And we’re off to Snowdonia ! It’s been an age since we were out with Pod, well, over a month and that’s just way too long. Easter weekend lay in front of us and we had a few extra days tagged on either end, the best part of that was missing all the bank holiday traffic.
After a week of glorious sunshine the weather had decided to turn, the forecast for the week didn’t look great but we were determined to make the most of it and we were determined to climb Snowdon.
Pod was packed with all our clothes, towels and bedding, plus the usual stuff such as the foldaway table and chairs, water container and of course the awning. We set off just after 11am to hopefully arrive just after 1pm, the permitted entry time.
Traffic was light and we arrived in Betws-y-Coed just after 1. The site was in the middle of the village, just off the main road and runs down the side of the railway, how close we didn’t know till we arrived on site.
As we entered the site we passed under a barrier and passed through a regimental line up of dark green mobile homes, all pristine and packed very close together and all same shade of green. Very Stepford.
We reached the office to be met by another barrier, a very large yellow one, which on watching dropped below ground when your entry card was swiped on the reader and the red light changed to green.
We later found out the first barrier was locked between the hours of 10pm and 7am, fortunately it didn’t matter on this visit but should we want to be up and on a mountain top for a sunrise our car would have had to be parked off site, a quandary for another time.
Checking in was easy enough and we were given the obligatory pass and a key for the toilet block of which there was only one and built into the back of the office and shop.
We didn’t get to pick a pitch and were told where we could set up, the pitch we were given was a good size and in the middle of the site so not too far to walk for the showers.
The pitch was very even and covered in slate chippings, Pod was soon ready and all the electrics were up and running.
Gas was on and the tv hooked up, time for a hot cup of tea, bite to eat and some quiet time before going for a mooch around Betws-y-Coed.
Quiet time we had, until the 14:57 train came flying by, we knew the train track was very close but we kind of expected something a bit more picturesque, like a steam train, not the local commuter on its way to Llandudno.
We had bit of a giggle about it and were pleased not to be on the other side of the path, because the vans on that side were no more than 2metres away from the track, we soon discovered they ran every hour, from what time and till when we didn’t know, but we would no doubt find out.
Boots on and I’m afraid rain coats too, we strolled into the village for a mooch round he shops and hopefully find a nice pub for a pint of the local beer. The village is chocked full of retail shops covering all types of walking and hiking requirements, quite a few had sales on and some mega savings were to be found with the end of line stock, it helped though if you were 6ft plus and had size 4 feet ..
We called into the Gwydyr Hotel and sat in the small bar area with a pint of the local unpronounceable beer, a nice open fire was going and four of the local oldies were sat round enjoying their drinks, we couldn’t help but listen as they dipped in and out of the Welsh language, neither of us could understand a word so we didn’t feel like we were intruding.
Returning back to Pod a vegetable stir fry was soon being cooked up and two huge steaks cooked on the Foreman grill, the smells were delicious and once served up the plates were soon cleaned.
Shower block was the next stop, not forgetting to take the key we walked the short distance to the building which housed the obligatory kitchen area with three sinks, washing machine and male/female toilet blocks.
It all looked very new and was spotlessly clean, showers were nice and hot and the cubicles were a good size.
Once back at Pod we checked the weather forecast and it looked like tomorrow, Good Friday, was going to be the best day for tackling Snowdon, so all our gear was checked and made ready for the next day and the route on the map was decided, the Pyg Track. We went to bed and spent a peaceful, warm night snuggled in Pod.
I wanted to say the alarm woke us but it was the 4:57 train rocking by that did that and after breakfast we were out of the site just after 7. We did approach the barrier with a little trepidation just in case the owners decided to have a lie in, it was a Bank Holiday after all.
Didn’t take long to reach the car park at Pen-y-Pass, but to our horror it was full. It wasn’t even 7.30 and there wasn’t a spot to be found. A slight panic set in as we drove down the road wondering what to do, we knew there wasn’t another carpark and just hoped one of the lay-bys had a spot left.
As we drove further down hill we rounded a bend to see a lay-by on the left, luckily there was still plenty of room so we parked up and looked back up the hill we needed to walk up before we could start along the Pyg Track.
It was a slight hiccup but it didn’t deter us from doing what we came to do. So boots fastened, rucksacks on and with Poddington attached for the ride we set off up the road, quite a few cars passed us going up only to return down the hill moments later, they too were looking for that elusive car parking spot and would doubtlessly be joining us on the walk up the road should they be lucky enough to find one of the remaining spots we had left behind.
