Sheep and Snowdon!

The weekend of my birthday, Ellie and I had planned our last UK weekend together. One of the biggest things I wanted to do since we arrived was to explore Snowdonia National Park in the Northwest corner of Wales. I really wanted to climb Mount Snowdon, also known as Yr Wyddfa in Welsh. Mount Snowdon is the largest mountain in Wales and the second largest in all of the UK, apart from the Scottish highlands. It lies at an altitude of 3,560 ft. above sea level.
To get to Snowdonia National Park, it is quite a journey. We had to take two trains and a bus. When we got to Euston station, I realized I didn’t have my young persons railcard and therefore could not ride with the ticket I had purchased so I had 20 minutes to make it to Camden and back and I did it, much to both of our amazement. As I boarded the train with a red face and matted down hair, I was so happy to be getting out of the rat race for a bit for some real nature. Our first train travelled to Lladdudno Junction where we first came into contact with the leprechaun.

Do you see that man sitting in the aisle? Well he was heading back to his Native land of Ireland for St. Patrick’s day and on our train which departed at 11:00 am, he was probably on his 8th drink as he wobbled down the aisle towards Ellie calling her his Jewish bride(how he knew she was Jewish, we haven’t a clue—He actually must be magical) and he also told her that she looked like Sigourney Weaver in very slurred thick Irish. He then began pestering those people behind us and took out an Irish flute and he continued to play Irish folk songs on the train for the next 3 hours. He was so drunk and crazy and ended up being a permanent fixture of our journey as he continued on with us. Once we switched trains at Lladudno Junction, we were headed to Bangor.


At the train station, waiting for our connection.

The train ride to Bangor was beautiful with the Irish Sea next to us surrounded by castles and mountains. It was a landscape that was captivating and the first time I ever saw an ocean that wasn’t the Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf. Once we arrived at Bangor, we realized that Welsh was more commonly spoken than when we were in the Brecon Beacons and Cardiff. Every sign has Welsh on top first and then English and every person talks to you in Welsh first.

We had to wait at a bus stop in Bangor for a whole hour before the right bus came to take us the village of Llanberis, which I am still not sure of the correct pronunciation. One bus came earlier but as I asked the driver if he went to Llanberis he screamed at me in Welsh and then drove off. Upon finally getting the bus though, we took a beautiful 40 minute ride around winding roads and other small villages where all the houses have Welsh names instead of addresses. We got the impression that everyone knew everyone who lived in the same neighbourhood.

Once we get at Llanberis, we realized that it was one colorful street with only two restaurants and maybe 3 pubs and a tiny quickie mart grocery store. The landscape surrounding Llanberis was immeasurably beautiful. You didn’t need anything but the mountains and waterfalls and lakes.


The one street in LLanberis.

We were staying at Pete’s Eats which is the only working restaurant in Llanberis that is open year round. Most restaurants and attractions close until April or May. We were staying above the café in the dorm room. We ended up having the whole dorm to ourselves which was lucky because we had a huge kitchen where we made pasta after walking around Llanberis. We went to bed at 8 to prepare for our big climbing and adventure day.

In the morning, we went exploring around Llanberis, trying to figure out which path we would take up the mountain. We walked around Lake Padarn.



I attempted to climb some complicated Welsh playground equipment.

We had read about a beautiful waterfall so we set out to find it and on the way came across this old-fashioned church.


We had to cross many a cow grid to get to the waterfall. Cow grids are scarier than they look if you have small feet.

Once we got to the waterfall we had to cross over the tracks for the Snowdon railway and we weren’t the only ones crossing over the tracks.



Finallty we got to it. The elusive waterfall!


Afterwards we wandered around, getting courage climb the mountain.


Practicing!

We wanted to take the Llanberis trail up Snowdon as it is the easiest beginner one. It is 9 miles long, 4.5 each way and takes the average person about six hours as it is mostly uphill and you have to negotiate over stones and other debris. We also apparently do not have the right gear or any gear at all for that matter. We only had one bottle of water, a chocolate bar and a cheese sandwich. We didn’t have any sticks or water proof clothes and we only had sneakers, no boots. But we did it! We hiked it for about 5 hours and got within 15 minutes of the top when we were so high up that the weather turned terrible on us and started pouring/snowing and we couldn’t see in front of us. We were in one huge cloud. Climbing this mountain was certainly the most intense thing I have ever done as the higher you got the bigger the gales of wind got and your visibility decreased. We decided to turn around 15 minutes shy of the top as we didn’t want to be those two girls on the news who are lost in a snowstorm on a mountain somewhere without boots and only a chocolate bar. Here are a bunch of photos from our climb:


If you can tell we are climbing at this point and the mountain with the snow is the one we are walking to. It goes up considerably higher but that cloud is covering it.


Weird stable ruins on the way up.


Just beginning and already tired. The first 300 meters was the steepest.


On the way up.


Getting Closer.




Halfway and Lunch break!

Our view down when we are halfway up. You can’t even see Llanberis anymore.


The cloud begins to descend on our heads as we near the top.



Freezing near the top!

The storm was right over us and this was the last stretch but it was scary as falling down the side of the narrow path was not appealing and the rocks were slippery.

When we decided to turn back.

Once we turned back, the walk back down was fast and fairly effortless except for our drenched and freezing clothes. Now we understood why everyone was wearing plastic crap and windbreaker materials.

We decided to just get to the point and have some authentic Welsh cakes next to a log fire at this little café near the bottom. The welsh cakes were fabulous little scone-like dessert with whipped topping and jam. We ordered two huge pizzas and drank some beer that night and then went to bed at 8 again. We woke up the next morning and headed back to London, feeling satisfied and accomplished as Snowdon stood in the background when our train left the platform in Bangor.

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