Walking in Snowdonia with the family is a wonderful way to see north Wales. When you are immersed in our nature from a top down perspective, you’ll see north Wales from a different light. With all the greens, yellows, browns and contours standing proud of the map that lays before you, and vistas stretching out towards Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, you’ll agree that it’s an amazing way to take in the sights around these parts.
I have hiked in Snowdonia for twenty years and more, and I never tire of the routes in these areas in the least. The hidden cwms, glacial lakes and steep ridges afford Snowdonia some bragging rights when it comes to hiking in the UK. With amazing camping, restaurants and activities spread out all over Snowdonia national park, you can easily make a holiday of it here.
Snowdonia nation park is spread over 823 sq miles but the main areas of the peaks over 1000m,are concentrated in three glacial valley systems, which run very close to one another. They are Ogwen valley, Llanberis pass and Conwy valley. In terms of bagging peaks it has never been easier if you have good fitness. You can hike one valley and traverse into another quite easily. If you are after a more sedate pace, that great, you can access all the main walks in Snowdonia within a very small distance of one another by car and bus too, and make your way up at a chilled pace!
Even if you are juts up in north Wales exploring and don’t want to walk up snowdon, or any other mountains in snowdonia, it would be a great idea to drive these three valley passes, as they are simply magical. Of course as a geologist I’m bound to say that, but in all honestly they really are a spectacle. So make a list of drives through snowdonia that you want to tick off and then make them a reality on you next visit. I would visit in order of preference by ” spectacularness” Llanberis pass, Ogwen valley, Conwy valley, Nantly valley.
So anyhow back to the walks in Snowodonia. Below is a list of our top five spring time hikes. We will in future be creating some articles on snowdonia walk with pdfs, walks for beginners in snowdonia and family walks in snowdonia. Plus in the new website we will have listings for hotels, cafes and restaurants in Snowdonia, more of that soon!
If your looking to do a walk in Snowdonia this spring, there are some beautiful off the beaten track peaks to bag to here in north Wales, all of which, have something a little different to offer. Within Snowdonia, are some amazing walks such a Cincht, Moel Siabod and Y Garn, that have something a little bit special about them. Whether it is the views, the nature or an airy ascent, there is always something new and original about these peaks each time we head out to them. We also find they are a lot quite than most conventional routes around Snowdonia.
Here are the five snowdonia walks in north Wales to choose from this spring on your stay. These amazing peaks, are up there in our estimations and are fabulous walks for the intermediate walker. Snowdon, Tryfan and the Glyders are all well known mountains but, there are many other peaks and mountains that are a great day out, and not to heavy on the millage and can be accessed easily and all done between 4-6 hours depending on your fitness. Here are the five we have chosen for you.
They are all based around the intermediate hiking level and require some navigation skills, map reading and hill fitness. To get a closer idea on routes, directions and locations we have attached links to the best websites right now.
Cnicht– The mini welsh matterhorn
Moel Siabod– A hidden gem in the Moelwyn range near Betws y coed
Carenedd Daffydd– The little brother of Carnedd Llewelyn
Y Garn– A steep peak that can be great for a straight out the car hit
Elidir Fawr– An Eveining hike for summer days
Cnicht– known as the mini Welsh Matterhorn is an amazing hike on the southern side of Snowdonia. It is renound for its steep grassy ridge that rises up its flanks to its rocky summit. It’s a real cracker for a day hike in the spring and summer. The pyramidal peak is renound for its grassy scramble up to the top of the Peak. The views are fantastic of the south side of Snowdon over towards the renound climbing spot of Tremadog. You can make a circular walk of it by desceding on the lee side of the mountain. The hike is 10.15km and should take 4.5 hours and Its elevation is 742m high. What we love about this one, is the amazing arête that you hike up, its not too punchy but it has a bit of an airy feel to give you a little exposure. Perfectly fine for the family though.
