The Idwal area of Snowdonia is popular with walkers, hikers, scramblers and climbers of all abilities. In this guide, I’ll show you the Idwal Buttress grade 2 scramble, which offers an alternative route up to Seniors Ridge, where you can then head up to Glyder Fawr or come down Seniors Gully back to the picturesque lake.
This route is a grade 2 scramble, so it will require some previous experience on rock.
In a hurry?
Watch my video and use the chapters to skip to the relevant sections if you wish:
Approach – How to Get to Idwal Buttress
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.
Getting to Idwal Buttress couldn’t be easier as the starting point is a mere stone’s throw from the circular path around Llyn Idwal.
From Ogwen Cottage, take the popular walking path up Llyn Idwal and follow the path clockwise to the large slabs on the left near the end of the lake.
Idwal Buttress is a short distance further and adjacent to the Idwal Staircase – an obvious gully that’s often wet.
The images below may help:
Scrambling up the Buttress
This quick-drying route is perfect for early morning summer starts and the main, lower buttress can be scrambled via several lines, with the easiest seemingly to the right of the smooth corner slabs (photo 1), starting in a rut and then scrambling onto a rib.
The rock is sound with little loose material to worry about. The rock surface is grippy in the dry but could prove a challenge in the rain.
While heather and some grass are present, it can be avoided and isn’t of much concern.
This is grade 2 scrambling but in the dry, it may, perhaps deceptively, feel easier.
At the top of the buttress, bear slightly right onto a scrambly ridge, keeping the heather to the left. The ground soon widens out to a grassy/heather section with a rocky spur in view and a quartz seam high up in the background.
Head towards and scramble up the spur (photo 2).
The section above Idwal Buttress is referred to as the “continuation” and there’s some decent scrambling to be found here beyond the heather section.
The spur is grippy in dry conditions and there are several lines of ascent up to the white quartz seam. Some routes are easier than others and a few looked precarious so the ability to judge a line and some experience of scrambling would be needed here.
Those with little experience of this area could find this section difficult to follow in low cloud but once located, the spur and final section is fun to scramble up and certainly deserves its grade 2 rating:
Once you’ve reached the depression in Senors Ridge, you’ll be rewarded with a lovely view of Llyn Idwal from the top:
DEscent and Continuation
Descent via Idwal Buttress isn’t recommended and there are more enjoyable lines back to Llyn Idwal.
The fastest, safest way back to the lake is via the nearby Seniors Gully (grade 1-).
But with so much on offer here in the Idwal area of Snowdonia, you could continue up Seniors Ridge to the summit of Glyder Fawr or explore some of the other scrambling routes nearby.
Route Profile and More Info
Scrambling Grade: Idwal Buttress scramble is a grade 2.
Navigation: Easy, take the path from Ogwen Cottage to Llyn Idwal.
Dangers: Beyond the obvious potential fall from height, expect some slippery rocks when wet. Navigation onto Seniors Ridge could be problematic in poor weather. There are several lines to choose from and routes only a few metres away are far more difficult.
Approach Time: 20 mins.
Ascent Time: 20 mins or so for the main buttress and another 40-50 mins up to the Seniors Ridge.
Popularity: Idwal slabs, staircase and this buttress are popular with climbers and scramblers while the circular path around the lake is very popular with walkers.
Fun Rating: Idwal Buttress and continuation 7.5/10
Tips: Incorporate this line into a longer route, perhaps including a summit of Glyder Fawr and a descent via Devil’s Kitchen or add it to a day of scrambling – there are many lines of interest in this area.
Kit List: My kit list is here.
Similar Routes in Snowdonia: See all Glyderau routes here.
I’ve been up Seniors Gully and onto Seniors Ridge several times and Idwal Buttress is a far more enjoyable and challenging scramble and is a good option if the nearby staircase is wet and slippery.
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 Idwal buttress 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