Tales From Snowdonia
When I first got the bug for seeing places a bit off the beaten track, long before I had the idea of My Travel Mission, I headed for the mountains – Snowdonia.
The first time I climbed to the summit was totally off the cuff, I borrowed a mates walking boots (otherwise it would have been trainers!) and headed off with a good friend Daniel. We totally underestimated the situation – me in jeans, a t-shirt, and a rain coat in a back pack, Daniel in shorts and Thunder cats t-shirt! I seem to remember the only food we had with us was a tin of peaches Daniel had! We decided to do the most difficult route, and our quick google search at the time lead us to the Watkins Path. We sheepishly went to a tourist information point and were seriously warned not to go up as late as we were…but hey what was the worse that could happen? (totally irresponsible by the way! And a good few years ago!)
The route up took as a lot longer than we expected, surprise surprise, the large stepping stones placed there really took it out of my legs, but every where you looked there was another amazing view. The motivation was the next crest of a hill, the next summit, to see what was the other side. Hidden lakes would appear from no where and mesmerise, that was it, I’d got the bug. The scramble to the top was total guess work, one short conversation being “Which way now?” met with the helpful response “Up”.
We eventually made it to the summit, and were jealous of a group of ladies at the top who had each taken up a bottle of beer to celebrate with, something we adopted as a tradition. One time causing Daniel to jog 20 minutes back to the camp site at Ben Nevis!
The clouds closed in and panic began to set in, I remember one call Daniel made to his dad, Chris, trying to get him to find out where we were on Google maps some how?? I’m still not sure how that was supposed to work. The visibility had gone down to about 10 yards, we missed the path on the way down and had to climb back up, a nightmare, but we made it back to the car before dark and had the most rewarding dinner after stumbling upon the Sopna Tandoori in the middle of no where, still in our climbing clothes and boots.
I was undeterred though and have been back many times since, the place takes on another personality during winter months as well and at times you will be totally on your own with not another person in sight – an amazing feeling. My favourite route is the Pyg Track, the views along this route are some of the best. The car park is at Pen-y-Pass – LL55 4NU. Now though I’m much more prepared and recommend you are too whenever going to somewhere as inaccessible as Snowdonia. http://www.mytravelmission.com/outdoorpreparation.
There are so many other stories from my trips up Mount Snowdon, from falls, saves, seeing the British Army struggle with their equipment up and down in the snow, I couldn’t believe the lack of equipment they were provided with, no crampons, one ice axe each, massive rucksacks on their backs, I didn’t envy them.
The views and the sense of achievement from reaching the summits in Snowdonia, the Lake District, and the Scottish highlands are great, and a reminder that some of the most enjoyable travel can be experienced not a massive distance from your door step.
Our next British mountain plans are set for June when we are going to attempt the three peaks challenge and hopefully raise a decent amount of money for Downs Syndrome Association in the process. http://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/