The main activity when we headed over to Snowdonia for the Outdoor Bloggers weekend this year was to climb Snowdon. At 1,085 metres (3560 feet), Snowdon (or Yr Wyddfa to use its local name) is one of the three highest mountains in the UK, and is very popular thanks to both the beauty of the surroundings and the relative ease by which you can reach the summit either by walking or via the train.
View down the Rhyd Ddu path from Snowdon.
And while it wasn’t the only reason we chose this particular location for our weekend outdoors (promise!), getting to the top of this hill has been on my bucket list since the beginning of its existence, and so I woke up very excited on the Saturday morning hoping for great views as I made my way up to the summit with my new friends.
South Ridge, Snowdon.
In case you’re not sure, Outdoor Bloggers is a group I set up with Jenni from The Thrifty Magpies Nest as we felt there was a need for a network of bloggers who loved to write about the outdoors. The “outdoors” press and media is full of some amazing people and content, but Jenni and I were specifically wanting to link up with and get to know other relatable bloggers – you know, normal people who just love doing similar things to us. We now have over 100 members of our little network, and we were very chuffed that around 16/17 came to join us for our weekend of camping and hiking in Snowdonia.
The Outdoor Bloggers having conquered Snowdon.
Anyway, back to Snowdon and my bucket list hike.
Hiking a Mountain with Climb Snowdon
We were very pleased to welcome Ross from Climb Snowdon to guide our hike, which meant I could concentrate on the walking and scenery rather than leading the walk. I love my map reading and route finding, but sometimes it’s nice just to follow. This also meant that we could take one of the lesser travelled routes up and down the mountain; while there is nothing wrong with the Llanberis path at all, it is the route that everyone takes, which means on a busy Saturday you can feel like you’re in a never ending queue to reach the top.
Where the Rhyd Ddu and South Ridge paths fork.
After waking up and having breakfast in the rain, never that much fun when camping I have to admit, I was pleased when the sky cleared to a mere drizzle. The weather was to be a huge feature of the day, and being in Wales I anticipated nothing less. We had a couple of heavy showers, some cold wind and fast moving cloud, and even a little blue sky here and there. Kit wise I wore the only pair of walking trousers I own that actually fit; my old Adidas pair (I really need to find some new ones – any suggestions?), my usual Odlo layers on top, my Haglofs waterproof coat, my super old and possibly-not-waterproof-anymore waterproof trousers, and my trusted Merrell hiking boots. I carried my pack with hydration pack, a suitably yummy pack up, and the usual day hike paraphernalia.
Me and the sea at the top of Snowdon.
We headed from Llyn Gwynant campsite around to the car park by Rhyd Ddu railway station, which was busy but not crowded – there were several other groups getting ready to also make the most of their Saturday. The carpark cost us £4 for the day, which goes towards the upkeep of the area, including the toilets. After some introductions and information about our route, we crossed over the railway line and began our ascent up the Rhyd Ddu path.
Making our way to the disused quarry.
When we reached a fork in the path, with the Rhyd Ddu path heading left up towards the summit, we took the slightly more right-hand path towards the disused quarry and the south ridge. The description of the path had worried me slightly, my fitness is not what it should be at the moment and I was worried that the steep ascent and scrambling sections I read about would be a bit much for my legs and lungs. But I needn’t have worried. The path was perfectly doable (with panting) and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of hiking a route with this group that I possibly wouldn’t have attempted if I’d have come on my own. Not totally obvious in places, it was brilliant to have a guide to show us the way, as well as a number of other bloggers in the group who had been up Snowdon several times.
One of the steeper sections on the South Ridge path.
The views from the South Ridge were simply wonderful. The cloud dissipated and as we reached the top of one of the steepest sections we were treated to the most spectacular views of the Welsh coastline – I’d like to say it took my breath away but I suspect it was more the effort of reaching that point that had me gasping, but it was indeed beautiful. I have to say I was so excited to see the sea – I should have realised I’d be able to see it from up there but it hadn’t crossed my mind and the surprise really made me smile. As we walked along the ridge the majesty of the whole place became totally evident, I can definitely see why people move to this part of the world and spend every waking moment exploring the area. Spectacular.
The view from the South Ridge.
As we neared the summit the path got busier; we hardly saw anyone else on the way up but now we were within around 200 metres of the top and the Rhyd Ddu path met up with ours again. We rushed along as we could see the cloud coming in thick and fast, but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the top before the summit was in fog. I joined the queue to get a photo at the trig point, I wasn’t coming all this way and not getting one – if it had been much busier I wouldn’t have bothered, but I couldn’t resist the pull, and wanted the proof for my bucket list!
Foggy at the summit.
Queuing for a trig point.
Summit reached and a suitable number of photographs taken, we made an about turn and headed back along the ridge, before turning right and heading down the Rhyd Ddu path towards the carpark. I know many people who see a summit as a finish line, but for me the way down is often more difficult than the way up and so I never celebrate too much until I’m safely back at the start.
Snack stop with a view.
Not a bad place to eat a pork pie 🙂
The path down was steep in places and involved a long section of rocky steps which were hard going in places, a boggy section (thankfully I didn’t end up on my bum this time), and some nice gentle meadow which helped relax the knees a bit. As we did on the way up we stopped a number of times to listen to Ross and his tales of the area – it’s really good to learn about the place you’re in when you’re hiking, and I definitely enjoyed learning something extra than I could deduce from my OS map.
Listening and learning.
Our day hike was just under eight miles and took us around eight hours to complete – you could do it a lot quicker if you wanted to, but for me, for us, this day was about more than just reaching the top and running back down again. It was a great day to get to know like-minded people, learn something about Snowdonia from our very knowledgeable guides, and plenty of time enjoying the outdoors. And very importantly, I was able to put a line through another bucket list item. Happy days.
Ready to descent down the Rhyd Ddu path.
If you haven’t done so already, please check out the vlog I made of the weekend for some more scenery… and if you’d like to see more vlogs please let me know!
If you’re looking to walk up Snowdon and would like to try a different route, then I’d absolutely recommend this circuit. And if you’d like to employ the services of a fantastic guide, then check Ross and Climb Snowdon out; he’ll take care of the route and you can just turn up and walk. He’ll even tell you stories of myth and legend as you walk.
Path to Snowdon.
But even if you don’t want to walk, you can still get to the summit of Snowdon via the train – on a good day the views are just spectacular 🙂