The Rhyd Ddu Path
The Rhyd Ddu path provides a quiet option for climbing Snowdon.
Start and Finish: Rhyd Ddu - Snowdon Summit
Distance: 5.81 km
Ascent: 859 m
Time: 3 hours
Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Before You Walk up Snowdon, ask yourself – Are you equipped? Do you know what you’re doing? Are the conditions safe? If you answer no to any of these, stay safe, don’t go! Check the weather forecast and make sure you know about walking up Snowdon in the Snow. If you lack experience – hire a Snowdon Mountain Guide.
There’s a pub, Cwellyn Arms, and a tearoom in the village, WC at car park.
Sherpa Buses from Caernarfon, Porthnadog and Pen-y-Pass, as well as the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon or Porthmadog.
The route does provide some exposure on crossing Bwlch Main
Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path, Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.
The Rhyd Ddu Path
The Rhyd Ddu Path up Snowdon starts off, not surprisingly, in Rhyd Ddu, just by the Welsh Highland Railway Station. It was historically known as the Beddgelert Path, as it originally started there as a pony path. Taking the train to the start of this walk is highly recommended!
1 The Rhyd Ddu Path starts off from the WHR station, which has a car park as well as a daily bus service from Caernarfon, Beddgelert and Porthmadog.
Facing the railway and Snowdon, follow the car park left and to a gate over the railway where you can cross with care.
2 Follow the track, which is wide and easy, and take the first right junction. The track now meanders at a reasonably easy angle for a kilometre or so until you reach the track junction at Pen ar Lon.
3 At Pen-y-lon, the Rhyd Ddu path branches off to the left, with a useful stone marking the spot. The track otherwise continues to Bwlch Cwm Llan and the South Ridge.
4 The Rhyd Ddu Path now becomes narrow, and due to past erosion has been restored into a stone path with the going good. It continues at an easy gradient for around 1km before passing through or over a wall (the gate is occasionally open) and arriving at a conspicuously flat area known as Rhos Boeth soon after. There are a couple of old ruins here that were probably a hafod, but could also have been the spot at which Victorian travellers left their horses and were made to walk!
The Rev Williams Bingley, 1804 North Wales, Including its Scenery, Antiquities, Customs and some sketches of its Natural History
We set out, commencing our mountain journey by turning to the right, from the Caernarvon road, at the distance of about two miles and a half from the village [Beddgelert]. We left the horse at a cottage, about half way up, from whence taking a bottle of milk to mix with some rum that we had brought along with us, we continued our route over a series of pointed and craggy rocks. Stopping at different times to rest, we enjoyed to the utmost, the prospects that by degrees were opening around us.
Towards the upper part of the mountain, we passed over a tremendous ridge of rock, called Clawdd coch, the red ridge. This narrow pass, not more than ten or twelve feet across, and two or three hundred yards in length, was so steep, that the eye reached on each side, down the whole extent of the mountain.
Rhos Boeth is, you’ll be glad to know, roughly half way up, and you can imagine the travellers pausing at this cottage (though probably a hafod – summer dwelling) and leaving their horses.
5 It becomes clearly apparent why the Rev Bingley left his horse at this spot as the route becomes rougher and steeper from this point onward. It’s a slog to reach the top of this section of slope, at which point the views open out and the going becomes much more pleasant.
6 Following the top of Llechog, the views are extensive across to Bwlch Main and the Summit, with one of the best aspects towards the summit of any path.
7 There follows a final slog up zig-zagging scree before you reach the gem of the route; Bwlch Main.
8 We wouldn’t recommend you drink milk laced with rum as you’ll need to take some care on this narrow ridge. Bwlch Main is not quite as exposed asCrib Goch, but it’s probably one of the narrowest walking ridges in Snowdonia and provides the best walking approach to Snowdon of any route!
The Rhyd Ddu Path weaves its way through the rocks, but barely becomes a scramble at all, with a couple of rocky steps as technical as it gets.
8 Finally the ridge widens out, and you arrive at the Watkin Path/ Rhyd Ddu waymarker. Continue past this, and up a short section of loose path and you’ll arrive right at Hafod Eryri in a matter of minutes.
Descending the Rhyd Ddu Path.
Ensure that you pass Hafod Eryri and do not descend the Watkin Path! Continue on down Bwlch Main, keeping an eye on where the path branches off towards the South Ridge proper. The Rhyd Ddu path veers right.
The Rhyd Ddu Path is easy enough in descent, but does seem to stop just before you reach the ruined hafod at Rhos Boeth. At SH 592 534 the path seems to end in a bog at the top of a steep slope, but actually turns sharply left. The path should be easily followed in reverse after this point.
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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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