09.07.2013. The sight of the impressive Caernarvon castle, beautifully set along the promenade, with the golden glow of the Menai Strait just across it, welcomed me as I set foot on this historic northern Welsh town. After a few hours exploring the town, I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Andy Murray made history by winning the Wimbledon trophy. The streets seemed lukewarm by this achievement; it almost seemed that the excitement of the tennis championship never reached this part of the country.
The following Monday I took a bus to Llanberis, where I will be spending 2 days to explore the area. The quiet village itself has nothing to write home about, though its surrounding area is most certainly impressive. Situated at the foot of the Snowdon mountain, flanked by the gorgeous dual lakes of Padarn and Peris, the villagers of Llanberis seemed to be spoilt with things to do at nature’s doorstep- swimming or canoeing by the welcoming calm blue waters of the lakes; or hiking up the rugged mountains of England and Wales’ highest peaks. I was quite jealous.
I climbed Snowdon via the Pyg Track, described by the tourist brochure as “quite a rugged and challenging path up Snowdon”, but only one of several established routes to get up to the top. Perhaps feeling a little over-confident by my previous experience with Pen-Y-Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons, I attempted the hike with little more than singlet, shorts, sneakers and a few bottles of water.
Against the hot sunny day, the hike along the rugged path proved to be a challenge, forcing me to stop a few more times than I thought I would. The importance of proper walking shoes was made known to me when I took a mis-step on a loose stone and sprained my ankle slightly, although it wasn’t serious enough to stop me advancing. It was a stark reminder of nature’s tendency to bite back when one underestimates it.
Getting to the top of this 1085 metres high mountain was a real sense of achievement, and the reward was in the form of excellent views of the surrounding peaks and blue lakes. The accolade will be shared with many others though, as Snowdon is quite popular with tourists (the mountain being described as ‘probably the busiest in the UK’). There is even a train that transports people from Llanberis to the peak, although I feel that doing so would amount to cheating! Snowdon is the highest peak in both England and Wales, however it is only the 60th something in the whole of UK, with all of the higher mountains situated in Scotland.
I used the Llanberis Path on my descent, a 5 miles route which roughly follows the train tracks back to the village. This path is far simpler as the ascent is most gradual. I even spot a few people wearing sandals on their way up! For the last few hundred metres, where the path is flat, I completed the journey by jogging down the route, enjoying the breeze against me. The hike up Snowdon took me about 2.5 hours and the way down under 2.
Considering that my goal for coming to Wales is to visit the Snowdonia National Park, this experience certainly did not disappoint. Climbing both Pen Y Fan and Snowdon has sparked my interest with hiking and I would love to do more in future, although it would serve me well to have better equipments next time!