At the ripe old age of 29, I’m utterly ashamed to say that it has taken me all of those years to finally take the trip up to Snowdonia national park and climb Wales highest mountain! I mean, I’ve climbed to over 4000 metres in Peru and yet completely put the comparatively small mountain in my own home country on the back burner.
It’s a strange thing that we often ignore what is closest to us in search of things further away. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have really, truly started to appreciate just how incredible the UK is. Perhaps it’s because when you’re younger you want to travel everywhere and to those countries farthest away (Australia, New Zealand etc) or perhaps it’s the weather, or perhaps it’s just almost laziness that you can’t be bothered to drive 4 hours to go hiking yet you will happily sit on a plane for 12 to get to the other side of the world. Backwards thinking I know, but I’m almost certain there are many people who will agree with this feeling.
So, after my friend returned back from his incredible year of travelling the world, and with him being a Snowdon seasoned pro, we decided to hop in the car and get up there. In fact I have been twice in the last month now and both trips have been equally as brilliant albeit with slightly different conditions. The first time was a lot heavier snow and ice and there was pretty much 0% visibility at the top whilst the second time was still snowy up high but absolutely glorious conditions on the summit and the most incredible views across the Welsh landscapes.
How to get to Snowdon for the easiest route up:
If you pop the Pen-Y-Pass car park into your sat nav, you will end up at the car park which is at the very start of the easiest route up Snowdon. The carpark costs £10 for over 4/5 hours stay which I would recommend doing, there are toilets etc available but be warned, the car park gets very busy so you will either need to arrive very early or go on a week day! If you decide to come at lunchtime on a Saturday (like me and Mark did) then expect to be turned round to find somewhere on the road to park and an extra half an hour – 1 hour walking to do!
The walk back to the car park is beautiful as the sun goes down
Which paths to take:
Inside the hut at the car park you can view the weather and what it is expected to be like on the summit. Assuming you have packed the necessary equipment and are prepared to be out in all weather conditions for a long time (remember the weather can change very quickly) then you can make a judgement on which route to take and whether you can reach the summit or not. Without running the risk of sounding irresponsible, both times people recommended we use crampons to climb up to the summit and both times we didn’t use them and were ok.
It would have been a LOT easier and faster if we did however and if this is your first time going up a mountain in winter then I would suggest taking the correct kit and going with someone who has been up there before. (Mark has been many times so I felt very comfortable with him going up in bad conditions). There is the pig track and the miners track to chose from. We went up the pig track to the summit and back down the miners track to return. Both lead back to the car park and are very easy to navigate. If you are going in the summer these will be the most popular routes and there will be lots of other walkers around. If you are going in winter there will still be people frequently just less in numbers.
What kit to take:
Essentially whenever I am out on an adventure I think of 3 things: Pack light, wear layers like an onion and take 1 spare of pretty much everything. Here is a breakdown of what I have taken/worn to Snowdon:
- Walking boots
- Walking trousers – waterproof over trousers in my bag
- thermal leggings
- thermal long sleeves top with spare in my bag
- long sleeve technical top with spare in my bag
- waterproof coat
- hat + spare in bag
- gloves + spare in bag
- walking socks + spare in bag
- Minimum 2 litres of water
- Mobile Phone
- Small first aid kit
- Hand warmers
- Torch + Head torch + Whistle
- Chocolate biscuits from M&S (the best thing to eat on the summit)
- Waterproof rucksack cover and phone bag
- Lip Balm
- Knife/Swiss Army knife
Obviously as mentioned before, there are people using crampons, ice axes and helmets. If you have the kit, can afford it and plan on going up in wintery icy conditions then take these with you, it will help you tremendously!
How long should you give yourself?
Its always best to over estimate how long the walk is going to take. Whilst its not actually that far in distance, there is a fair amount of incline and decline, you will want to stop to take photos, eat, drink, have a rest, enjoy the summit views (hopefully) and nobody wants to rush a beautiful place like this when the landscapes are so beautiful!
From South Wales/South West England it takes me around 4 hours to drive including stops for coffee, its around 5-6 hours hiking and then obviously 4 hours home. So leave early, give yourself plenty of time and go prepared! You will absolutely love it, I promise!
Be safe and enjoy, check out my instagram @_edmorris for more photos and tag me in any should you chose to go to Snowdon!