Once used by badass Miners hauling copper from the Britannia Mine, Snowdon’s Miner’s Track now carries thousands of hikers hauling their asses to the top of Wales’ tallest mountain every year.
Well, it doesn’t carry you, you have to hike. And it’s some hike too. But you get the idea.
Snowdon’s Miners’ Track is a great route to soak in the majestic scenery of the Snowdon Massif. It starts gently but don’t let that fool you, there is one hell of a climb coming your way. It’s tough but worth it!
The Miners’ Track is an 8-mile out-and-back trail split into two distinct sections. The first two-thirds is a pleasant stroll around the lakes of Llyn Tern, Llyn LLydaw and Glaslyn. The last third is the climb itself.
After enjoying the lovely lakes, you will plod and zig-zag your way upward through 400 metres of elevation in a little over a mile. Bring water, both for drinking and dosing your burning calves.
The Miner’s Track is one of the busiest routes up Snowdon. It’s not quite up there with the foot traffic on the Llanberis, but on busy days in the height of Summer, you might hit traffic jams in some sections.
The Miner’s Track route starts and finishes at the Pen y Pass Youth Hostel on A4086 road between the villages of Capel Curig and Llanberis.
The brilliant Sherpa’r Wyddfa bus service can drop you here, it can also collect you from elsewhere should you want to go up and down via different paths.
If you are coming by car, then Pen-Y-Pass Is a nice facility. It has a decent cafe, very nice toilets, free wifi and a Ranger’s office.
It also comes with a £20 price tag! And you have to book at least an hour in advance using the Just Park app.
Although on weekends or in the Summer if you’re booking an hour in advance there is not a hope in hell you are getting a spot. At the end of June, we had to book five days in advance to get our spot and it’s not yet the school holidays.
So be prepared people! Book in advance and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Cos I did!
If you don’t book in advance don’t panic. There’s much cheaper parking a mile down the road at Pen y Gwryd for only £4 a day! And you don’t have to book.
There is also the Park & Ride facility at Nant Peris a few miles in the opposite direction.
The usual for mountain hiking in the UK. Suncream, a hat, a warm layer, waterproofs and proper hiking/walking shoes. Don’t be a flip-flip fool.
Also, bring more water than you think you can drink. You will drink it.
After that just load up on as many delightful and calorie-tastic snacks as you can bear. For me, it’s all about the Nik Nak/Skittles combo. I’m classy like that.
This being Snowdon there is the Hafod Eryri cafe at the top run by the Snowdon Mountain Railway guys but check it’s open before you set off. It’s been closed for the last three years.
Today we found ourselves back at the Pen Y Pass. Just over a week has passed since we pulled up here before our ascent by the Snowdon PYG track.
That was my very first climb up to the Roof of Wales but in the last week I’ve stood up there twice more after taking on the Snowdon Rangers Path and the Rhyd Ddu Path. You can read up on these Snowdon routes and more.
Most guides will tell you to set aside six or seven hours to conquer the Miner’s Track, and I’m going to say the same. If it’s a nice day and you want to soak in the atmosphere then six and a bit hours seems about right.
However, Sara (my gf and hiking partner) and myself are currently in training for the 3 Peaks Challenge in under two weeks. To complete that we need to get up and down Snowdon in under four hours, so that’s exactly what we were trying to do today.
I’d done Rhyd Ddu path solo in under 3 hours but together we’d yet to break the 4 hours. We did the Rangers Path together in about 4.5 hours and PYG in 5 hours. Although we were very unprepared for that one, including running out of water.
The Miner’s Track is around 2 km longer than the PYG track which shares the same start and finish point but this extra 2km involved a nice flat stroll around the lakes so in theory the extra length shouldn’t add on extra time. Let’s find out!
You will Pen Y Pass-by this sign on the Miners Track.
Confession, we’d actually been due to do the Miner’s track last week but I’d forgotten to book the Pen y Pass car park, so we’d pivoted and climbed Moel Siabod instead. Which was an absolute treat.
Check out ol’ Moel if you have the time, it’s a delightful scramble fest.
This time to make sure we were able to get a spot at Pen Y Pass car park I booked about 5 days in advance. If you’re going during the summer holidays I suggest you book even earlier than that. It gets chockablock in there.
Sara striding through the curly gates onto the Miners Track.
The first time we headed up Snowdon Sara’s walking sticks broke and we’d run out of water and been burned to crispy crisps – in our defence, it was a 27℃ day.
The second time we realised Sara’s brand new water pack was leaking. This time we were taking no chances. Everything had been tested. Our packing was on point.
We were seriously ready to get our march on. So we headed west out of the curly gates. Bring it on Miner’s Track.
The beautiful Miners Track overlooking Lyn Teyrn.
The Miner’s Track certainly has a much gentler start to it than its closest cousin the PYG track. Both leave from Pen-Y-Pass but whereas PYG starts to climb pretty quickly, the Miner’s Track sets off along a pleasant gravel path with barely a hint of incline.
