Snowdon: Pyg Track ascent and Miner’s Track decent
The Pyg Track is a classic route to the summit of Snowdon. Short, scenic, steeped in history and with a tough final ascent. The Pyg Track is the shortest route up Snowdon with the least amount of vertical ascent. The path is easy to follow and well maintained making this a good route for less experienced hill walkers. The scenery on the Pyg Track is possibly the best of any of the other routes, rivaled only by the Watkin Path.
At A Glance
History and the route
Vast cliffs of Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd loom either side as you carve your way towards the vast summit pyramid via the impressive lakes of Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn. A final steep zigzagging ascent takes you to the top of the path where the route then joins the Llanberis Path for the final few hundred metres to the summit.
“Nobody knows for certain why this path is called the Pyg Track. It’s possible that it was named after the pass it leads through, Bwlch y Moch (translated Pigs’ Pass) as the path is sometimes spelled ‘Pig Track’. Or, maybe because it was used to carry ‘pyg‘ (black tar) to the copper mines on Snowdon. Another possible explanation is that the path was named after the nearby Pen y Gwryd Hotel, popular amongst the early mountain walkers.” Snowdonia National Park Authority
Ascent via Pyg Track
Car parking is available at Pen-y-pass but this can fill up quickly, often by 9am, especially at weekends. Additional parking is available at Nant Peris but you would need to take the Sherpa Bus to Pen-y-pass so do check the times.
The path starts behind the café heading west. You will walk past a wooden post with a blue ‘Llwybr Pyg Track’ sign as well as a stone marker indicating you are on the right path. The path runs alongside Carreg Gwalch heading west directly towards the dominating East Ridge of Crib Goch. After 1.5km (1 mile) the path splits below Crib Goch (SH 633 552). Ensure you stay on the Pyg Track route and do not take the stile leading to Crib Goch (this is very well marked).
The Pyg Track runs east for the next 2km with the ridge of Crib Goch above and Llyn Llydaw 200m below. It’s also at this point that the bulky pyramid mass of Snowdon’s summit can be clearly seen straight ahead. The route takes you directly through the basin of the Snowdon Horseshoe making for fantastic views of Crib Goch, Y Lliwedd and Crib y Ddysgl (Garnedd Ugain). Llyn Llydaw (from the Welsh meaning Brittany Lake) is the largest of Snowdon’s lakes on the eastern flanks and legend says this is the lake where Excalibur, King Arthur’s sword, was thrown to the Lady of the Lake after then battle of Camlann.
The route follows a well maintained path through the Cwm with a few rocky sections which shouldn’t cause you any difficulties. You will soon leave Llyn Llydaw behind you and reach the smaller lake of Glaslyn directly under the summit pyramid. The path will arrive at a standing stone marker (SH 615 548) which indicated the split leading down to the Miners Track.
Continue along the path which soon becomes more rugged and steep! The final sections follows a zigzag route steeply up the mountain with Garnedd Ugain on your right. This section of the route can be challenging compared to the last few sections.
The path will emerge at the top and join the main Llanberis Path running alongside the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The path will also be marked with another large standing stone (SH 607 549). This section of the mountain can be busy as the Pyg, Miners, Ranger and Crib Goch/Garnedd Ugain routes all intersect for the last few hundred metres to the summit.
Follow the path heading south alongside the railway for the last gradual ascent to the summit. The path will meet a set of steps which will take you to the Snowdon summit marker.
Miner's Track Descent
The descent for this guide takes you back to Pen Y Pass via the Miners Track. You can always head back via the Pyg Track following the exact same route as you took ascending Snowdon. The Miners Track offers a slightly longer walk back but lower down running directly alongside the lakes below. The route back makes a more interesting circular route and offers you something slightly different to the route up.
Leaving the summit head north along the railway for 300m until you reach the large standing market stone indicating a right turn down to the Pyg/Miners Track. Keep an eye out for this marker and as it is often missed when visibility is poor and walkers follow the crowds heading down to Llanberis.
Turning right at the marker stone the path steeply ascends down the zigzag path towards Glaslyn. Although the path is fairly new and well maintained do take your time on the ascent down this section.
As you get around halfway alongside Glaslyn the path will split and marked with a large stone. Take the right hand path leading you down a steep scree slope (take care) reaching the edge of the lake. The Miners Path runs around the edge of the lake and then past some disused mining works towards the long and thin lake of Llyn Llydaw.
At the edge of the lake the newly refurbished path (SH 628 545) hugs the lake and meanders around the lake and over the walkway crossing the lake. The route gradual descends and after 1km you will reach the small lake of Llyn Teyrn below the crags.
The final 1.5km to the car park at Pen-y-Pass takes you through some pleasant countryside with impressive views of Y Lliwedd behind and the southern slopes of the Glyders directly ahead.
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