The walk starts from the Welsh Highland Railway station at Rhyd Ddu in the Cwellyn Valley; a valley full of romantic charm and so beautiful that one would be forgiven for thinking that a slice of Lakeland has been transported south! Leave the car park and follow a path crossing the railway track and through the remains of ancient quarry workings before gently gaining a windswept hinterland enjoying ever improving views of lake, valley and mountain. Go through a gate and take the left branch of the path, steadily climbing to another gate followed by a short but steeper climb onto the shoulder of the Llechog Ridge.
A bit of Collar work brings you to the crest of the ridge with your summit high above and across the gulf of Cwm Clogwyn, the back wall of which will have many speculating on the possibility of low/mid grade winter routes! Go through a gate and skirt the rim of the cwm until zig zags deliver you to a narrow and airy path which traverses above steep scree. Next comes the good bit...the Bwlch Main Ridge is slender and very exposed, providing some exciting scrambling if the crest is adhered to without deviation. For those of a less adventurous bent a good path provides an easier alternative, first on the right then the left hand side of the ridge before a final pull dumps you on the very roof of Wales, a place that needs no introduction or further description from my good self!
Once you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle tear yourself away from the incredible views (if you’re lucky) and follow the main drag beside the railway track until a marker stone on the left signals the start of the Snowdon Ranger path, the original way up the mountain for early tourists.
It’s a stony way you’ll tread but kind on weary legs. Soon the path wends closer to the edge of Cwm Brwynog and it is well worth a short detour to the brink of all things. Below lie considerable steeps, the dark cliffs of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu, one of the premier climbing grounds in Britain and a place which strikes terror into the hearts of all but the bravest climbers! Once you’ve had your fill of the vertiginous, regain the path and follow it easily through two sets of zig zags until you reach the road and the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel. However, before you get there the map may tempt you with a cross country route which cuts out the final couple of miles of road walking but beware, though it is possible it can be a tricky navigational exercise and possibly more trouble than it’s worth. The choice, as they say, is yours!
All that remains is an unwelcome bout of tarmac bashing though it needn’t be all doom and gloom for the Cwellyn Arms and Ty Mawr tea shop act (in my experience) as a magnet for tired feet!
© Nicholas Livesey - UKHillwalking.com, Jan 2012