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The Llanberis Path – A Complete Guide

Climb Snowdon - Llanberis Path Guide

If you have never climbed Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and are considering taking on your first ascent, there is a good chance you will start with Llanberis Path. Typically thought of as the easiest route up the mountain, it remains a strikingly beautiful climb ideally suited to families with younger children and those with little experience in the mountains.

To help you prepare for your walk up Llanberis Path, we put together this comprehensive guide to the trail. In it, we cover the path’s history, what makes it special, how the route unfolds and a few top tips for staying safe.

Trail Overview

Trail Length Approximately 14.5 km (9 miles) round trip
Elevation Gain Around 975 metres
Difficulty Moderate. The path is well-maintained and gradually ascends, making it suitable for beginners and families
Duration About 5 to 8 hours, depending on your pace and stops

History of Llanberis Path

As its name suggests, the history of the Llanberis Path is inextricably linked to the village that marks the start of the route. Llanberis village takes its name from Saint Peris, a lesser-known Welsh saint who lived and established a religious retreat in the area (Wiki).

Llanberis nestles at the foot of Yr Wyddfa in a long, narrow valley that runs southeast to northwest and is renowned for its natural beauty. Its history extends back to the Iron Age, as evidenced by the Dinas Ty Du Hill fort. Various Roman archaeological remains have also been discovered over the years.

For much of its history, this small corner of Eryri remained relatively unpopulated and agriculture was the principal industry. With the arrival of the industrial revolution, small-scale mining arrived in the region and was soon supplanted by larger operations, most notably the Vivian Quarry. As the industry grew, the population expanded from 700 to more than 3000 within 50 years (Bangor University).

As the Romantics began travelling to the mountains in search of the ‘sublime’ and the concept of modern tourism spread through the upper classes, Llanberis became a popular holiday destination. By the early 19th Century, the Royal Victoria Hotel was hosting guests keen to scale Yr Wyddfa’s towering summit and provided ponies and guides to help them do so. During this period, Llanberis Path became one of the mountain’s most popular routes – largely thanks to the completion of the Cwm y Glo road (Snowdon Info).

Over the intervening years, tourism has remained Llanberis’ main industry and the village still attracts significant numbers of visitors every year. Though mountain bikes may have replaced the ponies and modern walkers have access to a wealth of technical hiking and mountaineering equipment, not everything has changed. People still come from around the world to experience the wonder of Yr Wyddfa and scale Wales’ tallest mountain.

Why the Llanberis Path?

If you talk to experienced Yr Wyddfa walkers, you will hear how Llanberis Path is the easiest of the routes up the mountain and a great option for beginners and families. While this is undoubtedly correct, we would be selling the Llanberis Path short if we said it was only for first-timers and those with younger children. In reality, the Llanberis Path is well-suited to a wide variety of visitors. Well-established and relatively wide, it is a good option for trail runners (during the less busy shoulder seasons, at least). It is also less exposed than many other routes, making it a suitable choice for those who occasionally struggle with heights.

Finally, Llanberis Path is a great way to go if you have climbed Yr Wyddfa several times and just want to enjoy a relatively easy climb to the top. Because it is less taxing than alternative paths, you can take it a bit easier and enjoy the walk without worrying about technical sections.

What makes the Llanberis Path unique?

Two factors make Llanberis Path stand out – length and difficulty (or lack of). In terms of distance, Llanberis Path is the longest route up at the moment. At the same time, it is usually considered the easiest. In one sense, this is a product of its length. Because it is longer, the gradient is less severe and the path winds its way up the mountain gradually. That said, there are steeper sections featuring looser terrain towards the top.

Another key feature is the railway. The Llanberis Path is the only route to follow the Snowdon Mountain Railway up the mountain. Many walkers start walking from the Snowdon Mountain Railway Station in the village.

