The Ultimate Guide to the Snowdon Horseshoe

By The Bald Scrambler

Horseshoe

Published By: Daniel Woodley. Date: 3rd May 2023. Filed at: Snowdon Scrambles. Disclosure: I may earn a commission from purchases made via links. Disclaimer: Scrambling is a dangerous sport, this route description does not provide step-by-step instructions. Read Disclaimer.

Welcome to my complete guide to the Snowdon Horseshoe route, which is one of the most popular scrambling routes in the UK.

Watch the video version here:

Below you’ll find a route description, photos and other helpful information.

This isn’t a step-by-step guide but a detailed overview of the Snowdon Horseshoe as I’ve experienced it on the many times I’ve completed it.

Please read my disclaimer as scrambling is a dangerous sport and there’s plenty of exposed and steep sections on this route!

Parking For The Snowdon Horseshoe

There are plenty of parking spaces shown on this map.

When I completed the Horseshoe in late April 2023, I parked in the layby near the Pen y Gwryd Hotel (see here), which cost £6, coins only.

Alternative parking can be found at Pen y Pass, but it’s expensive and outside of winter, you’ll need to pre-book online here.

You can also consider the Park and Ride at Nant Peris.

Snowdon Horseshoe Map

This map shows the route (red) and also the layby parking, and the path (grey) to the starting point at Pen y Pass car park (this is safer than walking in the road):

Snowdon Horseshoe map

Imagery © 2023 Google, Airbus, Bluesky, Infoterra, COWI, Cnes/Airbus, Getmapping PLC, Landset, Maxar Technologies

The 5 Sections of the Snowdon Horseshoe

Here are the five sections of the Snowdon Horseshoe:

  1. Pen y Pass car park, Pyg Track and the approach to Crib Goch.
  2. Crib Goch and up to Garnedd Ugain.
  3. Up to Snowdon’s Summit.
  4. Watkin Path descent and the scramble up to Lliwedd.
  5. Lliwedd to Pen y Pass car park.

Section 1) Pen y Pass, Pyg Track and the Approach to Crib Goch

The Snowdon Horseshoe starts at the Pen y Pass car park and the first section takes you along the Pyg Track west for about two kilometres.

The Pyg Track is one of the most popular routes up Snowdon and this section of the path is easy to follow and graded as a “mountain walk”.

In front of you for all of this section is the imposing east ridge of Crib Goch.

Follow the Pyg Track for approx 1.5 kilometres until you see a wall on your right side, the lakes down to the left and a pair of steps in front of you which lead up to Snowdon. Exit the Pyg Track here by taking a right and making your way to the stone marked “Crib Goch”.

Pyg Track looking up to the east ridge of Crib Goch

The Pyg Track with the approach to Crib Goch in view

Wall on the Pyg Track

Leave the Pyg Track at this wall (take a right).

Crib Goch marker stone

The Crib Goch marker stone with the mountain in the background.

Now the route gets serious and the approach to Crib Goch goes from a mountain walk to a grade 1 scramble within a few hundred metres.

The rocky route snakes its way to the ridge and there are several lines one can follow with some easier than others.

As a general rule of thumb, try to follow the well-worn rocks as this is a very popular route.

The approach to Crib Goch

The approach to Crib Goch.

The summit and the start of the Crib Goch ridge walk

The summit and the start of the Crib Goch ridge walk.

Section 2) Crib Goch and up to Garnedd Ugain

The Crib Goch knife-edged ridge shouldn’t be underestimated – it’s steep, exposed and exhilarating.

The best line is around one metre to the left of the ridge where you can hold onto the top of the ridge with your hands.

Just don’t look down!

Once the ridge is complete, the next challenge is the three pinnacles.

The first two can be avoided by taking a line slightly (5m) to the left.

The third pinnacle should be tackled straight on (see photos below).

Crib Goch ridge

The right side is steeper, so stay slightly left if you feel uncomfortable here.

