For a map of this route click here.
It was hovering around freezing inside the van when I awoke just before dawn. It was difficult to get myself out of my warm sleeping bag but a peep out of the window at clear blue skies helped my motivation. I was soon dressed in a down jacket and standing outside with a mug of coffee in my hands taking in the view from my lofty perch above Dinorwig. After breakfast, keen to get on the hills I drove down to Llanberis and looked for a place to park. I initially pulled into the village hall car park where I was willing to pay the £3 to leave a vehicle for the day, however the machine was refusing my money. A short drive away I found a small free spot just off of Victoria terrace underneath the mountain railway.
8.5 miles with 970 metres ascent
A steep narrow road leads from Victoria Terrace to the beginning of the Llanberis path, a start that got me sweating in the cold still air. I was up and away early enough not to have to contend with crowds of people, the place was eerily deserted. The gate at the entrance to the path had a warning sign stating that the cafe at the summit of Snowdon was closed until March. My aim for today was not to head for the summit but to explore some of the quieter spots around the edge of the mountain.
In just over a half a mile I left the wide path and ascended the easy grassy hillside to the left, aiming for the col between Derlwyn and the hillside above Clogwyn Mawr.
As I started the easy climb up the ridge a great panorama opened out before me taking in Llanberis and the Moel Eilio hills.
The ridge continues towards the peak of Llechog taking in a few minor summits along the way including Tryfan which bares little resemblance to its more famous peak in the Glyders. Snowdon kept on drifting in and out of cloud and there was a dusting of snow on its summit.
What surprised me was the fact that I was only a few metres from the very popular Llanberis path to the summit of Snowdon yet the ridge I was on was almost pathless. The views along the whole of the ridge are spectacular, especially to the left with a large drop down to Nant Peris and the road leading up to Pen-y-Pass.
The summit of Llechog at 718m is a fine rocky perch and gave me the bonus of a tick on my list of Nuttall hills, the mountain railway can be seen snaking its way down to Llanberis.
I picked my way down through large rocks and boulders to cross the railway line coming across a halt called ‘ Rocky valley’ and signs warning me not to leave the platform! Easy grassy slopes then led down to the Llanberis path which was now busy with people making their way up Snowdon. I quickly crossed the path and was once again on my own as a feint path was picked up leading to the Clogwyn cliffs.
A broad flat plateau is crossed and suddenly Llyn Du’r Arddu comes into view. An absolutely stunning sight of this lake cradled in a rocky amphitheatre and dominated by the massive cliffs of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu.
I wondered around in awe, carefully picking my way through the rocks to the shore of the lake. This amazing place was completely deserted yet only a few hundred metres away the crowds that were making their way up Snowdon. I sat on a large boulder for half hour or so to eat my lunch and drink a flask of coffee until the cold got into my bones and I had to move on.
My plan was to try to contour across to Bwlch Cwm Brwynog, a task that on the ground is a little less straight forward than it looks on the map. Initially very rough ground is followed next to the outflow of the lake.
The views back to the cliffs were exceptionally wild, reminding me more of a Scottish Coire rather than a Welsh Cwm.
I tried my best to maintain height as much as possible as I made my way into the head of Cwm Brwnynog, although my contouring line ended at a band of cliffs. A steep descent led me to a path that I had missed in the rocky landscape and I was soon at the Bwlch.
A fine spot with views up the Snowdon Ranger path and the summit. From here you can just make out the cafe / visitor centre at the top. I turned my back and followed the narrow path to the summit of Moel Cynghorion. Again so close to Snowdon yet deserted.
It had only just gone past 2.00pm yet the light was already starting to dim a little when the low sun disappeared behind a cloud.
It is a fine walk along the ridge of Moel Cynghorion to Bwlch Maesgwm, the sort that enables you to stride out with hands in pockets yet offering views in all directions. A runner headed up Foel Goch at such a speed as to make me feel a little giddy, maybe just maybe I could be that fit one day? The bridleway back down to Llanberis is well graded and easy to walk on, the sort that I like to seek out when backpacking. I was soon back at the van reluctant to have to drive back home. Already I was eager for another weekend in the mountains.