Camping in Snowdon – Steve Ridgway

Our Camping Adventure in Wales

On Thursday 7th July 2011, my girlfriend Carla and I went away on a camping weekend to Wales, my aim was simple, I wanted to tackle the Miners Path of Yr Wyddfa, or as it’s more commonly known, Mount Snowdon.

I’ve always loved walking and the great outdoors, as a young boy I climbed Snowdon’s   Rhyd-Ddu Path with my parents and older sister. Carla however had never really done any walking as she’s always loved horses and prefers to let the horse do the walking. So the first thing we did was purchase Carla her first pair of walking boots, she was adamant they must be pink, and I was determined that she would be comfortable! We settled for a pair of Regatta Isotex boots and I treated myself to a Trangia camping stove from GO Outdoors in Loughborough.

We stayed at Rynys Farm near Betws-y-Coed which is a lovely campsite and we were made very welcome by the owners! After setting up camp and making dinner together we sat down with a glass of wine to look at the map and plan our day on Snowdon. We were aiming for the car park at the start of the Miners Path on the Pen-y-Pass Road and decided an early start would be a good idea to ensure getting a parking space and have plenty of daylight to complete the walk. Friday dawned a grey, murky but calm day as I crawled out of the sleeping bag, leaving Carla to snooze while I had a shower. I christened the Trangia stove by making tea and frying some bacon and was blown away with how quick and easy it is to use, I’d never had so much fun making breakfast before. I will say this about it though, where it says in the instructions ‘’Use only outdoor’’ is a worthwhile point, as I filled the tent with fumes from burning the Meths. Whoops! Once we’d both properly woken up I made sure all our kit was in my rucksack, waterproofs, first aid kit, map and compass, while Carla made us a pack up of cheese and ham cobs for lunch.

As we drove to the car park I was optimistic the weather would cheer up and indeed as we started the walk the sun did show signs of trying to break through. The first 3 km of the miners track are on a nice paved track that winds its way pleasantly from the car park round the three lakes of Llyn Teyrn, Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn. The day was clear and bright as we enjoyed the stroll, admiring the landscape, taking pictures of curious sheep, the old miner’s huts along the way and each other on the causeway of Llyn Llydaw. But as you round Glaslyn to its northern banks near a disused mine the path strikes suddenly and steeply up hill, becoming nothing more than a rocky scramble to join the Pyg Track, some 200 feet above, when I pointed out the way, Carla’s face said it all, ‘‘You’re joking aren’t you’’, typically, it started raining.

On reaching the Pyg Track, and looking to the South-West we could now clearly see Snowdon, unfortunately though, the summit was covered in thick cloud which we would soon climb into, we thought it best to pull on our water proofs. As we followed the Pyg track the landscape became much more rugged and impressive, with wisps of mist crawling over massive rock features and waterfalls cascading down the many cloughs. The Pyg Track soon strikes steeply further up hill and the way becomes a stepped path to prevent land erosion, as we started climbing the weather suddenly turned heavy and threatening. Before long and because of the height we’d gained, the wind picked up, a thick mist blew in and the rain became heavy and cold. It was clear to me by this point that Carla wanted to kill me for suggesting such a challenge, secretly though, I was relishing it and thoroughly enjoying being out in the wilds of nature. Keeping a close eye on the map and taking a few basic compass bearings to keep us going in the right direction we soon found the standing stone where the Pyg and Llanberis Paths converge and keeping the railway line on our right we trudged up the final straight to the trig point to take a photo of each other before seeking the warmth and shelter of the café, where we arrived, soaked, cold and hungry.

Inside the café we took off wet clothes, dried off and ate the pack up Carla had lovingly prepared for us, by now she was talking to me again and smiling. We chatted with other walkers and the café staff, hoping the rain would stop. Carla found a picture postcard of the view we should have seen from the trig point in the shop and bought it for herself as a reminder. The ascent had taken 2 and a half hours. We decided rather than simply going back the way we’d come, to follow the Pyg track all the way down as it starts from the same car park as the Miners Track, and looked a much gentler route. I’m very aware that more than half of accidents happen on descent and I didn’t want our day spoiled by a sprained ankle, or worse. As we got ready to leave the café we were delighted to see the rain had stopped and although still misty it was very bright outside, as if it were about to snow. Thankfully, it didn’t and the walk down was much more light hearted with us holding hands and chatting. As we got lower we dropped out of the mist, and could once again see the impressive Welsh landscape; but the summit of Snowdon behind us never revealed itself from the clouds.

When we got back to the car, I asked Carla how she’d got on with her new boots. I was expecting to hear that they’d been a little uncomfortable and stiff as they were brand new, but she said they had only just started to feel that way in the last 15 minutes back to the car. Her only complaint about them was that her feet had been very hot all day.

Friday evening, after a lovely dinner, we went to a local pub for a few drinks and sat talking to the bar staff, those few drinks turned into a few more drinks and a nice evening was had by all. I suggested a day trip to Conwy for a look round the Castle and a wonder round the town would be a nice way to spend out Saturday which Carla seemed to agree with. Unfortunately, climbing the hundreds of steps in the many towers of Conwy Castle proved rather painful on our legs that were a bit tender from the previous day. We also managed to pull in a few hours and a paddle in the sunshine on Penmaenmawr Beach, just outside Pen-y-Cae. Sunday the weather turned a little miserable and rained on us as we took our tent down and packed everything into car, but that did nothing to spoil our lovely weekend away.

Steve Ridgway