Snowdon Horseshoe

March 09

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

My first trip into Wales for a long time had been planned for at least two weeks. I organised the day round my shifts, updating my gear, working the route out and looking at the weather reports every day. All was going well, even the weather and then I got an invite to visit another part of Snowdonia, so not knowing the area I tagged along.

Got up at 6.30, way too early, and met Pete at the services, surrounded by early morning mist but the forecast was for lots and lots of sun. As we drove the 90 miles to Snowdonia the sun burnt the mist away and the temperature started to rise.


We got ready on arrival and were about to set off when a helicopter landed to pick up rocks for the path rebuilding work on the PYG track. It took off right over the car park only 50 ft above us. An impressive start to the day.

PYG to Crib

The PYG track beckoned from the car park and off we went towards the fearsome looking Crib Goch. The path wound up the lower slopes and we passed lots of white bags filled with rocks, a few walkers but none seemed to follow us after we left the track to start the Crib Goch scramble.

Back to CP

As we climbed the track we gained height quickly and looking back to the start I was surprised that the YHA was merely a dot in a mountainous landscape. Moel Siabod loomed high in the background and the Glyder range were on the left as we looked back. I was meant to do the Glyder range before meeting up with Pete. Will revisit that another day.

PYG track split

The path split at the styles, onward to the PYG and right for Crib Goch and the climb. The style had a caution sign on telling unwary walkers that they were indeed heading for Crib Goch !!

Pete up scramble

The scramble was steep and nearly a climb in places with dramatic drops off to the right side, but we always felt safe due to the plentiful hand holds. Tough going but a few rests and we soon got up there. The climb to Crib Goch was only just under the summit height of Snowden but reached quickly due to the climbing.

Crib ridge

Me o the crib

me on the knife

The start of the Crib Goch ridge was a little spacious but that soon ended within about 5 ft! T was a bit hairy traversing the sharp rocks on about 1 ft width with a 3-400ft drop to your right !!!

Pete on steps

me on steps

The ridge was impressive when up there, knife edged and no room for error with the wind gusting a little. We headed on past the most exposed section to the pinnacles, where the volcanic past of the mountains showed their secrets. The steps up the second pinnacle has a nervy drop off the right hand side of 3-400ft, but the good holds on the climb doesn’t leave you feeling exposed, although it should!!

columns and snow

The columns of volcanic activity can be seen in the pinnacle face with Snowdon looming large behind.
Crib behi

Snow to y ll

As we rounded the pinnacles we headed up to Crib Y Ddysgl we looked back to the ridge we had just completed and over to the second half of the horseshoe, Y Lliwedd on the South side of Snowdon.

Marker PY

Me on trig

We walked up to Crib Y Ddysgl, which whilst over 3000ft is just a small rise on a ridge and therefore sometimes not included in the Welsh 3000ft mountains. The trig point was quite uninspiring and we quickly passed by on the way to Snowdon’s summit. We passed by the finish / start of the PYG track, (depending upon whether going up / down), passing walkers already on their route down.

Me on top

We went up the laid steps to the summit of Snowdon along the railway line to the new cafe and onto the trig point at the top. An old fella kept following us round and a clean shot could not be taken unfortunately, so we headed off to the far side of the cafe for lunch. Half way through the old fella came round the corner and walked right next to us, thought he was going to invite himself for lunch, but went past and over a bush to a point where I thought he was throwing himself off. Never saw him again, maybe should have offered him my other mini mars bar !!!

We descended from the summit along a scree path to the dip in-between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd and a scramble started again. Much easier going than Crib Goch but more enjoyable, probably the most enjoyable peak of the walk for me. The drop off to the left on the way up was not the steepest we had encountered but was the longest, straight down to the Llyn Llydaw reservoir below. No messing around on the edge !!

Pete y lliwedd

me on top y lliwedd

There were two peaks to Y Lliwedd the first higher than the second, but both had great views over the horseshoe that we were nearing completion. The descent was no less steep than the climb up, but less exposed for the most part.

walkers on top


Walkers were following us round the horseshoe, and an odd nutcase was running round, but they never stopped to take in the scenery or a break ! Bit silly really given the rarity of the sunny day in the Welsh mountains. The walkers show just how long the drop is off the Y Lliwedd edge. The blue sky reflected off the reservoir below and Crib Goch now looked tamer than before but the knife edge will always be with me, good rush.


As we descended into the glacial bowl below Snowdon the sun also sank and the haze gave way to great shafts of sunlight pouring over the peaks of Y Lliwedd . The path down lay ahead, but by now my feet had started to hurt underneath and every step down was like walking on a bed of nails. I discussed this with Pete and came to the conclusion than new insoles were required, but that didn’t help to be honest !!

Path to miners

Pump house

The path winded down towards the old miner’s track across a bridge where the wind stopped and the water lay flat in places. The green hut that was the reservoir pump house pretty much marked the miner’s track and a gravel path led away from the mountains back to the car park and cafe. As we walked a group of teenagers went past in flip flops and not much more, coke in hand, hope they were only going for a picnic!!

Felt fine following the walk but next day, boy did my legs ache. No pain no gain I suppose and I looked forward to my next walk.