Once we were off the road and began our walk up the Pyg Track the sun came out and there was hardly a cloud in the sky, all we could do was keep our fingers crossed and hope we reached the summit before the weather changed.
We slowly wound our way up the path, even passing a few people on the way down, after a brief exchange of words we discovered they’d spent the night up on Snowdon, what an incredible sunrise they must have experienced, we were enviable and gave it some thought for a future trip.
As we reached the style we saw some people taking the route over Crib Goch, weather conditions looked perfect for it but it wasn’t for us on this occasion. It was our first time on Snowdon and we wanted to take our time and enjoy the views without worrying where each foot step would need to go, we’d done our research and Crib Goch isn’t for the less experienced.
Once over the style we walked along the path and soon began to see snow, as we stopped to look back at the lake Llyn Llydaw we saw clouds moving in and hoped they would skirt the summit.
With Crib Goch looming behind us Snowdon came into view with Glaslyn at her feet, it looked spectacular. A few wispy clouds were lightly kissing the summit and blue sky surrounded her and the lower hills.
We were within metres of the summit when we heard a voice ahead say “Oh no. That doesn’t look good,” we turned in time to see a mist surrounding us, we soon became enveloped in cloud and the temperature took a dive changing what had been sweatshirt and sunglasses to waterproofs and woolly hats.
The snow now was 6 – 8 inches in places and narrow channels had been walked through it so it was easy to follow, only problem came when those coming down the mountain slipped and came part way down on their bottoms. Most were appropriately dressed, some not. We’ve discussed this before so not going to dwell on it, just hoped they made it down safely without the assistance of the emergency services.
Once on the ridge the wind picked up, even with our coats on the chill hit our bones and we quickened our pace to the summit. We passed the railway track covered in snow and discovered the café was still boarded up from the winter.
We reached the summit and just about managed to take pictures before fingers lost movement and circulation, the sun managed to break through occasionally and this made such a difference, you could feel the warmth hit you in blasts, it didn’t last long though, the clouds soon sorted that out and most of the time the wind whistled through.
The only really annoying thing was, if we’d had a spot on Pen-y-Pass carpark we would have seen the summit bathed in sunshine.
Most people were expecting the café to be open, not necessarily for the food, more for the facilities. The men had quickly devised a system behind one of the walls but the ladies didn’t really have an option other than to wait till back down or locate a spot out of view and out of the wind. Not sure which would be worse being seen or catching a touch of frostbite in unmentionable places. Needless to say LB held on and that’s all that’s been said.
Hunger was the next thing to be tackled and we were fortunate enough to find a doorway to stand in, the wind howled by whilst we shovelled sandwiches, crisps and chocolate bars down, once eaten we didn’t hang around and found our way down the Watkin Path.
Snow again covered the steep path down and with the loose rocks and stone it was slippy to say the least. Cloud again blocked any views so we concentrated on making our way down on foot rather than on our bottoms.
As we got below the clouds the rugged scenery began to stretch out in front of us and outer clothing could be removed. At the bottom of the path we reached the road and faced with walking back to Pen-y-Pass via the road we took another look at the map and found a route which followed the curve of the hills and cut a fare few kilometres off.
It took us along the left side of the lake, Llyn Gwynant, over boulders and through fields until we reached Cwm Dyli, the hydro-electric power station. Here we crossed the stream and followed a newly laid path until we bore left and began to climb up to Pen-y-Pass.
By now we had covered a fare distance and were beginning to flag, as has become the norm on our walks, at least two fell runners went by on their way down, full of energy and with big cheery smiles they passed as if gliding by, could of done with pinching a small piece of that energy.
The car park and the hotel could just about be seen and within half an hour we reached the carpark to see many tired and weary people waiting for the bus to take them back to their bases.
LB had blisters that by now were making their presence known so MB travelled the last kilometre alone whilst LB attempted to find a spot out of the wind to await his return with the car.
Rucksacks were unceremoniously dumped into the back of the car and a reflectful journey took us back to Pod. We had walked for over 9hrs and covered just over 22 kilometres but the rain had stayed away all day. We had seen snow, felt a biting wind and seen the sun looking out of a blue sky onto Snowdon, a killer of a day but worth the aching bones and sore feet. We had climbed Snowdon, all 1085 meters of her.
Those hot showers were ever so welcoming and feeling slight rejuvenated we tucked into a Prawn Curry cooked in Pod followed by a few beers. Bed beckoned and as we crawled under the duvet the wind was beginning to pick up and we heard the first few drops of rain before finally falling asleep.