The first bank holiday weekend of May, Hamish and I road tripped up to North Wales and ticked off an item that was sitting very high on my bucket list - we climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. I was not expecting Wales to be quite so beautiful and the routes we travelled certainly highlighted the reason Welsh people are so proud of their country. We took the long but scenic coastal route up to Caernarfon, the town we would be based in for the weekend. Along the way stopped off for lunch at Aberystwyth. I won't lie, it is a LONG drive from London and by the time we reached Aberystwyth we were more than a little tired of driving, our stomachs were grumbling and we were just plain grumpy. All up,these factors may have contributed to the fact, but I just wasn’t all that sold on Aberystwyth.
On Sunday morning, despite staying in possibly the noisiest accommodation I have ever stayed in, we woke up fresh and bright eyed (thank you sleeping pills and ear plugs) and made our way to the mountain. We chose to hike the Pyg route which begins at the Pen Y Pass parking lot. I had read online that this parking lot fills fast, but was not expecting it to be full before 8:15am. It was. We were directed to an overflow parking lot about 3miles down the road and then took a local bus back to the original parking destination. Unless you are planning on hiking up at the crack of dawn, I seriously recommend parking at the lower car park from the get go, the bus service was reliable and convenient and I think the parking may have actually been a bit cheaper – win!
The walk itself is just beautiful with views that are guaranteed to make you feel like you are experiencing one of those moments that you just know will become a cherished lifelong memory. The hike up is about 6km in distance with roughly a 1km vertical climb meaning that at parts, it is pretty steep and requires full on hands and knees scrambling. Once we had reached the top we hurried to get out of the cold (it was CHILLY!) and into the little cafe where we spent nearly 2 hours drinking hot chocolate and waiting for the clouds to clear. The clouds were stubborn and not only did they refuse to clear, they also didn’t show any sign of lessening so we admitted defeat and made our way back down.
We started the descent on the same route we climbed, the Pyg, but then turned off about 2km down and took the Miners route the rest of the way. The Pyg is the higher route, so you are treated to some lovely birds eye views of the lakes and scenery while the Miners is the perfect way to experience those brilliant views and lakes up close. The Miners has a (very) sharp and steep section, before gently easing off and weaving its way through the lakes – the combination of the two routes really is the best of both! A word of warning, don’t be fooled into thinking once you have made it up, the hard part is over. This is NOT the case. The walk down was slippery and steep (I went down on my bum for a few of the hairier parts) and it would be easy to misplace a step and end up with a twisted ankle or worse – not the best way to end a great day I can imagine. Saying that, it is essential that you wear good ankle boots, we had some new ones we had purchased on our recent holiday to South Africa and they were amazing!
Overall we loved our day climbing Snowdon and exploring a little bit of the Snowdonia National Park and North Wales (more blog posts to follow). We will definitely be returning to the area, especially now that we are the new owners of a nifty little tent and some camping gear which we broke in this past weekend. Wales certainly has not seen the back of us.