Snowdon Ranger Path – Llwybr Cwellyn
By Dave Roberts
Published – February 27, 2023
Snowdon Ranger Path – Llwybr Cwellyn
The Snowdon Ranger is one of the more straightforward routes to the summit, and one of the quietest.
Updated for 2023
Start and Finish: Snowdon Ranger YH - Snowdon Summit
Distance: 6.5 km
Ascent: 920 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 an excellent Pub and microbrewery with excellent ales in Waunfawr – the Snowdonia Parc Inn. The carpark only has a portaloo, but better than nothing. The Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel is the most convenient accommodation for those walking this path, and part of the history of the trail.
There are regular Sherpa Buses and you can also use the Welsh Highland Railway (request stop). Both allow you to reach the Ranger from Porthmadog/Beddgelert and Caernarfon, with connections to Pen-y-pass and Betws-y-coed.
See our page on Walking up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) using Public Transport
Parking usually plentiful this side of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) , £6 a day, £3 for 4 hours – Card only.
See our Yr Wyddfa Snowdon Parking 2023 page for full information
Some steep ground on the ascent.
Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Walk up Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon Safely Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.
Check the Weather before setting out.
Snowdon Ranger Path – Llwybr Cwellyn Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
Download file for GPS
Snowdon Ranger Path – Llwybr Cwellyn
The Snowdon Ranger Path is one of the quieter official routes to the summit and possibly one of the oldest. The trail starts from the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel on the shores of Llyn Cwellyn on the A4085 between Caernarfon and Beddgelert. Regular Snowdon Sherpa buses ply their way past, as well as the Welsh Highland Railway. While it may not be one of the most difficult routes up Snowdon, it’s still rather challenging.
The Snowdon Ranger path is named after one of the original mountain guides – John Morton. It was originally named the Saracen’s Head Inn, but was renamed under his ownership to the Snowdon Ranger Hotel which continues to be the name of the hostel and the footpath.
Starting off with a series of zig-zags, you’re breaking a sweat from the off. The Snowdon Ranger then eases, but don’t be fooled as the second half of the climb is a relentless pull up to the summit! Having said that, we’d recommend this path over the Llanberis Path any day and the Ranger can even be walked from Llanberis if you wished. The going is good, with a newly built trail for most of the first half. It also avoids being a step-fest like the PYG and Miners’ Tracks.
It’s named as “Llwybr Cwellyn” in Welsh on the marker stone, but more often than not it’s simply Y Ranger or Llwybr Ranger to the locals.
1 From the Car Park, you’ll need to cross the road and head right towards the start of the Snowdon Ranger Path. Take care on the road as there may be a speed limit, but it can be a bit of a blind corner and not recommended to dawdle. Take the path uphill, turning left at the Snowdon Ranger station and then immediately right at the farm track. Head up-hill towards the farm, crossing a cattle grid before you reach the farmhouse.
2 The path continues right behind the farmhouse, with a giant PATH and arrow painted in white on the rock next to the gate. Unmissable. Now the first set of zig-zags start off, a tedious but gentle enough gradient. The lower section of the Ranger track has been rebuilt recently, and is an excellent path that’s easy to walk.
3 The Final zig-zag brings you past a stunted rowan tree to a gate that marks the end of the zig-zags and the start of a gentler section across the moorland along the slopes of the grassy Moel Cynghorion. The path crosses the Snowdon Circular Walk here, which provides and alternative approach along the Clogwyn y Gwin path from Rhyd Ddu. There are even distance markers – with the first gate you pass noting the distance to the summit.
4 Around 1.6km after the end of the zig-zags, you’ll pass through a narrow iron gate which marks the final section of the approach towards Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas and Bwlch Cwm Brwynog. This section is currently being improved. It does start to gently ascend again, and there’s an excellent spot to stop at the Bwlch compete with natural seating and an impressive view. Just don’t look too closely at the ascent ahead!
5 We won’t beat around the bush, but the zig-zag section is the toughest on the walk. Rising just under 200m in around 700m, it’s hard work but reasonably short. You may need to use your hands in a couple of places, but it’s not scrambling, just a steep path. The initial zig-zags are steep and tight, before a final sweeping section to bring you up to the 650m contour. There are also plenty of spots to stop and rest, which you’ll be glad to know!
6 The Zig Zags end at around the 650m mark, the path continues to ascend more directly, with numerous cairns marking the way. Once the surrounding terrain becomes grassy, you’ll reach a wide shoulder which marks the final section of the Ranger Path.
7 From the flat respite of the grassy shoulder, the path begins to ascend again. You may spot a train passing high on the slope above you, as you’ll soon be crossing the Snowdon Mountain Railway. There are clear signs at the tracks, which you cross and veer right to arrive at Bwlch Glas. While the railway appears to be a shortcut – DO NOT follow it!
8 Bwlch Glas marks the meeting of the ways, with the Ranger Path joining the Llanberis, Crib Goch, Miners’ and PYG tracks for the final pull to Snowdon Summit. This final section has been improved in recent years, but you can still see where the path has been eroded down by literally millions of walking boots over the years. The very final section as Hafod Eryri comes into view, is on well-made but random height steps, to the summit – and then the final queue and spiral path to the summit trig itself.
Descending the Snowdon Ranger Path
If you’re using this route as a descent, then keep an eye out for the upright stone that indicates the top of the Snowdon Ranger Path at Bwlch Glas. The route is straightforward to follow otherwise, just make sure you don’t overshoot the upper zig-zags as some of them will have paths to viewpoints. If you do find that a path reaches a dead end, turn round as you’ve probably missed a zig or a zag! Otherwise, just follow the route above in reverse…
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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