Hike Distance 5.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,373 ft
Last night the weather forecast for today changed and we suddenly had a 4-5 hour window of decent weather. After some quick research, we decided to try and hike Devil's Kitchen in the Ogwen Valley. It was less than a 30 minute drive from the Airbnb so we figured we had nothing to lose by at least trying for some outdoor adventure. This hike circles around one of the best examples of a glaciated valley in Britain and offered some incredible views and fun scrambling.
The start of this hike was a sign of the things to come. The water of Llyn (Welsh for lake) Idwal cascading over rocks, gave a relaxing and peaceful feeling listening to the sound of water rushing over the stones.
A well marked path led from the Ogwen cottage and car park to Llyn Idwal. Light rain was falling as we started the hike but the fast moving clouds just added to the atmosphere.
To our left was Tryfan, one of the most famous and recognizable peaks in Wales. At 3,010 feet it is the 15th highest mountain in Wales. Tryfan was voted Britain’s favorite mountain by Trail magazine. If we had more time, it would have been on our list of hikes to complete.
The footpath meandered toward Llyn Idwal. The low clouds partially hid the mountains and valley surrounding the lake.
We had an unobstructed view of Cwm (Welsh for corrie or valley) Idwal when we reached the shore. This classic semicircular glacial corrie is surrounded by high crags, screes, and moraines with Llyn Idwal on its floor.
The Idwal Slabs or rock face leading to Glyder Fawr mountain (far left) and the boulder strewn path leading to Devil's Kitchen (center) is visible. It was an incredible sight. Many others agree with that opinion; Cwm Idwal was ranked the 7th greatest natural wonder in Britain in a 2005 survey.
Standing on the opposite side of Llyn Idwal, we had a better view of the Idwal Slabs (Welsh: Rhiwiau Caws) and the Glyder Fawr summit behind the ridge in the (left of center) background. We were lucky, by the time we had walked to this location the clouds had temporarily lifted.
The smooth stone-lined trail ended and the trail became a gravel path. Flowering heather lined the path.
We saw a climber as we approached the area know as the main slab. The Idwal Slabs and cliffs around the head of Cwm Idwal are a popular rock climbing area.
At several spots we crossed streams that poured over the ridge above us. From here the trails leaves the lake path and rises to meet the base of the Cwm Idwal headwall.
We started our climb through the moraine; some of the boulders that had looked so small from a distance were the size of a car. In many areas, the trail was literally a boulder staircase.
Looking toward the 3,209 foot summit of Pen yr Ole Wen and across Llyn Idwal. Pen yr Ole Wen is the seventh highest mountain in Wales.
As we climbed higher, the trail became less defined and more steep. Its easy to see why it's referred to as Cliff of the Goat (Welsh: Clogwyn y Geifr). It was a two-handed scramble at times.
Devil's Kitchen was directly in front of us but the trail continued to the left of the notch. The Welsh name for Devil’s Kitchen is Twll Du, meaning ‘black hole’. Twll Du earned its name because of the plume of steam that is often seen rising from the crack that resembles a chimney. It’s said when steam is seen rising from the 'chimney', the Devil is cooking. No steam today.
Dave at the top of Devil's Kitchen looking down as I approached the ridge. Although Devil's Kitchen is extremely popular, we only saw a handful of other hikers over the 1/2 mile of trail leading from the shoreline to Devil's Kitchen.
The view from Twll Du looking toward the pyramid shaped Pen yr Ole Wen. It anchors the southern end of the Carneddau range. This range include the largest contiguous areas of high ground (over 2,500 to 3,000 ft high) in Wales and England, as well as six or seven of the highest peaks in the country. The last ice sheet, when it retreated about 10,000 years ago, left behind a landscape of smooth summits above erratic boulders and scree at the foot of cliffs, and moraines that created shallow lakes in the valleys.
The view of Ogwen Valley from Twll Du. The valley is bordered on the left side by the Glyderau mountains and on the right side by the Carneddau mountains.
Since the weather was cooperating, we decided to continue hiking another 30 minutes on the trail leading to Y Garn. Although we'd have liked to complete the Y Garn circuit, the fog kept our hiking desires in check. In the distance above the fog was the Y Garn summit at 3,107 ft.
We stopped for lunch and enjoyed the views until it was time to start our descent.
From our lunch spot, in the distance we could see Tryfan's summit piercing the cloud cover.
The path down was easy to follow but a couple of times I lost the trail as the result of looking for photo opportunities. Dave waited patiently for me after I wandered off for a picture. The talus slope was covered in rock fragments either deposited by glaciers or accumulated through periodic rockfall from adjacent cliff face.
Somehow the views heading down were just as amazing as those on the way up. These are my favorite photos of the hike. This view says it all.
One of the boulder field, located beneath the cliff, contained dozens of gigantic rocks that had probably fallen from the face of Cliff of the Goat and Devil's Kitchen.
Once over the boulder field, the trail descended gently toward the lake. Our final look back at Devil's Kitchen and the Cwm Idwal.
For an unplanned hike this was a gem. What a great introduction to Snowdonia NP.
Thank you Under Armour's MapMyRun App for the hike overview and data.
Time to head back to Tegarth and a pint at the local pub.