The path is wide enough to be a road. This shouldn’t be surprising as that was technically what it was built to be. It was the route to the old Britannia Copper Mine. Hence the name.
As we followed in the footsteps of Welsh copper miners before long Llyn Teyrn came into view and the day got good. I mean just look at the photo. It’s stunning.
I herd it on the bovine, Llyn Llydaw is pretty.
After enjoying looking down on the reflections of Llyn Teyrn we hiked the corner and came face to face with Llyn Llydaw. Oh and a bunch of cows. They were just hanging out doing their cow thing. But what a setting for them to do it in.
These must be some happy cows. Or maybe not. Do cows appreciate the beauty of nature?
I asked Sara this and she asked if I appreciated how many stupid questions she has to listen to on every hike. Bit harsh, I thought.
The Miners Track crosses the Lyn Laidlaw.
The path nips across the glacial lake on a handy stone causeway (built in 1853 apparently). It’s all very pleasant.
The water from here is funnelled down the valley to Cwm Dyli Power Station in Nant Gwyant, the oldest Power Station in Britain. Who knew?!
It was here that we spotted people hiking on the PYG Track high above us on the mountainside.
We’d walked that route just a week ago and I recall thinking “Wow, it’s a long way down to the Miner’s Track. Now I was thinking, “Wow if we were doing PYG we’d be halfway up by now”
This realisation had me worrying about what we had ahead. We were going to have to do lots up in quite a short distance.
This part of the hike is very chilled.
Hmmm, what shall I do with my arms? Oh, I know, I’ll dangle them awkwardly. Yep, Nailed it!
We continued to skirt the perimeter of Llyn Llydaw, the sun was shining but there was a gentle breeze. We’re talking light jumper territory here.
Just as we finally started to hit a little bit of an incline we came across ruins of the Britannia Mine Works. This seemed like a good moment for a glorious mini-world photo.
Mining for photo gold at the ruins of the old Britannia Mine crushing mill.
Not long after the mine the path finally starts to climb. Nothing too worrying. It turns from gravel to what looks like large cobblestones and you finally start to feel like you are about to climb a mountain.
It was just as we finally started to climb that the sun took leave. The clouds rolled in and the summit of Snowdon disappeared from view, not to be seen again until we were standing on its head.
Me bobbing along on the cobbles.
After just a few hundred metres the cobblestone path evened out again as we reached Glaslyn. The waters look clean and clear and very inviting for a dip but as we were on the clock today there was little time to dilly-dally.
I even forgot to take a photo, so here is an old-fashioned photo of Lake Glaslyn “beach” courtesy of the good folk at SnowdoniaInfo.
Ah the olden days, I think I can see a Nokia 3210 out there.
From the beach the hike gets real. First, there’s about 140 meters of elevation just to get to meet the PYG track. And then from there, it’s another 300-metre climb to the peak.
We were feeling good. We were in the zone. And began to make the accent. After about 5 mins of climbing the heavens opened and we were climbing in heavy rain.
Luckily it was only a passing shower and it had the nice side effect of cooling everything down a few degrees, which was welcomed.
Sara zig zags up the Igam Ogam in style.
Before long we made it back to where the Miners and PYG paths converge and familiar surroundings. We’d hiked this section just over a week previous and it had been a sweaty slog.
I’m not sure if it was a newfound determination, or if we were just fitter after nearly two weeks of constant hikes in Snowdonia but things we definitely easier than when we first did this last time.
Maybe the fact that unlike last time it wasn’t 27℃ and we weren’t rationing water due to bad packing had something to do with it. This time we were very well watered. Maybe we can learn after all.
Whatever it was we powered up through the Igam Ogam zig zags section in no time at all. Before we knew it we were at the standing stone on the saddle at Bwlch Glas. It’s here the path joins with the Llanberis Path and Rangers Path routes.
The eerie accent to the Snowdon summit, an island in the clouds.
From Bwlch Glas standing stone, we had less than half a mile to go. Following the path upwards, it was exposed up here and the wind was making itself felt. Of the four times I’ve been up here in the last week or two, this was the worst conditions.
Although not as bad as it was up Glyder Fawr a couple of days ago.
Obviously, it’s nice to get a view of the scenery below, I’m told on a very good weather day you can see Ireland. They can definitely see Snowdon. Which would’ve been nice as I lived in Dublin for a while and would like to see how it’s changed recently.
Today however was not a good weather day. Not only could I not see Ireland I could barely see Sara a couple of metres away. But I quite like this type of cloud cover. it feels like you’re in another world.
There was no queue for the trig point today thanks to the weather. So we popped up to get a victory selfie. It was very windy up there and as you can see the adverse weather impacted the quality of the shot.
I failed the first rule of Selfie Club: make sure nobody is emerging out of your heads. Sorry, Sara, you deserved better than a chap in a red coat climbing out your ear. Apologies, my love!
