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Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power


Postby simon-b » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:23 am

Hewitts included on this walk: Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl, Snowdon - Yr Wyddfa, Y Lliwedd

Date walked: 19/06/2017

Time taken: 10

Distance: 12.6 km

Ascent: 1155m

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Track_2017-06-19 173336.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


After a glorious sunny Saturday on Y Garn and Elidir Fawr, I was joined in the evening by my friends Pam and Emily at a cottage in an idyllic location near Mynydd Llandegai.

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Emily outside our cottage at Mynydd Llandegai, with Anglesey in the background

Next morning, we failed to find a parking spot for the Snowdon Horseshoe, so we went to the Glyderau instead, and had a superb day. So on Monday, we got up a bit earlier, and made it to Pen-y-pass in time to be relieved of our £10.

Pam and Emily had climbed Snowdon in 2013, using the Watkin Path from the south. I had climbed it twice before, both times while I was at school. Emily informed me that things on the mountain may have changed a bit since then. "There's a railway up it now..." she said, "...and a cafe on top." Thanks Em.

Before 8:00 am, it was already hot as we began walking, so we took it at a steady pace - we knew an exhausting day was ahead.

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En route to Crib Goch from Pen-y-Pas

We reached Bwlch y Moch, where the path for Crib Goch separates from the Pyg Track. We had a short rest here, while Emily decided which route she was going to take. The day before she'd not bothered trying to jump Adam and Eve on Tryfan, showing she's neither as loco as me nor as loca as Pam :shock:

Pam and I already knew which way we were going :thumbup: However, in that heat, neither of us would be particularly rápido.

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Crib Goch from Bwlch y Moch

Emily chose the Pyg Track, and set off on her first solo mountain walk. Pam and I had a map and compass each so Pam lent Emily hers. With this day's weather and forecast, Em wasn't likely to have a problem. She was probably more concerned about us heading up onto that knife edge. Not surprisingly, the majority of walkers were making the same choice as Emily, but a few, like Pam and me, were turning off to head up to the red ridge.

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Climbing Crib Goch

On the way up, we got talking to a walker from Leicestershire, who introduced himself as David. It was a Crib Goch debut for Pam and me, but he was a veteran. He set off solo on walks, but enjoyed company. So we ended up doing the whole horseshoe with him.

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Llyn Llydaw in retrospect

The temperature didn't seem to drop much as we ascended, and fatigue was setting in. So we took it very steadily - we were going to need to maintain concentration and coordination.

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Llyn Llydaw and Y Lliwed from just below Crib Goch

We reached the start of the ridge at the 921 metre top and had a good long rest. I didn't want to hurry Pam or David, but I was also aware Emily was likely to make it to Bwlch Glas, the meeting point of our routes, a lot earlier than us. After some refreshments, we were all ready to crack on.

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Ready to move along Crib Goch

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Emily's view from Bwlch Glas as she waited for us, with Llyn Cwellyn in the background

We moved along the ridge, taking great care, but thoroughly excited by the spectacular and airy surroundings.

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Moving along Crib Goch

Scrambling over the 923 metre summit, I think Pam and I were thinking more about the very steep drop on the left, and the completely sheer one on the right, than celebrating another Furth bagged. But it was certainly exhilarating!

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Near the west end of Crib Goch, looking down at Llyn Glas, LLyn Peris and Llyn Padarn

As we reached the final pinnacles, there may have been one or two slight micro-navigational challenges, but David's experience made things easier.

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Coming up to Crib Goch's last pinnacle

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Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn, from near the end of Crib Goch

After a bit of down-climbing, we made it to Bwlch Coch - Crib Goch conquered :D

At this point, I managed to get a signal and phoned Emily. She was sitting at Bwlch Glas, having been waiting for us for quite some time. When I told her where we were, she found it on the map, and stood up. We could just make out her silhouette on the skyline, rather shorter than the stone sign post at the top of the Pyg Track to her right. Then she decided to go on up to the summit of Snowdon, and the cafe, and wait for us there.

