Walk up Snowdon via the Watkin Path

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Post Code for Sat Nav: Post Codes are unreliable for this car park - the Grid Reference is SH 627 507. One option is to use LL55 4NW which takes you to the junction with the Gwynant Campsite and then follow the A498 towards Beddgelert for two or three minutes. The Car Park is then to your left. Or head for Beddgelert - LL55 4YB - then head for the previous post code, stopping at Nant Gwynant (the car park is obvious and as you pass it there's an entrance at the far end).


Quieter than Pen y Pass, but still fills up on good days

Public Transport:

Sherpa Buses few and far between.

Weather Forecast:  Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Route Summary:

Popular and scenic route up Snowdon that ends with a steep tricky section.

Distance: 6.46 km

Ascent: 1000 m

Time: 3.5 Hours

Start and Finish:


Cafe and WC


Scree at top is an accident blackspot

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Before You Walk up Snowdon, ask yourselfAre 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.

Walk up Snowdon via the Watkin Path Details

The Watkin Path originally opened in 1892 as a donkey track and was never truly finished. Of all the official ascents, The Watkin Path starts nearest to sea level and so has more ascent than any other direct route up Snowdon. Whilst the Llanberis Path starts off only 50m higher and involves a little more distance. Swings and roundabouts really.

The Watkin Path is definitely the most scenic of all the routes up, starting off through some ancient woodland before passing a spectacular waterfall and ultimately ascending to Bwlch Ciliau and Yr Wyddfa. A pleasure to walk for most of it’s distance, the final eroded scree chute up to the summit rather detracts from the Watkin Path’s overall appeal. However, no other path can boast a Prime Minister, commandos and a Carry on Film among it’s myriad claims to fame.

The Watkin Path up Snowdon Route Map and GPX Download

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Route Description

You’ll not fail to notice the many waterfalls of the river, which had today merged into one mighty torrent due to a very wet November that was continuing into December, so to speak. Despite the rain, the path is good, with no boggy sections; but plenty of water flowing along it. When you reach the falls there’s a gate in the path that some may recognise as a scene from Carry on up the Khyber.

Walk up Snowdon via the Watkin PathThe Watkin Path starts at the road junction in Nant Gwynant. There is a café literally a hundred metres towards Beddgelert, but today they were closed for a private function – some comfort for a cold, thirsty and wet walker. The track can be followed, but the new path is to the left and through the forest. This is not on the OS map, but Harveys have got it right. It is a pleasant start to the walk, but you are soon on the rocky man made path climbing up into Cwm Llan.

The Watkin Path remains steady as it ascends to the old quarries, built to accommodate horse drawn carriages apparently by Sir Edward Watkin who built the path, for tourists. There is plenty to see in the Cwm, including the old ruins of Plas Cwm Llan just above the major waterfalls. There are bullet holes on the side of this building as it had a function for commandos during WW2.  You also walk past the Gladstone Rock to get here, which commemorates the opening of the path in 1892 by the 83 year old Liberal prime minister, William Gladstone.

Watkin Path up SnowdonFrom the mine, the Watkin Path snakes its way upwards. It is difficult to see where the path goes when you look up the slope, but the path is always very easy to follow and should pose no problems. You get to look down into the upper reaches of Cwm Llan and Cwm Tregalan and across to the South Ridge and Bwlch Main. You arrive at Bwlch Ciliau below Y Lliwedd quicker than you’d imagine. Probably as there is still a good 300m yet to climb and that it is the hardest section. If you’re lucky, you’ll now have views stretching across Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw towards Crib Goch, and of course Yr Wyddfa almost overhead.

Now the next section has little to endear me to. Initially you are on a pleasantly narrow path above Cwm Llan, but soon this is to be replaced by an indistinct path up a sheer scree slope. It is an exceptionally loose route, and may well be one to be avoided if you are not confident of your skills, or it is very poor weather. Today was the turn of very poor weather, and this made the scree wet and prone to slippage. Even large rocks were moving and there was scarcely any place to feel secure.