If you get up to the top of Snowdon please take a better photo than this one at the top.
Having peaked hard we stopped the timer to eat some snacks. On “race day” in two weeks when we take on the 3 Peaks Challenge, there will be no such dilly-dallying.
But today we found a sheltered spot out of the wind and tucked into some sandwiches and NikNaks. And I’m glad we did as we got to watch a chap setting up what looked to be his own flagpole.
Was he about to plant a flag and claim Snowdon for his own country? Hmm. I could let him do that, could I? I left Sara guarding the NikNaks from seagulls and wandered over to have a chat.
Turned out he wasn’t invading Snowdon, nor was he setting up a flagpole. He was putting together an aerial so he could call his friends around the world.
With the flag mystery solved, NikNaks consumed and a terrible selfie taken, we were peaked out. I started the timer again and began our descent back to Pen-y-Pas.
The track was much much busier now. Mainly with hordes of school children. I’m assuming as it’s June they’re close to breaking up for the summer holidays and this is their treat before summer officially begins?
I would say this is something to watch out for if you are looking to climb Snowdon. I can imagine when the summer holidays are in full swing it’s going to be rammed on the more popular tracks.
In particular, I’ve heard reports of the zig zags section below Bwlch Glas getting very clogged up on busy days. It’s easy to see why, it’s steep so people slow or stop for breathers, and it has hikers from both the PYG and Miner’s Tracks going up and down. Perfect jam ingredients.
With that in mind, you could always consider one of the quieter tracks like the Ranger, or even the Watkins and Rhyd Ddu paths.
Getting stuck in traffic meant we were able to listen in on schoolchildren’s conversations. I forgot how random kids are.
We got stuck behind one group who were all singing the theme to Hey Arthur. I remember watching Arthur as a kid, and it was cool to hear he is still going strong.
It also got me thinking they might have been studying the connection between Snowdon and King Arthur at school, which triggered their singing session. King Arthur is of course the reason why Snowdon is called Yr Wyddfa in Welsh.
Long story short, Arthur once scaled Snowdon to slay a giant called Rhitta. A nasty bastard with a beard fetish. Rhitta had taken to killing local kings and shaving off their beards to make himself a cloak.
Soon he had a cloak one hundred beards thick but was jealous of Arthur’s chin warmer. They had an almighty scrap over it, Arthur won, of course, slaying the giant and burying him under a mound of rocks. Over the years Gwyddfa Rhitta “Rhitta’s Tomb” became Yr Wyddfa, voilà!
With Hey Arthur filling the air and the clouds thinning as we finished our descent and came back to the beach at Glaslyn.
I turned to Sara and said, “Hey, What a wonderful kind of day.” To which she agreed.
We hung out for a moment at the water’s edge but didn’t go in… Forgot our trunks didn’t we!
However, I did skim some stones which impressed some of the nearby school kids. Who then started skimming their own stones copying my patented skimming technique. Which involves a flamboyant leg kick. It’s hard to explain but works very well.
It felt good to pass on knowledge to youth, I felt a bit like the stone-skimming Mr Miyagi. But when they started lobbing big rocks we decided it was time to get out of dodge before things escalated too far.
After dallying a little too long at the lake here it was going to be tight to make it back to the car in under 4 hours.
We skipped down the cobblestones between Glasyn and Llyn Laidlaw. We skimmed past the Old Copper Mine. Hopped past the cows who were not appreciating the beauty of nature this time, they were appreciating the taste of grass.
We were feeling great, it didn’t feel like we’d just climbed the tallest mountain in England and Wales. Our legs were fresh. But alas the 4-hour beep came and went. We were just short.
4hrs 7mins. Not bad considering the amount of faffing with did and the amount of traffic we hit on the way down.
Traffic is not going to be an issue when doing the 3 Peaks Challenge as we will likely be on Snowdon at 3 in the morning.
Would I recommend the Miner’s track? I definitely would. While it wasn’t as dramatic as my favourite, the Rhyd Ddu Path. Of the routes I did with Sara, this was my favourite.
I think I would recommend this track for couples or groups, as it has lovely gentle sections at the beginning and the end which are great for discussing the mysteries of the universe.
These flat sections are like a warm-up and warm-down before and after the main event, the steep incline to the Snowdon summit from Glaslyn Beach. This climb is a real test. But just take it steady and you will be fine.
It’s also got lakes which are ideal for picnics and swims etc. You can really make a fun day out of it. If you’re not racing against the clock that is.
I would, however, be very selective as to what time of year you go as I can imagine it could get incredibly busy. Other than that. Go for it!
And that’s that, the last of my Snowdon route guides. Five in the last two weeks. The next time I will be here will be for the 3 Peaks. Wish us luck. Eek!
Until then hiking fans, remember to always pack your trunks and never let a giant steal your beard!
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.
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