Snowdon via Watkin Path
The Watkin Path is “the most demanding route direct to the summit of Snowdon”, since it starts at the lowest elevation of any of the main routes. It was first conceived by Edward Watkin, a railway owner who had attempted to build a railway tunnel under the English Channel, and had a summer home in Nant Gwynant near the start of the path. It was originally designed as a donkey track and opened in 1892.
The start of the Watkin Path has been described as “the prettiest beginning” of the routes up Snowdon. It begins at Bethania on the A498 and climbs initially through old broadleaved woodland. After leaving the woods, the path climbs past the waterfalls of the Afon Llan to the glacial cirque of Cwm Llan, crossing a disused incline from an abandoned slate quarry. It then reaches Plas Cwmllan, formerly the home of the quarry manager for the South Snowdon Slate Works beyond, and later used for target practice by commandos during the Second World War. Near Plas Cwmllan is the large boulder known as Gladstone Rock, which bears a plaque commemorating a speech given in 1892 by William Ewart Gladstone, the then 83-year-old Prime Minister, on the subject of Justice for Wales. The slate workings in Cwm Llan were opened in 1840, but closed in 1882 due to the expense of transporting the slate to the sea at Porthmadog. Various buildings, including barracks and dressing sheds, remain.
From the slate quarries, the Watkin Path veers to the north-east to reach Bwlch Ciliau, the col between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd, which is marked by a large orange-brown cairn. From here, it heads west to meet the Rhyd Ddu Path at a standing stone shortly below the summit of Snowdon.
Scenes from Carry On… Up the Khyber were filmed on the lower part of the Watkin Path in 1968, with the Watkin Path representing the Khyber Pass in the film. One of the stars of the film, Angela Douglas, unveiled a plaque at the precise location where filming took place in 2005 to commemorate the location filming and it forms part of the North Wales Film and Television Trail, run by the Wales Screen Commission.