It’s safe to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Snowdonia is my favourite National Park within the UK. Well, that I’ve experienced so far at least. The love affair started almost ten years ago. This was a trip to tackle Glyder Fawr. I can clearly remember the way the air felt around me. We entered the National Park and I felt the excitement and sense of possibility. Nothing felt certain. Nothing set in stone. This wreaks havoc on those trying to plan a hiking or climbing route, but reminds us that we do not rule the world; the elements do.
In this mountain range – like any other – the weather can change in seconds. A sun catch can become a scramble of mist and scree. You definitely don’t want to be caught out without the right kit. Your body is only as strong as the mind you have supporting it. Preparation is key.
This may sound like a total nightmare for some. For me, well, I like to be put in my place from time to time. I like to be shown by Mother Nature that man does not rule the world. I like to feel the adrenaline of the uncertainty. I like the sense of adventure.
So back up to Snowdonia it was, this past weekend. Only this time, the mission was the baddest of the bunch: Snowdon, himself. It’s always going to be on the list to want to climb the biggest one, but in some ways Snowdon isn’t quite as bad-ass because there’s a café at the top. You can seek refuge from the rain and the wind, use an actual toilet, buy a hot cup of tea. We still enjoyed it nonetheless.
For our first ascent up Snowdon, we chose the Watkins trail. Tempted as we were by Crib Goch, with the temperamental weather brewing up in the sky, we thought it wise to take the safer route. We started our route from our campsite at Llyn Gwynant. We navigated around the perimeter of the lake and up a valley. The winding trail takes you through miner’s territory. This passes breath-taking waterfalls before you ascend up the rock faces and eventually hit a brief climb through scree.
It became apparent we’d made the right choice with our route as we reached approximately 150m from the top and the harsh winds and mist descended. Visibility was horrendous and careful footing essential. But the sideways rain didn’t manage to get the better of us, thankfully.
We didn’t get the view we’d hoped for from the summit, but it really doesn’t even matter once you’ve reached that point. You’re simply grateful you made it and spend time laughing and joking with others who have climbed that day too.
We descended back down Watkins, thinking it probably best considering the conditions and once we were out the cloud line around 800m the sun shone in full glory and it was just us and and the sheep looking out to sea.