The Snowdon Horseshoe

The traditional five day week holds no sanctity at my work place, after several long stretches it was time for a mini-break; a trip to mountains of north wales for the much revered route ‘the Snowdon horseshoe’ including the infamous Crib Goch and Snowdon, Wales’ highest peak.

Based in the pretty, bustling town of Betws Y Coed I left the Vagabond Bunk House (highly recommended, btw) and took the ‘Sherpa’ bus service to Pen Y Pass and the start of the route. From the P Y P car park the route begins, gaining height quickly but fairly easily until the path reaches the styles leading to the easy traveled Pyg track. Instead of crossing the styles, I turned right here to begin the ascent to the Crib Goch ridge line, the walking is steeper and later turns into a grade 1 scramble. My first stunted view of the ridge shrouded in mist was break taking. In 50mph winds and low cloud, I took a few minutes at the flat and wide start of Crib to access the situation and take a few selfies.

I decided to go ahead and man i’m glad i did. What a fun ridge line that is! It was my first time up there and so I was cautious going onto it. Especially after reading signs in the car park saying ‘Experts Only’. The knife edge ridge has hundreds of meters of shear drops on both sides, so I saw the consequences of coming off would be serious. And sections of the ridge do force you up onto its top with no where to ‘hand rail’ your way around it. But, having said that, the crossing itself is easy moving and something to be enjoyed in the moment! Even in the high winds, when I was picking my moments to be most exposed it was still very enjoyable.

On from Crib Goch you reach the pinnacles, dropping down and rounded I passed these before heading back up to rejoin the next ridge. Only a short distance into the next ridge the wind picked up and the cloud dropped down making the ridge-line a dangerous affair. As the fiancee of a wonderful yankee/brit hybrid, I felt it only right to seek less dangerous passage! Descending to a path at the base of the ridge line rock I continued on a traverse of the shoe, slowly descending further as the weather chased me down.
I aimed to meet the Pyg track why the railway meets it not too far from the summit. Instead I met the easy track at the point of the switchbacks to ascend mount Snowdon, the weather cleared after this point and sun even shone down in the valley over the lakes. The views across Snowdonia are well worth a picture stop or two. The summit it’s self had an occasional view, uncommon if you know it. That day, the cafe situated a little lower than the true summit had clear panoramic views, I enjoyed a cappucino before heading back outside to the summit. By 15:00 the summit was starting to feel like -4oC  as promised. Time to go down.
The horseshoe route takes you down the scree-ful watkins path, or you can take the Pyg back down, or even the Pyg to join the Miners Track running around the edge of the lakes.

The following half day I spent in Betws Y Coed. A walk to swallow falls followed by a quick forest stroll and some bird watching.

Leave a Comment: