Glyder Fawr and Fach – The Best Walks and Scrambles
The twin mountains of Glyder Fawr and Fach are dramatic from both sides – with the crags on the southern side dominating the Llanberis Pass and those of the north overshadowing Tryfan itself. The summits of the Glyderau, despite being close are also very different in nature with Glyder Fawr’s jagged rocks sticking up and Glyder Fach’s pile of gargantuan boulders.
It is quite fitting that these spectacular mountains will have a wide range of walks and scrambles that allow you to sample all the highlights, include the Cantilever and Castell y Gwynt.
So How Hard is the walk up Glyder Fawr and Fach ?
There are no quick and easy walks up these mountains, with all routes posing some sort of challenges. The paths range from steep with scree, to upper level Grade 1 scrambles. While the approach from the east from Llyn Caseg-fraith seems the gentlest on paper, it requires decent navigational skills. The toughest of these is via the Bristly Ridge. Y Gribin is a much less technical scramble, but a tough proposition nevertheless. Distances range from just over 3km from Pen-y-pass to a whopping 9km from Capel Curig.
You’ll also need to check out the Weather Forecast: Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather
Getting Here, Parking and Public Transport.
For the Ogwen routes there is an infrequent T10 TrawsCymru Bus Service bus service between Bethesda and Capel Curig, helpfully it doesn’t run on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Thankfully, the electric Bws Ogwen (warning – Facebook link) has been running since 2022 between Bethesda and Ogwen and hopefully they will continue to do so in 2023. They ran 12 mini-buses midweek (not Wednesdays) and 15 on the weekend and can carry 9 at a time.
Parking at Ogwen can be absolutely horrific during bank holidays and fine weekends, so you’ll need to arrive early. There is paid for parking at Ogwen Cottage, £6.00 a day or 4 hours: £3.00, card payments only and there are EV charging points available. There’s also a great deal of free parking in the laybys along the A5 and towards Glan Denau, but this is insufficient at busy times. Plenty will try and park on the A5 itself, but don’t do it as this is a trunk road and you’ll be rightly ticketed for parking along the main road.
Parking at Pen-y-pass is legendarily impossible – we explain that here – Parking at Pen-y-pass. Briefly, it costs a fortune and this should be the last resort. If you want to ascend from this side, then you are better off basing yourself at Pen-y-gwryd, where limited paid parking is available. A good footpath leads from here to Pen-y-pass (never follow the road) to pick up the Pen-y-pass route. Plenty of paid parking can be found around Llanberis, there’s a sizeable Park and Ride car park in Nant Peris and free parking behind Joe Browns in Capel Curig.
Llanberis, Nant Peris and Pen y Pass have frequent buses from Caernarfon and you can easily plan a linear route between Llanberis and Capel Curig using the Sherpa Wyddfa to return. We recommend basing yourself around the bus service for the routes this side of the mountain and leaving the car as far from Pen-y-pass as possible
Pubs, Cafes and other Facilities Near Glyder Fawr and Fach .
There are toilets at the visitor centre at Ogwen Cottage as well as a food counter that serves snacks and drinks. All local facilities, including a Tesco Extra can be found in Bethesda, along with cafes and a few pubs. In the opposite direction, there are pubs and a café in Capel Curig, and further on in Betws-y-Coed. There are also plenty of facilities for walkers in Llanberis including shops, cafes and a good selection of pubs. There’s a pub in Nant Peris (Faenol Arms) as well as toilet at the Park and Ride. Pen-y-pass has a large café, toilets and the YH opposite has a café bar – Mallory’s. The legendary Pen-y-gwryd hotel can be found just down the road at, you’ve guessed it, Pen-y-gwryd.
Whichever route you choose to take, you’ll need a head for heights and mountain experience. A few trips up the Miners’ doesn’t count, Tryfan is in a different league! You’ll find a rundown of these routes below with the full route guide free of charge on our partner site – Mud and Routes. Remember that only a summary of the walk is provided below – you’ll need to click through to read the full walk guide. Note that there are a multitude of tougher scrambles up Tryfan, well beyond the scope of this article.
Note that times quoted are for the ascent route only! Owing to the nature of scrambling, allow about the same time for descent. Times quoted are particularly conservative, and include time to enjoy the route, but obviously the actual time to be taken will depend both on the individual and the conditions prevalent on that day.
Map Showing Best Walks and Scrambles up Glyder Fawr and Fach
Click on the individual lines on the map below to see the labels. Each colour is also noted in the article.
