The Snowdon Ranger Path is thought to be the earliest of the six main routes to the summit. The path was named in English after a mountain guide called John Morton who called himself the ‘Snowdon Ranger’. After a steep initial zig zag ascent, the path climbs gradually up before merging with the Llanberis Path at Bwlch Glas, and then on to the summit.
- Distance: 8 miles / 13km
- Ascent: 936m
- Time: 6 hours
- Start Point: Llyn Cwellyn car park
- Grid Ref: SH 564 511
- Ordnance Survey: OL17 / 114
- Harvey Maps: Snowdonia North
Once suitably parked (please use the car park and avoid parking on the busy, fast A-road) cross the road and to the right of the car park entrance you will see a stone pillar with ‘Ranger Path’ on it. It’s fairly obvious, but you’ll need to wiggle around and over the railway tracks first, heading uphill towards Llwyn Onn farmhouse. Respect any ‘private property’ signs and keep to the path.
When you reach Llwyn Onn farmhouse, you will see an old waterwheel on the gable end of the house. The wheel was driven by water from a small reservoir to grind corn and cut gorse to feed the farm’s working horse. Once through a couple of farm gates, you will find yourself on a well established path that climbs steeply out of the valley via a number of zig zags. You are still on privately owned property here and your right of way aligns with the path itself, so please do keep to it.
As you climb, there are fantastic views down towards Llyn Cwellyn and the slopes of Mynydd Mawr rising steeply from its shores. After a steep initial climb of approx. 25 minutes, you’ll notice the ground level off. Enjoy the walking here, with views up to Snowdon’s summit towering above you on a clear day!
All the while, keep on the main, stony path that leads ahead of you – other paths leave and join this main path from other valleys but your journey keeps to this main track – the Snowdon Ranger path.
Look ahead and you will see a deep gap (bwlch) between the hill on your left, Moel Cynghorion and the rise of the Snowdon Ranger path along the edge of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu, very steep cliffs famous for their climbing on the other side of the ridge. This gap is called Bwlch Cwm Brwynog. And to your right, you will see a mountain lake called Llyn Ffynnon y Gwas stretched out below the rising slopes above it.
Take a break here, before you start climbing the steep zig zags. If you wander up to the ‘gap’ of Bwlch Cwm Brwynog and look north you will see the Llanberis Path running down from Clogwyn Station on the opposite side of Cwm Brwynog.
You are now about 1 hour 45 minutes from the summit – but you’re about to gain most of the height on your walk... be prepared for a steep ascent now. From Bwlch Cwm Brwynog, the path climbs very steep and loose underfoot nearly all the way to the summit, so take care from now on. There are some larger boulders to clamber up initially, but then you’ll be on a good path, mostly rocky.
After walking parallel with Llyn Ffynnon y Gwas for a while, the path will start to zigzag steeply up the shoulder above Clogwyn Du’r Arddu. As you climb the shoulder of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu, you will see a fantastic view south towards Moel Hebog rising out of Beddgelert Forest. These are views from Snowdon that not everyone gets to see, if they choose to ascend from the Pen y Pass side of the mountain.
Above Clogwyn Du’r Arddu the climb levels out a little, over short grass and it’s not very well defined so take care on this section, especially in misty or wintry weather.
The path will begin to climb again shortly, but more solid underfoot and this is your cue that you will be reaching the crossing of the Snowdon Mountain Railway. In clear weather you will see the railway line above you, and in cloud you may only hear the train.
In very poor (windy) weather you may not hear the train at all – and this may mean it’s not running that day! This final ascent section will take approx 10 minutes and you will then reach a standing stone that marks the crossing of the Snowdon Railway line (remember about it on your way down – especially if it’s misty as the start of the path can be very difficult to locate otherwise).
From the standing stone, cross the Snowdon Mountain Railway line and walk straight ahead until you reach another standing stone that marks the junction of the Snowdon Ranger path and the Llanberis path.
You have just crossed the railway track of the Snowdon Mountain Railway which has been carrying visitors to the summit since 1896 on the only public rack and pinion railway in the UK.
You have suddenly arrived on to Bwlch Glas, a very busy flat area on Snowdon’s summit ridge, where multiple paths join.
You will have been walking for over 2 hours 30 minutes by most people’s standard. Only another 15 minutes maximum to the summit now...
Follow the path to the right and after walking around 50 metres you will reach another, much larger, standing stone at Bwlch Glas. This stone marks the spot where the Pyg and Miners’ tracks merge with the Llanberis and Snowdon Ranger paths.
From the standing stone, walk straight ahead using the well engineered path that keeps to the side of the railway track.
On a clear day, there will be tremendous views to the south, towards Porthmadog, and the north west towards Caernarfon, the Irish Sea and Anglesey.
On a busy day, you can sometimes queue for a climb up the steep steps to the actual summit. It is a must though, so make the opportunity to visit the very top of the highest mountain in Wales (and higher than any mountains in England, too!)
Make sure you have extra layers to put on in colder/windier/wetter weather and do take on board more food and water.
You are only halfway and you’ll need energy for the descent, too! To descend the same way you will retrace your steps to Bwlch Glas, but make sure you have an eye on your direction of travel as Bwlch Glas can be a confusing place on a busy day or poor weather as lots of paths converge at this point.
At Bwlch Glas there is a tall marker stone with ‘Snowdon Ranger’ on it and this stands above the point at which you crossed the railway track on your way up.