Fitness for Snowdon

Being prepared physically for Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) will see you having a better, safer day.


Whichever path you choose to walk up Snowdon, it will be hard work and a challenge. Don’t underestimate it.

Training to walk up Snowdon is recommended. We’d suggest walking up some easier, smaller hills to prepare for this. Many injuries such as twisted ankles  and ankle fractures happen because people are simply not used to walking on rugged, often uneven terrain.

That said, anyone who is reasonably fit and has no health issues shouldn’t have too much of a problem. Remember, it’s not a race; pace yourself and take all the time you want. Don’t be tempted to start too fast, and take breaks as and when you need. Allow plenty of time for stops, and remember that your pace up Snowdon will be much slower than your normal walking pace.

The most common ailment on the way up is simply fatigue and exhaustion. In this instance, follow the advice above. The casualty simply needs to rest for a while, and would be recommended to eat and drink before continuing (high energy food/drink is best). In winter they will need additional warmth and shelter; winter or poor weather conditions are more likely to lead to external help being needed. If it’s hot, don’t underestimate how much water you need to carry.

Snowdon tends to attract many people who are not regular hillwalkers, but needless to say, the fitter you are, and the more used you are to hillwalking, the easier you’ll find it. If you’re new to hillwalking, you’ll seriously feel it the next day!

Don’t think that you’re too old for Snowdon! Whilst there is clearly a loose correlation between age and fitness, we know of many mountain walkers of retirement age who are fitter now than ever.

And don’t forget, when you get to the summit, you’re only half way – you’ve then got to walk down.

The summit – but it’s really only half way!

Counting steps?

If you’re wearing or carrying a device which counts your steps, whichever path you take will see you walking well over 20,000 steps by the time you get back down, and probably nearer 25,000 (people with shorter legs will take more steps, of course).

However, converting steps to the distance walked only works accurately when you are maintaining your usual stride, something you won’t be doing much of on the mountain. When you walk up a gradient, you will take shorter paces, and the steeper the gradient, the shorter each pace will be. Thus, on a steep section, or where the path is stepped, your device will greatly overestimate the distance walked.

For instance, on the bottom half of the Miners’ Track or Watkin Path the distance walked will convert from your step count fairly accurately as the path here is reasonably flat and you can walk normally. On the upper half of these paths, however, the distance will be considerably out because of the steepness.

Consequently, a round of the Pyg & Miners’ Tracks will see your steps converted to some 10 miles or more, when in reality the route is less than 8 miles in total. A steeper path will exaggerate this discrepancy, whilst a path with an easier gradient, such as the Llanberis Path, will do so to a lesser degree as you will be walking more normally.


Some people find the height of Snowdon a little scary, and struggle a bit with some of the more exposed sections. However, on the Llanberis Path and Snowdon Ranger there is no need to be near the edge at any time.

Bwlch Main, near the top of the Rhyd Ddu path, is probably best avoided by those who don’t like heights. The top of the Pyg/Miners’ Track at the top of the Zig-zags is also a stretch that some struggle with a little, but by keeping to the ‘inside’ of the path and hugging the rock there needn’t be a problem.

Sometimes people suspect they might be suffering from altitude sickness, but their breathlessness is more likely to be related to the effort of the ascent! (To be honest, you’ve got to be at an altitude of about 3 times the height of Snowdon to suffer any effect from altitude.)

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