For Easter weekend I booked a 3 night stay in North Wales in order to finally bag Snowdon and give my legs an active 'rest' before the marathon. With work commitments and Gatsby's fear of metal staircases we only stayed 1 night in the end but we had such a great time that I realised you don't need much more than one night making this the perfect weekend adventure.
We left very early on the morning of Good Friday (and not Thursday night as planned) and arrived shortly after 9:30am. We (me, my boyfriend and my dog Gatsby) checked into our Air BnB just outside Bets y Coed and grabbed a fully cooked breakfast to fuel our day. We had planned to climb Snowdon right away so that we had achieved our aim of the trip early on but we decided we were a bit late and that we'd be better with an early start the next day.
Instead we set off for Tryfan. If you're not familiar with the Welsh mountains Tryfan is one tricky peak and it's actually known as the only mountain in Wales which you can't climb without using your hands. I'd spent some time beforehand seeking the opinion of more experienced climbers on how suitable Tryfan was for a dog. The consensus was that it would be tricky but doable given that Gatsby is a collie and that an adventure harness would help so that we could lift him up the tough parts.
We set off ready for a challenge. G was absolutely amazing, he was up the path like a little mountain goat, finding his own route and climbing really well. We needn't have worried about him at all. As the climb progressed and the wind started to pick up Andy got more concerned about continuing to the summit. Tryfan is for more experienced climbers and whilst Andy had done it a few times Gatsby and I hadn't. After about 10 minutes of questioning Andy called it, we were going back down. None of us were struggling at that point but there were very few people around and the weather was getting worse.
We consulted the map on the way down and realised there was a great walk just a short drive away. All the gear off, a short drive and then all the gear on again we were set for another climb. This time the much more manageable Glyder Fawr.
If you're new to North Wales I would definitely recommend this as the route has it all; mountains, lakes, rivers and great views. We set off from the car park and within a few minutes we were up on the moorland negotiating rivers and I was testing the new Merrell Siren Q2s on some climbing.
As we reached the lake we headed anticlockwise across the beach first. The scenery was really so gorgeous, Wales did not disappoint. The route had a few people on it (which I always like for safety) but essentially we felt like we had the area to ourselves which is something I really love.
We did our route in a few hours and then headed into the village of Bets y Coed. If you love adventure there are tonnes of outdoor shops and I actually found my very first pair of women's walking trousers that fit, a gorgeous Montane pair which I love already. We chose a really gorgeous restaurant for dinner but then when we got back to the B&B we decided we'd rather get dinner there and stay in with G for an early night and an early start.
I was up bright and early and so excited. The weather wasn't perfect but I wasn't really worrying about the views. For someone who has already climbed Kilimanjaro not having climbed Snowdon seemed a bit wrong and I'd been keen to climb it ever since I'd missed out in my Kili training.
The car park was full when we arrived so we drove a short distance, just round from the Pen-y Pass car park and onto the A498 and parked there. (Be really careful of the parking restrictions though, it's free if you have all four wheels off the road but there were a lot of people on that road who got parking tickets). We then walked for half an hour to the beginning of the route.
In terms of routes up Snowdon, there are six official paths. The Llanberis Path (also known as the Visitor's Path) this isn't the shortest - in fact at 9 miles out and back it's actually the longest - but it's the least steep and most accessible for anyone. The train track follows this route - yep, if you didn't know there is a train that will take you to and from the summit. There is also, the Miners Path, the Pyg Track, the Watkin Path, the Rhyd Ddu Path and the Snowdon Ranger. For distances, where to park and some fun facts, check out this link on Visit Snowdonia.
I was keen to do two different routes because I hate an out and back and so we set off on the Pyg Track. It was very busy at the start and we were queuing to get past the tricky parts. People were complaining which was a real shame as my first thought was "Whoop whoop to the Great British public" I felt so pleased that there were so many people who were spending their Easter weekend outside getting active on the side of a mountain.
I was pleased it was busy. As for Gatsby, not so much! After his great day climbing the day before he kept pushing off ahead, so much so he had to go back on the lead after a while.
The route quietened off as the track headed left through a gate and tracked clockwise around the mountain. The scenery was so gorgeous from this point onwards with lakes and impressive views upwards and downwards.
We pressed on where there were places to rest and the climb got steeper as the summit got closer. Aside: I've been asked a few times about what to wear to climb Snowdon. The Llanberis/Visitor's Path is really accessible and you'll be fine in trainers. I also saw people tackling the Pyg track with fashion trainers and jogging bottoms. Obviously if you have other kit then great but not everyone has and that's fine. You'll probably be more comfortable in a good pair of supportive trainers with good grip. I wore walking boots because I had them from Kilimanjaro and I was running the marathon the following week, so I didn't want to roll my ankle. Having comfortable kit will make it more enjoyable but it's not a deal breaker if you're keen to give it a go.
As we got closer to the summit a freezing cold chill set in and the clouds covered the upmost tip. The walk up to the very summit was extremely cold and windy but we made it! There was a large queue to get to the plaque on the highest tip. I scrambled up the side to the highest point and got a quick group shot before we headed back down.
We wanted to end up back on the same side of the mountain where we had parked the car. The route choices for the way down were therefore the Pyg track the whole way or the start of the Pyg track and then the Miner's route. We chose the latter. As the routes split it's a pretty steep decent down which is something worth bearing in mind if you're planning to go up this way. However, when you've done the decent the route has only a very steady gradient down, it's mostly flat around the lakes. The lakes are absolutely gorgeous and I was really pleased we had taken the two different routes and in this order! We were up and down within 3 hours which included a short stop on the way down to refuel. I'd done it, I'd finally climbed Snowdon.
Snowdonia is gorgeous. Mount Snowdon is fantastic, it's just the right level of challenging to make it interesting, especially on the Pyg Track, but not too difficult to mean that you need fancy skills or kit to give it a go. I love that it has something for everyone. If you're new to walking take the Visitor's Path. If you're looking for a challenge, head up at nightfall and try and time a sunrise summit.
I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've climbed Snowdon. Which routes have you tried? If you've been to North Wales, where else would you recommend visiting? Just drop me a message in the comments below!
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