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David and Pam near Bwlch Coch, in front of Crib Goch's west end

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Emily's view of Crib Goch from Snowdon, as she still waited for us

Next, David, Pam and I made our move on Crib y Ddysgl.

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David and Pam ready to scramble up Crib y Ddysgl

We took the scrambling route up the ridge, which was easier than Crib Goch had been.

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Further on up Crib y Ddysgl

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A loco's horse power viewed from the horseshoe

The scrambling over, we moved onto the easier ground at the top of Cib y Ddysgl (Garnedd Ugain). Now we really were able to celebrate reaching the second highest summit in Wales!

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Crib Goch from Crib y Ddysgl

The three of us dropped to Bwlch Glas, and began the final pull, alongside the railway, up onto Snowdon.

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Approaching Snowdon

Emily came back down to meet us, and turned around to walk back up with Pam. I got into summit dash mode - a train had just arrived at the station, and I didn't want to be jostling to get onto the highest point. Soon I was on top of Yr Wyddfa, without any need to queue, chatting with folk around the viewfinder, both walkers and train passengers. We may have all made different ways up with varying degrees of difficulty, but everyone there was appreciating the magnificent panorama. It was rather hazy, but the top was cloud free and the view still very good. Here, on the highest mountain in Great Britain outside Scotland, you really are looking down on everything. That's not quite true of Scafell Pike - on a very clear day you can see Snowdonia from there.

Pam and Emily soon joined me again, and we found David in the cafe. It was very hot in there so I didn't hang around to buy anything. Back outside, I checked my hydration supplies and decided I had enough left. We sat down on a grassy spot just south of the summit, looking down towards our route ahead.

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Y Lliwed from Snowdon

Emily stayed with us for the second half of the horseshoe, so four of us began descending. First a short distance south-west until we reached the post indicating the Watkin Path. Then we turned east down the path on a steep scree slope. A paved path is in the process of being constructed here. Bits of it were already made, easing the descent. Before too long we were bearing south-east towards Bwlch Ciliau. Across the Bwlch, we headed up towards Y Lliwed, the afternoon sun still very warm.

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Ready to scramble onto Y Lliwed

We all fancied the scramble up the ridge rather than a hot slog up the main path. This was a nice ascent with only small bits of exposure. All four of us found it within our comfort zone and we all enjoyed it. On the summit of Y Lliwed, we sat down again for another leisurely break in the sun.

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Llyn Llydaw from Y Lliwed

Then we moved on over the east top, and began our final descent.

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Descending back towards Llyn Llydaw, with Crib Goch and the Glyderau in the background

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Looking back at Snowdon and Crib y Ddysgl

Emily still had some energy left, and set a pace as we moved towards the junction with the miners track. She didn't want to be too late back, so I went on ahead with her, Pam and David walking steadily behind us. No mad rush though, and we made it easily back to Pen-y-pass. We said goodbye to David. He had been great company, and it had been a pleasure to walk and scramble with him.

According to Naismith's rule, this route should have taken us 4 hours 27 minutes plus rests. So Pam and I had spent over 5 and 1/2 hours sunbathing on the Snowdon Horseshoe, and Emily more than that. It's not surprising that we were all very tanned when we arrived back at the cottage. A few glasses of wine were called for, and no need to worry about getting up too early the next morning. Pam and Emily were due to go home then, but I was staying on at the cottage a few more days. So after an evening's celebration, there was time to spend a last, easy Tuesday morning together with that lovely view of the Menai Strait, before they packed up and left. I was sorry to see them go, but had further inviting Welsh mountains to look forward to in the coming days :D

Thanks to Pam and Emily for contributing some of the photos to this report.
Last edited by simon-b on Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:44 pm

That looked a stunning day, I'm not sure we'll ever venture onto Crib Goch but it is a route that nags away at your mind reminding you that you need to do it to bag all the Welsh 3'000ers. Certainly no place for a dog however!
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:47 pm

A fine route, especially in good weather, even with the inevitable people traffic! Good that you had it! I've done it twice this year, most recently last Sunday, and both times we were surrounded in clag - unfortunately!

