In recent months we’ve climbed some of the highest peaks in the UK – Scarfell Pike, Skiddaw and Helvellyn. This past weekend we visited North Wales to climb Mount Snowdon – one that we’ve been wanting to knock off for a while. Was it worth it? The short answer is no. Here’s why…
The day started with us packing up our tent at 7am ? to make the hour trip from our camp site over to Snowdon. I don’t function in a morning on a good day so throwing on some clothes, brushing my teeth and tying my hair up was about all I could manage – after all who was going to see me or care what I look like at the top of a mountain ?.
We arrived at the Pen-y-Pass at 9.00am thinking that we might just be able to get in car park, ohhhh how wrong we were. It was heaving, even at that time. This should have been our first clue that it was going to be busy. But I digress; we were directed onto the next village for the park and ride Sherpa bus service. The service is actually pretty good: it’s regular and cheap and runs until 7pm. It cost us £5.00 to park and £1.50 each way on the bus.
It is worth noting that there are a few places that you can pull into to park for free between the Pen-y-Pass and the park and ride but I wouldn’t recommend it. It is quite a hike back up the starting points of the PYG and Miners routes on a busy main road with no pavement. Personally I don’t fancy being run over by a bus or any other vehicle for that matter but have a look when you arrive and make your own mind up.
The biggest tip I can give anyone who plans on hiking Snowdon is do your research before you set off – each of the routes sets off from a different place and some are more technical that others – there is even the ‘effort free’ option of boarding a train to the summit. Doing your research will make sure that you are prepared, have the right gear and are in the right place. I’ll link a few useful sites at the bottom.
To my knowledge the only circular route to Snowdon’s summit involves an ascent up the PYG Trail and a descent down the Miners Track (or visa versa as they both leave from the same car park). The PYG is slightly shorter than the Miners Track but ascents much more quickly because we were a little short on time we chose to do the hike this way around. Both trails are very clearly marked and it would be difficult to get lost.
I would love to share the scenery with you all but it was a VERY misty day and we couldn’t see a thing after we had ascended a short distance – it took about 20 minutes to lose pretty much all of our visibility. The PYG is not a technically difficult trail but does involve a small amount of scrambling (where I almost had my eyes poked out by a flailing walking pole) and there are few places where people seem to bottleneck. We set off with plenty of space around us but soon caught up to other hikers and from there on in we always seemed to be in a crowd.
It took us bang on two hours to reach the summit. After taking in the view, or lack of ? we visited the café which sits right below Snowdon’s peak next to the train station and started our descent down the miners track. By this point visibility had improved and some of the sights were pretty spectacular, I only wish I could have seen the view from the top with my own eyes – but sadly the British weather was not having any of it. Overall it took us three hours and forty five minutes: two hours to ascend and an hour and forty five minutes to descend. For reference we’re both fairly active in our day to day lives so I would say we’re of slightly higher than average fitness – it may take you less time it might take you longer just make sure you allow yourself enough time. I know from experience there is nothing worse than having to rush and not having the time to appreciate what you are doing.
Just in case you think I’m over exaggerating just how busy it was have a look at this. Sorry for the vertical filming, I never actually intended to share it publicly!
So… Would I recommend Snowdon? No, not really. Having recently hiked Scafell Pike and using that for comparison the experiences were poles apart for me. Scafell was quiet (although it wasn’t peak season) it was a beautiful clear day and it allowed me to have some me time. Maybe I set off for Snowdon a little naively especially as someone once described it to me as ‘being as busy as Oxford Street on Boxing Day’, but I definitely underestimated just how busy it would be. I like to hike to get away from everything and to have some time for myself and I just didn’t feel that I got this from Snowdon. Our pace was dictated by those around us and we found that we were having to hurry up or slow down to get some space which just took away from the experience for me. If it been a bit quieter and if the weather had been better and we’d been able to ‘see the sights’ maybe my opinion would be different.
I’m sure I will return at some point in the future so we’ll have to wait until then to see if my opinion changes. Has anyone else done Snowdon? Or the Three Peaks Challenge? What did you think?