Wales. Known for its stunning, picturesque landscape, took me by complete surprise! From the valleys, to the tops of the mountains, the country is a green heaven, with endless places to take an afternoon walk. Snowdon had always been on my list of places to visit, and after hearing so much good about it, I thought I’d give it a go.
1,085 metres above sea level, Snowdon is the largest mountain in Wales, and the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. The mountain is situated inside Snowdonia National Park, and is an absolute treat to visit. If you love to explore a new place for a day or two, there are cottages, B&Bs, and even Glamping sites to choose from, all within as good distance from the mountain. I’m not going to lie, I left my trip to the very very last minute, with not a CLUE on what to expect from Snowdon.
I had received so many mixed reviews from close friends and family – “It’s easy”, “It’s tough”, “you have to scramble up!!”, “wear good footwear”, and “100% wear LOTS of suncream!” – and after all of that, it was kind of too late to do any research, so I decided to make sure I had comfortable clothes, water, and suncream on my nose. After all, what is the worst that could happen?
…..and what an adventure!! I could not recommend and better day out in the UK! Nothing makes you feel more warm inside than reaching the summit of a mountain, looking down, and thinking “YEAHHHH, that was definitely a morning well spent!!” There were definitely parts I would have done better if I had planned, but I guess that’s all part of the fun right?
So, if you are planning on climbing Snowdon, and you’re not sure on what you even need for the day.. here is a little guide to help you.
firstly, clothing is the number 1 main thing you need to have ready. If you’re not comfortable, especially your feet, then you may not even make it up the mountain… not to mention coming back down. The temperature on the mountain varies from the top to the bottom. As you cannot predict the UK weather, especially in Wales, it is best to come prepared (even if that means take a load of waterproofs in the car to the mountain). If you’re lucky like I was and have pure sunshine all morning (during spring/summer), then do not wear any layers. A T-shirt and comfortable walking/running trousers will be perfect. Make sure you take something light and warm in your bag, as it does get colder and windy at the summit. Even if you feel a little chilly at the beginning, once you’ve set off, you’ll be baking in no time.
Wear walking boots. I went up in trainers, and although this is great if you want to run and be a little more agile on the easier Llanberis route, coming back down or taking a different route can be an absolute nightmare. I have what seems like the worlds weakest ankles and several times, felt them giving way. The last thing you want is to damage your joints, or worse. So be smart, and wear walking boots if you are planning to taking a bit of a tougher, off-route path.
If you burn easily from the sun, or like having the sun out of your eyes, pack a hat and maybe something to cover your shoulders. It is a full on 5/6 hours trek, and if the sun is out, there is no where to find shade. Oh, and if you’ve left something at home, or could have done with a nice pair of sunglasses or a back-pack, or even just something nice to wear up the mountain, there are endless outdoor clothing shops in the small town Betws-Y-Coed – about a 40 minute drive from Snowdon.
Take a bag. Don’t think to yourself, oh I wont need that. You will. make sure you have 2 litres of water, sun cream, a jumper, money, plasters, and if you’re feeling creative or just want to capture the moment, pack a camera. There is nothing better than feeling comfortable when trekking up the mountain, but believe me, there is nothing worse than wishing you had been more prepared! Blisters, dehydration and sunburn are not what you need when you’re half way up!
There are several routes up Snowdon. I’m not going to pretend i’m a pro climber. Although i’d like to think I can take on a challenge, I took on Snowdon with an open mind, and started with the easy route up.
The Llanberis Path – This 5 mile route can take anywhere between 2-3 hours, one way, and is the easiest path. It starts off very steady, with a slight steep boulder climb around half way, ending with a final greater incline at the end. It’s a pretty straight forward route, but certainly not just a walk in the park, so make sure you have everything you need and comfortable footwear. One thing I will say, there is a horrifically steep drive-way to walk up a the beginning of the route. It is by far the worst part, so do NOT let it put you off!
The route is stunning, from the lakes at the beginning to the views as you get higher up. Take a minute now and then to make a stop, turn around, and appreciate the beauty of the landscape and how high you are getting.
The Pyg Path -Starting at the Pen-Y-Pass car park (LL55 4NY), the Pyg track is 3 1/4 miles up to the summit, and takes around 2/2.5 hours. It’s one of the more challenging routes, with boulders as your path from pretty much the word go. We set off from the summit down the Pyg track, which although was probably much more pleasant than coming up, it was certainly not an easy ride down. For me, going down is the hardest part. The fact you feel as though your knees are going to give way at any second, and you’re not really sure whether the rock you’re landing on is even secure, really makes things a lot more difficult than going up (even if gravity is a little kinder on your shoulders). So decent, supportive footwear is a must have!
The views over the lakes are incredible, and honestly really worth the trek. Here are a few of my favourite:
The Miners Path – With a distance of 3 3/4 Miles, this path is a great path to take it you are planning on climbing up to the summit as it starts off, from Pen-Y-Pass, pretty much flat around the lakes. As you get closer to the summit, the incline increases considerably, and the path joins onto the Pyg path. The path is called the Miners Path as it was once used to serve the Britannia Copper mines from the 1800’s. In the photo above, you can just about see the Miners Path in the bottom left hand corner.
The Snowdon Ranger Path – 3 3/4 miles – Easier route
Beddgelert Path – 3 3/4 miles – Easier route
Crib Goch – 4 miles – Very hard route
You’ve just climbed up Wales’ highest mountain, you’re going to be hungry! If I had been a bit more prepared I probably would have taken my own lunch, however, at the summit there is a cafe with great views, serving anything from Welsh pies to sandwiches and pasta. The food isn’t too expensive, and there’s a great selection of cakes too. If you want to eat before you start your journey, there’s also a cafe at the bottom of the Llanberis route, at Victoria Terrace.
Parking and buses
There is parking pretty much anywhere around the mountain, most the time in the form of small laybys. There is a main car park by Victoria Terrace, which charges around £5-£7 for the day. If you decide to come down a different route, don’t worry about getting back to the car as there is a regular bus service, running every 30 minutes or so, with a £1.50 single fare.
If climbing and walking really isn’t your thing, or you require assistance to the top of the mountain, the Snowdon train is a great way to get up, with great views of the mountain on the way up. The train is a beautiful steam train, which travels up alongside the Llanberis route. It’s a good idea to book well in advance, as seats may not be available for the day you arrive. Prices are below:
Online Ticket Prices
Adult: (16 years+)
Return From £29.00
Child: (3 – 15 years)
Return From £20.00
I’m a huge fan of bringing your dog everywhere, and enjoying the experience together. I saw so many lovely dogs enjoying the day out, and actually taking on the mountain in their stride. So if you have a dog that you can trust around other dogs/to not go off into the mountains chasing a sheep, then definitely bring them along to Snowdon! If you think they may kick up a fuss, or wont be able to handle the incline (although my cousins miniature dachshunds just about managed it), then it may be best for them to sit this one out. There isn’t any water on the way up, so make sure you pack an extra bottle.
Last but not least, go with good company and BE good company. Yes it’s tough, yes you’re probably going to be either hot and sweaty or frozen/drenched, but be prepared, and enjoy it. It’s your own little journey, and if you find yourself next to someone who’s enjoying their journey too, then even better 🙂
So there it is, how to take on Snowdon. Obviously, try to trek it on a clearer day as your views and pictures will be much nicer and clearer. If you want a real challenge, you can try out the Three Peaks Challenge – taking on the three highest mountains in England, Scotland, and Wales.
Peace and love Wildflowers, Nicola xx