The view from the summit of Snowdon was recently crowned one of the best in the UK (which we certainly agree with) but, did you know, there are some equally spectacular viewpoints nearby that are often overlooked for our famous neighbour?
It’s true that Snowdon dominates the landscape for miles around but we think it’s just a thrilling to gaze upon it as summit it. This week we share three of our favourite walking routes that include spectacular Snowdon views but take you to some lesser-known parts of the national park. Grab your kit and let’s go!
1. Moel Siabod – Capel Curig
Difficulty: Moderate – Hard
Duration: 4 – 5 hours
Just east of Snowdon, the stately peak that is Moel Siabod often gets overlooked. Those looking to challenge themselves often eliminate it, claiming it’s just not high enough – although Moel Siabod’s actually just 140ft short of 3000ft!
It’s not an easy walk by any means. Depending on the route you take you can find yourself tackling proper scrambles on scree and rock, or traversing the distinctive Daear Ddu Ridge, a landmark recognisable for miles around.
Our favourite route takes in varied terrain, offering an incredibly satisfying half day of hill walking. You’ll start the walk in Capel Curig, crossing over Pont Cyfyng and turning right to follow a broad farm track up the lower part of the mountain. Don’t let the easy start fool you though; you’ll soon see the dark, knife-edge ridge of Daear Ddu looming ahead!
After a couple of stiles the path bears left, passing a lake and an abandoned quarry. Before long the going gets rougher, as the terrain becomes wilder and more rugged. Expect a bit of bogtrotting around the lake!
Daear Ddu is actually not as scary as it appears, being much broader than it looks from below – although it can get very windy here. The view from the top is breathtaking, especially the vista towards Cwm Dyli Power Station into the Snowdon Horseshoe.
If the wind gets too much, there’s a stone shelter where you can take cover with a flask of coffee to admire the views and reflect on your mountaineering efforts.
The descent involves a bit of bum sliding and scrambling to get you off the ridge and back onto the farm track you started out from.
2. Dinorwic Quarry – Llanberis
Duration: 2.5 hours
This easy circular walk around Llyn Peris takes you through the disused Dinorwic Slate Quarry and beautiful, ancient sessile oak woodland. There are wonderful views all the way and, best of all, it’s just a stone’s throw from the Royal Victoria Hotel.
The starting point is the information kiosk in the National Slate Museum car park. From here head towards the entrance to Vivian Quarry and follow a steep, stepped path up through tranquil woodland, where you’ll rapidly gain height.
Just after you pass the bridge and mine workings, you’ll find the quarrymens’ cottages to your left, which are worth exploring. From there, continue uphill before leaving the waymarked Vivian Trail to follow a track that eventually becomes a surfaced road (bear with it – it’s worth it!).
You’ll pass by some cottages and a bunkhouse before reaching a car park. Go through the gate at the right hand corner and follow the easy slate track almost back on yourself.
After half a mile on the track you’ll reach a viewpoint rewarding you with panoramic views of Llanberis village, Llyn Padarn, Llyn Peris, and the ridge leading to Snowdon summit. You might also spy some wild mountain goats hanging out too!
Once you’ve had your fill of Snowdon views, head back to the slate track, go through the gate to the left and follow the fenced path through Dinorwic Quarry. The sheer walls of slate that tower over you are a sight to behold and it’s not hard to understand why this otherworldly place has been chosen as a location for blockbuster movies time and again.
To make your return, follow the path (keep right) which begins to descend through easy zigzags down to the road. From here, turn right and walk along the pavement for about a mile back into Llanberis village. Finish a great day with a well-earned drink and bar meal at the Eryri Bar & Lounge in the hotel.
3. Crimea Pass – Blaenau Ffestiniog
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours
This linear walk will require you to park in Dolwyddelan and catch the X1 bus from opposite Y Gwydyr pub up to the pass, where you can walk back down to the village. The walk starts off at the top of the pass, on an easily identifiable level path which used to be a tramway around the lower slopes of Moel Dyrnogydd.
The surrounding landscape is breathtaking to say the very least. Moel Siabod stands proudly to the east guarding the beautiful Lledr Valley, while the equally beautiful cwm of Blaenau-Dolwyddelan rolls out from the mountain’s western flank.
The views only get better as you round the mountain; turning north around the headland brings Snowdon and the Glyders into view.
The wonderful thing about this walk is that there are all sorts of interesting things to discover and spot along the way. If you have children that are of an age where they’ll walk with you without moaning too much, this is a great intro for countryside walking. There’s a fabulous picnic spot near the river, where it’s shallow and safe for paddling, too.
Late summer is the best time to walk this route, as the Rowan trees that dot the hillside are bursting with bright red berries; they brighten up a stark landscape with a vivid splash of colour.
We won’t give too much else away, leaving you to discover all the little surprises yourselves!
Continuing with your walk, you’ll follow a track which runs alongside a drystone wall, passing a farmhouse before eventually becoming a country lane. Follow the lane as it twists and turns it’s way down the valley, through the small community of Blaenau Dolwyddelan.
If you have little ones with you, or you prefer to cut out the A470 section of the walk (it’s a busy road), you can catch the train from Roman Bridge. Be warned, you’ll miss seeing Dolwyddelan Castle and some beautiful waterfalls on the way.
We hope one of our Snowdonia walks inspires you to get out and enjoy an alternative view of our famous peak. They’re all very different, and offer something for everyone.
Images courtesy: © Crown copyright (2017) Visit Wales, all rights reserved