The Best Day(s) Out on the Glyderau
This is a tough one! We suggested the Glyderau circuit via Garn and Tryfan on our post Y Garn – Best Walks Up – and we’d probably choose that as the best option. However, a shortened version via Twll Du and then descending via the Miner’s Track back to Llyn Ogwen would be our choice for a day where the Glyderau get the full attention. Alternatively, the best routes over the Glyderau for scramblers is Bochlwyd Horseshoe and for walkers wanting to get some good distance in, we’ve always had a soft spot for the full traverse from Elidir Fawr over to Capel Curig, though you can easily cut it short by descending to Pen-y-pass or Pen-y-gwryd.
Glyder Fach via Y Gribin (Green )
Y Gribin is a perfectly fine scramble, though usually overshadowed by neighbouring Bristly Ridge and an afterthought on the iconic Bochlwyd Horseshoe. However it makes a wonderful ascent up into these mountains, bringing you out on Glyder Fawr’s north eastern shoulder, just above Bwlch y Ddwy Glyder. That’s the only thing we dislike about this route as you either need to dogleg out towards one of the Glyder summits, or miss one out of your walk altogether.
If nothing else, this route from Ogwen via Cwm Idwal is certainly one of the most spectacular approaches. Setting off on the ‘tourist’ path towards Llyn Idwal, the path gently follows the edge of the lake towards the towering crags of Twll Du / Devil’s Kitchen. Only then does it show it’s true colours with a relentless steep pull up between the crags towards Llyn y Cwn. Take a break here as the next section up Glyder Fawr is one of the least pleasant paths in Eryri, being loose scree for the whole climb. The view from the top makes up for it though.
Glyderau via Bristly Ridge (Light Blue )
This sharp arete is for experienced scramblers only, and is usually climbed as part of The Bochlwyd Horseshoe with Tryfan. One of the highlights is the Great Pinnacle Gap, as you can see below. There is a scree path to the side of Bristly, but this is not recommended for either ascent or descent.
Miner’s Track from Ogwen (Orange)
Approaching via the flanks of Tryfan, this route is spectacularly placed as you pass beneath its vertiginous crags. The path is loose in places, and not as well built as the paths further towards Bochlwyd and Idwal, and as you head up towards Glyder Fach it becomes more unpleasant. Some sections are loose and the path really suffers from erosion – one we’d suggest avoiding from this side if possible. Once the path tops out near Llyn Caseg-fraith it joins the Miner’s Track from Pen-y-gwryd and on to the summit of Glyder Fach.
If you wanted a long route, then this is it. At over 9km in length and bagging the extra summits of Gallt yr Ogof and Y Foel Goch, this is a strenuous approach. It’s boggy in places, and navigation can be problematic in places. One we think makes an excellent descent route, though the final descent into Capel Curig just seems to peter out.
Miner’s Track from Pen-y-gwryd (Purple)
We’ve already mentioned the section from Ogwen. The corresponding half from Pen-y-gwryd is much more pleasant to follow but can be difficult to navigate in places, especially on the descent. This makes a good circuit when combined with the next route.
Glyder Fawr from Pen y Pass (Yellow)
This is an underappreciated route – one that has even been deleted from the newer OS maps at the same time as other paths have been added. It may lack the surroundings of the Ogwen approaches, but this walk is worth doing simply for the views towards Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). Pen-y-pass is notorious for parking, so we suggest making use of the park and ride from Nant Peris or if you must, parking in Pen-y-gwryd and taking the link footpath to Pen-y-pass. Though parking at Pen-y-gwryd is not much easier than at Pen-y-pass.
The approach from Nant Peris is one option ,but we’d suggest ascending Y Garn from Nant Peris and making a day of it. This path has a steep ascent, mirroring the Twll Du path, both meeting at Llyn y Cwn before heading up the tedious scree path to the summit.
Glyder Fawr and the Glyderau From Y Garn and Deiniolen/Nant/Llanberis (Black)
Of course – there are a few more – especially for scramblers – such as the Senior’s Ridge, and wild ascents such as Braich y Ddeugwm that joins the Miner’s Track at Llyn Caseg Fraith.
Live Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon Conditions
Recommended Walking Guides: A Pocket Guide to Snowdon: A Guide to the Routes of Ascent, The Ascent of Snowdon: The Six Classic Routes Up Snowdon, Snowdon – The Story of a Welsh Mountain: Biography of a Mountain
Walking Books – Snowdonia Ridges of Snowdonia: The Best Ridge Walking, Mountain Walks: The Finest Mountain Walks in Snowdonia, Great Mountain Days in Snowdonia , Day Walks in Snowdonia, Mountain Walking in Snowdonia
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