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Watkin Path

The Watkin Path: At a glance

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

Ascent: 1020m

Time: 6-8 hours

Crowds: 3/10

Fear factor: 7/10

Watkin Path

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The Watkin Path is one of the most varied and scenic routes up Snowdon. It can be combined with the 'South Ridge' for arguably the best route up and down. The Watkin Path is rich in history as it was the first designated footpath in Great Britain. The route increases in difficulty. The lower section starts in enchanting ancient oak woodlands, follows a beautiful stream and stunning waterfalls and goes through an old slate quarry. The upper section of this route gets really difficult due to its steepness and the quality of the footpath which is non-existent at times near the top.

Snowdon Route: The Watkin Path

Walkers on Snowdon's Watkin Path.jpg


Who is it for?

The Watkin Path is one of the most difficult routes up Snowdon. It is perfect for people who are fairly fit and want a challenge. The top section is quite steep and a small number of people find it a little scary.

What equipment do I need?

We will send you a detailed kit list upon booking and again shortly before the event.


Normal hiking gear is needed and this varies a little depending on the time of year and the forecast on the day. Items that are always required which you may need to go out and buy include walking boots/ walking shoes (not trainers), a waterproof jacket and a rucksack. 

We can give you advice about what to buy if you have booked onto one of our walks.

Where does it start?

We will send you out detailed Event Notes by email before the walk which include where and when to meet and parking instructions.


All of our instructors are fully qualified Mountain Leaders with a minimum of a 16 hour First Aid certificate. All participants are covered by our Public Liability Insurance.

The Watkin Path: Route description

The Watkin Path and South Ridge start closer to sea level than any of the other routes up Snowdon at the Bethania pay and display car park. Take the southern exit of the car park and over the road, you will see the ‘Llwybr Watkin Path’ stone pillar and stone steps leading into the woods. 

This is the start of the route and the first section is through enchanting oak woodland which would have been part of a vast ancient forest covering much of the national park in ancient times. Continue over and through a series of streams and gates until you reach the loop of Castell which has nice views along the Nantgwynant valley. 

Continue ascending past a disused incline, which was used to carry slate from the mine further up the Cwm (Valley). The footpath is good and runs alongside the Afon Cwm Llan stream and a series of eye-catching waterfalls. This is one of the most magnificent parts of the climb and continues for several hundred meters until an obvious loop in the stream where there is a weir. 

There is a fork in the footpath and the Watkin Path crosses the stream and heads in a northwesterly direction to the Gladstone Rock. This is where, in 1892 the then 83-year-old Prime Minister William Gladstone opened the footpath, named after his friend Edward Watkin, by delivering a speech to an audience of 2000 on 'Justice for Wales' and sang Welsh hymns. It must have been a stirring atmosphere. 

The footpath continues for a short while through the disused slate quarries then swings north and begins to steepen as you climb the flanks of the ridge between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd. If you take a breath and turn around you will get dazzling views of the south ridge of Snowdon and the rocky face Clogwyn Du to the west.


As you reach the ridgeline between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd (part of the Snowdon Horseshoe) you can carefully peer over the edge and you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Cribb Goch and the lakes of Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn. The gradient here is fairly flat as you follow the ridgeline for about 800m to Bwlch y Saethau. After this the route gets really steep and the footpath disappears and becomes a rocky scree slope. 

You will soon reach a standing stone where the Watkin Path joins the Rhyd Ddu path and it's just a couple of hundred meters to the summit of this magnificent mountain and the reward of amazing views of the Snowdon Massif and the incredible Snowdonia National Park.

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