What a walking year in Wales we’ve had..!
Cadair Idris in February and Pen y Fan in August meant that we’d done 2 out of the 3 great Welsh mountains.
The only one of the 3 left to do was the number one, the big one, Snowdon itself.
At over 3500 feet it’s the highest mountain in Wales and as with all walks at this altitude, the weather is the critical factor.
The half term week arrived with the promise of a mighty storm…”don’t make any unnecessary journeys” warned the experts, gravely.
The end of the week forecast was for 100kph winds and snow but…there was a tiny window of opportunity…
The forecast for Friday was for moderate wind’s and just a chance of some sunshine..so, the internet was investigated and Thursday and Friday were booked in a 3 star hotel in Betws y Coed.
The plan was to drive to North Wales on Thursday afternoon, do Snowdon on Friday and possibly ( depending on the weather ) tackle another mountain on Saturday before returning home.
We arrived in Betws y Coed around 6 p.m. on Thursday.
The Hotel Gwydwr…..
We parked Sheila in the car park and walked into the hotel carrying all our luggage and rucksacks.
As we stood in the bar waiting to catch the attention of the barmaid, we were greeted by typical Welsh hospitality…..we were completely ignored..!
The barmaid continued her private, but very loud conversation with a handful of locals perched on bar stools as we continued to stand there holding our luggage for what seemed like an eternity.
Eventually she stopped her chatter for long enough to give us our room key and lead us upstairs to Room 26….
Well, can I first of all congratulate the photographer who took the photo’s for the website.!
He’d managed to miss the wonky bedhead and the switch hanging off the wall and to be fair, he couldn’t have known that the bedside lights didn’t work…
An information sheet told us that new owners, Rob and Dawn had taken over the Hotel in September and were planning a refurb to bring it back to it’s former glory.
Good luck with that, we thought…
But, we’d had a long drive and right now we needed beer and food so, we just dumped our luggage and headed downstairs.
The bar and Restaurant were both empty save for a couple who seemed to be watching tumbleweed go by so…let’s go to the pub..!
We walked up and down the main street twice but…no pub..!
The closest that we could get was a “Harvester” type bar attached to The Royal Oak Hotel so, given no choice, in we went…
The Royal Oak…
Well, our meals were really very good.!
Mrs Hill had salmon and I had duck. Both were served very simply, with fresh vegetables and everything was nicely cooked, not cremated and accompanied with a couple of glasses of very palatable wine.
Feeling refreshed, we took our time to walk back to our hotel for a nightcap.
Walking into the bar we noticed that the barmaid from earlier was still on duty.
I ordered a lime and soda for Mrs Hill, with ice neither offered nor served and a pint of ale for myself. There was obviously a problem with dispensing the ale as instead of needing 3 or 4 pulls to serve a pint, the barmaid looked like she was doing 30 reps on her biceps at the local gym.!
At this point a man appeared who by his manner gave an impression of being the owner.
“Hello” I said , “are you one of the new owners?”
” Yes, for my sins”, he replied with the world-weary sound of a man who’d been worn down over many years in charge, not just 6 weeks….
The pint of ale was eventually served and we sat down alone in the bar to listen to a loud conversation between the owner and the barmaid.
They were having an argument about her hours and wages.
She needed the hours and the money to buy something..
He’d not given her enough hours but offered to lend her the cash to cover the shortfall..
We really didn’t want to listen to this. What is it with Wales and knowing how to treat visitors with hospitality..?
So, following our relaxing nightcap we went to bed…zzz
So, after a good nights sleep in a comfortable bed we came downstairs to enjoy an uninspiring but uneventfull breakfast.
Sheila was loaded and we drove around 20 minutes to the Pen y Pass car park to start our walk.
This was, as expected full so we headed off to the overflow car park near Llanberis to park and catch the shuttle bus back to Pen y Pass.
It’s a little damp….
Just a little note to anyone doing this walk….take some coins with you.! It’s £4 to park the car and £1 each way for the shuttle bus. If you can park at Pen y Pass it’s £10 and it’s all cash only…
So the bus was caught and we found ourselves at the start of our walk, ready to head up to the top of Snowdon via the Miners Path..
The gate from the car park on to Miners Path…
The good thing about this part of the walk was the path..!
The first view of Snowdon ( I think )..
The path continues now towards the larger lake of Llyn Llydaw eventually rising steeply to meet our third lake, Glaswyn.
Now it was time for a scramble as we went straight up the mountain to join Pyg Track.
No path, basically….
There was quite a lot of this leading up to Pyg Track..it was good fun ..!
Then we turned left and headed for the top of the ridge.
We were now on Pygs as it turned west and up towards the ridge leading to the summit..
As we climbed, the cloud started to lift.. tbh we were walking through it..
This photo is looking back to where we’ve just come from..!
Sir Stephen Hillary….at the top..
The ridge leading to Crib Goch..
Llyn Llydaw…we’ve climbed all that .!
Mrs Hill, taking in the views…
After a few more minutes we decided to come down from the summit and have our lunch behind the cafe, sheltered from the wind.
With our delicious cheese and onion sandwiches eaten we both noticed that the temperature had dropped….it was now freezing and even with gloves on fingers were tingling!
Time to go….
As we turned to go down alongside the railway track we heard a noise coming up ….
We’ve been up there….!
Soon we passed the point where earlier we’d come up Miners to join Pyg Track. Now we were on a section of the track that was new to us and it was very different to Miners Path.
Instead of a gently rising path interspersed with steep scrambly sections, the path that we were now on went constantly down over rough, boulder strewn ground.
It was hard going….
For only the second time on a walk we both felt our knees “shake”..
It’s a strange feeling when it feels like your knees are almost vibrating or pulsing..it had happened before after a similar long descent from Cadair Idris…weird, but wonderful.!!
The Pen y Pass visitor centre in the distance…
One last look West..I think we timed it just right..!
So here we were back at the car park just as the shuttle bus arrived.
Our walk had taken us just over 5 hours including our stop for lunch and I have to say that we were so lucky with the weather.
It started off with light rain and got better.
The forecast listed at the Pen y Pass centre was that the rain was going to get worse in the afternoon!
Perhaps that kept the crowds away because it wasn’t that busy.
So, Snowdon done..a great walk and a box ticked..a wonderful end to a fabulous walking year in Wales….!