Glyder Fawr and Fach via Y Grib Bigog (Bristly Ridge)

Glyder Fawr and Fach via Y Grib Bigog (Bristly Ridge)

A circular walk taking in Bristly Ridge, the Cantilever Stone, Castell y Gwynt and the Devil’s Kitchen

This is one of the best circular walks in the Glyderrau range in Snowdonia that includes a bit of intense scrambling and some fun terrain. This particular route took us just under 6 hrs, we weren’t in a rush and we stopped lots for coffee / food and to take in the unbelieveable views.

Climbing up Bristly Ridge

If you’ve ever heard people chatting about walking in Snowdonia then it’s very likely Devil’s Kitchen, Bristly Ridge and the Cantilever Stone are all bound to crop up at some point and you can bag them all in one go with this route.

The Route MAP


Distance – 5.57 miles / 8.96 km

Where to Park for Bristly Ridge Route

There’s plenty of choice along the A5 but the closest to the start is just a little further on from the main Llyn Ogwen Cafe Car Park . Use LL57 3LZ. If it’s busy don’t park illegally as your car will get towed, just accept you’ll need to walk a bit or get on the park and ride.

Starting the Route

From the car park pic above you can see the path starts very clearly winding zig zag up to the right side of Tryfan.

There’s a little metal swing gate and the path is beautifully engineered to start with and will fill you with confidence that you are on the right track. As you climb it becomes more of a natural path.

Looking back at Llyn Ogwen and the A5

The path should be clear (ish) all the way to Llyn Bochlwyd.

LLyn Bochlwyd with Y Garn in the background

You’re now heading up to the stone wall where if you turn left you will head up to Tryfan or right is Bristly Ridge.

Bristly Ridge Section

You can see the wall very clearly in the picture below how the path up (on the left) reaches a stone wall. For Bristly ridge we walked up the right side of the wall, other websites say to stay on the left of it until you get to a stile… as long as you are following the wall I think you’re all good!

There’s a path you can make out that will take you up to Sinister Gully (which just means left gully, so no need to panic). You just have to keep picking your way up.

Not sure if you can manage the grade 1 Bristly Ridge scramble?

If tales of people getting ‘cragfast‘ on Bristly Ridge (or just the spiky name) put you off you can do this same walk avoiding it with a roughly 2k detour.

We took Bristly Ridge very slow and steady, choosing our path extremely carefully, in good weather and all with really light grippy footwear. Bristly Ridge is not for the faint-hearted even in good weather and definitely not for the inexperienced or ill-equipped if any chance of poor visibility or high winds.

Sinister Gully

There are some sections that feel quite sketchy, the path can be a bit difficult to work out, so you have to be in the scrambling mindset of three points of contact at all time and just take it slow.

Having said that, I’m a 5ft woman, I didn’t need any help from my fellow climbers to get up or down any of the rock steps, and nor did my 13 yr old son who was a good few inches shorter than me and my daughter. The pic above of ‘Sinister Gully’ was easier than some of the bits where you have to climb back down again. Take a look at some Bristly Ridge videos if you’re not sure.

Image by @jethroKiernan

Some people deliberately make the images and videos of it look really scary with angles from drones and GoPros to make it extra intrepid… although this amazing image from @jethroKiernan really shows it off in all its Bristly glory! I think you’ll know at the bottom of it if you want to do the less challenging route.

To avoid this grade 1 scramble, instead of turning right and heading up the chimneys of Bristly Ridge you take a detour heading over the style on the wall and walking down a path before heading up a tiring scree path until you reach the ridge and can walk up towards the summit.

Bristly Ridge looks less intimidating from this angle!

When you get back to the original route you’re bound to see a few relieved and adrenalin-fuelled people grinning having scrambled up Bristly Ridge and you’ll think, I’ll be brave next time and try it! (That’s what happened with me!)

Made it – at the top of Bristly Ridge 🙂

Next stop the Cantilever Stone

Have you even done the Glyders if you haven’t got a pic of yourself on the Cantilever Stone. This is such an iconic stone and if you’re brave you’ll add in a jump! Check out all the pics of people enjoying the stone here – #cantileverstone – you’ll spot the stone easily if you have good visibiliy (often because there are people on top of it)

Me on the Cantilever Stone on the way to Glyder Fawr on a walk with my best friend via the alternative route
With my family after going up Bristly Ridge!
Me and the family but decided was way too icy to get on it and we also took the alternative route up the scree – Bristly Ridge is only for expert climbers if there’s any ice whatsoever!

Glyder Fach Summit

The Glyder Fach summit is a big pile of stones, you can clamber up to make sure you have reached the very top or just keep walking if it’s busy. The views are amazing if you get lucky. The actual summit looks like a cairn made by giants

Castell y Gwynt

Castell y Gwynnt – Castle of the Winds

As soon as you have checked the summit off you head on to Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the Winds) which is far more impressive than either summit visually. It’s been used in numerous films as a backdrop. You can either walk around the left-hand side or scramble through the middle. I recommend the scramble having done both.

My friend pointing back at Glyder Fach summit with Castell y Gwynt in the foreground showing how you can also walk around the left side (or right side as showing in this pic)

Glyder Fawr

After getting past Castell y Gwynt you just carry on along the top until you reach another Big Pile of Stones (the actual translation of Gyder Fawr). You can congratulate yourself on having done 2 of the Welsh 3000’s!

From here the descent begins, the path is quite clear and on the right of the ridge before it turns into very loose scree with a large zig-zag path that takes you to the col between Glyder Fach and Y Garn.

The path down is very loose scree!

There is a small lake/tarn that you can see as you make your way down but just before you get to it you take a right fork in the path to head to the stone wall at the top of the Devil’s Kitchen descent.

The very clear path heading up to Y Garn if you decided to extend this walk.

You could easily extend this walk and head up to Y Garn, another Welsh 3000 and then head down a ridge, there are loads of options with routes down so it’s easy to think you’ll just keep going but remember you have to trudge back to your car when you get down!

Twll Du – Devil’s Kitchen

Looking down the path with The Devil’s kitchen to the left

The path is a series of steps that have been engineered with just a few rocks to scramble over. It’s a beautiful but very steep descent, your knees will feel it the next day (a friend of mine told me recently he tore his meniscus on his knee going down this route!)

Twll Du is the Welsh name for Devil’s Kitchen it means ‘black hole’ which is very apt as from a distance the black crack is very obvious. The English name, Devil’s Kitchen comes from the plume of ‘steam’ that is often seen rising from the crack and looks like a chimney, or the Devil cooking as you could easily imagine that he might choose to live in a dank, black hole like this. Up close it’s actually rather beautiful with water dripping through.

There’s a decision to go round Cwm Idawl left or right – both are lovely so take your pick, you will end up at a really easy-to-follow path, not at all boggy and it’s a simple walk back to the visitor centre and then along the road to whichever car park you chose.

Looking across at Pen yr Ole Wen and down towards Llyn Idwal, you can choose which way to go around the lake
The path is well maintained around the lake on both sides
Beautiful clear waters of Llyn Idwal
Llyn Idwal – a stunning lake, if it’s a nice day, well worth bringing your swimming kit with you so you can cool off after the walk!

Let me know if you have walked this route before or if you have any questions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: