The Snowdonia Way: A guide to the trek
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We follow the official Snowdonia Way route from Machynlleth to Conwy. We split the route into 8 stages rather than 6 to avoid any unduly long days. You'll set off from a characterful market town, Machynlleth, before meandering through the forests, along rivers and up to higher ground with long mountain views. As you travel North, the views open out; the mountains get bigger and the views more majestic. You'll walk through the mountain ranges of the Rhinogs, Moelwyns, Snowdon Massif, Glyders and Carneddau before reaching your final stopping point in Conwy in the far North of Snowdonia National Park.
Walking from Dolwyddelan to Bethesda takes you through the Ogwen valley, one of the most scenic sections of the trail, surrounded by the iconic peaks of Tryfan and Carnedd Llewelyn. The Aber Falls are another highlight, on the stage fom Bethesda to Llanfairfechan - an impressive 37m cascade of water!
Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Snowdonia Way research:
Is it for me?
The Snowdonia Way would suit strong all-round walkers who like to move through terrain, so as to discover, on a cross-country journey. The route does not take to mountain tops or cross high passes, and this follows the Snowdonia landscape which can be approached along the valleys. To the side are substantial peaks including Snowdon (1,085m) and Tryfan (917m) – please ask us to build extra days into your trip – while the Snowdonia Way’s highest point is 405m.
Reckon on 8 days of walking at 20km per day on average, with a maximum of 25km.. this compares fairly evenly with our other hard UK trials such as the Coast to Coast and Pennine Way, and taking 8 days we can avoid very long days.
What's it like underfoot?
It’s a mix of stony, gravelly, rocky and muddy paths underfoot in Snowdonia, and when we have a sustained period of warm dry weather (which is not all the time) we hope the mud becomes hard-pack.
There is substantial navigation to be done on the Snowdonia Way, this being one of those UK trails that is made from long-standing paths. It is overlaid, so to speak, as opposed to being purposefully created as the Snowdonia Way. This makes for an authentic experience as a walker in the area, but makes for intricate route-finding.
It can rain in North Wales! This mountainous corner of the British Isles is known for its maritime climate. Clouds blow in and out and the Snowdonia Walker (as Lakeland, as Highland) learns to read the forecast and be grateful for dry spells, even sun and warmth.
When to go?
Our season on the Snowdonia Way runs from early May to mid-September, in a typical year, set so as to avoid any late Winter in the UK and to align its season finish with our Alpine trips in advance of Autumn.
Where to stay?
Start the trip with a B&B near the shores of Loch Ness, 3 nights in hotels on route as well as 1 night in the remote Glen Affric youth Hostel. This friendly eco-hostel is only reached on foot or by mountain bike and is a goal of walkers and Munro-baggers.
Here's a brief guide to the route and the places you visit on our classic 8-stage Snowdonia Way trip.
Your trip starts in Machynlleth, a pretty market town located in the Dyfi Valley. Although quite long, the first stage is a straightforward introduction to the Snowdonia Way. From Machynlleth the route heads straight for Dovey Forest, passing the old slate mining villages of Corris and Aberllenfenni via the pretty Llefenni Valley. Great views open up to the mountain of Cadair Idris before the Way drops through in woodland to reach Dolgellau. Much of the route is on tracks and lanes meaning navigation is easy and ground can be covered quickly.
A day of thirds. Firstly, the wonderful mature deciduous woodlands on the ascent out of Dolgellau, with some high open hillsides and views back towards Cadair Idris. Secondly, a walk among the pleasant trees in the Coed y Brenin woodlands. Finally, the route takes to the open hillsides with views of the high mountains to the North as you reach Trawsfynydd.
On this stage, you'll cross from Southern Snowdonia to Northern Snowdonia, and with that comes a change of landscape. No more rolling hills with big forests, now we enter mountain country with rocky peaks and small woods of native trees. The approach to Penrhyndeudraeth affords fantastic views out to sea across the sandy estuary of the River Dwyryd.
From Penrhyndeudraeth the path rises through forests into the foothills of the Moelwyn Mountains. This stage offers great views down to the coast on the West and to the mountain of Cnicht on the East. Finish the stage by walking through the interesting Pass of Aberglaslyn for a night in the mountain village of Beddgelert at the foot of Snowdon.
Today's stage starts with a pleasant stroll along the Afon Glaslyn past the picturesque lakes of Llyn Dinas and Llyn Glaslyn. From the heart of the Nantgwynant valley, the route then climbs into the Moelwyn hills. From the ridge top, Bwlch y Rhediad, enjoy a wonderful view of the summit of Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. Stay in the small town of Dolwyddelan.
This is perhaps the Snowdonia Way’s boldest stage and the most scenic in terms of rocky mountains. The Ogwen valley section is one of the most spectacular of the whole route, surrounded by the iconic peaks of Tryfan and Carnedd Llewelyn. After passing the Ogwen falls, the route enters the Nant Ffrancon with its glacial features, before finally reaching Bethesda.
From Bethesda the route climbs along the northern flanks of the Carneddau with views to the Isle of Anglesey. The Aber Falls are a highlight on this stage with an impressive 37m cascade of water! The stage ends with a relaxed walk along a stretch of Roman Road before dropping into the seaside town of Llanfairfechan.
This final stage offers something totally different again; coastal views and open moor around Tal y Fan. This is an easy stage crossing the Sychnant Pass before dropping to the characterful estuary town of Conwy with its impressive castle and myriad of independent shops. Enjoy a drink at a local restaurant to congratulations on completing the Snowdonia Way!
The Snowdonia Way in contextAt one week (the outside of one week) the Snowdonia Way is a little more involving than the West Highland Way, say, but still only half as long as the Coast to Coast. The topography and the underfoot terrain are always major factors in a trail, of course, and as a matter of navigation and ‘feel’ so is the intricacy of the path in terms of junctions and variety of terrain. Thus we rate the Snowdonia Way as high-effort relative to its length, because to cross this mixed ground in North Wales is no easy feat. It is a rugged area.
Hike the Snowdonia Way with Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory offers a one-week walking holiday along the Snowdonia Way and we welcome you to book our classic 8-stage trip. Alternatively, you may also like to add on some extra nights in Capel Curig or Beddgelert. These would be great starting points to climb Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Please contact us to discuss options.
Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to complete the route under your own steam. We book your accommodation in a mix of B&Bs and hotels. We also provide you with detailed routecards, the local maps, lots of notes and offer on-call support from 8am to 8pm whilst you are hiking.
Please ask us any time for more details. Please feel free to describe your walking experience and preferences, and we'll suggest which trek you might enjoy most.
Snowdonia Way enquiry form