The Rhyd Ddu Path up Read more [...]
Place Category: Route
The Snowdon South Ridge path usually elicits a blank expression on most walkers when you mention routes up Snowdon. That expression would be blanker if you called it by its proper name of Allt Maenderyn! Those in the know however, realise that this is an absolute gem of a route that stands modestly in the shadows, shunning the limelight. In comparison, the PYG, Miners and Watkin are cheap, talentless reality TV z-listers desperately seeking endless attention. The Snowdon South Ridge knows it’s good, and is happy to stand back a little until you realise just how good it is. It’s in no rush.
Snowdon South Ridge from Rhyd Ddu
The start of the Snowdon South Ridge path itself is easy to find, by passing the WHR platform to the end and crossing the railway at the gates. The path meanders, about for a while at an easy gradient and has an easy surface – none of those large paving slabs here. This old quarry track eventually takes you to a junction that points left to Snowdon, but the south ridge is attained by plodding on forward – no doubt to the shouts of “You’re going the wrong way!!”
The quarry track continues resolutely onwards, reaching old quarries and spoil before Bwlch Cwm Llan signals the arrival of real mountain scenery and the steepening of the path. The first section is straight up on stone steps, which are a shock to the system but at least get you high quickly. And much in this manner the Snowdon South Ridge pathcontinues upwards, in stops and starts, a couple of little scrambles, a couple of places where you could lose the path but not quite. The final section is very steep, and slightly eroded, but you’d be forgiven for thinking you weren’t on Snowdon as you climb up to Bwlch Main.
The intention was to take some photos of the sunset, or to merely look at it from the top. Typically, the summit, and only the summit was in cloud. I was accepting that it would be so, until upon reaching Bwlch Main the summit cleared. So close. Hafod Eryri was already visible and some lucky soul was up there already.
Of course, as we crossed the narrow Bwlch Main, the cloud came in as thick and fast as ever and that’s the last we saw of it. At the summit, which I’d last seen as quiet in a rainstorm midweek in December, in the encompassing mist we thought we could hear voices. Upon listening intently, I decided it was my imagination making up what it thought I should be hearing here normally. But sure enough, there was a group, probably DofE or similar, making for the summit. We greeted each one, and had a bit of a joke with the leader, but they appeared under prepared for being up at this time of night (as in no packs and possibly no torch?). They were probably camping at the tents we’d seen as a nameless tarn down below. This is definitely on the list for a Friday night camp pretty soon, especially after I saw the aspect it had this time of day.
Not to be swindled from some after work fun, we were treated to the spectacle of Brocken Spectres on the descent across Bwlch Main. Not just once, but for all the traverse of Bwlch Main our bodies cast shadows that only we could see on the cloud above Cwm Llan. The photo does it no credit. The light in general was very good for photos, and with the swirling cloud made for some striking views on the descent. We turned right at the end of Bwlch Main and followed the Rhyd Ddu path down, deciding that parts of the South Ridge might be a bit more difficult underfoot than we wanted on a Thursday night once it got dark. The Rhyd Ddu path is easy to follow, with cairns at regular intervals, but is a bit eroded in places making it hard going on a fast descent like tonight.
Eventually, the path levels out and narrows to a person’s width, which was welcome on the feet tonight – normally I’d have stopped to cool them but time was against us. It was already difficult to see where we were putting out feet, so we had to keep plodding on. We arrived at Rhyd Ddu in darkness, but as the path was good for the last stretch we made use of our developing night vision. When you consider the peace and quiet, the quality of the light and the general experience of it, the Snowdon South Ridge is a favourite evening walk during the summer months.