Yerrrrr! We did what everyone else has been doing all along (it’s recommended as a beginner’s route), and went up Pyg and down Miners.
For us, this was the first time we’d been up the Pyg path all the way, and it was lovely: a chunky, rocky step-path skirting the northern flank of the mountain before looping over Bwlch y Moch. Here, it branches off to Crib Goch path and we watched the more intrepid parties scramble up to the higher ridges.
(Crib Goch, for anyone unfamiliar, is a steep arete and grade 1 scramble for skilled walkers only — there’s no turning back until it meets Pyg and Miners again at Bwlch Glas, prior to the summit. Don’t go up Crib Goch unless you mean to.)
We scuttled past Crib Goch with a cheery nod to the nutters and carried on our lovely flat (ish) path over to where Pyg converges with Miners, marked by a finger post. From here, there’s a zig and zag up to the summit — there are a couple of easy scramble sections and there is a bit of a drop to the left, so it’s important to be fit and agile, but it’s mainly straightforward and the path is mostly clear (in general, hug into the mountain for the easier way).
This is a pretty, easy, beautiful route and the only downside was the number of people — lots of people use Pyg and Miners paths and it feels like a bit of a queue. Plus, there will always be someone shortcutting between the zigzags — beaming tourists flumping about on the wet tussocks, thinking that a straight line to the top can’t be that hard and then panicking when it suddenly feels steeper than it looked, their boots scuffing the hillside and trampling little flowers between paths (please don’t do this). On our trip, mountain rescuers had to come out and help a man down the Miners path — this is common. Mountains can be a lovely sociable place to share the wonders of nature with other people and if that’s what you go for, this is a fun place to meet other walkers.
I go to escape the crowds and for me, a more remote path is often preferable. Still, this is a gorgeous spot, especially looking down at Llyn Llydaw and, higher up, my favourite lake, Glaslyn.
Before descending to the lakes on Miners, we hoofed up to the summit where there was a huge queue to stand on the highest lump (truly not worth it), grabbed a snack and drink from our packs (the café is closed) and then bolted back down the Miners path to Glaslyn.
This is my soul spot.
When we got there, the shore was covered in litter — if you left litter in this perfect, wild place, then I don’t like you and we aren’t friends.
We were lucky — just minutes after our arrival, a squall hit the mountain and chased almost everyone else away, so we were left almost alone, first to pick up the litter (which we later binned at Pen y Pass, where there are recycling facilities) and then to enjoy the lake.
We sat and stared. We put on our swimming gear and slid in, the blue-green coppery water closing over our heads, soothing our aching arms and legs. The summit above us. The fresh, peaty air. The slate and granite. The clean wind. The rain on our heads. Glaslyn water streaming down our faces, into our eyes and mouths. The cold, biting and healing at once. The perfect, perfect feeling of being in exactly the right place.
The mountain isn’t there for our enjoyment, it’s there for its own sake. Itself. I lie on the rock and feel it beneath me, so solid, real, and alive. I slide into its waters and know in the most fundamental way that we’re part of this earth; we’re here together, our little warm family and huge, strong mountain, holding and shielding us but also needing us to take great care of it in return. And ourselves.
This place is part of me. It terrifies me with its heights then cures me with its lakes. We are not entirely separate.
Parking has changed (4/2021): please note if you’re going there that the parking at Pen y Pass is now pre-booked. We hadn’t booked, so we walked from the layby down in the valley at Pen y Gwryd, about an extra mile each way – a lovely footpath (£4/day, coins, perfectly good). There’s also a park and ride (never tried it) – the buses run regularly.