On Friday 1st June, my girlfriend Susan and I travelled to north Wales to climb Mount Snowdon – the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. We had journeyed up the evening before and stayed at a Premier Inn in Shrewsbury, allowing us a good nights sleep before a 90 minute drive to the bottom of the mountain and a 9 o’clock start. The weather, having been much hotter earlier in the week, had cooled to about 18 degrees.
My friend Pete, recommended downloading and using an app called Endomondo, which would allow us to track all the aspects of our walk/climb such as speed, distance, altitude and calories burned. You can connect with your friends via the app, so that you can track their progress while they’re using it. A great idea! Our stats can be found further down the post.
The climb: Watkin’s path
I know a few people who have climbed Snowdon via Watkin’s path and we chose to do the same because it is the most demanding of all the routes to the top, starting at the lowest elevation of all the paths. It was no surprise therefore (and quite nice, too) that we only passed about 8 people during the entire ascent!
Starting in a small car park on the A498 at Bethania, the walk begins at a gradual incline through woodland and then opens up past the waterfalls of the Afon Llan, before crossing an abandoned slate quarry.
After the quarries, the path begins winding its way up the Y Lliwedd peak. This was really tough going and we found ourselves having to stop to catch our breath every 50 or so metres. When you reach the ridge between Y Lliwedd and Snowdon, the path starts to become really thin and the drop off the edge becomes quite daunting.
The path (if you can call it that) then heads west and climbs the side of Snowdon at a very steep incline. This was by far the most nerve-racking part of the climb. The path is mainly loose scree and at this point we needed both hands free to help us to balance and climb.
Once at the top of Watkin’s path it is only a short walk along the ridge of Snowdon to reach the summit. Having only passed a handful of people on the way up, we were suddenly surrounded by lots of people who had taken the train to the top and we didn’t linger for too long at the top because there were little black flies everywhere!
The descent: The South Ridge
On our way down from the summit we passed the top of Watkin’s path and headed along the South Ridge path. Once we had dropped down from the peak the views on either side were absolutely stunning, although it was quite nervy because the ridge path is very narrow with sheer drops on either side. It was at this point that we passed someone walking their dog – talk about a challenge!
As the ridge drops down steeply in to the valley, you pass the ruins of an old slate quarry and then you find yourself in amongst the sheep. I don’t think my legs had ever been quite so happy to be back on grass and fairly flat ground.
The path continues along the valley bed until you join back up with Watkin’s path at the waterfalls.
After nearly 9 hours of non-stop walking, with legs like jelly we finally completed our 13km round trip. The pictures really don’t give a true reflection of the scale of the mountain, but for anyone who is thinking about doing this, I would firmly recommend it.
Here are the stats from Endomondo:
- Distance 6.72 km (4.17 mi)
- Duration 3h:53m:23s
- Calories 468 kcal
- Altitude 56m start / 1081m finish
- Elevation 1315m up / 328m down
- Distance 6.87 km (4.26 mi)
- Duration 3h:18m:36s
- Calories 478 kcal
- Altitude 1081m start / 56m finish
- Elevation 151m up / 1172m down
- Distance 13.59 km (8.4 mi)
- Duration 7h:11m:59s
- Calories 946 kcal
- Elevation 1466m up / 1500m down