Drone footage from Crib Goch

Drone shot of Crib Goch

Crib Goch third pinnacle

The third pinnacle (follow the steps/well polished rocks, straight up)

Now you’ve completed Crib Goch and the three pinnacles, the route takes you up to Garnedd Ugain with a nice scrambling section on the way.

Section 3) Garnedd Ugain to Snowdon’s Summit

This is the easiest section as the summit of Garnedd Ugain is next to the Llanberis Path which is the most popular route up Snowdon.

Jump on the Llanberis path and make your way up for some well-earned rest on the summit.

Garnedd Ugain

Garnedd Ugain over my shoulder with Crib Goch in the distance.

Looking up to Snowdon

Walking off Garnedd Ugain and looking up at Snowdon’s summit.

Snowdon's summit

Snowdon’s summit with Crib Goch in the background.

Section 4) Snowdon’s Summit Down the Watkin Path and up to Lliwedd

Taking the path south from the summit of Snowdon for a couple of minutes, you’ll come across a marker stone for the Watkin Path.

Follow this path which is paved initially and then notoriously loose on the lower section.

The path soon levels off as you approach the western side of Lliwedd.

Here the path forks, with the Watkin Path taking a southwesterly (right) direction and the less obvious route to Lliwedd to the southeast (straight ahead and up).

The scramble up Lliwedd is a classic grade 1 scramble but the route isn’t obvious – there are dozens of lines up to the summit, so take your pick. Most of the routes are easier than the approach to Crib Goch but this is still serious mountain terrain with lots of rocks and boulders to overcome.

Watkins Path upper section

Snowdon’s summit and the upper section of the Watkin Path in the background.

Snowdon Horseshoe

Crib Goch (centre right), Garnedd Ugain (left), Snowdon’s summit (far left) as viewed from the approach to Lliwedd.

Lliwedd summit

The view from Lliwedd.

Section 5) Lliwedd Descent to Pen y Pass

From the twin summits on Lliwedd, take the well-worn path east and then northeast, where at first it hugs the side of the ridgeline before descending to Llyn Llydaw (the lake).

This path is easy to follow but take care on the one rocky section on the descent, where some grade 1 scrambling awaits you.

From the lake, take the popular Miners Track back to Pen y Pass car where the rouye ends.

Descending the first of the twin summits on Lliwedd

Descending the first of the twin summits on Lliwedd

Descending Lliwedd to the Miners Track

Descending Lliwedd to the Miners Track

Route Profile and Information

Scrambling Grade: Grade 1 on the approach to Crib Goch, the ridge itself, the pinnacles and the approach to Garnedd Ugain and also up to and down from Lliwedd. All other parts of the route are graded as a hard mountain walk.

Suitability for Beginners: This is a long, challenging route and while never going beyond grade 1, some sections are exposed and steep.

Navigation: The path is well worn but I’ve seen some people have difficulties getting to Crib Goch and also from the Watkin Path up to Lliwedd.

Dangers: Steep drops, exposed sections, route finding in poor visibility.

Time (car to car): I usually complete the Snowdon Horseshoe in 7-8 hours but I stop often to film. Allow up to 8 hours to be safe.

Popularity: The Pyg Track, Crib Goch and Snowdon are very popular. Lliwedd is the quieter side of the mountain range.

Fun Rating: 10/10.

My Dislikes: None.

Similar Routes in Snowdonia:

Tryfan’s North Ridge (grade 1)

Crib Goch via the North Ridge approach (grade 1)

Nearby Scrambles:

Tregalan Couloir (grade 2)

Clogwyn y Person Arete (grade 2-3 )

More:

I’ve scrambled up to and along Crib Goch dozens of times in the summer and also completed a few ascents in winter but the entire horseshoe is worth the effort as there’s good quality scrambling and hiking on many other sections.

The Snowdon Horseshoe 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

Scrambles in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton (#ad)

About Daniel Woodley

These photos and route description were created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler and this page forms part of the Snowdon Range 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

Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler

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

By The Bald Scrambler

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