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  To the Castle of the Winds

One of the most majestic and inspiring routes in Snowdonia

The ridge of The Glyders is one of the most majestic and inspiring in Snowdonia. The route to these airy heights is equally stimulating, commencing on the shore of Llyn Ogwen where its waters are lost over a series of foaming falls. High above is Llyn Idwal, nestling beneath the buttresses of Glyder Fawr; it is a National Nature Reserve with unusual sub-alpine, sub-arctic flora. A steep scramble up the renowned Bristly Ridge sees the walk emerge into a rocky wilderness, a faint path taking off for Glyder Fach and, a little further, Glyder Fawr and the remarkable shattered pinnacles of Castell y Gwynt. Needless to say there are marvelous views all round, none more so than to neighbouring Tryfan, a huge, frost-shattered buttress of volcanic rocks towering above Ogwen. Adventurous paths tumble past Llyn Idwal back to Idwal Cottage .

From the main car park near Ogwen Youth Hostel take the sturdy path beside the refreshment block and rise with it for about 500 yards, past a stile and footbridge.As the main path veers away right, keep ahead along the less obvious track, veering gradually right and heading for the lowest point in the pass ahead, where the slope of Bristly Ridge disappears behind the near ridge. This rises increasingly steeply to reach a series of falls and shoots. Keep this to your left, climbing to reach the shoreline of Llyn Bochlwyd. With this on your right, look slightly left for a path up into the dramatic pass between Tryfan and the ridge of The Glyders. At the top of this pass, Bwlch Tryfan, climb the ladder stile and prepare for a steep climb.

You're set to climb Bristly Ridge, one of the foremost ascents in the Snowdonia walkers' canon. It is a very steep climb, so take it easy and select a route appropriate to your experience. Off to your right are superb views to Y Garn and up the Nant Ffrancon glaciated valley to distant Anglessey. In time you'll reach the top of the climb as the path levels out to reach a great cairn on the ridge.

Keep right, soon reaching the first distinctive rock formation, Y Gwyliwr (The Cantilever). Other paths join here and a well-walked route takes you onwards past the fantastic formations of Castell y Gwynt – “Castle of the Winds” to reach the summit of Glyder Fawr, at 999m one of Wales ' highest peaks. There are marvelous views across Snowdonia, including Snowdon itself to the southwest and the remote Carneddau off to the north.

It's all downhill from here-on! Look ahead-right from the peak to locate a path heading down towards the distant, small lake of Llyn y Cwn. Put this lonely lake on your left and head half-right to reach the sudden edge of a great embankment and the renowned Devil's Kitchen descent; in Welsh Twll Du, literally “Black Hole”. This ravine demands respect, so again take plenty of time in selecting your route down. Below is the beautifully located Llyn Idwal; your route is along the left side of this, sweeping around the far end to the outlet stream and a bridge. The well-worn path, a virtual walker's motorway, now drops to rejoin the initial outward route; turn left to return to the car park.

This is a strenuous walk and recommended only for those with experience of mountain walking. There are steep sections, and the descent of the Devil's Kitchen is a scramble down a ravine. This route should only be attempted in clear, fine weather; in wet and winter weather the rocky surfaces are treacherous; on misty days the route is easily missed.

Map - click to enlarge

DISTANCE : c. 5 miles (8 km)
TIME: Allow 4 - 5 hours
TERRAIN: Steep, rocky paths, some easy scrambling - boots essential. There are very steep drops along the route, which is for confident and experienced walkers only.
PARKING: Ogwen Car park, or lakeside lay-byes if full.
LOCATION: Ogwen is beside the A5 road about 10 miles north west of Betws-y-Coed.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: "Snowdon Sherpa" seasonal services from Bangor and Betws-y-Coed pass Ogwen.
O.S. DETAILS: OS Map Explorer Sheet OL17
GRID REF: SH 649604

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