Nantle Ridge, Snowdonia, Wales

Traversing Snowdonia’s Nantlle Ridge

Author: Rob Slade

I remember when I first laid eyes on Snowdonia, years ago while on a school trip to Holyhead. I was mesmerised by the dark, craggy silhouettes that stretched toward the sky and left us in shade. Admittedly, I’m still just as awe-struck by them now as I was then. So when Merrell tasked us with a mission to head to the mountains in order to test out the new Chameleon 7 boots, there was only one place for it. We were going to Snowdonia.

The Chameleon 7 boots were first launched 16 years ago, but the brand has completely revamped the line for 2018, reducing the weight while still offering stability and protection in abundance. With many of the range’s popular peaks already in the bag this year, we decided to head to the much quieter Nantlle Ridge for this weekend adventure.

Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia, Wales
Photo: Dave Brown

Those I had spoke to about the ridge seemed to hold it very close to their heart, and after looking at photos I could see why. It’s rugged, exposed and impressive from all angles. Unfortunately, when we started our walk from Rhyd-Ddu we couldn’t really see it because of low cloud. It was a fairly damp and muddy start to the day, but it provided a great opportunity to test the Chameleon 7s, which coped admirably in the mud.

The climb up to Y Garn (633m) felt like a bit of a slog on a Saturday morning, but once the legs had settled down and we gained elevation, the rugged and exposed nature of the ridge reared its head. Upon reaching the summit of Y Garn, we hunkered down for a snack before moving off.
Then things started to get tasty. Visibility was still minimal, so as we walked along the ridge the big drop offs seemed virtually endless.

Nantlle Rridge
Photo: Baz Chapman

The terrain twisted its way up and down the ridge’s various peaks with grassy stretches occasionally giving us a respite from the large slippery rocks scattered across the ground. The section around Mynydd Drws-y-Coed (695m) and Trum y Ddysgl (709m) was particularly fun, with some mild scrambling and big drops keeping things interesting.

As we moved along the ridge the clouds suddenly started to clear, and we were able to enjoy the interesting, grassy arête across to Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd (653m) before tackling Craig Cwm Silyn (734m). The latter is where you’ll find most of the scrambling, though it’s easily avoided if it’s not your type of fun. This marked the turnaround point for us, as we briefly headed back the way we came before skirting off the ridge and through the enchanting Beddgelert Forest.

The walking had been brilliant, the views (when the clouds cleared) were stunning, and the Chameleon 7s did their job. That’s what I call a day well spent…

The Chameleon 7

Merrell Chameleon 7 hiking boots

First launched in 2001, the Merrell Chameleon boot has been a reliable option for walkers over the past decade. The new Chameleon 7 stays true to the characteristics that have made it a favourite for years, with a lightweight, athletic construction helping you remain nimble on your feet while keeping you going in comfort on long adventures. It’s available in both Gore-Tex and non-waterproof options. Find out more on the Merrell website.

After the hike

Zip World zip safari north Wales

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the next day, you could do much worse than heading to Zip World Fforest (near Betws-y-Coed) for a Zip Safari. Essentially, you’ll get strapped into a harness and set off on a high ropes course with thrilling zip lines and challenging obstacles suspended in the forest canopy. To find out more, head over to the Zip World website.