Tryfan The North Ridge


Tryfan is understandably a favourite amongst walkers. It is a huge fin shaped mountain of rock and boulders that provides a exciting scramble several hundred metre high, easily accessible from the laybys of the A5 in the majestic Ogwen Valley. This route takes you from the plentiful parking by the A5, past the climber magnet Milestone Buttress and up the steep North Ridge of Tryfan, passing the unique Canon Stone on the way up. There is no path once you are on the actual ridge so it becomes a challenge that requires a good head for heights and physical ability, as some of the holds and moves required can be physically demanding, depending on which route you find yourself. There are also a few traversing gullies that require tricky descents and ascents. The challenge is not over once you reach the top as the summit of Tryfan has two huge standing boulders named Adam and Eve. Legend has it that one who jumps the terrifying gap of around four feet between the two, known as the Leap of Faith, is then given the Freedom of Tryfan. After the summit there is a slightly easier descent via Bwlch Tryfan and the beautiful Llyn Bochlwyd back to the Ogwen Valley.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the shores of Llyn Ogwen in the Ogwen Valley situated on the main A5 trunk road between Bethesda and Betws-y-Coed. There is plenty of roadside parking and laybys on quieter days. The starting point of the walk is at grid ref SH 663 602 where the path leaves the main road at the eastern end of Llyn Ogwen and heads towards the Milestone Buttress.
  2. The path hand rails a stone wall on its right until it reaches the foot of Milestone Buttress. Here there is a wooden stile over the wall on the right. Ignore this stile and instead follow the path left and start a steeper ascent now with the buttress wall to the right.
  3. After just over a hundred metres the path reaches the shoulder of the Milestone Buttress. Here start to head south up a gully. There are many different routes possible here. They will all lead to the same place if you head in the southerly direction and carry on ascending. The path also passes up through a narrow chute at one point. It is said that no one ever takes the same route no matter how many times they climb the North Ridge of Tryfan.
  4. The path will eventually come to a large flat area with a large cairn of stones. Here, look west and you will see another flat open ledge. This one is almost completely white as it is covered in quartz rock. Head over to this area and you will find the incredible Canon Stone, a large splinter of rock that sticks out of the mountain at a forty five degree angle. You can even see the rock from the Idwal Cottage car park far below from where it looks like a canon.
  5. Once you have enjoyed a clamber on the Canon Rock go back to the flat area with stone cairn and head towards the foot of the huge stone wall that now blocks your way on to the ridge. There are many routes up the wall. If unsure which route is best for you then stand back and watch others go before you.
  6. Once up and over the wall you will be on the North Ridge proper. From here it is just fun scrambling over large boulders all the way to the summit. The only serious obstacles are a couple of traversing gullies that you have to climb down in to and up the other side.
  7. Once you reach the summit area the huge stone monoliths of Adam and Eve are hard to miss. The two huge boulders stand several feet high and four feet apart.
  8. Before taking the Leap of Faith you have to get on top one of these huge rocks which is a lot harder than you would think. Once on top of one, jump across to the other to complete the Leap of Faith and you will be rewarded the Freedom of Tryfan. The exposure makes what would normally be a straight forward leap a little scary to say the least. I had seriously jelly legs the first time I did this! It is much harder on a clear day too as you feel really exposed, with huge drops either side of the narrow summit area.
  9. The summit area of Tryfan is littered with huge boulders so take care when walking around. In bad weather you can even shelter under some of these boulders as they are so huge.
  10. To descend the mountain head south west for two hundred metres to the col between the summit and the lesser known Far South Peak. Here you will see the top of the Heather Terrace path whose ascent skirts the eastern side of the mountain.
  11. Continue heading south from here and descend past the Far South Peak to reach Bwlch Tryfan the col between Tryfan and Glyder Fach. Bwlch Tryfan has a stone wall with a stile.
  12. Do not cross the stile at Bwlch Tryfan and instead turn right and descend in a north-west direction into Cwm Bochlwyd and towards Llyn Bochlwyd.
  13. The path will reach the far north eastern corner of Llyn Bochlwyd. Just before this and before it crosses the Nant Bochlwyd, turn right and descend a path that heads towards and descends over Bochlwyd Buttress.
  14. This path will eventually reach the main A5 road, again by the shores of Llyn Ogwen. Turn right along the road and head back to the starting point of the walk.
  15. You can 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. On your way to Capel Curig pull in to the old car park area at the entrance to Gwern Gof Isaf camp site at grid ref SH 685 602. From here there is a fantastic view of Tryfan and you can even make out Adam and Eve. 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 Super Walker Glyderau & Carneddau Map Click to buy Harvey Snowdonia Mountain Map

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.