As some of you may or may not know, in October I will be trekking the Great Wall of China to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund! I’m excited and terrified all at the same time but what better way to prepare than to hike up a mountain. So on Sunday, that’s exactly what I did! I hiked up Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.
Now, I have done this trek a couple of times before and so I knew what to expect. Lots of steep steps, rugged terrain and bits of scrambling – perfect training for what I needed. I also made sure I had my back pack on my back the whole time which contained my layers, lunch, snacks and water. When I do my China trek I’ll be carrying my day pack on my back the whole time, so this is essential training. I need to know that my back can take it if anything!
Snowdon Pyg Track
We decided to hike up the Snowdon Pyg Track. The Pyg track is 5.5km, is one of the most popular/busier paths and is the track I had done twice before. The Pyg Track is relatively easy to follow and there are only a couple of scrambling parts. That being said, it’s also relatively steep, very rocky in parts and has lots of steps!
To walk the Snowdon Pyg track it’s best to arrive early, especially on weekends/sunny days! The car park gets full VERY quickly as it’s only small and the Pyg track is one of the most popular tracks. It takes two hours to drive to Snowdon from where I live, so with it being a bank holiday weekend, we left at 5am (!) and arrived just before 7am. The Pyg Track starts from Pen Y Pass car park, however even at 7am when we arrived it was already full!!
It was ok though because if the Pen Y Pass car park is full, you can just turn left out of the car park and drive for 5 minutes or so until you come to another car park which costs £5 to park and you can get the Sherpa bus back up to Pen Y Pass for £1.50 (or a taxi which is £6ish), which is what we did.
There are benefits to arriving early though, even on bank holiday weekend there weren’t that many people hiking up and it was pretty quiet and peaceful. Later on it gets busy and you literally have people right behind you at all times which can put pressure on you sometimes.
Anyway, so we were ready to go at about 7.30am at the start of the Pyg track on the Pen Y Pass car park…it’s obvious where it starts from as there is a sign marked “Pyg Track.”
Snowdon Pyg Track: the walk up
The Pyg Track is fairly straightforward, it starts briefly on tarmac (as above) but this quickly turns into steep, rocky steps with a few sections where you need to scramble. This ascends gradually towards a peak (which is actually Crib Goch – another path only to be attempted by the very experienced/brave!!). If you are wondering why, Google it and you’ll see 🙂
When you get to the “top” of the first ascent, the path levels out a bit and there is a bit of relief from the uphill climb. The views here are amazing on a clear day (see below). I have been lucky in that the last two times I have done the Pyg track, the views have been amazing but there is often fog which obscures the view somewhat. Be sure to always check the weather forecast before attempting Snowdon. In my experience, clear fine days are best as wet days can make the rocks slippy and it can be more dangerous.
The next part is quite straightforward, just make sure to keep to the path marked Pyg Snowdon (as below) and not to head up to Crib Goch (which is marked on a sign to the right).
Follow this path as it ascends gradually to the summit. There are some steep parts and rocky bits that require scrambling. Eventually you come to some steep steps that zig zag up towards the top. When you reach this point you are almost there – but not quite! This is probably the most challenging part and most people have to stop several times for a rest as the steps are pretty steep. When you get to the top of these steps the view (on a clear day) is breathtaking!
It’s at this point you can see the summit – you are very close but still a short climb away. Follow the path to the left alongside the mountain railway and you’ll eventually reach the summit – hooray! Time to enjoy the views. We had a packed lunch at the top overlooking the amazing views. There is also a shop and a cafe at the top where you can buy hot drinks and food (and beer!) It’s usually cold at the top and so layers are definitely required.
Getting down: The Miners Track
Of course, you can go down the way you came but it’s good to try a different route 🙂 (Or you could always take the train!) We went down the Miners track. To get down the Miners track, you go down the same way you came up on the Pyg track, following the same path until you come to a stone marker which marks the descent down the Miners track. In all honesty, I find going down much harder than going up as you really have to be careful to avoid slipping and hurting yourself on the rocks. The Miners track is pretty steep and is more of a scramble down the rocks. I wouldn’t like to go up that way to be honest as it’s really steep!!
Once you get past the scrambling part though, it’s pretty much plain sailing and an easy walk past the lakes back to the Pen Y Pass car park. As it was a nice day, we spent half an hour or so sunbathing by the lake at the bottom of the steep descent. We figured we’d earnt it 🙂 It was very relaxing and felt like being at the beach. Some people even went in the lake but it was a bit cold for my liking.
Some tips for walking up Snowdon
- Pick a good day weather wise, check the weather a day before you go. In bad weather it can be dangerous and is not worth the risk.
- Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
- Take at least a litre of water (or more on a hot day).
- Take some change for the car park/bus (Pen Y Pass costs £10 to park and the other car park I mentioned is £5. The Sherpa bus is £1.50 each way)
- Take some snacks/packed lunch.
- Wear good walking boots – you need decent walking boots with grip. Trainers are a no-go unless you want to slip on the rocks/hurt your feet or ankles.
- Take lots of layers – whatever time of year it is the weather can be changeable up a mountain. You’ll need warm clothes like a fleece/hat/gloves etc for the summit.
- Take/wear a waterproof coat and trousers.
- Take suncream and wear a sunhat/sunglasses in the summer as the UV rays are high up there!
So there you have it. That was my experience walking up and down Snowdon for the third time. I must say I found it much easier than the first time I tried it (at 1 year 8 months post op). I am much stronger/fitter now and I think you need good strength to scramble and pull yourself up the rocks. Plus, the weather was much better and it’s much easier when it’s not freezing cold and raining or boiling hot. My back is aching a bit today but it mainly feels like muscle pain and hopefully it will be better tomorrow.
Hopefully this experience was good practice for my China Trek, although I’ll be doing hikes like this everyday for a week back to back! I may be crazy, but it’s for the best cause possible.
If you’d like to sponsor me for my China Trek and help those affected by scoliosis, you can sponsor me here:)
If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU for reading! <3
I’m now off to rest my sore back.. 😉
Until next time,
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I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.