When to climb the Llanberis Path

The best time to climb Llanberis Path is during the shoulder seasons or in the summer. While you are more likely to enjoy good weather in the summer, the path can be busy at this time, especially during the holidays or on weekends.

In the shoulder seasons, the weather is much more changeable and, as a result, you may have to be more flexible with your climb dates. That said, you will benefit from fewer people on the mountain and enjoy a more authentically wild mountain experience.

For a more comprehensive overview of the best time to climb Yr Wyddfa, check out our in-depth guide.

Trail description

While the Llanberis Path is very well marked and signposted, we wanted to talk you through the path and provide some ideas as to what you can expect. If you are climbing Yr Wyddfa for the first time, following this walkthrough will be a good idea, as it may help settle your nerves. Often, walkers are more worried about the unknown than the actual hike and getting a feel for what lies ahead can really help you stay calm.

However, walkers also need to be aware that weather conditions could affect your ability to pick out distinctive features. If thick cloud descends, seeing your hand in front of your face can be challenging, let alone identifying physical landmarks. In such cases, ensuring you have the required navigation skills or booking with an experienced and qualified mountain leader are essential.

Start point – Llanberis village

The Llanberis Path begins in the village of Llanberis, at the Snowdon Mountain Railway Station. With your back to the station, turn right and follow the road towards the Royal Victoria Hotel Snowdonia. Here, you will find a signpost that reads ‘Path to Snowdon’. Follow this sign to the start of the path proper and the beginning of your Yr Wyddfa adventure.

Initially, you will walk along a residential street. At the end of this road, you reach a cattle grid and an Eryri National Park information board. This contains information about the Llanberis Path and is a good resource for ensuring the route details are cemented in your mind.

Ahead of you, you will see a steep tarmac road. Though it may be sharp, it is forgivingly short, so don’t worry too much. Follow the road past the delightful Pen y Ceunant Isaf (also known locally as Snowdon Café) – a popular resting point and a great place to grab a homemade lemonade, Snowdon craft beer or tea and bara brith on the way back down. Take this section at your own pace. It is all too easy to get a bit excited, march on and tire yourself out before the real climbing has begun.

The mountain path

A little way up the tarmac road, you will see a gate on your left. There is also a large marker stone featuring ‘Llwybr Llanberis Path’ and a wooden sign that reads ‘Copa’r Wyddfa/Snowdon Summit’. Turn off here, pass through the gate and continue for around 15 minutes until you reach the Hebron Gate.

As the path levels out here, it is a popular resting spot. You can also see Yr Wyddfa’s peak on a clear day. It’s the rocky, pyramidal one looming above the dark crags of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu and Clogwyn Coch. Below, you can see the Cwm Brwynog valley and the remains of an abandoned community.

When you resume walking, you will follow this excellent track for around 45 minutes. It rises gently throughout and, at one point, crosses under the railway tracks. Towards the end of this section, you will arrive at Halfway House, a busy cafe that opens during the busier months.

From Halfway House to Clogwyn Station

After the Halfway House, the path steepens again as it heads towards a section known as Allt Moses (Moses’ Hill). Take your time on this section, as it is one of the trickier parts of the Llanberis Path ascent. In summer it shouldn’t present a problem at all. However, in winter, the area above Clogwyn Coch Station is something of an accident black spot. If walkers are not well-equipped for the conditions, the slippery convex slope can put you in difficulty.

When you reach Clogwyn Coch Station, you will enjoy a sensational view over Llanberis Pass onto the Glyderau and Carneddau mountain ranges to the north. Savour it, because you are about to take on the final push to the summit – a short, steep pathway that climbs up by the side of Clogwyn Coch and leads to the summit plateau. The terrain can be a little looser underfoot, here. To make it easier, shorten your stride and take frequent breaks. It’s only a short section, so with a little perseverance, you will make it.

To the summit

From the top of this steeper section, you have approximately 30 minutes more walking before you reach the summit. However, the pathway is much flatter and the views become increasingly open.

