My recent trip to Wales saw me do something I have wanted to do for years: bagging Snowdon, the largest mountain Wales (and the largest mountain in the UK out with the Scottish Highlands). At 3,560ft Snowdon even towers over some of Scotland’s Munro’s and I knew it would be a brilliant way to end my weekend in Wales!
You see, I had planned this trip for months. Two days in Wales, arrive on Friday night and on Saturday see my first ever Dayinsure Rally Wales! Then on the Sunday, bag this magnificent peak.
Mountains and Rally may sound like a weird combination but that’s how I roll and it made for a spectacular weekend.
(To Read About My Saturday at Rally Wales Click HERE)
Before I get started with my trip to Snowdon I have to mention where I stayed for the weekend, which was the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. I’ve only been to Wales a handful of times in my life and each has been very much in a ‘passing-through’ sense, so I don’t have great knowledge of the towns in Wales and I’d largely chosen Aberystwyth as the base for my weekend due to its proximity to the Sweet Lamb rally stage due to the relatively short distance to Snowdon. What I hadn’t expected was a beautiful university town, with gorgeous architecture and sweeping sea views. Here is the VisitWales guide to Aberystwyth as I highly recommend you visit it.
The town has a lovely atmosphere and I enjoyed looking for somewhere to eat out on the two nights I was there: there was a lot of choice! I will definitely find an excuse to return to Aberystwyth in the future.
The Pretty Colours of Aberystwyth
The Pretty Promenade at Night
After the excitement of Saturday, I was up bright and early on Sunday to head north from Aberystwyth to the village of Llanberis. There are multiple routes to climb Snowdon (seriously, you can chose from over 6) and I had decided to ascend via the Llanberis Path. This 9-mile route is quite long but is relatively easy going for the majority of it: the path climbs steeply out of Llanberis and then snakes up through moorland, offering lovely views as you approach the mountain itself.
The Sign in Llanberis
Starting in the village, my legs (and lungs) were immediately assaulted with a steep climb out up-hill on a small country road: it was one of the hardest parts of the entire day! Finally the road arrived at a small gate which gave access to open moorland and the track to Snowdon truly began.
The Views Were Getting Pretty Good
Once I reached the top of the path (which you can see at the top left of the above picture) I was awarded with views of Snowdon itself, along with a welcome easing of the gradient.
I especially loved the little train of the Snowdon Mountain Railway which slowly climbs up to the very summit of the mountain: something I had never seen before! This would be perfect for those not fit or able enough to reach the summit themselves.
The Little Train Begins it’s Journey
It was at this point I realised that this mountain was busy. Really busy. The path heading to the mountain was dotted with people, some walking solo, some in pair and some in large groups. There were men, women, children. Throughout the day I heard various accents and languages…I even saw a group of firemen carrying a ladder (no doubt on a sponsored walk!): it was an amazing sight and one I am certainly not used to. Throughout the Highlands of Scotland you can walk for hours without seeing another person. Snowdon, however, was liked a bustling high street.
I pushed on, overtaking many people…planning overtakes on the path was becoming a skill. A group of three in front, I’m gaining on them, the path widens, go for it! I felt more like an F1 driver than a hiker at some points!
Now, speaking of mountains, I know what you are thinking.
“Bryan, mountains are great, but if only they had a cafe half-way up them!”
Snowdon has you covered. At the mid point of this route is the wonderfully named Halfway Cafe, a busy little stopping point en route to the summit. No doubt a spot that has soothed many weary legs.
The Cafe and the Views…
The Track Beyond the Cafe
The track continued to climb and the views were just getting better and better. Also, after the cafe, the track reaches a stepped section where things once again became steep! I pushed on and found myself walking beside the lovely little railway track. It adds such a unique atmosphere to the hill, especially when the train trundles past!
Once high enough, the track passes underneath the line and you will receive beautiful views back to Llanberis and in the neighbouring valley to your left. Despite how busy the mountain is, the views are worth the effort.
A Lone Gull and the Valley Below
From this point the push to the summit is quite steep and the mountain is perhaps at its most densely populated. No doubt due to the multiple different routes converging on the plateau. Here, however, is where the views were at their most spectacular.
The Summit Hidden in the Mist
The Sign for the Summit: A Beautiful Sight to See!
ThatGuyBry Bags the Biggest Mountain in Wales!
Snowdon: Worth It?
Now that I am home I have had time to reflect on this mountain and to ask myself if I would recommend you bag it. Firstly, I must say there are multiple routes to bag Snowdon, of differing lengths and difficulties which makes it a great mountain if you want to challenge yourself or if you want an easier day. This makes it a very accessible mountain for those of different abilities.
Secondly, it offers superb views in all directions, including out to sea. Being such a high peak, one can see for miles and it is certainly a wonderful highlight of a Welsh holiday. Again, I must stress, Snowdon is 3,560ft and is NOT a small mountain: it would easily be a Munro and is the highest point outside of Scotland in the UK so it is not only a prominent peak but a notable one at that.
There are some drawbacks however. If you enjoy a secluded, peaceful day on the hills (as I do) then Snowdon is completely unsuitable. At points it felt busier than the high street in Aberystwyth. It does not feel like a wild, remote peak: it feels like a tourist attraction. It is one of the most popular mountains in the UK so don’t go to bag it thinking you will be alone or ‘get it quiet’ as I just can’t see that happening. I climbed it in mid October: I can only imagine what it is like in June!
One last point I have to make is the parking at Snowdon. Now this is a sensitive subject and walkers differ on their views in regards to parking but, as always, I intend to be honest on this blog: I found the parking charges extortionate. The parking charges have recently been DOUBLED for this mountain with charges starting at £10. I’m a big believer in encouraging people to enjoy the countryside, to get fit and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and when I was there not only was trying to find a spot a real headache but the mountain is ringed with lay-by’s and multiple car parks all charging £10 and more. It made me sad to think of those this might price out of enjoying this mountain. Regardless, bare these charges in mind if you are planning on bagging Snowdon.
It certainly made me thankful to be from Scotland, where most parking at mountains in the Highlands is completely free.
Aside from this, I would recommend Snowdon. It is a beautiful hill in a lovely country and it feels like one of those mountains you have to say you have bagged, like Ben Nevis or Ben Hope. If you are in Wales, I’d recommend a stop at Snowdon.
Route Distance: 9 miles
Parking Fee’s: At Least £10