On a post Pulpit-Rock high, I was feeling mega keen to get my hiking boots out for another spin, and being so close to North Wales after our recent move to Manchester, I was committed to Snowdon for our next mini-adventure. Hey, look at me eh? Dog, an actual mortgage and choosing to ramble about National Parks on a weekend, for fun? It may well be that I can qualify myself as a fully fledged adult. Fetch me my pension book.
Considering Wales and England cosy right up to each other with a solid land border, it can be shameful to admit that I’ve seen more of a country five hours flight time away than our Welsh neighbours across the (sheep) field. Actually, I have been before, once, but I wasn’t sure if it was fair to tick a country off my bucket list if I’d merely driven twenty minutes over the threshold for a family function and spent most of my few hours there discovering whatever the local village pub had on draught, rather than actually ‘seeing Wales’.
You hear a lot of gushing about the Great British countryside and Snowdonia sounded pretty awesome; the challenge of scaling the highest mountain in Wales! And it was close, we could bring the dog along, and it was halfway to Anglesey which made it dead easy to tag on a day trip to Dublin for the day after; jam-packed August weekender sorted.
The Climb: Pyg Track Ascend, Miners Track Descend
The tallest mountain in Wales is no mean feat. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware this wasn’t a simple stroll; I wasn’t one of these people who rock up wearing sandals and a smile armed with a small travel bottle of Evian who were just out for a ‘bit of fresh air’. Snowdon is one-third of the three peaks challenge, it ain’t easy!
We parked at Pen-y-Pass (or at least the overflow car park for it since we were a bit late off the mark) choosing the popular Pgy / Miners route combo which both start and end at the same spot.
There are actually seven trails to the summit, and this one was reportedly pretty middle of the road; it’s not the shallow Llanberis amble, but nowhere near the crazy level of Crib Goch, which by the sounds of things you’d need to be something of a Bear Grylls type creature to tackle. Regardless, Pyg and Miners isn’t anything to be taken lightly; at roughly a seven and a half mile long scenic trek around the lakes and back, that switches between periods of gentle pathways, uneven rocky stairs and rather steep on-all-fours scrambles towards the top, it might be a treat for the eyes, but murder on the thighs.
Basically it’s a route that I probably should have done at least a little bit of training for, but of course did not.
For someone who has been spending most of their adult life trying to escape the UK at any given opportunity, I couldn’t actually believe these scenes were from Wales; a country on my own doorstep! I made a mental note to book more UK-based holidays (Scottish Highlands here I come!). I literally drove two hours down the M56 and now I’m hiking about somewhere you’d be forgiven for mistaking for New Zealand!
Being unfit, you don’t have to admit it; substitute ‘Shit, I need a breather‘ with ‘Hold up, just going to take some photos of the lovely view‘, because no one is going to argue with that.
But honestly, How can dirt, rocks and grass be that lush?
It gets scarily steep and more unstable towards the summit, and there were parts that required all focus and all four limbs to scramble upwards without losing grip (on the path but also on life itself because at this point every muscle is screaming out for a Radox bath – jeeeesuuus gimme!).
I might also point out that at this point my miniature Dachshund was still absolutely slaying the ascend on three-inch legs, so as well as having my body having a ‘hell nope‘ moment, I was also getting shamefully shown up by my dog, who is evidently a reincarnation of a mountain goat. Lucky him.
Ready for those spectacular views at the summit? We were unlucky with our timing, though we found out later it’s always a bit hit and miss with the cloud cover; as we ascended the final hundred foot we were in cased in thick fog.
It’s a funny experience really; feeling faint and oddly giddy (GUYS we made it!), but not being able to see further than a few metres in front of us.
Silhouettes of other hikers dipping in and out of the fog and everything else just this bright hazy off-white; like being suspended in some strange purgatory-land, except I was damp and sweaty and really thirsty.
Hiking The Miners Route Home
I’m SO thankful (as were my feet) for the Miners route on the way home. Once you get over the challenge of the steep decline down to the bottom of the valley, after that the path is relatively flat as it hugs the lakes, winding back towards the car park. The route is STUNNING and although It is a little bit longer than the Pyg trail, I was happy to take it down a notch and fill up my SD card of snaps of the Welsh countryside.
Reflecting on my hike; Was it difficult? Um… challenging in parts yeah, more than I thought it would be. Did I ache? Well, my arse muscles are still recovering. Was it worth it? Oh yes. Looking through my photos from the day, I just can’t get over how this place is a few hours’ drive from where I actually live!
Why have I been trying to escape the UK all these years when I’ve got places like this on my doorstep.
Would I come back? Yes, yes and yes!
What NOT To Do When Hiking Snowdon
Freeze your water and store it in a cool bag:
What stupid person does this? Oh, yeah me. The water bottles were tantalisingly cold, and would have been so refreshing had they have actually melted during the walk. Frustratingly for us, we were dehydrated as anything and stuck with five bottles of solid ice without a drop of water to consume. Good one.
Expect to catch the train to the bottom once you’ve completed your hike:
Hoo-frigging-ray, we made it to the summit, should we treat ourselves and catch the little train back? Oh… apparently you can’t. It’s not possible to book tickets whilst at the summit, nor do they accept dogs on the service.
Honestly though, I’m glad I’m able to say that we didn’t take ‘the quitters way’ home; the journey back, no matter how seized up my calfs were, was stunning (you’ve seen photographic evidence) and I can say I hiked Snowdon both ways!
Follow some guy in a blue t-shirt and a cap who talks loudly and sounds like an expert.
He probably isn’t. Of course. But we were tired and this dude ‘knew a shortcut’. Unfortunately, this shortcut was obviously stepper and much more unstable than the more well-trodden path and in hindsight what the actual flip were we thinking?
Snowdon can be dangerous, potentially fatal, if you’re not watching where you’re stepping or if you, like us, decide to use an alternative route down the mountain.
Really we should have taken an extra fifteen minutes and made sure we weren’t risking our ankles or necks or some other body part I’m pretty sure we still need.
Such a frigging numpty.
How Much Will It Cost Me To Hike Snowdon?
The actual hike: Free! They don’t charge you an entrance fee to Snowdonia or to walk on the routes. We bought a parking ticket for £5 in the overflow car park at Pen-y-Pass and then it was further £2 per person for the cab back up to the start point. Other than that, it was the cost of a cheese and chorizo baguette, crisps and cereal bars that we’d purchased the day before for roughly £5 per person!
Because we were off to Dublin the next day we spent over night at Porthmadog, a sweet but admittedly small Welsh coastal town in the local Travelodge which worked out as £33 per person including the fee to have our dog stay with us. Other than that, just the fuel costs to get us from Manchester and back!
Total cost for a day out to hike Snowdon with an overnight stay: £44 per person – Sorted!
Have you ever done this hike? Ever been to Wales? Completed a different hike in the UK? Let me know in the comments!