(‘Rhyd Ddu’ is pronounced rather like ‘Hreed Thee’.)
The Rhyd Ddu Path (Llwybr Rhyd Ddu) is located on the west side of the mountain, and is statistically the quietest path on the mountain. This was not always the case, for before the Snowdon Mountain Railway was built, trains brought tourists to Rhyd Ddu station, which was then named ‘Snowdon’.
Walkers staying in Beddgelert also used this path, and in the 19th century it was known as the Beddgelert Path.
The path is relatively easy and well defined, with excellent views of this side of the mountain, though the narrow Bwlch Main, about ⅔ mile from the summit, and the clambering section after that can be a little unnerving for some.
Distance: 3¾ miles (6 km) to the summit one way
7½ miles (12 km) there and back, if returning by the same path
Ascent: 895 metres (2,936 feet)
Time: Allow between 2 and 3 hours each way, depending on your level of fitness.
Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2023
- Rhyd Ddu Car Park, off the A4085
- Grid Reference: SH 571 526 (O.S. map Outdoor Leisure OL17)
- Post Code: LL54 6TN
- What 3 words: bagpipes.ashes.brings
- Location of start on Google maps
Parking for the Rhyd Ddu Path
There is a Pay & Display car park at the foot of the path (£6 a day, card only). The car park is shared with the Welsh Highland Railway.
Note – If you are going up overnight, and you arrive after 6:30pm, you should pay for a ticket when you arrive, and this will cover you until 8:30am the following morning. However, if you arrive before 6pm, you will need to pay for two tickets (for both days), and display them both in your vehicle.
- There are toilets at the car park.
- The bottom of the path is served by Sherpa bus service S3.
- The Google Trekker (like StreetView) will provide you with a ‘virtual’ walk up the mountain on this path.
- When you are actually on the mountain, the Snowdon Walks App will show a map of the path, with your exact position on it. It doesn’t require a signal, and it also provides information about places and features you pass on the path.
To get to the start of the path from the car park, go past the toilets to the far end of the car park, then go through the gate on the right and cross over the railway.
Continue on the wide track for a mile, passing the remains of the former Ffridd slate quarry on your left.
After a mile you will come to a crossroads in the path at Pen ar Lôn; take the left turning here. (Straight on leads to the Bwlch Cwm Llan slate quarry, and right leads to Pitt’s Head on the road, the route of the original ‘Beddgelert Path’ to this point.)
Pen ar Lôn – turn left here, as signed
As the path ascends, now across moorland but still on a good engineered path, the views increase over Cwm Caregog (‘Rocky Valley’) to the right, and over Cwm Treweunydd to the left, dominated by the large, former Glanrafon slate quarry. Don’t forget about the view behind you either, which just gets better as you get higher! (Features to be seen include Llyn y Gadair and Llyn Cwellyn, Y Garn and the Nantlle Ridge, and Mynydd Mawr. Further away are the Llŷn Peninsula and Newborough beach on Anglesey.)
Half way is marked by a flatter area with the remains of some small old buildings. One of these was once a refreshment hut.
From here the path climbs more steeply over rocky terrain, coming out on the broad shoulder of Llechog ridge. You’ll pass a second and third mountain gate as the path weaves upwards, with a number of stone cairns marking the route between them. Once past the top gate, down to your left, below, you’ll see Cwm Clogwyn with its three lakes. On the far side of the cwm, the Snowdon Ranger Path can be seen making its way up to the summit.
The view behind you from Llechog ridge
Continue upwards on the path. The summit building is now visible, as the path zig-zags up towards Bwlch Main (‘Narrow pass’).
The zig-zag approaching Bwlch Main
Bwlch Main is the most difficult section of this path, and care needs to be taken, especially in windy or winter weather. Skirt the hill of Clawdd Coch on the narrow path, and the South Ridge route comes in from the right just before the narrowest part, called Bwlch Main or ‘The Saddle’, where it drops down to Cwm Clogwyn to the left and Cwm Tregalan on the right. The Victorians were very scared of this section!
The Saddle, the narrowest part of Bwlch Main, with a drop on either side
A wider view of Bwlch Main, a little below the summit
Soon afterwards the Watkin Path joins from the right, marked by a small standing stone. From here it is just a steep and rocky 300 yards to the summit.
On returning from the summit, remember to come down the steps past the main entrance of Hafod Eryri, and continue on from there, down the rocky section.
Distances up the path
Base map © S.N.P.A.
Combining with other paths
The Rhyd Ddu Path is often combined with the Snowdon Ranger Path, given that they are both on the west side of the mountain. At the bottom, the link between the two can be made by a path through the old quarry, or by using the Sherpa bus service.