Whether you find yourself living in the United Kingdom or are simply planning a new trip, Wales is a beautiful place to be.
One weekend in the summer, my boyfriend and I decided to drive over to Wales for a long weekend and climb Mount Snowdon, the largest peak in both Wales and England. Since we decided on our trip only a few days before, a lot of hotels were full for both nights so we booked two different hotels for one night each. I would suggest booking more than three days in advance, but what can you do?
Our first mistake was we decided to drive there Friday morning. What should have taken around five hours, it took us nearly eight. What you discover being in the South of England, you need to give yourself extra time anytime you drive near London. Lesson learned.
We arrived in Northern Wales and it was unlike anything I had seen. Essentially, it looks like what I imagine Skyrim or Middle Earth from Lords of the Rings would look like: Mountains and landscapes as far as the eye can see. Also sheep. Sheep everywhere.
Our first night was spent in Caernarfon, a town right along the water, at the Celtic Royal Hotel. The inside is absolutely beautiful with a giant wooden staircase in the middle. While the rooms are old and a little tired looking, the overall place is really charming. Exhausted from the drive, we settled into the bar and had a gorgeous dinner for a great price. The hotel also has an indoor pool, sauna and steam room of which we had to try them all out.
Once we woke up, we checked out and set forth towards the mountain. One quick look outside and it was starting to rain. Fantastic.
There’s multiple locations to start the hike depending on your skill and preference of difficulty. For us, we parked the car in a nearby lot and took a shuttle bus to the main entrance, Pen-y Pass (where there is very limited parking). From here, there are four paths you can take. For us, we decided on Pyg Track which is a short route (about 5-6 hours overall) but the incline is very intense.
At the bottom of the mountain is a weather report for the summit. Be aware it can be very chilly up there so dress appropriately! Hint: there’s usually frost and/or snow even when we went in August. Also, please be safe and never hike alone. It’s a massive mountain and you never want to put yourself in a dangerous situation or get lost along the way.
Even though it was pouring, there’s really no way to carry an umbrella so don’t bother. Just accept that you’re going to get very wet. About halfway up the mountain, the rain held off and we switched clothes. Our soaking sweaters went into our backpack and we put on dry ones instead. Instantly, you feel so much better.
Because it was so rainy, the top of the mountain was completely covered in mist. You could see about five metres in front of your face and all your wet clothes began to freeze. If you’re lucky to climb in better weather, let me know how the views look!
At the top, there is a covered chalet with washrooms, hot food and drinks along with overpriced souvenirs. If the mountain has totally wrecked your legs, there is a train that you can take up and down. Please don’t! The hike is worth it.
The journey down was tough but it was full of incredible views.
Here would have been a good time to take some ibuprofen for my sore legs, but I didn’t think of it at the time. Tired, we took the shuttle back to the car and continued on to our last hotel. Here, we stayed in Porthmadog (hint: Welsh is a weird language) at the Royal Sportsman Hotel. With less than 30 rooms, it’s a small building with a cute pub and incredible fish and chips. Since our legs were so shattered, it was an early night for both of us before the drive home. If we had more time, I would have loved to explore the area more. Next time!
Even just driving along the country side, without another person or vehicle in sight, is a wonderful experience. Wales is a very special place to be
What to Bring:
proper clothing (especially if in colder weather):
- waterproof jacket and pants
- hiking boots
- thick socks
- multiple layers and extra clothes to change into if it’s raining
- map and compass
- bandaids (or rather, “plasters”) and ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- plastic bag to cover camera, cellphone and any of your important stuff and another for garbage