Sizzling on Snowdon

Snowdon walk on Sunday 27th September, with Darren and Connor Peake

Myself and Darren (my brother in law, well he would be if Christine and I ever get married) had talked about doing this walk a couple of weeks before our “Yorkshire Three Peaks in Reverse” walk in August. With that event out of the way / postponed until May 2016, we figured it would be great to get down to Llanberis before the end of Summer. And his son Connor would come along to – to keep us oldies from simply ambling up the mountain at a snail’s pace. We decided to do the classic of “Up the Pyg and down the Miners’ track”.

On the day, we arrived at Llanberis a little after nine thirty and managed to park quite handily near the main A-road from which the Llanberis path commences. Yes, that’s right, at some point in time our planned route had taken a turn for the mainstream / tourist route and we would leave the “Piggin’ Miners” for another time.

The weather was utterly glorious for a late September morning, we chatted with a pair of ladies whom had just got back from watching the sun rise atop Snowdon – what a fantastic spectacle that would have been. I was a bit concerned that Darren felt some discs move in his back – unlike me; he’s self-employed and I didn’t want him to go without income owing to crippling himself climbing up a 3,560′ mountain…he soldiered on!

The opening mile of the Llanberris path is

  1. Tarmac
  2. Steep, no seriously steep!
Assembly at the halfway café
Assembly at the halfway café
A view to the neighbouring giant from the halfway café.
A view to the neighbouring giant from the halfway café.

Okay, even for an urban walker such as myself, the tarmac was far from interesting or picturesque. That being said, I believe that it facilitated progress over the first half a mile. We kept swapping places with a trio of walkers – two adults and one daughter, then we marched past a couple of teenage girls who wanted to know where the next train stop was – oopss, it was with only a slightly heavy heart that we gave them the options of “At the top or at the bottom”, as I said…”oops!” Later – much later After some distance (I really couldn’t say how much) we began to merge with many more walkers and by the time we hit what I would term as the halfway stage (a café no less!) the chain that was; had now become more or less a throng. We stayed for a few moments, I had a slurp of my water and knocked back one of my orange gel things – it’s never a pleasant experience but it’s a mighty quick way of getting seventy plus calories inside me! Connor looked a little tired, he’s only…(I want to say twelve and now I’m thinking what a bad uncle I am!) and thus his body is not as efficient at shedding heat as Darren and I…who looked like we had run up the path thus far!

The 'trio' from the start
The ‘trio’ from the start
Connor poses for Darren whilst I snap Darren!
Connor poses for Darren whilst I snap Darren!

When the trio of walkers from earlier on in the walk came into view; I decided it was time to push on. The next section started off easily enough…and then got seriously strenuous, alarmingly quickly. The gradient steepened, the throng went all kinds of wide as opposed to long and the terrain of the neighbouring giants became more and more ornate. Cliffs were visible from most aspects, I spotted a couple of ridge paths the likes of which would put Sharp Edge to shame and even began to notice the walkers on the path akin to ours – this was the Snowdon Ranger path…I have to confess it looked a lot harder than ours.
Here are some more views of the day as sadly I don’t know the names of the peaks and mountains that we passed by:

DSCF0593 DSCF0629 DSCF0620
The Doorway
The Doorway

After walking through essentially a ‘doorway’ we got our first ‘proper’ view of the distant summit – the photo shows DSCF0621the view opposite the doorway. Now we were into a serious ‘slog’ up the side of the mountain and onto the top. I did feel the need to tell Darren and Connor that we were still lower down than a few neighbouring summits – and as we were going up the highest thing around, that meant we had a way to go yet. This didn’t sit well with one of the walkers near us at the time who joked “Did you have to say that?” Oops again! The path levelled out, I felt like cheering, but didn’t. All of a sudden, the summit seemed to get a whole lot nearer, and so did a procession of walkers, many of which were ascending the last stretch of the infamous ‘Pyg’ track or was this the ‘Miners’ Track’ – there are at least six ‘official’ routes up this giant and whilst I don’t think I’ll do them all, it’s nice to know what they are called.

And so the last final push was upon us, we were well over half way into the climb / walk. The next push was a sustained one as opposed to a brutal one, more Whernside from Ribblehead than Pendle via the ‘steps’. And before long we were on to the ridge which would lead us to the apex of this mighty mountain. Even though there was a train to our left and a café and a visitor centre, the terrain really felt like a true mountain, albeit  one with a very busy summit. The trig point was like an open jar of honey next to a wasp hive – yes there were many more colourful similes I could have used then, but that was the least offensive! Somehow I avoided falling off the final rise up to the o/s column, some people should just touch the thing then bugger off – not do countless selfies which never quite turn out right anyway!

We dropped back down off the summit and hit the café for a latté – okay that’s a bit Italian for the summit of a Welsh mountain, but what do the Welsh drink which is, y’know, Welsh? Exactly! We sat around full of a triumphant feeling, I can’t remember how long it had taken getting here…about two and a half hours I think, but it was mine and Connor’s first (and definitely not last) ascent, we wanted to savour it. It was lovely to sit watching people hit the summit from over the Watkins path, I distinctly remember an American-sounding lady ask a group of girls from a larger, mixed-gender party which route they had taken, to which one particularly well-spoken teenage girl responded ‘A hard one!’ Priceless!

It would take us a further hour and a half to get back to Llanberris, although these days I drop like a greasy stone, I promised to wait for the Peakes (Connor and Darren), well there was no rush, the weather stayed beautiful and to be honest…they are such damned good company. I was proud for myself – ha I always am whenever I’ve walked up anything over a thousand feet, but I was also proud for Connor and to be honest after Darren’s back playing up at the car park at the start of the walk, he deserves some ‘man points’ for making it to the top and back, downhill is always considerably harder on the joints than going up. We arrived back at the café akin to the mountain railway station and I had another latté satisfied with the day’s walk.

Summary

This was the loftiest peak that I have ascended from top to bottom – okay I have been atop Mont Sant and Montserrat (near the top) both of which weigh in over four thousand feet, but they’re in Spain and don’t count…and I haven’t actually walked all the way up them! I have to admit to being something of a fan of Snowdon and it’s frustrating to not be able to name the accompanying summits – the ‘horseshoe walk’ is really tempting, but seeing as this covers a traverse of the imposing ‘Crib Goch’ which I promised Chris I would never attempt, I’ll probably never do that. I was somewhat disappointed to complete Scafell Pike in 2013 – the summit is awful to walk upon, Snowdon on the other hand was lovely and I can’t wait to go back and walk the ‘Watkins path’ which I gather is a real tester!

I’ve been really lucky with the weather this year, and as such have been blessed to complete such classic walks as the Yorkshire Three Peaks, The Fairfield Horseshoe and now the mighty Snowdon. I think this was walk number nineteen, I don’t plan on taking a break from walking during the Winter this year…Pendle on New Year’s Day is a must-do, so as the nights draw in and the weather gets much worse it’ll be lovely to re-read this page and mentally re-visit this wonderful September day in excellent company and excellent weather up a very noble mountain indeed…excellent!

No song of the walk for this one: I was too busy talking!


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