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Climbing Snowdon, Wales
Snowdon, to start with.
Snowdon has spectacular views, on a clear day that is, on a misty day you can't see much more than your own feet. It is said to have some of the best views in Britain, and the views are breathtaking.
There are six mountain paths to follow, but if you are not made of climbing stuff, there is always the mountain railway, which opened in 1896 and travels to the summit from Llanberis station. Which means everyone can enjoy the thrill of the mountain climb and scenery.
There is also the Crib Goch way which is along a sharp mountain edge that is almost the same height as Snowdon its self, it can't always be done if the weather can be very bad. To take this route you do have to be fit, and not afraid of heights at all, it is extremely high and not to be taken lightly.
At the summit of Snowdon there is a small visitors centre, which has refreshments and a small shop. Snowdon's summit is very busy, we went the last Saturday in September, and we were lucky with the weather, but still it is really the end of the season and it was really busy, cramped with no room, there is a stone which you can have your photo taken, to prove you have got to the top, but apart from the fabulous views as far as the eye can see, it is just the top of a mountain.
Edmund Hilary used Snowdon for his training to climb Mount Everest in 1953, and you can understand why, as in bad weather or snow and ice it would be a treturous climb, and you would need very honed climbing skills, good equipment and to know how to use it.
Snowdon, where to stay
There are plenty of hotels, small and large, guest houses and holiday lets. There are also lots of camping sites for you to pitch your tent, if you like camping or caravanning.
There are ample places to eat and drink, from a quaint little Welsh tea room to a local pub with all the local beers, such as Welsh Pride, I am not a real ale drinker but I am reliably informed that this is a good pint.
We stayed at Betws-y-coed which is about 18 minutes drive to where we started our walk at Pen-y-Pass. The Betws-y-coed road sign says, "Gateway to Snowdonia"
Betsy-y-Coed is a busy town, with plenty of shops, tearooms, cafes, hotels, pubs, B&B's and restaurants. It is a very pretty town with it's stone buildings and narrow winding roads, it is always active with walkers, hikers, climbers, children and dogs.
Set in a beautiful valley in the Snowdonia Forest Park, it is ideal for outdoor activity holidays. plentiful craft and outdoor activity shops are in the village with the popular Swallow Falls nearby. If you have forgotten anything to do with walking or climbing then you will be able to get it here.
Betws-y-Coed is a great base to stay if you plan to visit Wales, it is a short drive to the coast with lots of pretty harbors and coastal towns to explore as well as the forests, rivers and not forgetting Snowdon its self
What will you need, to walk in Wales
Water/wind proof Jacket
Good Walking Boots or shoes
Bar of chocolate
Warm jumper or fleece
GPS is useful
Warm Base layer
First aid kit
Views from Crib Coch and the Pyg TrackClick thumbnail to view full-size
Crib Goch and Pyg Track
Starting at Pen-y-Pass, we were very lucky that the weather was good, clear and bright with not very much breeze, you need to get to the car park early as it is not very big and fills up quickly. It is £10.00 per car to park, which is expensive, but your car is safe and you are in a fantastic place to start from. There is a cafe with toilets which is also useful.
The walk or climb is not easy from the start, rocky and steep, you soon get to the part where you decide, do you go along the Pyg Track or take the more daring and adventurous Crib Goch route. The Pyg Track is not easy in its self, you do still need good walking boots, water and warm clothes, the track starts slowly but rises steeply and although the rocks are almost steps up to the summit it is still a hard climb and if you are unfit, you will know that you are climbing.
We were lucky enough to have good weather and took the more intrepid Crib Goch, which should only be attempted if you are of very good fitness, have the correct climbing gear and are by no means afraid of heights or breaking a nail!
It is tough, and high, you have to climb, using hands and feet, pulling your body up with your hands and being aware that some of the rocks you grab onto my not be held in, you need to take your time and think, plan your route. Test your foot and hand hold before taking the next step.
On a wet, foggy, misty day it is not worth the risk. You can not see where you are going and it would be very dangerous. There have been deaths and people have frozen in fear and had to be helicoptered down as they can't move.
If you have the correct gear, and know what you are doing it is a fantastic climb, with views that are fabulous. There are plenty that do climb this way and there is sometimes a queue so it does take time. It is a four mile grade one scramble across a sharp and steep knife edge of rock, to get to the summit of Snowdon. The highest point is 3028ft above sea level and once you start the climb you can't turn back, unless you get mountain rescue that is. It is best to stay on the left side of the ridge as the drop on the right side is extremely steep, and not much of the way of foot holds, the wind on a calm day is enough to blow you over, you are battered by the strong wind all the way along the ridge, a hat is a great idea, and sunglasses too if sunny.
Once you get to the end you are exhilarated by your own efforts and can take in the views that Snowdon has to offer which are wonderful and majestic.
Snowdon summit has a mountain train up to it so everyone can see the views from the top. The summit is extremely busy with climbers, walkers, children and dogs.
We came back after a cup of tea at the busy summit cafe by the way of Pyg Track this is below the Crib Goch route but follows the same line and takes you back to the car park, for a further walk there is also the miners track which takes you down further and around a hill, so adds on about another mile, the miners track is equally as good as the Pyg Track.
