Snowdon Horseshoe Record

For years I’d wanted to make time to get to know the hills of Snowdonia, having only been down a few times before to race or climb. I also wanted to have a go at the Snowdon Horseshoe record which seemed likely to present a good mix of scrambling and fast ridge running which I was bound to love.

I hit the weather right on and arrived to find the Pen y Pass carpark full at 6am on a Saturday - clearly a readjustment was required, even busy Ben Nevis seems deserted in comparison to its Welsh counterpart. Approaching from slightly further away was no hardship in the warming sun, and I enjoyed a leisurely recce of the route, finding some nice fast passages whilst exploring and discounting some alternatives. I was early enough to avoid queuing for the summit block on Snowdon, but later the sight of the orderly line galvanised me to depart for my record attempt at an early hour. The freedom of the flowing hill runner is a beautiful but selfish transience that does not deal well with external constraint: to queue would be to kill it mid-stride.

Musing aside, I had a good rest and a good feed and awoke early the next morning to another summery clear day. Jogging up to the pass I hid my water bottle and travelled light - just a gel and a windproof in my pocket. I hit the scramble up to Crib Goch hard and got a more direct line than the previous day. Skipping along that airy ridge in the early morning light surrounded by space and further off impressive rocky peaks which I would soon be atop focussed me on the pinpoint of the present.

After crossing Crib Goch I was at Bwlch Coch and pushed on along fast paths with the occasional scrambly section until the trigpoint of Crib y Ddysgl came into view. I didn’t have record holder Gareth Wyn Hughes’s split times from 2018 but was ahead of Es Tresidder’s numbers from 2009 so felt fairly confident that the record was in sight. Running up the main path to Snowdon’s summit now I was reminded of the terrible race I had here in 29 degrees heat many years ago - today was going much better.

A scree shortcut took me to the Watkin Path and its fast rock steps before the final climbs to Y Lliwedd’s peaks. West Peak is higher but I decided to follow Es and tag them both, given that it would only cost a few seconds.

Descending down to Llyn Llydaw is a bit winding and I suspect Gareth’s split was faster here. I determined to try and make up for this with a full beans effort down the final sprint of the Miners’ Track: a contrasting finish after the mountain terrain above.

I finished where I had started, touching the gate into the carpark from the Miners’ Track at 1hr 20mins and 16 seconds elapsed.

Strava GPS trace: 

Start time: 0724 on 12/5/19


Pen Y Pass: 0 (cumulative)
Crib Goch: 25.48 (25.48)
Crib Y Ddysgl:  13.43 (39.31)
Snowdon:  06.01 (45.32)
Lliwedd West summit: 15.08 (1.00.40)
Lliwedd East summit: 01.33 (1.02.13)
Pen Y Pass:  18.03 (1.20.16)


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