A section of the Snowdon Horseshoe route
Often climbed as part of the Snowdon Horseshoe route but rarely on its own merit, Y Lliwedd is the prominent peak to the left of Snowdon when seen from Capel Curig. If it stood alone it would be one of the finest mountains in Wales but falling just short of 3000 feet and overshadowed by its loftier neighbour mean that it is ignored by the masses. As a result it makes a quiet and enjoyable short trip from Pen y Pass.
Pen y Pass is a victim of its own success. Here in a great mountain setting at the top of the Llanberis Pass, the number of cars typically abandoned for the day do as much for the view as would a junkyard. Parking, as can be imagined is a nightmare and in Summer when it's running it is far preferable to get the bus up here.
Having found a space, I left the car park via the gate at its far end and set off up the Miners Track which winds around the contours, climbing only perceptibly for nearly 2 miles passing Llyn Tayrn down to the left to reach Llyn Llydaw. From here there's a classic view of Snowdon - or so often of the big grey cloud obscuring it - and of the cliffs of Lliwedd rising to the left.
At the large iron hut, I took the left path - the other continuing to Snowdon via Glaslyn - and followed the lake a little way before crossing a footbridge and beginning the ascent of the stony slopes towards Y Lliwedd seen ahead. I dubbed this bit 'the motorway' as it was a trailconstructed of stone steps. As this section ended, the ascent became steeper and there is temptaion to take a short cut straight up the slope but it seems easier to follow the path bearing right until you're almost under the steep cliffs above. There's no really hard bits here as the path finds a way up via a couple of short easy scrambles which led - surprisingly quickly - to a large flat area. This is deceptive as the summit is still some way off!
The views to the South and down into the wooded valley of Nant Gwynant open out as the ridge is gained. Now I followed a steepish path, sometimes on grass and sometimes over boulders and rocky outcrops, up past the prominent peak of Lliwedd Bach, which can be gained in 2 minutes from the path, and presently steeply up to the East Peak of Y Lliwedd.
Keeping on the crest give spectacular views down the gullies of the northern crags though the edge can be avoided if you prefer. A small depression brought me to the slightly higher West Peak with its incomparable views of the Snowdon Horseshoe ahead. The most impressive view though was back across the vast hazy distance from the Clwydian Hills in the East past Berwyn, Arenig Fawr and the Arans to Cadair Idris far to the South. Far below were streched out the intervening valleys leading to a glistening sea.
I'd last stood here on a day when a low grey ceiling of cloud had hidden all views of the hills from lower down but having climbed above the temperature inversion, I'd stood alone in the still clear air as if on a small rocky island looking out over a white sea. Only the nearby peak of Snowdon and a distant island floating on the horizon - Cadair Idris - had been visible, basking in the Sun beneath a sky of clear blue and seemingly cut off from the unseen world below.
Now though I returned to the East Peak - which I think is the slightly more impressive top - and had a sandwich and my vimto sat on the edge accompanied only by a pair of hopeful looking seagulls, before making my way back to the hive of activity at Pen y Pass.
Pete Buckley June 2007
Essentials >>> Up 570m >>> Down 570m >>> How Far? 9.1km >>> How High? 898m/2946ft