Watkin and Rhyd Ddu paths

Key information: Watkin and Rhyd Ddu paths

  • 2 very different routes from the south, often walked as a circuit, and beginning with a pleasing trudge up the beautiful Cwm Llan valley.
  • The Watkins Path slogs up the right-hand hillside of the upper cwm then up the infamous southern scree slopes. Not much fun but quite direct.
  • The Rhyd Ddu Path is a beauty, following the marvellous South Ridge with wonderful views.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest15.5
  • Human interest7
  • Charisma32.5
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating87
  • Note: Neg: Crowds at summit

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Depends on route
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,085m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous


These very different paths both approach from the south, setting out from near Bethania and Nantgwynant on the A498. With the lowest start of the approach routes, they therefore have the highest climb to make. While they have way fewer climbers than the Miners’/Pyg, you won’t be alone on the Watkins in particular.

The trails begin with a pleasing early ascent through woodland and up the beautiful Cwm Llan valley, with waterfalls and increasingly fine views to enjoy along the way. 

As you enter the wider and gentler upper cwm, you pass the junction where the Rhyd Ddu path heads off left, to climb Snowdon’s beautiful southern ridge.

Most people walk both these paths as a circuit, ascending the Watkins Path and descending Rhyd Ddu. Walkopedia might choose to walk Rhyd Ddu both ways. Were you to be able to arrange transport so as to descend a different way, you might do well to climb the Rhyd Ddu path, to avoid the misery of the Watkins’ upper scree slopes. It you have to walk a circuit, you might do better with the Miners’/Pyg (although they are more crowded) or the Horseshoe.

The Watkins Path heads on up the cwm until it turns right to start the long slog up the right-hand hillside of the upper cwm to the high shoulder between Snowdon and Lliwedd. Then it is the dreary slog up the infamous, horribly eroded southern scree slopes, well described in the Cicerone book as a 'minor annexe of Purgatory', to rejoin the Rhyd Ddu path on the high Snowdon summit ridge. 

Then it is summit and view enjoyment time, albeit with people aplenty….

The Rhyd Ddu path is a beauty, following the marvellous south ridge steadily downward, between the craggy drop into Cwm Llan and the relatively gentler, lake sprinkled landscape to the west. This is a really glorious climb/descent in its own right.


Some head for heights is needed and this is demanding walking in sheer mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared, and consider whether tackling it is sensible in poor conditions. Not much point in low cloud.

Well written up in the Cicerone book.

See our Snowdonia page for helpful practical information, photos ideas and any risks to consider.

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