PYG Track, Snowdon
This is the most rugged and challenging of the six paths up Snowdon, which leads along the foothills of Crib Goch. The route up Crib Goch and along the ridge is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by novice walkers.
Nobody knows for sure why this path is called the Pyg Track. It’s possible that it was named after the pass it leads through, Bwlch y Moch (translated Pigs’ Pass) as the path is sometimes spelled ‘Pig Track’. Or, maybe because it was used to carry ‘pyg’ (black tar) to the copper mines on Snowdon.
Another possible explanation is that the path was named after the nearby Pen y Gwryd Hotel, popular amongst the early mountain walkers. The team who conquered Everest in 1953 stayed at this hotel while training on Snowdon. When the team returned from the Himalaya a reunion was held at the hotel, accompanied by Edmund Hillary himself.
1. The path starts in the far end corner of Pen y Pass car park, to the right of the car park entrance. Pass the helicopter landing site on your right, and go through a narrow gap in a stone wall. (The prominent path that starts opposite the car park entrance is the Miners’ Track).
The summit you can see from Pen y Pass car park is Crib Goch, not Snowdon as it is often mistaken. Crib Goch is a knife edge ridge with a steep drop on either side. It is very open to the weather and many walkers have got into difficulties on it, and sadly, many have lost their lives. By all means, this route should be left to experienced mountaineers.
2. The first section of the Pyg Track climbs quite steeply over rough and rocky terrain. Tread carefully to avoid an ankle injury, especially on your way down.
As you climb the first section of the path, there are fantastic views down to the right of the Glyderau mountain range and of the Llanberis Pass. In a while, Llyn Peris and Llyn Padarn lakes will come into sight in the far end of this ‘u’ shaped valley, which was carved out by ice at the end of the last Ice Age.
3. After about an hour’s walking you will reach Bwlch y Moch.
4. As you reach Bwlch y Moch, Llyn Llydaw will come into sight below, and the slopes of Lliwedd rising above the far side of the lake. The path forks here, with the path on the right leading up Crib Goch. For Snowdon, bear left and over the two adjacent stiles.
The causeway across Llyn Llydaw was built in 1853 to serve the Brittannia Copper Mine. Before this, a raft was used to carry horses and wagons full of copper across the lake. So that the causeway could be built, the water level had to be lowered by 12ft, and during that process a prehistoric oak dug-out canoe, measuring 10ft by 2ft, was discovered – proof that man has roamed this mountain for thousands of years.
5. From Bwlch y Moch the path climbs gradually to the intersection of the Pyg Track and the Miners’ Track above Llyn Glaslyn, which is marked by a standing stone.
When you have reached just above Llyn Glaslyn, look at the fantastic view of Snowdon in front of you, towering almost 500m above the glacial lake.
As you walk around the cwm along the slopes of Carnedd Ugain, notice the ruins of the Britannia Copper Mine’s barracks on the shore of Llyn Glaslyn. This is where the miners used to stay during the week.
6. There is a standing stone to mark the spot where the Pyg Track and the Miners’ Track meet – remember about it on your way down. From this point the path climbs steeply until you reach Bwlch Glas.
Looking across Llyn Glaslyn, to the left of the summit of Snowdon you will see Bwlch y Saethau (translated Pass of the Arrows). Miners from Beddgelert used to climb over this pass to work, with the help of iron chains fixed to the rock.
Legend has it that this is the place where King Arthur was struck by an arrow in battle. He was then carried to the shore of Llyn Llydaw, where a boat with three maidens came to take him away through the mist to Afallon (Avalon).
7. In a little while, the path will zigzag up to Bwlch Glas.
This part of the path is known as Llwybr y Mul (mule’s path). Before the main road through Llanberis Pass was built, this path was used to carry copper up to Bwlch Glas and then down the other side of the mountain to Llyn Cwellyn.
As you approach the Zig-Zags, keep well away from the open mine shafts on your left.
8. At Bwlch Glas, you will be joining the Llanberis Path and the Snowdon Ranger Path. This junction is marked with a standing stone (remember about it on your way down).
When you join the paths you will see railway tracks running up the mountain along the right hand side of the path. This is the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which has been carrying visitors to the summit since 1896 on the only public rack and pinion railway in the UK.
9. Follow the path to the left from the standing stone. You are now on the final leg of your walk up Snowdon. Walking at a leisurely pace, you can expect to be on the summit in around a quarter of an hour.
From the summit on a clear day you will be rewarded with fantastic views - 18 lakes and 14 peaks over 914 metres (3000ft) can be seen. Sometimes, you can even see as far as Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Lake District.
Please read our Mountain Safety Advice before venturing out on the mountain.
Crib Goch & Crib y Ddysgl
Crib Goch is a 500 metre knife edge ridge, with no escape route. Even in ideal weather conditions, Crib Goch is a difficult undertaking. In wet weather, wind, snow, mist or ice, Crib Goch is a serious mountaineering route.
Though you are in the Snowdonia National Park, please remember that the path crosses the privately owned farm and grazing lands of Gwastadanas, where dogs are not welcomed unless under close control or on a lead.
On your way to the summit you will see evidence of essential footpath restoration work carried out by the National Park Authority. Please keep to the footpath to prevent further erosion.