With this recent news story popping up about a man who drove his 4×4 up Snowdon, and having climbed the Welsh mountain twice myself, I have decided to investigate some of the different ways to ascend the 1085m summit.
The Llanberis Path – This is the easiest and the longest way up Snowdon. In fact the ascent is so gentle that one is pleasantly when the summit comes into view, because it doesn’t feel like climbing a mountain at all. Don’t underestimate it though – accidents have occurred with people wearing high heels. Also don’t get down at the train passing you on the way up; the Halfway café is beside the path 570m up.
The Horseshoe – The famous Horseshoe route comes with awarning, do not attempt unless you are an experienced walker with nerves of steel. The walk along the foot-wide ridge is the marmite of the hiking world, it offers some of the best views in the British Isles, but his is because there is a very, very long way down. Not only will you have earned your pint at the top of this one, but you will probably need it!
Watkin Path – Used to be an old donkey path but according to Hightrek: “The Watkin Path. Sir Edward Watkin was an interesting man – a great railway entrepreneur in the 19th century who pursued many adventurous and aborted schemes – including an original channel tunnel and a plan for a huge hanging garden structure in London. This path is the one he built from his summer house in the Nant Gwynant from the end of the slate quarry track to the summit.” This is said to be one of the hardest ascents, Mr. Watkin must have been some climber – although what else would you expect from someone who lives on the highest mountain South of the Border!
Fell Running – Technically this isn’t a route up the mountain, but it is certainly a way to get to the top. There are various different routes to run on this mountain. One of the most strenuous would have to be the Snowdonia Marathon, the route circles the mountain and includes the breathtakingly beautiful summit. This race was started in 1982 and was voted the best marathon in the UK by Runners World in 2007.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway – The Railway still uses 3 of the original 4 steam locomotives manufactured in 1895. Built by the Swiss Locomotive & Manufacturing Co. of Winterhur, the first train cost a total of £1525. As mentioned earlier, the track follows some of the earlier stages of the Llanberis path, so you can enjoy (or feel guilty about) the views of hikers huffing and puffing to the top. The steepest gradient on the route is 1 in 5.5. The gradients on the route make it unsuitable for a normal adhesion railway, so a rack and pinion system was installed. Snowdon Mountain Railway is the only public rack and pinion railway in the British Isles.
So if you would like to enjoy North-West Wales’ finest without ending up in court, do one of the above. Just remember that winter is approaching so be careful…