“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain”
– Jack Kerouac
I have never climbed any mountains in the UK, so when my flatmates suggested we go on a road trip and tackle Snowdonia I immediately said yes. This also provided an opportunity to travel with new people so two aims of my challenge satisfied.
In order to break the long drive to Wales we decided to stop in Leamington Spa as it’s more or less exactly halfway between Brighton and Wales. This was a nostalgic stop for me as I lived here for two years when I was at University. Like seeing old friends where there has been a significant gap visiting a place that was once the centre of your life is an odd feeling too, both strange and familiar. Though I didn’t have much time to overthink this as it was a quick, activity packed pit stop where we managed to see the finish of the stage 3 women’s cycle tour, visit my old flat and have amazing bagels at The Steamhouse.
As the Summer season in Snowdonia is jam packed with events it was a bit of a nightmare finding accommodation, but after lots of searching online, we found space at The Heights bunkhouse conveniently located in the centre of Llanberis. After arriving we walked around the village, had a cheeky beer then went for dinner at Pete’s Eats a traditional cafe, no soy milk or gluten-free options here, so I savoured my dinner of mac n cheese with chips guilt free!
The weather on Saturday was pretty awful (this is Wales) so we decided to have a tourist day and hope for better conditions for our Sunday hike. We got up super early and went on the Llechwedd Slate cavern tour. The guys turned their noses up when I first suggested this, but we all thoroughly enjoyed this tour covering the rise and fall of the slate industry in Wales and taking in the awe inspiring beauty of the vast caverns and learning about the techniques and lifestyle of the miners.
Next we headed to Caernarfon castle, a world heritage site which is famous for being the setting for the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. On the way back we stopped in Conwy to look at another castle and grab dinner. The rain had subsided at this point and the breaking evening light was absolutely beautiful.
Sunday was the day we tackled the mountain, I imagined Snowdonia would be a gentle stroll up a grassy hill with a stop for for an ice cream mid-way through, boy was I wrong! I did not know then people die on Snowdonia every year and use it as practice for climbing Everest. It was a challenge right from the steep start to minus one temperatures and sixty mile an hour winds over rocky uneven terrain with no toilets, but like everything I do I kept pushing forward and completed the task at hand. We managed a total time up and down of four and a half hours (the average is 6) and came back in one piece. The beer afterwards was the best I had ever drank and downed like water.
Snowdon and the surrounding area was a great introduction to UK mountain climbing. I have to give massive respect to the people who do the three peak challenge in 24 hours or run mountain marathons as walking it at an easy pace was challenging enough for me. Travelling with my flatmates was so much fun, they are great guys and superb company and we have decided to tackle another mountain next year, so all in all a success.
Next stop: Milton Keynes