Dolmen Ridge is one of the Welsh classic scrambles; steep, exposed and exhilarating, the rock here is perfect and this route will leave you breathless and wanting to come back.
Or you’ll take one look up from the ramp, put your tail between your legs and get the heck outta there.
This is a serious route and many will want to bring rope for protection.
Everything you need to know about this grade 3 line can be found in this article and also in my video published in August 2022.
In a hurry?
Watch my video and use the chapters to skip to the relevant sections if you wish:
Approach – How to Get to Dolmen Ridge
My parking map displays over 250 spaces, many of them in laybys and free car parks along the A5. Go check it out if you’ve never visited the area before but be warned, this is a popular mountain range, and parking can be problematic on busy weekends but it’s always quieter than on the Snowdon range.
Dolmen Ridge is located at the right side of Glyder Fach’s west face and is approached from Ogwen Cottage by taking the paved route up to Llyn Bochlwyd. From here, traverse on either side of the lake to the gully with a quartz seam near its base.
The map and images below may help:
Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies
At the base of the gully you have a choice, either scramble up the left or the right side of the gully. Both routes are rather uninspiring and scrappy with a mixture of grass, rock and quartz underfoot.
I took the right line and after going rightwards for about 15 metres or so I looped back towards the gully and stayed parallel to it until it narrowed and the infamous ledge was visible:
Part 1: Dolmen Ridge Crux
The ramp marks the start of the Dolmen Ridge proper and is wide enough to be traversed without issue, although some delicate scrambling is required to get onto it safely.
The steep drop down the front of the ramp is breathtaking and a sign of things to come.
Turning right, one will find a narrow groove with a jammed boulder to overcome, and for added fun, there’s also a steep drop beneath it of several dozen metres.
Once over the jammed boulder and after another metre or so of good scrambling, the crux of the route comes into view. It’s steep and gets steeper at the top.
There are plenty of good holds on the left wall, which is full of cracks and small ledges, but the difficulty here never dips below grade 3, this is serious stuff now. Most will want rope protection here, and if the rock is anything but dry, scramblers could find themselves in deep trouble.
Climbers may prefer to stay on the left wall, while unroped scramblers often go three-quarters of the way up and step then over to the right, there is plenty of exposure here and the risk of falling shouldn’t be underestimated.
Needless to say, if you don’t have a good head for heights you may wish to reconsider this scramble as once you’re over the jammed boulder at the start, you may feel committed to a section with no easy escape route.
Part 2: Up to the Tomb and Beyond
Just above the crux of the route, there is a flattish ledge that provides plenty of space for a breather.
Behind this, the route continues along excellent rock until the tomb comes into view.
Scrambling here is still at grade 3 but the tomb offers shelter from the harsh sunlight (or wind) and the view isn’t too bad either!
After some good quality scrambling over excellent rock, shelter awaits you.
The view from inside the tomb.
The ridge from above the tomb just gets better and better with slabby rocks and boulders to overcome.
This really is one of the best grade 3 lines in the UK:
Dolmen Ridge’s upper section, looking down at the tomb.
Excellent rock continues for another hundred metres or so.
Side view of Dolmen Ridge.
From the top of Dolmen Ridge, one only needs to scramble a short distance to the summit of Glyder Fach:
Near the summit, looking back at Dolmen Ridge.
This scramble ends a short distance from Glyder Fach and the cantilever stone, and from here there are several options:
- Continue to Glyder Fawr.
- Head down Bristly Ridge.
- Go down the messy scree slope beside Bristly Ridge.
- From the top of Bristly Ridge, take the path south and east and then circle around to Bwlch Tryfan.
Route Profile and More Info
Scrambling Grade: Grade 3.
Navigation: The start of the route is easy to locate from Llyn Bochlyd on a fine day. The initial scramble next to the gully requires some mountain sense as some rocks are slippery, wet and the best line might not be obvious. Once on Dolmen Ridge, the route is fairly straightforward to find, though you’re never far away from a steep section.
Dangers: Many. This is a steep grade 3 route and many will rope up for the crux section. I don’t recommend this route in poor weather and scramblers should have some experience at this grade as the crux is committing and unforgiving. The start of the route near the gully may remain wet into the afternoon and grass/quartz may become slippery.
Approach Time: 1 hour 15 mins.
Ascent Time: 1 hour to 2 hours depending on speed and how often you stop to admire the view.
Popularity: Fairly quiet and usually frequented by climbing groups and a few scramblers. I’ve done this route 3 times and only ever met one person on the route.
Fun Rating: 10/10. It doesn’t get much better than this.
My Dislikes: The approach is rather long but worth it.
Kit List: I was wearing La Sportiva TX4 Mid Boots on this scramble. My full kit list is here.
Dolmen Ridge is one of my favourite scrambling routes in Snowdonia and the crux is a heart-stopping section that will thrill even experienced climbers.
I initially found this route in a guidebook called “Scrambles in Snowdonia” by Steve Ashton. It was first published back in 1980 but has been updated several times since, most recently in 2017.
If you want a guidebook to take with you on scrambles, this compact book is the best.
Recommended Guide Book:
Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)
About Daniel Woodley
This description of Dolmen Ridge 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.
Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler