So I’m currently on this massive hypomanic spree that’s seen me start the week by driving to Snowdonia National Park on Monday (10th) and climbing mount Snowdon, and will end the current week with me being in Aberdeen or possibly Skye, I haven’t quite decided yet. Suffice to say people are getting worn out from being around me.
We started Snowdon after I’d been up all night the night before, so I was able to start getting ready pretty early, and we set off on the three hour drive around 9am in the morning. The internet said to allow 6 hours up and down to climb Snowdon, so we knew we had plenty of time.
We arrived around 1:30pm due to traffic and parked in a pretty decent car park that was a fair bit cheaper than the one 100m down the road. I would recommend parking in a municipal car park – we paid £4 (normally £5, drops to £4 after 1pm) and the other one was charging £7 but so many people were parked there for some reason! There was the option of a train to the top but I wanted to walk up.
We followed the signs for the mountain and followed an easy tarmac track as it started to ascend, until we got to a point where the tarmac became a track made of aggregate. There were plenty of sheep but no goats.
Up was up, and there was so very much of it. We didn’t have enough water, since SOMEBODY (naming no names but it wasn’t me) drank nearly the whole bottle in one gulp, but there was a little cafe/shop about half way up the mountain, so we bought more water, and it wasn’t a complete rip off. I also had a rocket lolly for the sugar as I needed a bit of energy. We had taken some Linda McCartney meatfree sausage rolls with us that I’d cooked, and these ended up being our lunch. They were tasty as usual. The path passed under the train track for the first time.
We got to a point where the path passed the train track a second time, and then the whole experience took a turn for the worse. Literally it was like someone had put a hood up over the whole area and all we could see in every direction was pure white fog. It stayed this way for the rest of the journey.
We reached the top and it reminded me of that level in Tomb Raider II where Lara is jumping around on pieces of rock – I think it was called Floating Islands, it was one of the last levels in the game anyway, and the greenery and lack of any sort of view beyond the edges of rocky outcrops at the top of Snowdon reminded me of this. We avoided the cafe/train station and anyway they were closed, and we just got back down again, we didn’t rush as much as on Ben Lomond because it wasn’t as cold, but I was certainly glad of my snowboarding gloves. We reached the top at 5:10pm.
The descent was a killer, and my bones under my knees were protesting painfully at every step, which was a nuisance because there was so much down to descend and I heartily wished for a scooter or some rollerskates (but my skates were at home and anyway they’re aggressive inlines so no good for cross country) so I could save my leg bones the trouble. When I got back to the tarmac I did the rest backwards and pretty much everyone who passed me started to do the same, it was a LOT easier and I think it saved my toenails.
We stopped to
catch our breath enjoy the view for a minute just at the exact moment when a shepherd was gathering his sheep with his sheepdog and a whistle. I’d seen it all before on One Man And His Dog (the reality TV show about shepherding from years ago) but in the area I’m from we have fields and gates, so as a child it was rare to see the sheep being gathered up by a dog like that. It was very special to be able to watch this and I tried to get some good photos but I only had my phone with me (my camera weighs 1lb I’m not taking that up a mountain!!) so I don’t think they came out so good. Judge for yourself:
At the bottom, a cup of tea would have been nice but everywhere in Llanberis seems to close at 5 which is odd for a tourist hub. I think a lot of people avoid the Llanberis path because it’s seen as the “easy” tourist path, but as a seasoned hillwalker I found it to be both a challenge but not unachievable. The length of the walk makes it the longest with the most ascent of any of the Snowdon paths and I am not sure you should legitimately be able to say “I’ve climbed Snowdon” if you’ve never done Llanberis because all the other routes start about half way up so the ascent is far less! I thoroughly enjoyed the tourist path because there was hardly anyone on it and I hope that this was just a quiet day because I’d hate for the halfway cafe and the places in Llanberis to go out of business just because people are walking route snobs.
The other thing about Llanberis is that’s where the train goes from, so a lot of people get the train up and walk back down again. I balked at the price because it’s £15 for a single or £20 for a return ticket on the train!! I thought about how many shanks’s ponies I could buy for that much money and decided it wasn’t worth the price of a pair of shoes to go up in a train, even an awesome uphill mountain train.
In the absence of any open eateries, we went back to Conwy and got a McDonald’s from the retail park drive thru then drove home. I was glad we ate something because every freaking motorway between Conwy and our house was closed and I had to divert the car so many times!