Miners Track Snowdon Footpath
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Distance: 8 miles (13km) (there and back)
Ascent: 2372 feet (723 metres)
Time: About 6 hours (there and back)
Grade: Mountain Walk
Start / Finish: Pen y Pass Car Park, off the A4086 (SH 647 557)
Relevant Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL 17 (Snowdon & Conwy Valley)
Pay and display car park – make sure that you have enough loose change. The car park fills up quickly early in the morning in the summer and on weekends – but you can park in Nant Peris car park which is about 3 miles down the Pass, and catch the bus back up to Pen y Pass. In the high season, you may descend by another of the Snowdon paths and catch the Sherpa bus back to your vehicle.
Toilets and café open during the day. SNPA Wardens are based on site and they are usually around to give advice to walkers in the mornings. The weather forecast is usually displayed in the notice board outside the building.
Miners track Snowdon footpath a little about the path…
The Miners’ Track was built to serve the Britannia Copper Mine on Snowdon – but it is not the route originally used to serve the mine. In the beginning, miners lugged the copper up the eastern side of the mountain, to be drawn down the other side to Llyn Cwellyn by a sledge drawn by two horses. From Llyn Cwellyn, the copper was taken by horse and cart to Caernarfon. The road from Llanberis to Pen y Gwryd (the A4086 today) was opened around ten years later, and so this more practical route was used.
This path is ideal if you wish to take a walk on Snowdon without going all the way to the summit. The path starts off wide and even, climbing gradually passed Llyn Teyrn to Llyn Llydaw, where the ruins of the old copper mine can be seen. From here, the path climbs steeply to Llyn Glaslyn, where it becomes a hard climb over scree towards the intersection of the Miners’ and the Pyg Tracks. The path then zigzags up to Bwlch Glas, and then on to the summit.
1. The path starts at the far left-hand corner of the Pen y Pass car park, opposite the entrance.
As you walk, enjoy the fantastic views of the Gwynant valley down to the left from the path. Shortly, you will see the famous Snowdon Horseshoe which is made up of Lliwedd (898m/2946ft), Snowdon (1,085m/3560ft), Garnedd Ugain (1,065m/3494ft), and Crib Goch (921m/3022ft).
2. The path forks near Llyn Llydaw. Bear right and you will reach a causeway across the lake. Before the causeway was built, horses and wagons full of copper from the mine were carried across Llyn Llydaw on rafts, to shorten their journey down to Pen y Pass. But following an accident in which a horse drowned, in 1853 it was decided that a causeway was to be built. In order to build the causeway, the water level had to be lowered by 12ft, and during that process, a prehistoric oak dug-out canoe, measuring 10ft by 2ft, was discovered – proof that man has roamed this mountain for thousands of years.
3. Cross the causeway and follow the path past the ruins of the Britannia Copper Mine crushing mill on your right, before a steep climb to Llyn Glaslyn lake.
The ruins of the old crushing mill are near Llyn Llydaw, and amongst the remains are the large crushing hammers that were used to extract the valuable ores. Copper ore was taken down to the crushing mill by an aerial ropeway over Llyn Glaslyn; this reduced the distance the copper had to be transported and avoided the steep climb between the two lakes.
4. From Llyn Glaslyn, go to the right just after the barracks, and follow the path that climbs steeply over scree. This part of the route is a hard climb and can be very slippery. When the path is covered with ice and snow, the rest of the route is best left to experienced walkers with the proper equipment.
Looking across Llyn Glaslyn, to the left of the summit of Snowdon you will see Bwlch y Saethau (meaning ‘pass of the arrows’). Miners from Beddgelert used to climb to work over this pass with the help of iron chains fixed to the rock.
5. Shortly, you will reach a standing stone that marks the junction with the Pyg Track (remember about it on your way down). From this point, the path continues to climb steeply and loose underfoot until you reach Bwlch Glas.
In a little while, the path will zigzag up to Bwlch Glas. This part of the path is known as Llwybr y Mul (mule’s path). Before the main road through Llanberis Pass was built, this path was used to carry copper up to Bwlch Glas and then down the other side of the mountain to Llyn Cwellyn. As you approach the Zig-Zags, keep well away from the open mine shafts on your left.
6. At Bwlch Glas, you will be joining the Llanberis Path and the Snowdon Ranger Path. This junction is marked with a standing stone (remember about it on your way down).
When you join the paths you will see railway tracks running up the mountain along the right-hand side of the path. This is the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which has been carrying visitors to the summit since 1896 on the only public rack and pinion railway in the UK.
7. Follow the path to the left from the standing stone. You are now on the final leg of your walk up Snowdon. Walking at a leisurely pace, you can expect to be on the summit in around a quarter of an hour.
From the summit on a clear day, you will be rewarded with fantastic views – 18 lakes and 14 peaks over 914 metres (3000ft) can be seen. Sometimes, you can even see as far as Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Lake District.
Legend has it that this is the place where King Arthur was struck by an arrow 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).
From Llyn Glaslyn, look at the dramatic view of Snowdon rising almost 500m above the glacial lake. As you walk around the lake, you will pass the ruins of another row of barracks on your right, where the miners used to stay during the week. From Llyn Glaslyn, although you have walked almost three-quarters of the route in terms of distance, you are only half way up the mountain, time-wise.
In a while, you will pass a small lake on your left, Llyn Teyrn. Look out for the ruins of the old miners’ barracks near the shore.
The pipeline you can see leading down the valley on the left supplies water from Llyn Llydaw to Cwm Dyli hydro-electric power station in the Gwynant valley. The power station, which is the oldest power station in Britain, was originally built to supply electricity for an electric railway through the Gwynant Valley.
The railway would connect slate quarries and mines, but the scheme was abandoned when it ran out of funds. The power station was commissioned a year later in 1906 and has been supplying electricity to the National Grid ever since.
A Suggested Equipment Check List
Travelling in the hills will always involve a compromise in equipment if the walker is to avoid moving like a snail – admirably well equipped but too slow to go anywhere. The choice can be quite bewildering and with an increasingly large fashion element, it can be very difficult for hill walkers to make an informed decision.
⦁ Waterproof jacket
⦁ Waterproof trousers
⦁ Torch plus spare battery and bulb
⦁ Walking boots
⦁ Hat + Gloves
⦁ Spare food
⦁ Sunglasses and sun cream
Snowdon Mountain Hillwalking Footpaths
Available throughout the summer and winter for groups, families and explorers.
NGB Qualified ML & SPA Holder
Mountain First Aid
Mountain leader, single pitch award