A walk - Llyn Idwal, the best route up Y Garn and a visit to The Mushroom Garden


After dropping off some paintings at Galeri Betws-y-Coed, I found myself in Snowdonia with the sun breaking through the cloud and the best part of an afternoon left before it would be setting. What to do? Squeeze in a walk, of course, and get some inspiration for future works.

I chose to climb Y Garn, the mountain that sits square at the northern end of Nant Gwynant. I'd stop off at Llyn Idwal, which remained something of an obvious gap in my portfolio. Despite being one of the most popular visitor locations in the National Park, I had never managed to coincide a visit with (i) the right weather and (ii) having my camera with me. Therefore, I had never painted it.

The walk I am about to describe is just over 6 miles long. Most, though not all, is on obvious paths and the total ascent is around 2,700 feet. A GPX file of the route can be downloaded here.

I parked for free in the lay-by a short distance south of Ogwen Cottage visitor centre, where the parking is chargeable.

Booted and suited, I made my way along the main road to the visitor centre and took the steps to its left. I crossed the footbridge and joined the made up path that winds its way gently to Llyn Idwal. Once there, I made for the gravel beach on the northern shore and got the shots I wanted. Although it must be said that the tranquil scene in the photos belies the chaos that surrounded me; a noisy group of 30 or 40 school children was keeping me company, just out of shot.

From here, I had decided that my ascent of Y Garn would be via Pinnacle Crag. This is, in my view, the most pleasing way up to Y Garn when the weather is fine. While other routes, such as the Devil's Kitchen or the scrambles up Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, may be more challenging and 'exciting', they don't offer the same stupendous 360 degree views that I would be enjoying today.

On either side of you as you climb are stunning views down into adjacent cwms, while in the mid