Walk of the week: the Snowdon horseshoe

Five reasons to take the rocky path, rain or shine

For me, the Snowdon Horseshoe - five peaks ina semi-circle round two lakes - combines nostalgia for all those other occasions when I have enjoyed being there and the surprise of newness, because of the ever-changing weatherand seasons.

For me, the Snowdon Horseshoe - five peaks ina semi-circle round two lakes - combines nostalgia for all those other occasions when I have enjoyed being there and the surprise of newness, because of the ever-changing weatherand seasons.

I first tackled it in snow and ice with crampons and an ice-axe as a 16-year-old on a winter outdoor pursuits course. It was brilliantly clear and bitterly cold. Since then, I have traversed the whole circuit in all weathers, but it goes without saying that you should not attempt this unless you have proper footwear and are experienced enough to cope with snow or sudden mists as well as bright sunshine.

In summer, you can avoid the crowds who walk at least part of the way, by rising at dawn. These days I take the lazy option and drive up to the Pen-y-Pass and set out from the car park there. You walk up the popular Pyg Track to Bwlch-y-Moch, looking back as you pause for breath and the view opens out behind you. Once at the Bwlch, in good weather you have your first sight of the full splendour of the horseshoe and its lakes.

Here, the route leaves the Pyg Track, and you embark on a delightful, energetic scramble up the steep side of the first peak, Grib Goch, the Red Crag. At the top, you can see the whole of Snowdonia stretched out around you. Ahead lie 400yds of knife-edge, with sheer drops of 300-400ft at each side - a difficult traverse in snow or bad weather - culminating in the Pinnacles.

From there, it is a comfortable walk over the second peak, Garnedd Ugain, and on to Snowdon itself - where you encounter the trippers who have done it the easy way, by train - and you can stop for a beer or a coffee at the summit cafe. Taking care to find the route down to Bwlch-y-Saethau, you slither down to the top of the Watkin Path, and then strike uphill along a rocky and sometimes precipitous pathto the twin peaks of Y Lliwedd, where there are marvellous views back over your route, and maybe a glimpse of the herd of goats that haunts these slopes.

Then it's downhill all the way to Llyn Llydaw, and back along the Miners' Track, where you pass the disused mine-workings and the ruined miners' barracks, now mellowed into the landscape.

You will have walked a mere seven miles or so, but take care to allow it the best part of a day - a varied, inspiring, and, at times, exciting day.

The writer, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, is President of the Ramblers' Association.

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