A steep route up the southern slopes of Yr Wyddfa beginning at Nant Gwynant
The Watkin Path is one of the six main routes to the summit of Yr Wyddfa. Beginning at a little over sea level, it ascends steeply up the southern slopes of the Yr Wyddfa massif, crossing loose scree before eventually joining the Rhyd Ddu Path to the summit.
Why this path?
Reaching the summit of Yr Wyddfa is a challenging undertaking. The Snowdonia National Park Authority classifies all of the routes up Yr Wyddfa as hard, strenuous routes. A good level of fitness is required, and navigation skills are essential.
The Watkin Path is a particularly challenging route to the summit of Yr Wyddfa. Walkers considering their first hike up Yr Wyddfa might benefit from trying alternative paths.
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Snowdonia National Park Authority has categorises this route as Hard/Strenuous. It is only suitable for experienced country walkers with a good level of fitness. Navigation skills are essential. The terrain will include steep hills and rough country and may include some sections of scrambling. Full hill walking gear is essential, and specialist equipment might be required under winter conditions.
Start / Finish
Pont Bethania Car Park, Nant Gwynant (SH 627 507)
Relevant OS Map
OS Explorer OL17 (Snowdon and the Conwy Valley)
The Sherpa’r Wyddfa bus service is a convenient service that stops at the trailhead of all six routes to the summit of Yr Wyddfa.
There are numerous connection for the Watkin Path including Porthmadog, Caernarfon, Betws y Coed and Bangor.
Watkin Path Bus Stop
Bangor has numerous car parks to choose from.
For more information about getting to Yr Wyddfa, read the National Park Authority’s comprehensive ‘Getting to Yr Wyddfa’ guide or visit the Sherpa’r Wyddfa website.
Yr Wyddfa is a challenging mountain to hike. Venturing to the summit should not be taken lightly. Factors such as the seasons, your fitness level, your mountaineering skills, your preparations beforehand, and the mountain’s popularity can all affect your experience of Yr Wyddfa.
Charitable walks and events on Yr Wyddfa are a popular way to raise funds for various charities and organisations. However, you should always take care when taking part in such events. Climbing yr Wyddfa isn’t an easy undertaking.
The history of the Watkin Path
Named after Sir Edward Watkin, a Liberal Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur, the Watkin Path was the first designated footpath in Britain.
Upon retiring, Sir Watkin moved to a chalet in Cwm Llan at the foothills of Yr Wyddfa. A track from Cwm Llan to the South Snowdon Slate Quarry already existed. Sir Watkin was eager to build a path from the quarry to Snowdon’s summit, allowing visitors to reach the famous peak.
Watkin Path was officially opened by Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1892. He addressed a crowd of over 2,000 people from a large rock on the side of the path. The rock is now known as Gladstone Rock.
South Yr Wyddfa Slate Quarry
Along the Watkin Path, you will encounter several remnants of the South Yr Wyddfa Slate Quarry. Your first encounter will be at Clogwyn Brith, about 1.5km along the route. Here you may notice a small crevice on the peak of the slopes to your left. This crevice is the remnants of the old tramway that used to take wagons full of slate down to Pont Bethania.
Further up the path, you will come across the ruins of Plas Cwm Llan, the former home of the quarry manager. You will also pass the old quarry itself as you skirt around Craig Ddu.
Bwlch y Saethau (Pass of the Arrows)
As you ascend towards the summit of Yr Wyddfa, high above Glaslyn, you will cross Bwlch y Saethau (Pass of the Arrows). Miners from Beddgelert used to climb over this pass with the help of iron chains fixed to the rock.
Legend has it that this is where an arrow struck King Arthur in battle. He was then carried to the shore of Llyn Llydaw, where a boat with three maidens came to take him away through the mist to Afallon (Avalon).