Watkin Path up Snowdon

It is difficult to explain where the track goes, and the map is next to useless. It’s where reading the ground ahead comes into its own. The best advice you can get on here is not to go far to the right towards the summit, and keep to the left, as the path joins the South Ridge somewhat off to the south east of the top. You also need to be prepared to stop and think where you go next.  It is a blackspot for accidents, with one person having died here in 2006 and a few injured, so don’t underestimate it.

Walk up Snowdon via the Watkin Path

The final scree path is very steep, but takes you to a large flat area where you can rest upon solid ground again, and is marked by a large upright stone. Once any Elvis-legs are gone, it is but a mere pull up towards Hafod Eryri, along the steps and to the summit.

Now visit the summit.


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22 thoughts on “Walk up Snowdon via the Watkin Path”

  1. The Watkin path is great but in bad weather, it is very dangerous. There is a point where the easy and designated route involves walking across and down the mountain for a little way. This is counterintuitive, you imagine that you need to keep going up! In bad weather, the correct path is completely invisible and the ‘natural’ route seems to be upwards. Unfortunately, if you don’t take the path down; if you continue to climb upwards, you will end up on the ridge of Crib Goch, this is no joke and incredibly dangerous for the inexperienced.

    1. I’t sounds like you were on the pyg mate, not the Watkins…isn’t the Watkins on the total other side of Snowdon?!

  2. Been up Snowden many times but never on the Watkins path until last weekend. What a lovely walk! Views excellent. There was snow on the top for the last say 150m and it was windy and the scree was as described but is very manageable if you take your time, tending left away from summit and being careful to chose a sensible route. The standing stone on the final summit ridge is very visible (if clear) from well before the steep final part of the path and is a good point to aim for when starting on the steep final part.
    Coming down after turning left at that high standing sign stone is initially steep and a little blank until the rocks start and if its snowed good boots, confidence and maybe a pole is sensible.
    If it was all in cloud I could imagine losing the safe route up the scree very easily and the decent without the obvious lower path to aim for could easily become riskier than necessary if you lose the route.
    Fantastic route though. Very pretty.

  3. Excellent site. It helped me planning for my recent first trip to the top – up Rhyd Ddu, back down Snowdon Ranger/Clogwyn Gwin. I’m keen to try out some of the other routes and gather that some work is being done to improve the Watkin path on the scree slope – or maybe divert the path? If so, do you know when that work will be complete?

  4. Thanks for the site, very useful indeed. We walked up Rhyd Du and down Watkin. The scree at the top of Watkin was tough but as long as you take your time you should be ok. There are great views to the left of the path if you leave the path. However, after the turn to the right, we found the walk down and uninspiring and a bit of a slog. This changes for the last few hundred yards where the path meets the stream ( great to cool hot feet in the cold water), with pretty wooded areas and fields. The main disappointment was no Sherpa bus to take us back to Rhyd Du. We were at the bus stop by five and met up with another couple who had done the same as us. The last bus was before 5pm. Fortunately we managed to hitch a lift member of the Wirral walking group (thanks again!). You need to be reasonably fit to get to the top, but the Rhydd Du walk is well worth it, even the scary bit with the drops along the ridge!

  5. I realise that most of the posts here are 5 years old but we read them before going up the Watkin path and thought I’d give a slightly different view on the route.

    The route isn’t quite as bad as many make out. I would recommend a clear day so you can see where the path goes at the top. There was a heavy snow cover the day we went up which actually made route finding easier (footprints) although it made parts of the path very slippy. Don’t be put off though as it is manageable and there were a lot of othere walkers who went up that day including kids. The trick is not going to far up to the right and to take your time. You meet lots of friendly walkers on the way up so listen to their advice whether they have made it to the summit and which way.to go.

    The views from the path are worth it and it certainly is the most scenic route I have taken up Snowdon.

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