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Y Garn – The Best Walks Up

By Dave Roberts   

Published – February 14, 2023

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Y Garn – The Best Walks Up


Y Garn is more often than not the afterthought when the mountains of Ogwen are mentioned. Tryfan and the Glyderau get the top spots, every time,  and while name dropping the cleft of Twll Du / Devil’s Kitchen and Cwm Idwal might be more readily named. However, depending on where you go in Ogwen, if Tryfan doesn’t dominate the skyline then it has to be Y Garn. From this angle, and so close up, the Carneddau are just a heathery lump. As well as being beautiful to look at, there are also a number of walking routes up Y Garn that are well worth walking. The views from the summit are stupendous, some of the best you’ll see!

Y Garn  can be tackled from 2 sides – Nant Peris and from Ogwen – although it can also be tagged on to any of the Elidir Fawr routes from Llanberis, Dinorwig, Deiniolen and Marchlyn. As always with these articles, there’s always an element of overlap as routes converge towards the summits and you can technically start the walk anywhere you want if you’re willing to walk to the starting points above.

So How Hard is the walk up Y Garn?

Most paths are poor to good for route finding, as in they are largely obvious but do occasionally have spots where you can lose the path and get lost. The easiest path is the one from Y Garn, which is wide and straightforward to follow. The route up via the quarries does not have access – so for information only. The route from Bethesda is the trickiest as it is pathless in places and seldom walked, one for those with excellent navigational skills only!

The routes vary from only around 3km (Nant Peris and via Elidir Fach) to around 6km – Via Carnedd y Filiast and from Llanberis, or can be walked as part of a much longer traverse to include Y Garn and Glyderau.

You’ll also need to check out the Weather Forecast: Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

Getting Here, Parking and Public Transport.

For Ogwen, 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 for Tryfan 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 obstructing the road.

Nant Peris is on the Sherpa’r Wyddfa route and there are frequent buses from Llanberis and a few from Caernarfon. Plenty of paid parking can be found around Llanberis, there’s a sizeable Park and Ride car park in Nant Peris

Pubs, Cafes and other Facilities

For routes starting at Ogwen, here 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.

For the Nant Peris walks, there are plenty of facilities for walkers can be found 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.

Why is it called Y Garn?
According to – Enwau Eryri (Iwan Arfon Jones)  this simply refers to ‘cairn’. So not a lot to this one for such a majestic mountain

Whichever route you choose to take, you’ll need some mountain experience and you’ll know how to use a map and compass. 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 times quoted are for the ascent route only! Owing to the nature of hillwalking, allow about the same time for descent, maybe a little less depending on the nature of the route. 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 Up Y Garn

Click on the individual lines on the map below to see the labels. Each colour is also noted in the article.

You will need to buy the proper OS map and we recommend either the  OS Explorer OL17 Snowdon & Conwy Valley or the wonderful Snowdonia BMC (British Mountain Map) from Harvey Map

Best Day out on Y Garn – NE Ridge and on to Glyderau and Tryfan

This loop up the NE Ridge takes the best ascent from Ogwen and couples it with a full mountain day over the Glyderau and Tryfan. Quite possibly the best mountain route in the Glyderau for those who don’t want to tackle the Bochlwyd Horseshoe.

Y Garn NE Ridge from Ogwen (green)

The direct route from Ogwen is the best, and for once there isn’t a consolation prize for any of the other routes up. It has everything you need on a mountain walk. It sets off in spectacular settings before climbing steeply to the hanging valley of Cwm Clyd. If time permits, detour to the tarn for a brew, regaining your energy for the final pull to the summit. This is a pleasant ridge walk, a bit steep in places, and with excellent views in all directions. This brings you out on a shoulder, just below the summit of Y Garn.

Y Garn via Cwm Clyd from Ogwen (blue)

This offers a wild, off-path start to the NE Ridge. It starts off on the same route before veering to climb up the stream that cascades steeply from Cwm Clyd high above. It’s not particularly glamorous, but is an interesting option to consider. The route skirts the beautifully positioned Llyn Clyd to join the NE Ridge path to the summit.

Y Garn via Cwm Idwal and Twll Du (light blue)

The route via Twll Du / Devil’s Kitchen may not be our favourite, but it’s still a classic route and one we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Heading through Cwm Idwal, the walk sets in impressive surroundings, getting ever nearer to the steep crags of Twll Du. You’ll wonder if there is actually a walk up through the crags, which becomes more unlikely the higher you get. Of course there’s a good path, that winds its way around the crags to eventually bring you out at Llyn y Cwn before the final (slog) to the summit.

Llwybr y Carw – Gwastadnant (orange)

The Llwybr Carw (Deer Path) is the most interesting route from Nant Peris, climbing steeply through the crags to emerge at Llyn y Cwn. The path can be difficult to find around Llyn y Cwn, and likewise it can require care on the descent to keep on the proper path. At one point it seems to literally finish at a cliff, which is a very steep down-scramble down a chimney, if you’re foolish enough to try it out rather than stopping to think and finding the easier path that misses all the tricky bits! It then joins the path from Twll Du to the summit.

Esgair y Ceunant and Cwm Geifr from Nant Peris (red)

While the last route is the rough one from Nant, this one’s the more genteel yomp. It follows the same start as the walk up Elidir Fawr from Nant Peris,  so makes a good loop with that for anyone based this side of the mountain. It’s a grassy route that takes you up along the grassy spur of Esgair y Ceunant before joining the main Elidir-Garn ridge below Y Foel Goch.

From Glyder Fawr (purple)

From Glyder Fawr it’s around 2.5km and 220m ascent (300m in the return direction) that should take around an hour – but this isn’t a dog-leg we’d recommend in both directions as the climb up Glyder Fawr is an awful scree path and there are very few scenarios where we think this would even be needed.

From Elidir Fawr and Carnedd y Filiast (yellow)

Adding Y Garn to an outing of Elidir Fawr and Carnedd y Filiast on the Marchlyn Loop will add 5km, 400m of ascent and around 1.5 hour all in to the original circuit.  That includes the summits of  Y Foel Goch and re-ascending to Mynydd Perfedd to re-join the final section of the walk. In absolute terms, the distance from Elidir to Y Garn is 4km, with 320m of ascent (and around 300m ascent in the other) – without any subsidiary summits.


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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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