another chap asked if the summit cafe was open and I had to watch another face drop.
As I continued down. I was amazed by how many people were still coming up who weren’t wearing coats. People are mad.
I went through the final train tunnel just as a train rolled over it on the way down. Someone in the carriage waved at me and I waved back. It was nice. They looked very snug and warm there. We’d both had very different experiences in the past few hours.
“You don’t know man, you weren’t there!”
As I arrived back onto Victoria Terrace and the end of the Llanberis Path, I bumped into some people from my home county of Somerset. And it being the weekend it was, we had a nice chat about Glastonbury that was taking place as we spoke.
I was at Glasto in 2007, officially the wettest on record. On the Friday, a whopping 60.1mm of rain fell in a single day. Talk about type 2 fun! Some people even got trench foot!
I genuinely wasn’t sure which was the worst weather, that Friday at Glasto, or the weather at the top of Snowdon today.
Although at least today I was going back to a nice warm bath and a lovely soft bed, not a shared tent in a field. Although there was little chance Bjork was going to appear. So swings and roundabouts I suppose.
I reached the car park in full drowned rat mode. I grabbed another steaming non-gourmet coffee from the stand and sat behind the wheel with the heaters on full blast trying to regain a little feeling in my poor fingies.
I was wet but proud I’d conquered Snowdon once more and in such adverse conditions. I never felt in any danger but I still had the sense I’d survived something. One thing is certain, I definitely wouldn’t be forgetting my Llanberis Path experience for a long while.
Arriving back at my accommodation I realised in all the rainy commotion I completely forgot to take one of my world-famous mini globes. So to keep the consistency I took one in the garden. Enjoy!
I liked but didn’t love the Llanberis Path.
Out of the five I’ve done it felt by far the longest. Without any scramble section, there was nowhere to get into that flow state where you lose yourself in the moment. It was very much a one-foot-after-the-other affair which does get a little tiring after nine miles.
Now, this may have been very different on a clear sky day with views of Snowdonia in every direction. But as you’ve read already I got dumped on by the Weather Gods today.
On a nice sunny day with a nice group of friends or family, I’m sure the Llanberis Path would be a lovely day out. Although, I suspect not quite as lovely as lolling around by the lakes of the Miners’ Path would be.
If you do like a bit of scrambling I’d highly recommend you climb Snowdon by my personal favourite the Rhyd Ddu Path. It’s quieter than the PYG Track or Miners’ Tracks and it feels a little adventurous.
If you want to go for something gentle like Llanberis but not quite as much of a slog then I highly recommend you Snowdon Ranger path.
Anyway, the next time I will see Snowdon will be at 2 am in two weeks when it will be the final leg of the National 3 Peaks
Until then Yr Wyffda, old girl, thank you for all the fun over the last two weeks. You are one hell of a mountain. Keep on keeping on. And until next time Hiker Heroes, always remember your coat.
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the Hike Hero difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.