The Pyg Track is very rocky and steep but not too difficult, you still have to have moderate fitness to do this track too. We were very lucky and after being battered by winds over Crib Goch, it was nice to have the sunshine and be out of the wind, we were soon taking off hats, and under layers as we got warmer in the valley. The walk is also very busy and you still need to scramble down a few steep rocks, some, I could imagine to be quite slippery in wet weather.
The views are lovely of the lakes, there are plenty of sheep wandering about and some birds of pray soaring in the bright sky. It is a wonderful walk back down.
Along the track you can look up and amaze yourself that the huge, Sharpe, narrow ridge towering above you, you have just gone across, and survived!
Crib GochClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Six Tracks
The Pyg Track, which is the track we came back down by, it is steep and rocky and you will need good walking boots, and a pole if you use one. The track is 7 miles there and back, and could take about 6 hours as it is a hard walk.
The Miners Track is close to the Pyg Track, it starts and ends at the same car park. This track is 8 miles long, the track was built to serve the copper mines, which came to an end in 1916.
The Llanberis Path, this path gets very busy, mountain bikers also use it, but in winter it can be quite slippery. It is a 9 mile walk to the top and back
The Watkin Path, The upper part of the path is very steep and crosses a loose scree slope, care is needed. It is a 8 mile path, there and back. Watkin Path is named after Sir Edward Watkin, an MP and railway entrepreneur.
The Rhyd Ddu Path, this is a 7.5 mile path there and back and starts from a small village, it is possibly the quietest of the routes and offers some of the best views, but it is also a hard mountain walk.
The Snowdon Ranger Path, this path begins by the Ranger Youth Hostel, it is an 8 mile walk to the summit and back. This path follows the mountain railway path almost all the way, and is another busy route, and another hard mountain walk too, so make sure you are wearing the correct gear.
All the routes and paths are steep in places and good walking shoes are required.
Snowdon SummitClick thumbnail to view full-size
Snowdon's summit is crowed and busy, the visitors centre does not really have enough toilets, in the ladies there are 6 cubicles and when I went one was out of order, I am sure you can imagine the queues! The cafe does sell beer and cider but is not cheap, as they do have a captive market.
You can get tasty pies and sandwiches, tea coffee and hot chocolate, as well as water and fizzy drinks. It is very difficult to get a place to sit and most people sit on the floor.
The small train arrives and leaves from the Centre so gets very busy as people move to line up for the train or arrive in a horde.
There is a small shop which sells Snowdon Souvenirs, post cards and waterproof macs. Again very busy.
The visitors centre is a very crowed and busy place and not somewhere to sit and look at the scenery, it is a place to get a warm drink, find a place to sit to drink it before heading back down. Although the tables are cleared very quickly of unwanted and discarded cups and food wrappers by the staff.
The summit of snowdon, is hectic and everyone is taking photos, there is lots of different nationalities and everyone is trying to get a photo by the actual highest point.
There are a few benches outside but again it is not a large area, so it is limited space. I would take your own packed lunch and a flask as the queues are very large.
It is very windy and cold, you have to try to find a place to shelter from the wind as it is relentless.
Would you consider visiting Wales
Wales not just walking
- Mountains and hills, with beautiful breathtaking scenery
- Seaside towns, with large sandy beaches
- Forests and woodlands
- The Brecon Beacons with its spectacular landscape
- The busy city of Cardiff
Be prepared for all types of weather
Wear good sturdy footwear
Take water or a flask of a hot drink
Take some snacks, or sandwiches, the cafe is not cheap
Be prepared not to get a seat in the cafe
Be prepared to queue for everything
The weather in Wales is wet and variable, although the weather can be warm and sunny in the summer months, you need to be prepared for rain most days, even in the summer.
The weather on Snowdon is changeable, it can change very quickly too, you can start at the bottom in full sunshine and by the time you reach the summit it could be thick fog or rain, even snow if in early Spring or winter, and always windy. so you do have to be prepared for everything.
Take suncream, sunglasses and waterproofs with gloves and scarf... A large rucksack will be needed to put everything in, just in case. We did this and were prepared for all weather events, we started off in a cool light breeze, it was cold and windy across the top and very windy at the summit, on the way down the sun came out and it was warm and sunny, so we ended up in T-shirts with a ruck sack packed with fleeces, hats, gloves and warm outer layers.
There are a few safety rules to follow on any mountain walk.
- Plan, your route beforehand, making sure you are fit enough for the route you have chosen, and let someone who is not on the walk with you, know which way you are going and what time you should be back by.
- Check the weather forecast, if it is going to be very bad weather, maybe leave it for another day
- Wear, the correct footwear, with ankle support, a wind and waterproof jacket, and warm fleece or jumper. Plenty of layers.
- Coming down can be difficult too, so make sure your route is good for downwards climbs
- Carry a rucksack with, map, drinks and food, extra clothing such as hats and gloves, sunscreen and sunglasses, compass and any medication you may need, along with a few plasters, just in case.
- Keep to your own route and don't follow others, they may not be going the same way as you, or they may even be going a more difficult and challenging way.
Snowdon Summit and Walks
- Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre - Hafod Eryri
Snowdon Mountain Railway - Snowdonia. One of the most spectacular days out in North Wales for Welsh holiday makers.
- Walking up Mount Snowdon - a brief description of the most popular routes
Descriptions of the most popular routes up Snowdon together with postcode and parking charge information to help you choose your starting point.
© 2013 Lavender Jade