Watkin Path: The Complete Guide

Snowdon’s gem

Published By: Daniel Woodley. Published: 29th February 2024. Filed at: Hiking Routes. Disclosure: I earn commission from purchases made via links.

I’ve climbed Snowdon via the Watkin Path more times than I can remember and it’s one of my favourite routes as it has a bit of everything:

  • A lovely start through an ancient woodland.
  • The famous Watkin Path pools and water cascades.
  • Treks past abandoned slate mining buildings.
  • A challenging upper section.
  • Various options for continuation or descent.
  • Quieter than the Llanberis, Pyg and Miner routes.

This is my ultimate guide to the Watkin Path. 

Never been up the Watkin Path before?

I’ve published two videos that show the route:

Watch The Videos:

Snowdon and the Watkin Path during a cloud inversion:

Video 2:

A quick look at the difficult section on the Watkin Path:

Route Profile

Length: 8 miles/13km there and back.

Ascent: 1015m.

Time: 5.5hr -7hr there and back.

Grade: Hard mountain walk.

Start/End: Pont Bethania Car Park – Waht3Words: https://what3words.com/vocab.proudest.self or LL55 4NR (within 100m)

Hazards: Steep upper section over loose scree. Getting lost on the upper section during fog.

Parking: Pay and Display car park (30 cars). The layby near the cafe is free, but don’t park directly opposite the cafe or houses as this is parking for residents.

Facilities: Toilet block in car park. The summit cafe has a shop and toilets but is closed out of season and during bad/windy weather.

Camping: The nearest campsite is Hafod y Llan. Also; Llyn Gwnant is within walking distance.

Map (click to expand)

Watkin Path route map

The Watkin Path’s Three Sections

The Watkin Path can be split into three sections:

  1. The woodland, waterfalls and pools and the abandoned buildings.
  2. The midsection that rises from the valley to a ridge just below Snowdon.
  3. The final steeper section on loose scree and the last couple of hundred metres to the summit.
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides

Section 1: Woodland, Waterfalls and Abandoned Buildings/ruins

From the car park, head over the main road to the start of the route which is well marked.

This initial path takes you through a delightful wooded area and exits near the famous Watkin Path pools and cascades.

Above the cascades and pools, the ground levels off and there are several more ruins from a past era.

Start of the Watkin Path

The start is next to the main road, opposite the car park

Cascades and pools on the Watkin Path

The famous pools and cascades – perfect for a summer picnic

Ruins on the Watkin Path

Ruins of abandoned slate mining buildings

The final ruin

The final ruin, the path steepens from here up to the ridge between the peaks of Snowdon and Y Lliwedd

Section 2: Up to the Ridge

This section takes you from the final ruin near the huge pile of slate in the valley, up to the ridge between Snowdon and the neighbouring peak of Y Lliwedd.

The path is steeper than the earlier section but most fit people and active dogs should be able to complete it in good weather without too much difficulty.

I’ve always found this section of the route fairly easy to follow as the rocks are well worn from the many visitors who come up this way every year.

The path rises above the valley

The path rises above the valley

Watkin Path route

Most of the path looks like this in section 2

Nearing the ridge, Snowdon comes into view

Nearing the ridge (R) as Snowdon comes into view (C)

Ridge on Snowdon

The ridge viewed from the other side. Y Lliwedd is to the left and Snowdon to the right.

Section 3: The Scree Slope to the Summit

This section is the steepest and I have met about a dozen people over the years who have turned back at this point. It’s notoriously challenging in icy conditions where micro spikes or crampons are a must.

Section 3 starts at the foot of the scree slope and is marked with a stone.

At first there are plenty of loose stones to navigate and then one large rock that you may need to use your hands to pull yourself around.

Beyond this, the path loses its identity for about 50 metres or so and can be quite hard to follow (esp in bad weather – see my video here) but eventually, it joins with a recently constructed slab path, about three-quarters up.

Watkin Path upper section

The final section of the Watkin Path

Marker stone

Marker stone with the scree slope in the background

Final section of the Watkin Path

The diagonal path at the top of the Watkin route

The Final Push to the Summit

The Watkin Path ends on the ridge near the top of the Rhyd Ddu Path and the summit is a 10-minute walk away.

Rhyd Ddu path

The end of the Watkin Path (joins with Rhyd Ddu Path)

Snowdon's summit

The Summit of Snowdon with the Rhyd Ddu path and the South Ridge in the background

Continuation

So you’ve made it to the top, had your lunch and now it’s time to descend.

Here are your best options:

  • Back down the Watkin Path (quite a challenge in icy conditions).
  • Down the South Ridge (this joins the Watkin Path near the pools).
  • Rhyd Ddu Path (get the bus back, possibly changing buses at Beddgelert).
  • Pyg Track/Miners Track to Pen y Pass and get the bus back.

My preferred option for descent is the South Ridge and below you’ll see a few photos from my most recent trip and a map:

Watkin Path map

Map showing Watkin Path up and South Ridge descent

Snowdon's summit and descent options

The South Ridge is my preferred descent route

Rhyd Ddu Path

Heading down towards the South Ridge

South Ridge at Sunset

Descending the South Ridge with sunset approaching

South Ridge and Watkin Path

The Watkin Path is visible to the left and directly ahead the path ends near the pools and cascades, completing this circular route

Tips

This route is potentially dangerous in winter due to ice on the rocky section and is best avoided. If you do intend to try it, I suggest wearing micro-spikes or crampons.

The most difficult part of this route is section three where the path loses its identity for 50m or so and can be hard to follow in poor weather. The route is diagonal and I suggest looking at satellite imagery before you set off so you can get an idea of the rough direction the path takes you.

The Watkin Path is slightly more hazardous in descent due to loose rocks and scree.

I don’t recommend this route for dog walkers or those with several young children. The Llanberis Path, Pyg Track and Ranger Path are more suitable.

Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides
Mountain Walking in Snowdonia: 40 of the finest routes in Snowdonia | Cicerone Guides

About Daniel Woodley

This guide to the Watkin Path was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler.

From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors, but scrambling is his real passion.

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Daniel Woodley

Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler

Have fun, keep safe. Hopefully I’ll see you on the mountains one day

By The Bald Scrambler