Pen Yr Ole Wen Via the East Ridge – Another Ogwen Valley Delight

Views back to tryfan from pen yr ole wen
Pen Yr Ole Wen looked absolutely magnificent from Devil's Kitchen when I hiked up there earlier in the year. So I knew then that my next trip to Snowdonia's Ogwen Valley simply had to be up to Pen Yr Ole Wen's summit. I took that hike up via the East Ridge in early May 2024. Here's the route, some photos and how it all went.

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I’ve made no secret of my love for the Ogwen Valley. And when I was hiking up Y Garn via Devil’s Kitchen earlier this year, one of the things I noticed was the incredible views back over Pen Yr Ole Wen. And that summit is one that I hadn’t bagged before. So on a quiet, sunny, term time midweek morning, I headed over to get it! 

coffee on the summit of Pen Yr Ole Went

Even the worst instant coffee in the world tastes pretty decent on a mountain summit. Look how utterly thrilled I look with myself!

Here’s how the hike went:

Hike date9th May 2024
Weather conditionsA clear day. Very warm on that hill!
Distance hiked

Approx 8.6km

(as measured on Apple Watch. Longer than All Trails estimate but partly because I have tendency to wander off the path for a look at the views etc during a walk)

Walking time4.5 hours
(including all the photo stops and a good 30 mins flying the drone on the summit)
Elevation gain total665m
TerrainRocky ground but relatively simple to follow paths most of the way. A short scramble both up and down as I took the same route back.
Hiked with

Solo

Pen Yr Ole Wen Via East Ridge Route

I was tight for time on this particular day. I’d left my house at 5am and had to be back home for a school run. So I knew I needed a short, sweet route.

I opted for the East Ridge and instead of turning it into an extended circular through the Carneddau (much of which I did in September last year), I decided I would go up and down the same way for what looked to be the shortest day, giving me plenty of time to get back home.

Here’s the route I took:

The route starts on a private road just off the A5. It soon turns into a stepped path which criss-crosses a stream a few times. Eventually you come to an area where the path is really easy to follow (it looks like this:).

footpath up pen yr ole wen east ridge

Not far beyond here, it starts winding around to the left and then you get a very clear view of the scramble ahead.

pen yr ole wen east ridge scramble

From a distance, I actually thought the scramble was a larger undertaking than I was expecting. But the reality is that for most of it (as you realise when you get to it) you are pretty much hiking but just having to balance yourself with a hand here or there.

There is one area that does require some actual scrambling though:

pen yr ole wen scramble east ridge route

This section was the only section that required any “real” scrambling I would say and it is over quickly. I scrambled back down the same route too and it had plenty of hand holds and foot holds.

There’s no real exposure here either – that’s not to say that a fall wouldn’t still have serious consequences though so the usual case and caution should be taken.

I did this on a dry day but I imagine the rock would be greasy and slippery when wet.

From the top of here what you have a steep (relentless in the heat of the day, to be honest) walk up a path then to the summit:

That last section was something I found very tiring actually as the weather warmed up but it was easy enough to follow.

And the reward? A summit to myself with some utterly incredible views:

Pen Yr Ole Wen Summit

How Hard is the Scramble?

This is going to depend hugely on your own experience of scrambling and tolerance for heights.

I thought this, personally, was a really easy straightforward scramble and it was short.

Caveats there:

  1. I had a really dry day. This could be much more difficult in wet weather
  2. I have a pretty decent head for heights
  3. I’ve completed a number of scrambling routes now

The nearest thing I can compare it too is Jack’s Rake up Pavey Ark in terms of scrambling style but it’s a much, much shorter scramble.

How Difficult is it to Hike Pen Yr Ole Wen?

This route was relatively short and with the exception of one scramble, was a fairly straightforward up hill hike.

It will require a reasonable level of fitness and the incline is steep in parts but this is, in my view, a less difficult route than others in the Ogwen Valley like Y Garn. And of course, it’s a much, much easier undertaking than the Tryfan North Ridge.

The Views of Tryfan

The views back to Tryfan almost the entire way up Pen Yr Ole Wen are just incredible.

Tryfan is one of the mountains that is just as amazing to look at as it is to climb up, isn’t it?

Couldn’t resist a selfie with Tryfan 😂 

views of tryfan from pen yr ole wen

I spent a remarkable amount of time turning around to look back at and take photos of Tryfan on this hike up Pen Yr Ole Wen.

Would I Hike Up Pen Yr Ole Wen Again?

Absolutely. I’d love to hike up there and then across the Carneddau when I get a full day. But for a short route in the Ogwen Valley, I would absolutely do the East ridge up Pen Yr Ole Wen and back again. 

It was stunning.

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