Moel Siabod— in Snowodnia near Betws Y Coed is another beautiful hike that’s a bit different that your average peak. Its quite secluded on the Moelwyn range away from its brother and sister mountains. I always think that these less glacial V shapped valley areas are more akin to JR Tolkeins Lord of the rings land scape. Seated near Capel Curig on the route to Betws y Coed it’s a bit of a solitary peak in the Moelwyn range and its fabulous views on a good day, extend north over towards Snowdon. I find this a more gentle hike than Cnicht, and the path winds its way up the sub 1000m peak. It has a Military range on its lower flanks which has confuses the life out of me as a young hiker when I heard shots and whistles going off in the mist! The hike is 10km and it should take 4 hours to complete and has an elevation of 747m high.
Carenedd Daffydd– is a gentle but steady hike into the Carneddau mountain range on the Eastern seaboard of Snowdonia, you can make this into a more encompassing day by jingin it up with Carenedd Llewelyn and doing h hore shoe route back donw into Gerlan. Alternatively you can hike from CD to Pen-yr-Olwen and into the farside of the Ogwen valley. It’s a popular hike but not so popular that you will be fighting your way up the hill! We often do a hike and camp there, or winter climb the famous black ladders there. We walk in from the small town of Gerlan. It is the second highest mountain in Snowdon at 1024m. There are a number of ways you can get to the top of Carnedd Dafydd or Carnedd Llewelyn its bigger brother. See the link by mud and routes below for the variety of options avalible to you.
Y Garn– A classic welsh peak that sits to the north of Snowdon and Tryfan. It can be accessed by going up through the devils kitchen and turning left and heading for the summit of Y Garn (see links) and then continuing back down into Cwm Idwal once you have topped out, via the steep pathway down. Its a steep hike but I like these ones as it really gets the lungs pumping but Its not a big hill as you start off from some already gained height at Cwm Idwal. It’s a classic for winter snow gulley climbs, there is banana gulley and parsley fern gulley which are gems when the snow falls. It’s a 900m mountain and should take you 4 hours ish.. It’s a round trip of 7km.
Elidir Fawr– Can be accesses half way by car by driving towards the Marchlyn mawr reservoir and parking on the hillside. Its an ideal hike if you are short of time in the eveining and want to start from a higher point on the hill. It has amazing views over towards Caernarfon Bay and down the Llyn. I particulary like doing a route from Elidir Fawr over to Carnedd Y Ffiliast in the summer months. Its 10.6km so about four hours and is 960m in height. Again a really cool route for the autumn spring and summer..Its also a great cycle spot too for exploring on the bike, amazing switch back turns on the descent!
So there we have it, five spring time walks for the intermediate walkers. Snowdonia has some amazing off the grid style hiking if your willing to move off the beaten track, there is so much to do in Snowdonia hike wise, you don’t need to stick to the 1000 ‘rs as we call them, there are plenty of smaller peaks to bag that are equally as fun, challenging and picturesque.
Disclaimer:Please do your homework before heading out onto the hills. Our wonderful but yet over stretched mountain rescue teams have hard enough day job keeping up with ill equipped mountain days hikers at best. So here is a check list for your hike out (I am ML trained so can hand these points over to you in good faith)
Prep & Packlist :
Check the weather, use MWIS for snowdonia
Start early and tell someone where your going
Pack extra layers in a water proof pack at the base of your pack
Take a bottle for water or a camelback
Pack good high nutrition food and a warm drink in a flask
Take a 1:25000 & 1:50000 map, compass and GPS
Pack a hat, gloves neck warmer and extra warm layers its cold on the tops.
Take a friend with you & pack the GPS for poor weather nav
Allow for more time to do the route than it takes you
Wear a base layer and pack some gaiters it can be muddy in spring still
Choose a route and stick to it
Have a foul weather plan
Don’t rely on mobile phones to navigate- that is a fools game
Phill George and Ibex guides are two of my favourites in the area who are super professional yet fun. They are the highest level of mountain guides holding the IFMGA & AMI guide badge. Both Phil and Owen are super cool guys and offer various courses, both hiking, mountaineering and climbing.
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Front cover image courtesy of. : @neilmarkthomas
See you soon, Nick.