Pen yr Ole Wen is the seventh highest mountain in Wales and stands at 978m above sea level, the same height as England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike.
Located just north of the A5 road in the Ogwen Valley, Pen yr Ole Wen is often tackled as part of a longer day out on the Carneddau.
I’ve been to the summit around half a dozen times in the last few years and below is the easiest route from the A5 in Ogwen, this is the East Ridge:
Watch My Video
In my video below, I tackle the easiest route up Pen yr Ole Wen and also continue onto Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llewelyn before looping back to the A5, this is a delightfully long route with two notable sections of grade 1 scrambling:
Parking For Pen yr Ole Wen
There is a long (free as of 2023) layby opposite the starting point which holds 70-80 cars.
Further car parking spaces can be found in the laybys and car parks next to the A5.
See my parking map here; it shows all the spaces.
The starting point is the private road off the A5 leading to Glan Dena (see map location), here there is a public right way (well marked) that initially follows the wall north of the farmhouse:
The path at the eastern end of Llyn Ogwen.
The path gradually rises above the farmhouse and lake, but initially parallel to the stone wall:
Rising above the lake and the farmhouse, with the Glyderau in the background.
The Boggy Section
The path soon passes over the stone wall via a set of steps and here the ground can become very boggy in the winter and after heavy rain.
There is a stream which one must step over and the area is often muddy, I’ve even seen it boggy in the summer.
I always wear boots on this route in the winter and I suggest you do too.
The stream and boggy ground, with Tryfan in the background.
Follow The Path Next to The Stream
The path near the boggy area is faint in places but heading up the valley, roughly following the stream (Afon Lloer) past the second set of steps:
The second set of steps.
The path now rise above and to the left of the stream, the short section of scrambling now comes into view:
The scrambling section now awaits.
The scrambling section which is a gully.
The photo above shows the scrambling section, which is a short gully with a series of steps on mostly solid rock.
I can best describe the scrambling as a grade 1 gully that has a series of steps in it. I’ve always found the holds solid with little loose stuff to be worried about.
The entire scramble is short and over in less than 10 minutes but anyone coming up here will need to use their hands to help pull themselves over the rocks; this is a scrambling route and there is the potential for a dangerous fall.
How Difficult is the Scrambling Section?
Not everyone enjoys scrambling but the short section of scrambling on this route can’t be avoided.
I have taken a small dog up here before but she had a harness on and I had to lift up over the rocks in a few places.
I’ve also seen a couple with a larger dog turn back as their pet struggled in the gully.
I suggest watching my video at the top of this page as it clearly shows me scrambling in the gully.
From the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen, you have a few options. I have tried all of these:
- Go back the way you came as the descent is feasible.
- Go down the south ridge to Ogwen Cottage, this is much steeper than the east ridge and slippery underfoot ith plenty of loose scree in places.
- Continue into the Carneddau for a longer day out that includes Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llewelyn
Route Profile and Information
Scrambling Grade: Mostly a hiking route with one notable section of Grade 1 scrambling.
Suitability for Beginners: This is a popular route in the summer and the scrambling doesn’t get much shorter and easier than this but dangers are still present.
Navigation: The path is faint in the boggy area near the stream but is easier to follow further up. Low cloud could make route finding challenging.
Dangers: Slippery rocks on the lower section, risk of falling on the scrambling section.
Time (car to car): 2-3 hours to the summit.
Popularity: This is a popular route in the summer but maybe quieter out of season.
Fun Rating: 7/10.
My Dislikes: Not enough scrambling for me but it’s a great start if taken as part of a longer route into the Carneddau.
I’ve scrambled up to Pen yr Ole Wen several times and the east ridge is a lovely route with outstanding views across the Glyderau.
This scramble is also included in Steve Ashton’s “Scrambles in Snowdonia”, which is a bible of sorts for scramblers.
If you’re new to scrambling or want to find new routes, try this compact book that is small enough to fit in your backpack and maybe even your pocket.
Recommended Guide Book:
Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)
About Daniel Woodley
These photos and route descriptions for the east ridge of Pen yr Ole Wen were created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler and this page forms part of the Carneddau Scrambles.
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.
Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler