Rhyd Ddu Path, Snowdon
This path up Snowdon is the quietest of the six main routes to the summit, and the one that offers the most striking mountain scenery, especially towards Moel Hebog and the hills of Nantlle.
The first mile climbs gradually along the old track that served the Bwlch Cwm Llan slate quarry, but it then leaves the track and climbs quite steeply over rocky terrain to Llechog ridge. The path follows the ridge over bare and exposed ground and then along Bwlch Main before the final climb to the summit.
Some parts of the final section leads along a narrow and rocky path with steep slopes below, so extreme care must be taken on these parts. When there is snow and ice on the ground this part should be left to experienced walkers with the appropriate equipment.
1. With your back to the main road, go to the left past the public toilets and continue to the far end of the car park. Go through the gate on the right and cross over the railway – remember to shut the gates. Follow the track ahead.
In a short while you will see the remains of a round tower on your left. The tower was once the powder house of the Ffridd Slate Quarry that comes into sight on your right.
2. Go to the right when the track forks, and around the vehicle barrier. The private track to the left goes to Ffridd Isaf farm.
Shortly, you will pass the remains of the Ffridd Slate Quarry which was working until the 1860’s (keep well away from the quarry itself as it can be very dangerous).
At one time, quarrying as well as farming was the area’s main livelihood, the remains of which are still very evident. The waste heaps of Glan yr Afon Quarry can be seen behind you in the distance, and this path was used to reach the Bwlch Cwm Llan Quarry and the South Snowdon Slate Quarry in Cwm Llan. The village of Rhyd Ddu (where this path begins) like many of the area's other towns and villages, were built to house the miners and their families.
3. After going through the gate near a shed you will reach another gate. From here the path veers to the left and climbs gradually towards Pen ar Lôn. In a while, you will reach two adjacent gates.
4. After the two adjacent gates, keep an eye out for a standing stone and a gate on your left hand side. Go through the gate and follow the path that leads over rushy and marshy terrain. You will shortly reach another gate with sheep pens on the left on the other side.
Down to your right is the valley of Cwm Caregog and Allt Maenderyn hill on the far side. The Aran is to the right of Allt Maenderyn, with Bwlch Cwm Llan at the foothills between the two.
5. The path will shortly begin to climb steeper and rougher underfoot and eventually you will arrive at the ruins of an old stone hut.
On your left you will see a flat, grassy area, which is thought to be the site of an ancient temple called Mur Murianau. It is said that a row of stones encircles the site, and four large boulders are arranged in such a way that resembles an altar.
Look down towards Rhyd Ddu and enjoy the striking view of Llyn y Gadair and Llyn Cwellyn lakes in the wide valley below, with Dyffryn Nantlle through the pass between the two lakes. On the horizon from left to right are the summits of Moel Hebog, Moel yr Ogof, Moel Lefn, Mynydd Drws y Coed and Y Garn, with Mynydd Mawr behind Llyn Cwellyn lake.
Ogof Owain Glyndŵr (Owain Glyndŵr’s Cave) is on the slopes of Moel yr Ogof. Legend has it that when Owain Glyndŵr was being pursued by English soldiers, he climbed up a 300 foot rock crevice on Moel Hebog. The soldiers refused to climb the crevice after him so they returned to Beddgelert. Owain came across a cave nearby where he hid until the soldiers returned to England, and this cave has been known as Ogof Owain Glyndŵr ever since.
6. From the ruins the path climbs steeply over rocky terrain. After the next gate you will come out on the shoulder of Llechog ridge. Follow the path that leads up to the right towards the ridge.
From here you can see across Cwm Clogwyn and through Bwlch Cwm Brwynog pass down towards Llanberis. Moel Cynghorion is to the left of the pass and Clogwyn Du’r Arddu to the right.
7. Follow the path that leads over open and rocky ground.
This side of Snowdon is extremely open to the elements, especially in winter, so the rocky terrain has been shattered by ice. Because of the extreme environment, not many vegetation can survive here – and those that can survive here grow low and shrivelled – species such as bilberries, parsley ferns and grasses.
8. The visitor centre and summit cairn will soon come into sight in the distance.
As you walk along the Llechog ridge you can see down to Cwm Clogwyn on your left, with its three tiny lakes – Llyn Glas (Blue Lake), Llyn Coch (Red Lake) and Llyn Nadroedd (Snakes’ Lake).
9. Go through another gate in a stone wall.
From the other side of the gate, enjoy the fantastic view of the Aran on the right, and the Glaslyn estuary with the Harlech coastline beyond.
10. From the last gate the path continues to follow the Llechog ridge around Cwm Clogwyn, before zigzagging up towards Bwlch Main. At the top of the zigzag section the path becomes very narrow with a steep slope below. Take care on this section, especially in bad weather, and keep to the path. When there is snow and ice on the ground this final section becomes a serious undertaking and should only be attempted by experienced walkers carrying the appropriate equipment.
11. After traversing the slope you will see the South Ridge path join in from the right. The spot where the two paths meet marks the start of Bwlch Main, also known as the “Saddle” (on your way back down to Rhyd Ddu, remember to bear right here).
Bwlch Main means ‘narrow pass’, and as the name suggests, it is very narrow with steep slopes on either side. Take extreme care on this section and keep to the path. From here, you can see the Watkin Path leading through Cwm Tregalan on your right, and Cwm Clogwyn to your left.
12. Shortly, the Watkin Path will join the Rhyd Ddu Path from the right – at a spot marked with a standing stone. From here the path climbs steeply and rocky all the way to the summit.
Please read our Mountain Safety Advice before venturing out on the mountain.
Though you are in the Snowdonia National Park, please remember that the path crosses the privately owned farm and grazing lands of Ffridd Isaf, Ffridd Uchaf and Clogwyn y Gwin, where dogs are not welcomed unless under close control or on a lead.
On your way to the summit you will see evidence of essential footpath restoration work carried out by the National Park Authority. Please keep to the footpath to prevent further erosion.