Mt Snowdon first came on my radar in the realm of trail running; she’s one of the famous three peak mountains which features in an annual 24 hour race. It takes a certain kind of athlete to endure the style of event that can see participants run with broken ankles or delusional from lack of sleep. My visit to Mt Snowdon – motivated by curiosity – is in the realm of a common mountain hike.
At 1085 metres tall, and covering a distance of 11-16 km to the peak (depending on route), Mt Snowdon (in Snowdonia National Park) is the tallest mountain in Wales, and hailed for being one of Wales’ most scenic destinations. I’ve lived in England for a couple of years, and it regularly surprises me the way the British boast about their countries landscape. I see a large palette of ‘disappointing grey’ in every hue imaginable, but somehow they notice something far more remarkable. The Welsh seem to have higher standards which I am led to believe is due to the landscape of Snowdonia, and it’s fair to say that upon entering the region by road, there is a noticeable shift in view.
Betws-y-Coed (which is apparently pronounced Betsy-co-wide) is the closest village to Mt Snowdon, and a pleasant contrast to English landscape. Buildings in the village are made with the traditional grey rock seen anywhere in England, but here they seem to have been either built with more care, or lovingly restored. Each stone cleverly connects like a jigsaw puzzle giving a much cleaner aesthetic. The River Coed runs through the town with arch bridges built overhead to connect land without removing the tranquillity of running water. Large meadows of zesty green grass and wildflowers line the roads which too appear built with beauty in mind. There’s a country village vibe of cheerful, relaxed folk, whom are seemingly happy of my presence when entering into a store. The overall environment sounds peaceful and quiet.
Climbing Mt Snowdon is no athletic caper, and with a reasonable amount of fitness can be completed by anyone. The Llanberis car park is free and clearly signposted just off the A4086 road bringing you to the beginning of the easiest and most popular route up Mt Snowdon. Here the track begins as a wide gravel mining road before turning into narrow track which can easily accommodate walkers side-by-side. During peak season the journey can be slower, but the trade off is mild weather; Winter months almost certainly encounter snow fall.
The trail runs along the edge of the mountain capturing views across Snowdonia National Park ,and I’m told even to Ireland on a clear day though for me the views is pleasantly paddocks, peaks, and lakes as far as the eye can see. Strangely there’s a cafe and train station at the summit which departs from Llanberis during October. Time to relax at the peak after just a few hours of climbing, savouring the Welsh air, which somehow smells sweeter than the English, before a swift walk down and well deserved beer back in Llanberis.
I have to agree with the Welsh; their country landscape is certainly more scenic than the Brits; I would know, I’ve been known to circumnavigated parts of it more than once.