On the Fri night we made our way from different parts of the country to Betws-y-Coed where we stayed in the Ty Gwyn Hotel on the outskirts of the small town. The hotel was superb, being friendly, warm and having a nice bar – we’ve all vowed to stay there again in the future.
On the Sat morning we were up early and parked in Pen-y-pass car park before 8am, waiting for the cafe to open. It was raining with very low cloud so we had a cooked breakfast and drank tea while contemplating what to do. We were not at all convinced that we should attempt the horeshoe in anything other than perfect weather. So we decided on a walk uyp the Pyg track to the top of Snowdon and then a walk to Llanberis.
The walk up Snowdon was fairly straightforward with the cloud coverage retreating just enough for us to be tempted to do Crib Goch as we reached the fork off the Pyg track. However, we decided against this and continued on the Pyg track. At the summit we nodded approvement of the new cafe and station building which at least looks like it might have been built using stones from the local area. The building was not open yet so we had a quick photo at the top and then started our descent.
From the summit we followed the railway track for a few minutes and then broke off left onto the Snowdon Ranger path. This took us down gradually from the summit and we eventually took the Llanberis path heading north between Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion.
Just before we arrived in Llanberis we stopped by the Rhaeadr waterfall which was looking extremely violent due to the recent rainfall.
We walked into Llanberis past the mountain railway station looking for a half decent pub in which to get a drink. After walking right into the centre we found no pubs which looked even remotely welcoming or even open, and Llanberis went to the top of our list of dreary, desolate and unfriendly places we had ever visited. We went to the only open shop and bought a can of beer each and drank these as we walked back to the bus stop near the train station. Maybe it’s been a while since I got a bus, but the relatively short trip from Llanberis to Pen-y-pass was the most expensive bus ride I’ve been on. We didn’t like Llanberis.
Duration 5:55 hours
Distance 10.3 miles
Total ascent 1,148 m
Path (Google Earth)
After picking up our cars and arriving back in Betws-y-Coed we had quick showers and walked into the centre to catch the international football matches at The Stables pub. England were playing Kazakhstan and Wales were playing Liechtenstein. There was quite a crowd at the pub with viewing spors being a premium. The bigger crowd was for the England game but being in Wales meant that the England match was relegated to the smaller TV. The Wales crowd seemed to enjoy their game but managed to cheer just as loud when Kazakhstan scored against England. Anyway, good results for both teams with England winning 5-1 and Wales 2-0.
At half time during the games Tim and Carmel nipped out to the shops are tried to compete with each other by spending the most on new gear for the next day’s walk. I had gear-envy.
After the football we made our way back to the hotel and had a good dinner in the hotel restaurant. The menu was excellent and the food superb. I recall having a foie gras starter and then a shoulder of lamb for my meal. We were all determined to have a second attempt at the Snowdon horseshoe the next morning and agreed that if the weather was half decent that we’d give it a go.
On the Sunday morning the weather was perfect. Blue skies with just a few white clouds that wouldn’t last long. We decided on sticking around the hotel for a cooked breakfast and eventually ended up taking the last few spaces in Pen-y-pass car park just after 9am.
We followed the Pyg track and branched off up towards Crib Goch. The ridge walk was fairly popular that day and it was possible to see a stream of walkers all the way up the scramble to the top of Crib Goch. This reassured us somewhat as part of the problem at the part of the walk is that the path up is not massively clear. Every now and again we could see the next cairn marking our way, but frequently the route to it was not clear. We had some assistance with our directions by a couple of lone walkers (one a lady walking her dog) and they made clear the level of scrambling that was required.
After about 15 mins or so we got to a particularly tricky rock that required a firm grip and a long stretch to pass. This proved the undoing of Neil who was not at all at ease with the long drops and steep slopes. After contemplating what to do for 10 mins, he decided that Crib Goch was not going to be for him and that he would head back down and walk up the Pyg track and meet us at the Snowdon summit. Carmel decided to keep him company and the group split with just Rob, Nik and Tim making the scramble up Crib Goch.
It is 5 years since I last did Crib Goch in heavy cloud, and I do not understand how my body has forgotten quite how scared it gets. We scrambled to the top, with me on all fours wherever possible. I certainly remember the scramble being tiring, but I just do not remember it being quite so exposed and steep!
Once at the top of Crib Goch we posed for photos and collected our thoughts. There were quite a few people ahead of us making their way across the ridge and we wanted to give them some space. However, we fairly quickly caught them up and managed to overtake them on the ridge itself. Whilst doing the traverse I couldn’t help but think of the way that a young boy had fallen off and died a few weeks earlier by putting too much weight on a loose rock. Every rock I tried to grab felt loose…
We climbed along, climbed down, climbed up and basically followed the ridge all the way to the top of Crib-y-ddysgl. Again I had forgotten quite how long the ridge is, and how undulating the terrain is. At times it was only being able to see more experienced walkers ahead that convinced us that a route existed and was climbable by mortals!
After a quick photo on top of Crib-y-ddysgl and a final look back at the more extreme side of Crib Goch we walked on towards Snowdon. We arrived there about 10 mins ahead of Neil and Carmel and had our lunch in th e sun, amongst 1,000 tourists, overlooking the whole horseshoe. It was amazing how many people were up there at that time – but perhaps a little reassuring that at least everyone on that day had walked to the top (no trains running).
The whole group then made their way down the steep scree slope from Snowdon towards Y Lliwedd.
The walk up to the top of Y Lliwedd was again not compatible with Neil. Although we did all make it to the top, Neil took every opportunity to distance himselves from the edge by a good 25 yards or more, making his own path when necessary. This 25 yard wide zone was referred to by Neil has his “panic buffer”. The views from the top of Y Lliwedd were amazing, with the afternoon sun shining across the many lakes.
The journey down was straightforward and we managed to pose for one final group photograph before joining the miner’s track on the edge of Llyn Llydaw. Arriving back at the Pen-y-pass cafe we had a cup of tea and congratulated ourselves on a good day’s walk. The walk had taken longer than we had expected, so by 5pm we were all on the road back to wherever it was that we lived.
Distance 7.7 miles
Total ascent 1,246 m
Path (Google Earth)
The plan now is to do the Mourne Seven Sevens next year…