Guest Blog – Scrambling in Snowdonia

Seniors’ Ridge – Glyders;
Little and North Gullies – Tryfan

In today’s guest blog, our friend Neil tells us about a recent trip that he and wife Laura, along with friends Mark and Ralph, did to Snowdonia in North Wales …

Words by Neil

Photographs by Ralph




Having failed to get to Snowdonia over the really cold period around the start of this year, we travelled there this weekend with fingers crossed for a cold snap and a huge dump of snow to give us some winter conditions to play in.  And back to reality…!  After such a fantastic winter last year, we will continue to live in anticipation of the white stuff.

Neil scrambling up steep rock

We arrived at Idwal Cottage Youth Hostel in the Ogwen Valley (Snowdonia) to a fairly damp evening but with the promise of a dry and potentially bright day to follow (not all that common an occurrence in our experience of visiting Wales!) and started planning our route for the next morning.  After a bit of discussion (and a very tasty chorizo pasta dish knocked up by Mark), we decided that we would aim to walk into Cwm Idwal and scramble our way up the edge of the Idwal Slabs with the aim of making our way across to Cneifion Arête (a classic grade 3 scramble), which would take us up onto the Glyders. [Glyder Fach (994m) and Glyder Fawr (1001m) are two 3000 feet mountains in Snowdonia that are affectionately known simply as “The Glyders”.]

Laura follows suit

The scrambling in and around the Ogwen Valley offers many opportunities for an interesting day out.  It is possible to set out in a general direction and almost make the route up as you go (always being aware of the potential for becoming cragfast!).  Our plan today was to climb up towards Seniors’ Ridge and make a decision on whether to continue by linking to Cneifion Arête once we knew how dry the rock was going to be.  As a grade 3 scramble, Cneifion Arête can be quite challenging and, due to the exposure on the route, is especially so when wet or windy.

By the time we made it onto the bottom end of Seniors’ Ridge, we had followed streams and Laura had even climbed a vertical waterfall!  Ok, that’s maybe a stretch but she definitely showed some grit climbing over a dank, wet, green section with quite a bit of run-off (she admitted later to having had a sip from her hip flask after that!).  All things considered, it wasn’t going to be a day for the arête.

View from the Glyders

After a bite to eat, and a hot drink, our plan was modified and we were on our way again, following Seniors’ ridge up onto the plateau between Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr and views across to Crib Goch and Snowdon.  Our revised aim was to walk passed Glyder Fach and the Cantilever Stone, drop down to the saddle between the south ridge of Tryfan and the base of Bristly Ridge and then move up the Heather Terrace on the east face of Tryfan where we would pick up one of our favourite grade *1 scrambles (Little and North Gullies).  A little over an hour after starting down from Glyder Fach, we were on the Heather Terrace talking to a chap who was out on his own obviously enjoying being out in the dry weather (just like ourselves).

Mark and Laura heads-down on ascent of steep gully

Our second scramble of the day followed a number of short steep gullies for around 200 vertical metres.  Being a grade 1, the scrambling was easy:  lots of positive holds ensured that the climb is safe and enjoyable, especially towards the end of the day!  One of the nicest things about this particular scramble is that you happen upon the summit of Tryfan rather suddenly, actually popping out between the two very large boulders. These boulders, known as “Adam” and “Eve”, indicate the summit peak, or summit peaks in this case.   Apart from two others, we were the only people on the summit.

Our day finished with a relatively easy decent back down the south ridge of Tryfan joining a path from the saddle down to the youth hostel where the hostel warden, Jeroen, had some fine Welsh ale waiting for us.


About Neil

Neil has spent time walking, climbing and scrambling around North Wales, The Lakes and Scotland over the last 10 years as well as overseas trips to the Dolomites, Austrian Tirol and, most recently Arctic Sweden, joining Cameron and Elaine on many adventures along the way.
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