Monday morning dawned and the weather looked clear and bright so after making our packed lunch and loading up the rucksacks with supplies, maps and a few emergency bits and pieces we set off towards Snowdonia National Park. Arriving at the Llyn Cwellyn Car Park, off the A4085, we’d elected to use the Rangers Path after chatting to one of the guys at Snowdonia Adventure who recommended it as quieter than usual Llanberis Path but not as steep as some of the other trails.
The map we took with us was Ordnance Survey Explorer OL 17 (Snowdon & Conwy Valley) plus we’d picked up a leaflet with all the common paths up Snowdon on our previous visit to Snowdonia Adventure, meaning we had a spare just in case. Full details of the path we took with some recommendations can be found on the Snowdonia National Park website.
Just as we set off a Hercules transporter flew up the valley, we assume practicing low level flight. We started our walk as this huge plane banked over the mirror flat Llyn Cwellyn and were soon into what we’d been warned as some fairly steep zig zags up the first bit of the path. There we a few other walkers, all taking it easy in the sun as the temperature rose but it wasn’t a race so we set an easy pace, stopped for drinks every so often and took in the panorama that unfolded before us, both forwards and back the way we’d come.
As well as the magnificent mountains we spotted a fairly large, very fast bright green beetle with yellow spots on it’s wing cases which we later identified as a Green Tiger Beetle and throughout the walk we would occasionally spot some helicopters, one obviously servicing the national park as it was air lifting things up and down the mountain, the others were from RAF Valley on maneuvers – some very impressive flying from all of them.
Just after a long flat (ish) section we managed to find a little shade against some rocks and took a longer break for a proper drink before we tackled the last section which we’d been warned was very steep. It wasn’t vertical and didn’t need ‘climbing’ but the footing was loose in places and as we zig zagged our way up the mountain we passed a few people who were suffering in the heat. Taking plenty of mini breaks the summit was within our reach, we could see the café and nothing was stopping us now no matter how tired, aching or hot we were.
Nearing the summit we were amazed at the number of people coming up the Llanberis path compared to the few we’d seen on our walk. Crossing the railway and after a quick break to watch the train climb to the café we made the summit.
The views from the top were worth the trek but the summit itself was far to busy for us, especially since a train had just disgorged a few carriages worth of day trippers onto the mountain. It was worth it though and as we ate our lunch I couldn’t help but be pleased that we’d finally done it!
The café, shop and facilities at the top were excellent so we bought a few more drinks for our decent and I purchased a trekking pole, not something I’ve needed before but after climbing the final section I was definitely going to need it on the way down.
We didn’t spend much time at the top and quickly headed away from the crowds. On the way down we spotted four Red Kites soaring over the mountain just before we took a proper break part way down where there were less people (none). As we made ourselves comfortable, Wendy spotted a Ring Ouzel, an almost black, blackbird sized bird with a white ‘ring’ round its neck, another first for us. Half an hour or so later the comfy grass / rock combination was not so comfortable and a couple of chapters of book read, snacks eaten and drinks drunk, we were ready and made the journey back down a little quicker than the one up.
We took a few different snacks and energy bars to try out for future trail runs or walks;
- SIS banana flavour energy bar – not great tasting, although energy wise seemed OK
- Jelly belly sports beans were far too sweet for both of us.
- Trekbar peanut and oat bar tasted like some thing you had to eat rather than something you wanted to eat although it did give a bit of an energy boost.
- Orange flavoured block was OK but why get this as jelly babies are the same and cheaper.
Verdict, take jelly babies.
The other thing we learned is that we needed a lot more water, we took a litre each up the mountain but bought another litre each at the top (we did know the shop was there which is why we only took what we did), as our rucksacks can take water bladders we’ve no excuse not to buy one each and take more fluids with us.
Our first ascent of Mount Snowdon done and it felt great. The views were all we could have hoped for even if it was a little too hazy to see all the way out across the sea, the path was easy in places, tough in others but not difficult to navigate and the weather was superb, if a little too hot if you can believe that of a UK summers day.