Y Garn & Cwm Idwal

Y Garn

Y Garn is a fantastic mountain sitting at the north end of Snowdonia's proper mountains range The Glyders. These huge, dark and rough mountains provide the most exciting mountain playground in Wales. This walk starts at Idwal Cottage by Llyn Ogwen where there is plenty of free layby parking. The walk takes you to the shores of the beautiful Llyn Idwal sitting in the huge glacial amphitheatre of Cwm Idwal, then up the exciting North East Ridge to Y Garn. The views from which are incredible. The descent takes you by the infamous Devil's Kitchen path and back through Cwm Idwal to complete an amazing day out in the mountains. This is a great half day walk with easy access. There is the option to stay at the Idwal Cottage Youth Hostel at the start of the walk and there are pub and cafes in both nearby Bethesda and Capel Curig. Camp sites are available just down the road near the foot of Tryfan.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts at Idwal Cottage on the A5 by Llyn Ogwen in the Ogwen Valley. There is plenty of roadside parking in the numerous A5 laybys and a pay and display car park by Idwal Cottage Youth Hostel at grid reference SH649603.
  2. Look for the cafe and toilet block buildings on the south east edge of the main car park. Follow the footpath towards Llyn Idwal that heads off from directly behind these buildings.
  3. The path will go through an iron gate before crossing a footbridge over the Llyn Idwal outflow stream. Follow the path as it heads south east then switches back on itself to head south west to Llyn Idwal.
  4. After taking in the stunning scenes from the shores of Llyn Idwal head across a footbridge again crossing the outflow and then head west along the northern shore of Llyn Idwal.
  5. Once you reach the northern tip of Llyn Idwal the path will start to ascend to the right. Head up this ascent passing through a gate in a stone wall then ascending steeper and eventually on to the top of Pinnacle Crag.
  6. After a fairly sharp climb you will top out at a slightly flatter section where you can now see in to the high glacial cwm of Cwm Clyd. Head right now and on to the start of the proper north east ridge of Y Garn.
  7. The ridge is fairly steep in places but there is a path of sorts if you stick to the left. Sticking to the ridge crest is more fun but be careful of cornices in winter months. The ridge isn't too technical or exposed and any confident hill walker will be fine.
  8. You top out on the summit plateau surprisingly quickly as the ridge isn't that long. Once on the summit plateau turn left and ascend south avoiding the steep cliffs on the left, again avoid the cornice here in winter too. The summit itself is fairly obvious as it has a large stone cairn which can be a blessing in strong winds.
  9. To descend the mountain head south then south east down the long slopes to eventually reach a stile crossing a fence. Cross the stile and head in the same south to south east direction on the obvious path until you reach Llyn y Cwn.
  10. When you reach Llyn y Cwn turn left and walk round until you reach its eastern side. From here head north east along a path until it reaches a wide track heading downhill with stunning views ahead to Pen yr Ole Wen across the Ogwen Valley.
  11. The wide track eventually reaches a small old stone wall that crosses its path. The steep rocky path continues a tricky descent. Crampons definitely needed here in winter. The path turns left under the crags and heads towards the bottom of the Devil's Kitchen, a huge cold rock gully now on your left.
  12. After admiring or looking frightfully at the foreboding gully of the Devil's Kitchen the path continues its tricky descent towards Llyn Idwal before eventually flattening out to a much simpler affair before reaching Llyn Idwal below the famous climbing slopes of The Idwal Slabs.
  13. The path now heads north around the eastern shores of Llyn Idwal and reaches the path you left earlier in the day. Follow the path to the right back to Idwal Cottage to reach the start of the walk.
  14. You could finish off the day by visiting Capel Curig a few miles down the road where you can shop, eat and drink at the Pinnacle Cafe & Outdoor Shop, Joe Browns or one of the friendly local hotels. The village of Bethesda north of the Ogwen Valley also has numerous cafes and pubs.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL17 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 115 Map Click to buy Harvey Snowdonia Mountain Map Click to buy Pathfinder Snowdonia Walk Guides

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.