Snowdonia National Park is an area of North Wales which contains Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales. Chris and I previously climbed the 1085 meters to the summit of Snowdon in November 2014, a cold, soggy and rainy affair with visibility of about 6 feet!
Chris didn’t participate in this recent weekend where Laura climbed to the top of Carnedd Llewelyn, Wales’s second highest mountain!
Day 1 Friday: Betws-y-Coed
Picking up our friend Mike en-route, Laura drove to Betws-y-Coed a small pretty town which is sometimes known as the ‘gateway to Snowdonia National Park’. Our drive was mostly bright and sunny but as we approached Snowdonia we could see dark clouds looming up in the distance. By the time we got there, it was raining! Welcome to Wales…
We met with Rachael and Andy for lunch in Betws-y-Coed and then drove to the Swallow Falls where we met Neil and Alison.
After a short visit to the Falls, Mike guided us on a circular trek around the forests nearby where we completed a short 5 mile hike. Mike’s partner Flo (who had been at work today) arrived at tea time and the 7 of us had a delicious evening meal in the Bryn Tyrch Inn.
Day 2 Saturday: Carnedd Llewelyn
The big hiking day!
We drove in the rain to Bathesda, parked the cars in the street and changed into our walking boots. Following a route found in Trail Magazine, Mike led our group to the start of the hike in the foothills of the Carneddau mountain range of Snowdonia.
The lower ground was boggy and wet as we trudged along making our way towards Yr Elen. After about an hour and a half four of our friends decided to turn back. It was raining hard and already two of them were soaked to the skin!
Mike, Flo and I continued with the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn firmly in mind! The terrain became less boggy as we climbed higher and approached the clouds!
The rain eased off for a short while and we took this opportunity to stop for coffee and a snack. The walk was now getting quite tough and we needed some energy!
As we climbed into the clouds, we encountered a steep grassy slope where we had to scramble using our hands as well as our legs. The scramble got tougher as we reached the loose scree and jagged edges, all the more slippery thanks to the rain and now snow which was laying on the rocks. Our climbing skills came in handy at this point!
At last we had reached the summit of Yr Elen, the first peak of our day! Despite the ground snow, the weather wasn’t particularly cold. As we sat at the top for a few minutes it was strangely eery and silent with no wind! We met our first person of the day, a hardy solo woman hiker!
From Yr Elen we walked along the ridge, still climbing until we reached Carnedd Llewelyn, the highest peak of the day and at 1064 meters, the second highest peak of Wales.
We continued making our way through the rocks, boulders, deep snow patches and drizzle to the third peak, Carnedd Dafydd. At times the snow was so deep it entered the top of my boots giving me short bursts of a cold sensation each time!
The route down was difficult as again it consisted of large and small boulders, the larger of which you had to climb over and the smaller ones you had to pick your way through without slipping and breaking your ankle.
It was a big relief when we reached the safety of the grassy boggy lower slopes again! I was thankful that I hadn’t lost my grip on the scree and plunged hundreds of meters down the mountain. Inspired by the prospect of a hot shower, hot meal and glass of wine we made fast progress as we motored down, our boots filling now filling with water rather than snow!
We reached the car at 6.30 pm after an awesome 9 hour circular trek!
Day 3 Sunday: Beddgelert
Following a spectacular drive through Snowdonia National Park we arrived in Beddgelert where we parked the cars and began a 3 hour circular trek.
In complete contrast to yesterday, the day was bright and sunny and we were all in high spirits as we trekked adjacent to a sparkling stream, lined with daffodils and other spring flowers.
The luxury of a flat walk didn’t last and before long we began to climb into the hills. With soft grass to walk upon and a less steep gradient this was easy compared with the three mountain peaks of yesterday. However my legs were so stiff from such exertion that they didn’t quite agree and even clambering over styles made for hard work!
The views at the top were stunning! After a short break we made our way down the steeper rocky path and back to Beddgelert where we rewarded ourselves in a quaint coffee shop!
As we said goodbye and went our separate ways, I headed for the spa hotel I had pre-booked for the way home. As soon as I arrived I made a beeline for the spa pool and spent a leisurely hour with my aching muscles being pummelled by a range of jets!
As mentioned, the circular trek to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn was tough and proper navigation skills are essential, particularly in poor weather conditions. Someone without such skills (such as me) would easily have become lost so I’m fortunate and grateful that Mike and Flo were able to guide us safely.
We… or should I say Mike… chose a fairly difficult route which involved a fair bit of scrambling. I was able to draw on my limited climbing skills although again, this is best attempted if you have some experience.
Decent gear is essential and particularly on this day, waterproof jackets and trousers were necessary.
All in all it was a brilliant weekend and in some ways, Saturday’s rain made it even more of an adventure!