Glyder Fawr and Fach from Ogwen and Cwm Idwal

By Dave Roberts   

on January 3, 2021   5/5 (1)

Glyder Fawr and Fach from Ogwen and Cwm Idwal

Further Details

Route Summary:

The route up Glyder Fawr from Ogwen via the Devil’s Kitchen is a popular route, but it’s a tough proposition. Don’t underestimate this route!

Start and Finish: Ogwen Cottage - or any point on the A5 up to Glan Denau

Distance: 12.52 km

Ascent: 841 m

Time: 5 - 6 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 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.

Facilities:

Seasonal visitor centre at Ogwen with cafe and toilets but the ‘hatch’ still caters with hot drinks and snacks all year round (If they’re open on a Thursday Mid November, then they’ll probably be open all year).

Public Transport:

Infrequent Sherpa buses from Bangor and Betws y Coed.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Hazards:

Steep Ground, loose scree on the ascent of Glyder Fawr. Navigation on summits in mist. The descent via the Miner’s Track has some loose sections and has seen some landslips in recent years making sections of the path difficult going.

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.

Snowdon Guidebooks:

Recommended Snowdon Maps

Glyder Fawr and Fach from Ogwen and Cwm Idwal Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Glyder Fawr and Fach from Ogwen and Cwm Idwal

While Snowdon may be the most popular mountain in Snowdonia, the Glyderau on the opposite side of the Llanberis path must serve as some of the most iconic. Boasting two unique summits in Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach, they also include two of the most famous landmarks in Snowdonia. The vertical frost-shattered spires of Castell y Gwynt provides one of the best photographic viewpoints in the park from Glyder Fach while the Cantilever stone, also on Glyder Fach, is one of the most famous photo opportunities. Nobody has yet Managed to topple it, despite the best efforts of generations of hill walkers! That’s not even to mention the mountains of Tryfan, Y Garn and Elidir Fawr that are also part of the Glyderau.

One of the best ways to enjoy this pair of mountains has to be from Ogwen Cottage. While you can walk up the Glyderau from Pen y Pass, the approaches from the North are much more spectacular. Of the options, you can either ascend Y Garn first which is a longer but our preferred ascent. Or, you can ascend via the Devil’s Kitchen which is the most popular route and the one outlined below. Scramblers have the option of climbing up Senior’s Ridge or Y Gribin for a more exciting approach. You can also extend the route quite easily by climbing Tryfan via the South Ridge.

Why they’re not the Glyders – this is an Anglicization and considered insulting to the native Welsh language, so we use proper local forms that respect local language and customs where possible. In this case – Glyderau.

Full Route Description

1 The walk up Glyder Fawr starts from Ogwen Cottage. If you need to park further up the A5 towards Capel Curig then there’s usually plenty of space in one of the laybys (though at popular periods we recommend you aim to arrive early). Follow the obvious path to the left of the visitor centre that’s signposted Cwm Idwal. This is an excellent path and can be followed easily enough to Llyn Idwal which you should reach in around 15-20 minutes.

2 From Llyn Idwal, you can walk around either shore of the lake. This route turns right at the lake to take the path on the western shore, a more direct route to the Twll Du or Devil’s Kitchen. The path climbs gently to start with, but don’t let this fool you. The going soon becomes steep, involving a clamber on a steep path that may involve some very easy scrambling in places. The views in all directions are still impressive as you ascend the cleft in the cliff face to emerge finally at Llyn y Cwn. This is a good spot to take a break after the hard work, only to realise you’ve still got another steep section to come!

3 The scree path from Llyn y Cwn up to Glyder Fawr is notorious. It’s steep, loose and largely unpleasant. It’s a path that’s easier if you’re fit as you’ll get up it much sooner and there are really no places along it’s length to safely stop to take a break. Take some comfort in the fact that the worst of the climb is only around 150 vertical metres and 500m in length, after which the path takes on a more reasonable gradient to the summit of Glyder Fawr.

4 Glyder Fawr consists of an extensive plateau and a couple of tor like summits. There’s an extensive view, and the way ahead along the plateau is clear and marked by occasional cairns. In misty conditions you may well need to take a bearing to find your way to Bwlch y Ddwy Glyder.

5 From Glyder Fawr, as mentioned, the route is straightforward enough in fine weather. The walk along the clifftops is one of the best in the area if not the country. The path towards Castell y Gwynt veers right (though you can climb directly over it) and you’ll need to take a judgement as to when to leave this path and ascend the bouldery ground left.  At around SH 654 581 try and spot the polish on the boulders and the trace of a path higher up  – once on this you’ll need to boulder hop and follow the intermittent path to the flat area in front of Castell y Gwynt. The path on to Glyder Fach is marked by a clear cairn and is now much more obvious.

6 The path takes you to Glyder Fach, with the best option to skirt around to the left and towards the Cantilever stone and ascend the bouldery summit from this side. It really is a bit of a pain to reach the actual summit, and make sure you don’t drop anything of value while up there as they’ll disappear forever into the gaps.

7 The descent from Glyder Fach can be tricky to find initially. From the Cantilever, a path leads roughly east and should be followed in this direction as it becomes a much clearer track and after a short while is easy enough to follow. Ahead lie the seldom visited eastern summits of the Glyderau – Y Foel Goch and Gallt yr Ogof with the mountain tarn of Llyn y Caseg Fraith in the foreground. It’s worth a short detour to this tarn, especially for the view towards Tryfan.

There’s a cairn that marks the turning point for Pen y Gwryd, and you can descend this way – but it can be steep and loose and a better option is to continue a 100m or so and descend left here. Parts of the Miner’s Track have been recently washed away, and while it would make an excellent geography field trip it makes the going tougher than needed.

8 The Miner’s Track curves around the head of Cwm Tryfan, an while there is a more direct route, we always take the contouring route detailed on the map above. There’s a reasonably clear path all the way, and sections of this path are being rebuilt at present (November 2018) – but it’s still not on the OS map for some reason. The path is good, and you can make good progress until you reach a stile above the crags of Tryafan Fach. It’s then down a section of stone steps that bring you to Gwern Gof Uchaf where you turn left to join the old coach road which brings you out on the A5. Follow the A5 to wherever you started the walk. You can also cross the A5 as soon as you reach it to Glan Dena and follow the path around Llyn Ogwen to return to Ogwen Cottage, a much better finish to the walk if you still have the energy left in your legs.

 

 

 

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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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