An opportunity presents itself as we’re blown off Anglesey towards Snowdonia. Stuart spots a break in the weather coming up and it looks like the Bank Holiday weekend (of all days) will see some clear weather at the top of Snowdon… It was meant to be, so we decided to go to Snowdon to climb to the summit!
Stuart was dreaming of the Pygg Track (one of the most difficult ways up) while I was dreaming of the train to the cafe on the top… Being Dutch and having a fear of heights, I’m more comfortable at or below sea-level and the top of Snowdon, or the way to get there, clearly isn’t like that. Neither of us are experienced climbers and we’re only just starting to get into hiking properly. Although we do walk quite a bit, we weren’t sure we were fully prepared. In the end we agreed on the Llanberis path to get to the summit…
As it was a Bank Holiday weekend, it was very busy everywhere and the campsites around Llanberis were fully booked until Monday. The weather wouldn’t hold that long so we decided not to wait. We found a lay-by just outside Llanberis. It was a popular free park-up (listed on Park4Night) and we were lucky to get a space there. It was a noisy spot as the road alongside was quite busy all night long.
We set an alarm to get going early, to try to beat the crowds… We found a path on the O/S map up to the Llanberis path not far from our park-up. It turned out to be a very steep, very overgrown path, and we frequently got lost in a jungle of ferns and bracken. It was fun though, and I’m glad we had this experience as when we finally joined the Llanberis path, all our worst fears were confirmed… Even at the early hour we got going, the Llanberis path was already busy. We’re not used to travelling with crowds anymore and we like having places (almost) to ourselves. Our Snowdon experience would definitely not be like that, with hundreds of people walking up the same path. I’m not sure there are many quiet days, certainly at weekends, on this path.
The Llanberis path is the longest way to the top, having the most gentle incline. It is often considered to be the easiest path to the summit. It’s a wide path, well developed for crowds, which is necessary as there were big crowds on this bank holiday Saturday. It has very few steep drops along the side which was good for my fear of heights and there is only really one section, just past Clogwyn station, that gets really steep to walk up. However, as we found out, the easiest path up to the top of Snowdon is still not easy…
The break in the weather meant it was a beautiful day. Clear skies all around us and the sun beating down on us. Even as we climbed higher, the temperature just seemed to climb with us. It was a hot day! We brought approximately 5 litres of water, enough for each of us to drink and to make some coffee or tea. We also packed some snacks to keep us going and a packed lunch. We would take our time getting to the top. We had a backpack each and an extra one to carry Luna on our front should it be too difficult for her. Secretly, in my own mind, I was planning for Luna and I to take the train back down… more on that later…
We walked and walked, in a big column of people. Finally we reached the point where several paths join together for the final push to the summit. It was here where it became clear exactly how busy it was… Both Miner’s path and Pygg path looked very busy and crowded and when we got close to the summit, it was like a queue of traffic getting up with a stationary queue to get up on the actual summit. It was a bit too crowded really, but we decided to simply look the other way, to the stunning views all around us. As it was such a clear day, we had the most beautiful views all the way to the coast and the Llyn Peninsula.
We ate our lunch at the top and had a nice break but as it was so busy, we didn’t want to stay too long. This is when I confessed to Stuart to wanting to take the train down with Luna, who had only managed to walk up to Halfway House and had been carried most of the way since. We went to check out the trains but it turned out that they were fully booked, and worse, dogs were not allowed on the train… I should’ve done my research! So I had no choice but to walk down. My fear of heights only kicked in twice on the way up, both during the steep section up from Clogwyn station to where the paths come together. I was dreading having to do that section facing down… Now I had no choice…
Stuart carried Luna in the rucksack on his front and off we went again… It was a long way down. We had promised ourselves a nice meal out in Llanberis as a treat, having visions of pizza at the bottom. We kept on going. As it was such a hot day, we ran out of water and got quite dehydrated. Finally, we got to the bottom of the path! What a relief! It turned out to be a little way further to get to the village. Off we went in search of a nice restaurant. Llanberris did not come up with the goods! All we found were a few cafés and Luna wasn’t allowed in. Not a single pizza place in sight so we ended up buying some pizza from the Spar shop and starting the walk back to Rex, which was still quite a way to go.
At last, we reached Rex, who was luckily still safe and sound in the little lay-by. We had just about enough water left for some well-deserved showers. Both of us were a hot, sweaty mess, but we felt surprisingly OK… A little achey but nothing like we used to feel, so we must be getting used to the walking. Still, the pizzas were easily devoured and a quiet night followed. Despite the crowds, it was an amazing day and we’re both really happy we’ve done it!
Tomorrow would be a whole other challenge… Trying to find a site with services to refresh our van on a Bank Holiday Sunday… Good luck to us!
The full set of photos of the views and our trip to the top can be seen on our Instagram highlights here.
PS. for future reference, the Snowdon Ranger path looked really good! Much less busy and not too difficult nor too many steep drops except for a particular section which is very steep with a zigzag path. If we decide to climb Snowdon again, this is the path we would take.