Usually I diverge from the Horseshoe Path proper, starting at the beginning of the Y Lliwydd ridge as per the map extract below. To me it's strange that there is no official path for this...

Snowdon Horseshoe extended 2.png


Grib Goch is always a fine scramble, especially if one sticks to the ridge, as you seem to have done, rather than taking the bypasses. We did it last Sunday in the opposite direction, but it wasn't an unalloyed pleasure because of the wet and variation in slipperiness of the rock :shock:
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby pamfox » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:26 pm

It was a very hot and tiring day but brilliant and so glad I got to do the horseshoe. Thanks for that one Simon :) The scramble onto Crib Goch is brutal in that heat, but that ridge is superb and it was a good dry day for it. I was a bit tentative at times and ended up scrambling on all fours in a few places, even bum shuffling on the sharpest bit, but so very happy that we did that way.

Snowdon by the Watkins Path and now by Crib Goch will do for me. Also it was brilliant to get a view this time after all that work! Another good walking weekend for the gang. Absolutely superb day. A great evening chatting and partaking of a few glasses of wine finished it off nicely.

Well done with everything you did with your week in Snowdonia 8)
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby pamfox » Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:37 pm

I just wanted to give a big thank you to David who helped us so much that day, and saved us a lot of time micro navigating. He also gave me a bottle of juice when all my water ran out on the way back. It was hard work in that heat!
It was good having a new member of the 'gang' for the day. Again, a great day Simon
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby trailmasher » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:44 pm

What a fine walk and effort especially in the heat of the day :clap: with some great photos of the ridge route :clap: Well done all of you 8)
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby dav2930 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:59 pm

Nice one Simon and well done all. What a week, who needs the Med in weather like that? :clap:
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby simon-b » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:28 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:That looked a stunning day, I'm not sure we'll ever venture onto Crib Goch but it is a route that nags away at your mind reminding you that you need to do it to bag all the Welsh 3'000ers.

A superb day, Anthony. Of all the Munros and British Furths, Crib Goch may well be the trickiest on the mainland, given that you can avoid the hardest scrambling on Aonach Eagach, An Teallach, Liathach etc. But (I know I've mentioned this before) you've climbed the Howitzer, and that's just as tricky technically, if not more so. It's just that the exposure goes on for much longer on Crib Goch, as you'll realise. I do reckon you'd be fine if you did it, but I'd agree, best without Hughie.

Alteknacker wrote:A fine route

It certainly is, and your variation looks interesting. But you must be a candidate for the Welsh 15 X 3k in one day, Alteknacker. Have you ever done that, or considered it?

pamfox wrote:I just wanted to give a big thank you to David who helped us so much that day, and saved us a lot of time micro navigating.....It was good having a new member of the 'gang' for the day.

I'll second that, Pam. And it was nice to see you so chuffed at having knocked off Crib Goch.

trailmasher wrote:What a fine walk and effort especially in the heat of the day :clap: with some great photos of the ridge route :clap:

Thanks trailmasher. At least we had plenty of excuses and time for some nice, long rests in the sunshine. It was good having all of us take photos, so I could pick the best ones to post.

Cheers dav...
dav2930 wrote:who needs the Med in weather like that?

...or even Acapulco?
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:42 pm

simon-b wrote:
Alteknacker wrote:A fine route

It certainly is, and your variation looks interesting. But you must be a candidate for the Welsh 15 X 3k in one day, Alteknacker. Have you ever done that, or considered it?



Yes, I've done it a few times. It's a also a very fine route, though a bit of a burger if you do it solo - cost me £75 in taxi fare from the Aber Falls car park to Pont y Cromlech (which is where I've started from the last couple of times). So last time I did it with my son, and 2 cars - much more cost-effective!!!
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Re: Going loco on Snowdon with horseshoe power

Postby Riverman » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:30 pm

Simply awesome. I did the horseshoe in baking hot summer conditions in 2013 (the same day that two soldiers died from heat exhaustion in the Beacons). I was so glad of the summit cafe as it allowed me to replenish water supplies at the halfway point. I dream of doing this route in fine winter conditions. One day when the stars align.
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