Before you reach the summit, you will find yourself at Bwlch Glas. This is a good place to stop for a moment and orientate yourself, as it’s where four Yr Wyddfa walking routes coalesce. Make sure you know which path you came up and which you are descending before you go any further. The summit is just 15 minutes away, so crack on and enjoy the breathtaking vistas at the top. Congratulations! You made it!

Preparing for the hike

Though Llanberis Path is considered one of the easier routes up the mountain, you should never underestimate it. Failing to prepare is one of the worst things you can do in the mountains. At best, it results in an unenjoyable experience for all involved. At worst, it puts you or other members of your group in danger. With this in mind, we recommend preparing in the following ways:

Check weather conditions – the weather on Yr Wyddfa can be unpredictable. Always check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for changing conditions. We recommend mountain-specific forecasts, such as MWIS.

Physical fitness – While the Llanberis Path is less challenging compared to some other routes, a reasonable level of fitness is recommended. If you haven’t done much hill or mountain walking before, we suggest you do some physical preparation. For a clearer idea of what’s required, read our How fit do you need to be to climb Yr Wyddfa article.

Equipment and clothing – You will need sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes, layered clothing in case the temperature drips, a waterproof and windproof outer layer, and a backpack to carry water, snacks and other essentials. We also recommend a map and compass (or GPS device) and a first aid kit, whistle and torch. Check out our kit list for a comprehensive guide to the equipment you will need.

Water and snacks – Carry enough water and energy-rich snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and fruits to keep you going for the day. Typically, this means packing two water bottles per person and enough food to have a snack every hour or so.

Safety and environmental considerations

  • • Start early – Begin your hike early to ensure you have enough daylight to complete the hike safely.
  • • Stay on the path – The Llanberis Path is well-marked and easy to follow. Straying off the trail can cause significant environmental damage and put you in danger.
  • • Weather awareness – Conditions can change rapidly. Be prepared for rain, fog, or sudden temperature drops.
  • • Navigation – Carry a map and compass, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. GPS devices can be helpful as well. However, you must know how to use the navigation devices at your disposal. It’s no use getting halfway up the mountain only to realise you can’t use a compass. Check out the Hill and Moorland navigation guide on our RAW Adventures sister-site for an intro to navigation skills and more information.
  • • Emergency contacts – Save emergency numbers in your phone and let someone know your hiking plans.
  • • Respect nature – Yr Wyddfa is home to diverse ecosystems and a remarkable array of wildlife. In the vast majority of cases, avoid getting too close to wild animals and refrain from touching or feeding them. Similarly, don’t pick flowers and be aware of the local flora. There are some severely endangered plants on the mountain – such as the rare Snowdon Lily.
  • • Leave no trace – We recommend always following a “pack-in, pack-out” or “leave no trace” policy. That means carrying everything you took onto the mountain back out with you so you can properly dispose of it. That includes biodegradable items, such as fruit peels. Banana peels can take up to two years to degrade (Guardian), so discarding them on the mountainside is problematic, especially with the number of visitors Eryri receives. Take a look at Mike Raine’s Yr Wyddfa-based biodegradable experiment for more information.

For more guidance on how to stay safe and plan an environmentally-friendly trip, check out our guide to climbing Yr Wyddfa responsibly.

Climb Snowdon and the Llanberis Path

We love Llanberis Path here at Climb Snowdon HQ. It is so many people’s first experience of Yr Wyddfa and plenty of walkers’ introduction to the mountain environment. It’s enough of a challenge for beginner walkers that you feel you have really achieved something. And it still packs in enough spectacular views to bring experienced hikers back time and time again.

If you are considering climbing Llanberis Path for the first time, this guide should help you do so. However, if you want additional support from the Climb Snowdon team or would rather book one of our guided walks and benefit from our extensive experience and expertise, we would love to hear from you. Just reach out via our contact page or call 01286 870870.