Having promised my children that we’d try the Rhyd Ddu path, since they fancied a bit more adventure and a ridge walk (and we’d already done the first half of the walk on our last trip*), I landed in Snowdonia last week with only one functional hand (post-op: injured thumb) AND a general weather forecast for cloud and 18mph westerly wind.
While 18mph is a noticeable breeze (moderate/fresh), you can double that for the wind speed up the mountain, then if you add on potential gusts, over a rock formation that can be a bit of a wind tunnel, it starts to look like a bit of a blast on an exposed narrow ridge, with 3 inexperienced kids and one injured adult…
My choices were to bail and do something really mild and easy, or opt for another summit route that would satisfy my adventure-hungry kids while keeping us safe. I consulted the oracle (Walk Up Snowdon website) and came up with the Ranger path.
is 6.5 km each way,
starts at Snowdon Ranger YH (post code LL54 7YS),
and is mostly solid path.
Go here for all the details you need about the walk, here for details of clothes and stuff, here for safety rules, and here for weather (lots). Also there are guides for inexperienced walkers: lots of groups go up and have a lovely time.
I’m a planner, and I don’t like unplanned launches into the wild when I’m looking after kids, but hey-ho, I googled, YouTubed, and flung some points onto the OS maps – it looked fairly straightforward in decent viz, how hard would it be?
The Ranger path is literally just that: a path. You start off on a zigzag path which goes up the hill at a moderate angle, then it straightens and flattens slightly, then becomes a bit steeper again (but not very steep) and then you’re at Bwlch Glas and have the stairs to the top.
No drop-offs, no scrambles, some gravel but no sliding scree, no scary bits until you get to Bwlch Glas with the usual drop-offs up there, and that’s it.
If you’re fit enough to run 5-6 miles on the flat, you’ll find this a relaxing walk. It’s easier and shorter than Llanberis Path and a lovely option for walkers with children because for quite a lot of it, you can just let them wander along. It’s easy on the legs (no Miners zigzag, no Pyg rock-hopping, and no scary narrow ridges until the top), and, um, you just head on up. On the way down, you get a beautiful view to the south and west all the way, with occasional windows to the north to Llanberis, where, if you’re lucky, you can see the little passenger train chuffing its way up to Clogwyn.
On our walk, the wind howled relentlessly, at volumes that stifled conversation and kept us bathed in cloud, all the way up and down – and despite the incredible heatwave of recent days, we were cold. It was definitely the right decision not to go on a ridge walk and yey for fleeces and good coats.
I managed to reach the summit for the first time. I KNOW, RIGHT? I’ve been up at the summit several times via Llanberis, Miners, and Ranger paths, but the summit has a little knobbly rock on top, about the size of a huge wardrobe, and tourists climb onto it to look at the little brass distance dial set into the top: my kids have done this each time, but I have never clambered onto it. Who knew? Today I did, and we met another family and all took pictures of one another.
As usual, the mountain was clean, the other walkers friendly, and it was utterly fab.
It was, though, the first time we’d found it this easy, and I came away feeling a bit bemused: had we really just done that? My eldest came away saying it was his favourite walk up the mountain so far – he’d really had a chance to take some photos without me shouting, “Stay tucked innnn!’ (short for ‘Stay tucked into the mountain and not near the edge, what are you thinking, get yourself back next to me right this very minute!’)
The younger two just smiled, ate their lunch by 10am, snaffled an Oggy at the top, and ate fig rolls all the way down.
Everyone thought it was lovely. It was.
(*We’ve developed the habit of doing part of our next planned adventure as a cool-down walk on each trip, so that when we try for a new summit, the first half of the route is familiar. This works REALLY well for us, because walking across unfamiliar territory is more demanding, so it makes both the walk and the navigation easier.)