Each year, I go visit friends and family in England. During these holidays, I often spend my time enjoying Sunday roast dinners and charming pubs. This past June, I decided that I was going to switch things up a bit. I was going to drive to Wales and climb Mount Snowdon on a casual Tuesday — just for kicks.
Being a Canadian, I'm no stranger to the great outdoors — in fact, I have grown up camping, portaging, and hiking the summer months away. I tend to feel comforted by the wilderness, and am always drawn to new outdoor adventures. While I was across the pond, I figured I better check out some foreign scenery — and am I ever glad I did.
Snowdon — The Highest Mountain in Wales and England
Although I have hiked 8-9 km with camping gear in the past, I had never attempted a mountain — but hey, you have to push yourself in this life. I had no idea what to expect, but after driving a mere 3.5 hours (nothing in the mind of a Canadian), we strapped on our packs and away we went.
Aside from the Scottish Highlands, Mount Snowdon is the highest point within the British Isles, reaching a height of 1085 meters. Before you arrive, it's important to know that there are six paths to choose from — all leading to the same point. If you want to hike down the opposite side of the mountain, there's the Snowdown Sherpa bus that connects all six main footpaths.
The six different paths are:
· Llanberis Path — During the busiest times of year, this path is voluntary left for mountain bikers. With a distance of 9 miles round-trip, the total climb equals 975 m and takes the average individual 6 hours there and back.
· Miners' Track — Miners stopped working here in 1916, but there are still remains which can be seen today. This path is 8 miles round-trip, with a total climb of 723 m and also takes approximately 6 hours there and back.
· PYG — Although the shortest, this path is not the easiest — there are steep, rocky areas. Overall, it's a fairly easy path to follow. With a 7-mile round-trip and a total climb of 723 m, you should be able to finish in approximately six hours there and back.
· Watkin Path — This path has more ascent than any other route, offering beautiful scenery along the way. This path is 8 miles round-trip, with an impressive total climb of 1,015 m, taking approximately 7 hours there and back.
· Rhyd Ddu Path — This path is known to be the easiest and often the most quiet, but does not disappoint in terms of mountain scenery. There is one narrow section with steep slopes, so when there's ice and snow, this should be left to more experienced climbers. The total distance is 7.5 miles round-trip, with a total climb of 895 m, taking approximately six hours there and back.
· Snowdon Ranger — Named after the self proclaimed Snowdon Ranger, John Morton, this is an easy path that is ideal for hikers of all abilities. Also believed to be one of the oldest routes up the mountain, but once again, offers some magnificent views. Offering a total distance of 8 miles round-trip and a total climb of 936 m, it takes approximately six hours there and back.
We chose PYG going up and took the Miners' Track on the way down. Being such a vast area with varied terrain, it just didn't make sense to take the same path twice. The PYG Track was most certainly rugged and for some, may seem rather challenging. As long as you're in decent shape, you shouldn't have any issues.
The first section of the path isn't a picnic, especially for someone my height — my legs aren't the longest. The climb is relatively steep, but as you make a bit of progress, you see that it's all worth it. Starting your day with views like these, is most certainly motivating.
For the most part, the path is well-maintained and easy to follow. Of course, some areas are more rugged and steep than others, so be sure that you watch your footing. As you do place one foot in front of the other, you'll soon experience views unlike any other. You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few from our ascent. It was a gloomy day — in true UK fashion.
Once we reached this 'money' stump, we knew we were on the right path. The fog was thickening and before we knew it, we were approaching the summit. As we took those few last steps, it's as if the weather took a turn. Being June, it was rather odd seeing my breath and needing to wear a toque.
Our legs were starting to feel like jelly, but we made it...
Although it's a doable activity for people of all ages, you need to ensure that you're well prepared. We passed children as young as ten and even met an 84-year old woman who was determined to get to the top. If you want to climb a mountain, Snowdon is a great place to start.
Opting for the Miners' Track on the way down, we witnessed new, breathtaking scenery...
This beautiful and majestic mountain offered me a completely new experience, one in which I'm extremely grateful for. If you make it to the top and don't think you can trek it back down, there's also a train that runs fairly frequently — but tickets sell quick. You can view pricing and times here.
From its impressive history and natural beauty, if you're ever in the UK, I highly recommend climbing to the summit. It was a rewarding experience and as long as you're in good company, it will seem like a breeze. Start early and take your time — it's not a race. Every kilometer or so, stop and really look around — take it all in.
After all, how often do you climb a mountain?