Snowdonia walking, October 2017

Browsing through some old notebooks last night I found my notes from the solo walking trip I took to Snowdonia last October. I fell into a mental health hole shortly afterwards —probably spending a week alone with no connection to the outside world didn’t slow the fall—and didn’t do get around to writing up the trip.

I’m a bit far removed now to make a decent account of it, but for what it’s worth here are my notes. Since I’m not going to add descriptions and pretty up the language, or insert all the usual asides, I thought I’d go one better, forgo proper sentences completely and leave them in the almost-telegraphese I tapped into my phone. I have inserted some pictures of the mountains, because they’re good mountains (brent).

I stayed in the dorms of the YHA hostel at Pen y Pass, the foot of the Pyg and Miners tracks up Snowdon (very nice hostel, but there’s no wifi and it’s a mobile signal black hole). Since the buses stop in the early afternoon I was rather limited in the walks I could get to, and the appalling weather further restricted the routes open to me. But still—in retrospect, now I’m no longer cold and wet and sad—a pretty good trip walking-wise. Other-wise we’ll pass over.

Day 1

Snowdon first. Up the first part of the Pyg track, turn off onto Crib Goch route. Unsure where to go at the first bad step; follow a more experienced group for the climb. Climb up until first view of the arête. Terrifying. Good glug of summit whisky. Ease myself out, sickening drops, go very slowly. Experienced group passes, asks if I’m okay and do I want to tag along with them? Yes please. Follow over more awful precipices. Eventually realise we’ve gone too far to turn back alone; I definitely would have retreated earlier if it were just me. Realise I’m committed to sticking it out. Worst bit is 3 point contact climb over sheer drop, don’t look down once. A few chimneys actually fun to climb (those without the drops). Goes on forever, until it doesn’t. Say thanks. Easy walk to the summit. Cup of tea in the café. Back down the miner’s track.

Crib Goch

Day 2

Heavy wind & rain forecast: not wrong. Decide to stay low. Bus to Capel Curig. Walk through a valley to Cwm Glas Crafmant nature reserve. Strong winds, quite a bit of rain, path a stream. Waterproof trousers not very waterproof. Walk B road, turn off at Llyn Crafant reservoir. Through woods to Cors Bodgymydd nature reserve. Rain picks up. Very wet now. More B road. Can’t find right footpath towards Betws-y-Coed, go the wrong way. Frustrated. Wet through. Find B road, follow to Afon Llugwy river. Rain heavier still. Follow river, road and footpath, skirting/wading where it’s burst its banks. Get to Betws-y-Coed. Wet? Wet. Sit damply in pub with coffee, then catch bus back to Pen-y-Pass.

Day 3

Back on Snowdon. Catch bus down the road to Nantgwynant. Up first section of the Watkin path, but turn off before Gladstone Rock (site of famous speech) towards the pass at Bwlch Cwm Llan. Turn North over ridge (Allt Maenderyn). Very high winds, a couple retreating. Join Rhyd Ddu path at narrow windy ridge (Bwlch Main). Then quick finish to summit. Whisky, café. Start down the Watkin path until Bwlch Cilau, then off the path and climb steeply onto the Y Lliwedd horseshoe. Traverse ridge (easy: big drops, but one side only and you don’t have to look). Slow steep descent to the reservoir afterwards. Climb on boulder in lake. Walk out on end of miners track.

Y Lliwedd Sheep

Day 4

Forecast bad, no walking. Take bus to Llanberis then on to Caernarfon. Town mostly desolate, lots of mediocre cafés making a living from tourism. A good bookshop. Castle the only real attraction, but it’s a good one. Learned very little about the actual working of the castle, but quite a bit about the subjugation of Wales. I didn’t know that “Prince of Wales” is the historic term for the ruler of all Wales, so when the monarch makes their eldest child Prince of Wales they are continuing this subjugation symbolically. This came up since Caernarfon castle is used as the site of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales; they had some film reel of when Charles did it in 1969. Apparently 500 million people tuned in for that tawdry event. Buy new waterproof trousers in Llanberis on way back.

A young LAD and his DAD look over the town from the battlements.
DAD: What can you see son?
LAD: I can see Morrisons again.

Day 5

Last day, big day. Decided to go up Tryfan. Warden warned against: high winds & low visibility, perhaps just go for the col. Set out from Pen y Pass down to junction at the Roman Camp. Leave road & follow old Miner’s track north through a bog. Raining hard, it’s a slog. Trousers working though. Winds high, decide to skip planned Glyder Fach summit. Head to col at Bwlch Tryfan. Wind & visibility not terrible, so head to Tryfan. Around the far south peak, then climb to another col and a quick push to the top. Winds high, raining hard. Too wet & windy to climb and jump between Adam & Eve. Finish whisky. Descend to second col, then make steep descent to Llyn Bochlwyd. Cross at stepping stones. Continue west, another downhill to Llyn Idwal. Follow path around the north of the lake, then begin long climb to devils kitchen. Hard work & nice views. From top make long slow descent east-southeast to the road at Gwastadnant. Walk down road to Nant Peris. Pint in the pub, bus back to Pen y Pass.

Llyn Idwal

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© Tom Harris 2015–2018.

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