Big Mountain Day
There are loads of different reasons we go outdoors. Some go for fresh air, some go for the feelings of isolation and others go for the challenge. Our latest route was conjured up as just that – a challenge.
Snowdon is one of those mountains that attracts the adventure, but it can be a little underwhelming and overly commercial. The fact there’s a café, train station and more often than not, a queue for the summit, can all put off the little more adventurous of us. This report aims to show that despite all of the above, a real big mountain day can be had up one of Britain’s most popular heights.
On one of the clearest, most glorious days of the year, we decided it was the perfect day for our big mountain day. When considering Snowdon as more than just one peak and more of the massif that it really is, there are many other peaks in the area worthy of a challenge. Starting in Llanberis and walking the completely opposite direction to the tourist path, the route starts off with a road walk in the direction of Moel Eilio, through a lesser trodden area of Llanberis.
Once you’re off the road, there is no guessing where you’re going. Despite the obvious pyramidal peak of snowdon in the distance, Moel Eilio has an unmistakable presence from the moment you start going up. Following the fence all the way up to the summit, the most substantial summit cairn I’ve ever seen is awaiting at the top.
From here on in, it’s very easy to see where you’re going and how you’re going to get there on a clear day. Some steep declines and inclines take you all the way along the ridge, summiting Foel Gron, Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion, eventually intercepting the Snowdon Ranger Path.
Following the Ranger Path all the way to the summit, it’s easy to see why Snowdon is the most popular mountain in the UK. Even during a period of semi-skimmed lockdown, there was a massive range of people around the summit; ranging from the pros to the seriously under-equipped. Take your time to really explore the different sides of the summit, with each panoramic view changing every time you turn a corner.
Using the Llanberis path to start your descent toward Clogwyn Station, quit the rat race just after and continue following the ridge jutting out back towards Llanberis. Be prepared not to see anyone else until you re-join the Llanberis path, but savour the amazing and uninterrupted views into Llanberis and the disused slate mines all the way along. The highest point along this ridge is called ‘the other’ Tryfan and provides some of the best views of the day.
As the route comes back down from the ridge and re-joins the Llanberis path, a pretty un-eventful descent is waiting back into Llanberis. Be sure to stop off at the Café Penceunant Isaf for a crisp cider before heading back to the car!
This route requires a good amount of stamina and, in less favourable conditions, a good understanding of one of the highest mountain peaks in the UK. Make sure you carry plenty of fluids and sources of energy to avoid hitting the wall on one of the most rewarding routes I’ve personally walked.
On the subject of cars, Parking can be hit and miss around Snowdon. I’d always implore anyone to park using a designated car park, keeping residents and businesses in mind. My first preference is the Llanberis Community Centre, as the monies raised are re-invested into the centre itself. Whatever you decide, don’t park on Pen-y-Pas, parking here reduces a busy mountain road to single track, making for pretty dangerous conditions.
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