Enjoy one of the best walks in Snowdonia. Devils Kitchen, Glyder Fawr & Glyder fach make for an interesting day on terrain that looks like it belongs to another planet.
The Glyderau has been on my mind for over a good year now, and in early April i finally got chance to climb through Devil’s Kitchen and on to Glyder Fawr & Glyder Fach. My original plan was to climb Tryfan via the South Ridge and then continue up on to the Glyderau and then down Devils Kitchen. Unfortunately for me my phone died at the top of Tryfan which meant i could not take photos.
I had to descend Tryfan and charge my phone which took just under two hours. Whilst waiting in my car for the charge to complete i was debating whether to climb the Glyderau another day given it was getting on for 2pm. Undeterred i set off again with a fully charged phone and back-up power packs i had originally forgotten.
I was undecided whether to climb back up to the bottom of Bristly Ridge and continue from where i had left off, but something persuaded me to go the opposite way around so that is what i did. I was worried about time but the clocks had gone forwards, so i had an extra hour to play with and that helped me with the decision of even attempting to complete this walk.
As it turns out i was more than happy with my decision, and after climbing the Glyderau i though it was the best way around to do this walk. People may have different opinions but this way suited me.
The Glyderau (also known in English as the Glyders) are a group of mountains in Snowdonia North Wales. The name derives from the highest peaks in the range, Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach.
Starting off from the Car Park at the visitors centre/ Llyn Ogwen Cottage, take the path that leads up past the waterfall and over the footbridge. Follow the path until it splits, take the path to the right and head towards Llyn Idwal. The climb is gradual at this point and not too difficult, possibly why Llyn Idwal gets so many visitors. On your way up you will have the might of Tryfan to your left rising majestically like a Dinosaur’s back.
Once you have walked up to Llyn Idwal you will be pleasantly surprised by the view in store. Every time i visit this place i always stand for a couple of minutes admiring the natural beauty. Part of the Cwm Idwal (National Nature Reserve) this place is usually very busy with tourist walkers taking pictures and just enjoying a gentle walk around the water.
The good news is, you will also stop to take in the amazing views and take images, the bad news is, that this is where your walk will start to get more difficult. Follow the path to the left of Llyn Idwal and where the path splits to walk the full round of the water you will carry straight on and a sharp ascent will begin up into Devil’s Kitchen territory.
Devil’s Kitchen is the name given to the dark, black crack which splits the rock of Clogwyn y Geifr (Cliff of the Goat) between Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. The Welsh name for Devil’s Kitchen is Twll Du, meaning ‘black hole’. Twll Du is known as the Devil’s Kitchen because of the plume of steam that is often seen rising from the crack resembling a chimney. It’s said when steam can be seen rising from the chimney, the Devil was cooking.
The path winds and snakes up a hefty 1140 ft from the water and this part will test your stamina without fail. The path is a mixture of stones, boulders and scrambles and at times you can’t help but think where the next part of the ascent is, but to be honest you will navigate this more comfortably than you think.
Eventually you will come to a stile built into a stone wall, looking back on yourself at this point should give you amazing views and especially of the pyramid shaped Pen yr Ole Wen. Once over the stile the path becomes shale and scree and can be tricky in places given you are still climbing upwards towards the plateau at Llyn Y Cwn. I was slipping and sliding but managed to get up it rather well, abate a little out of breath given i had come up from Llyn Idwal at speed.
Once past the shale and scree the path turns level for a while and more of a grassy terrain with a visible path that will lead you to the amazing emerald coloured Llyn Y Cwn. Maybe stop for a rest and refuel here given the most arduous part of the walk is still to come. You may think “what” but this route is definitely a stamina test and that is why i will be classing this walk hard.
You now have one more climb of 830 ft up through what can only be described as shale, sand and scree to reach Glyder Fawr. This part was like walking up an escalator the wrong way. It was dry on my visit and so i am not sure what this would be like wet, but which ever weather your stamina will be tested to the max.
Eventually the terrain turns rockier and you will have Glyder Fawr in your sight, and you could start to get mistaken for feeling like you are on another planet such is the terrain. I thought it was very similar to Ben Nevis summit, only Ben Nevis does not have the impressive jagged/fractured rock formations sticking out. Making your way through the rocks to the summit is confusing but just follow your line of sight given there is no real defined path.
From here you will now be heading towards Glyder Fach, but not before you have passed through/around Castell y Gwynt also known as Castle of the winds. If you are not impressed by this formation then i would be very surprised. It was featured in Walt Disney’s Dragon slayer and hopefully there will be none to slay on your visit. From this point if the weather is good you should be able to get a good view of the Snowdon horseshoe.
Moving on past Castell y Gwynt there is a clear path that heads towards Glyder Fach and i found this rather misleading to be honest given Glyder Fach seemed much closer than it actually was. There was an amazing view looking down onto Llyn Bochlwyd at one point on the path as it edges very close to the ridge line.
I never climbed to the top of the stones at Glyder Fach and found it hard to follow the path that skirts the right-hand side and ended up rock jumping to get back on course, so don’t be too concerned if you find yourself doing the same thing. I missed climbing the summit because i wanted a picture of myself on the Cantilever Stone, and noticed a group just in front of me that could possibly do that for me.
I arrived at the Cantilever just in time to ask for a picture from a family of three generations. This is what i love about the great outdoors and the people you meet. Grandad, Dad and Children all enjoying the Glyderau. Not only that they had climbed with ropes up to the summit which rather impressed me.
After a quick image time was getting on and i started my descent of the Glyderau whilst talking to the family. We all descended the very steep 800 ft scree slope at the side of Bristly Ridge together, and we had to zigzag down to make sure nobody had a fall. This descent requires caution given one slip could send you tumbling down and possibly serious injury.
You will have a good view of Tryfan’s South Ridge from here as you make your way to Bwlch Tryfan. At the bottom of the scree slope you will need to head left and over the wall to meet the path that will lead you down past Llyn Bochlwyd and back down to Llyn Ogwen Cottage.
The paths are easy to follow and the only tricky part is working out where to cross over the start of the waterfall coming from Llyn Bochlwyd. Once over onto the left of the falls, the path becomes visible and you will have a few tricky moments that may require you to use your hands coming down past Nant Bochlwyd.
If you have read my Tryfan route, you will know my intention was to climb both Tryfan and The Glyderau on the same route. Unfortunately, like i said my phone died. It is more than possible to do both in one day because i did it and that was with two hours waiting for my phone to charge. I think i managed well given the circumstances of my day.
Thoughts on this route? it is the best walk i have done in Snowdonia so far and i guess there won’t be much competition to it either. This is ultimately the best day out on the mountains of North Wales and the scenery is second to none. This is a demanding route but if you have the stamina and experience then it is one to get ticked off the list. I know why it is voted the best mountain in Snowdonia and i will be back again in the summer to enjoy it once more. Epic!