Snowdonia 14-17 October

Thursday 14th
After struggling to leave work thanks to a meeting last thing, Chris and I left my house at 7.00 p.m. Chris came well supplied with snacks. I’d been hungry whilst waiting for her to arrive and so had eaten all my sandwiches before she got to me. She ate potato, broccoli and bacon as I drove. Fairly uneventful journey, apart from when we stopped at a local services on the big A road that runs along the top of Wales whose number I have forgotten. We drove in and it was a completely dark deserted Little Chef which was a bit spooky.
A 3 hour drive brought us to Bryn Gwynant youth hostel which is on the edge of Llyn Gwynant. The YH is an old Victorian house overlooking the lake but of course we couldn’t see this in the dark. It was full of teenagers but despite having some misgivings about this, they were in fact very well behaved and no bother at all. The YH is a bit knackered and has quite manky old doors. The guy on reception didn’t seem to be expecting us but he did have our room sorted so I think he was just being a bit dopey. We got some bottles of beer and went to our room. For all our nights we had booked rooms for just us as C and I find it hard to sleep with strangers! So far this year, we have had Mrs Guinea Pig at Boggle Hole and the 2 mad women at Ennerdale.
The room was about a quarter of what had once been a much bigger room. It was roomy enough and had a wash basin and a window that opened although not very far in case we were thinking of jumping out. It had a large cupboard and 1 easyish chair. It was my turn for the top bunk as I think C had had top bunk at both our previous hostels. I didn’t sleep very well in it as I kept being mindful of the need not to jump out. As for actually getting out for a pee in the middle of the night, this seemed really hard and I didn’t want to tread on Chris’ head.


Friday 15th
Our previous experiences had decided us both to bring butter, C also brought nice coffee. This hostel had butter and nice rolls as well as some cheese and ham for breakfast although these were a bit naff. Chris made up some coffee and we both had some of the cooked breakfast as well as juice and cereal and yoghurt.
Then we headed off after a bit of serious bag rearranging (pfaffing to some fellow travellers!) to Beddgelert which was all of 3 miles down the road. Stopped for a short wander round, bought a couple of things to take home and then promptly drove off in the wrong direction. After rectifying this, we then saw a Gelert outdoor shop and had to stop. I got a neat and light 2 person shelter as the one I have is huge and I never take it out because of that. Chris got another buff! Chris was most taken with the story of Gelert. Gelert was a dog who saved a baby from being eaten by a wolf and then got slain for his pains.
Once we were on the right road, we were soon at Cwellyn and parked up near the forestry track which went through Beddgelert forest, maybe where all this dog action had taken place.
We set off and it started to rain almost immediately neccesitating the first of many clothing changes. The forestry track petered out as a view of Llyn Cwellyn appeared and we could work out where our next hostel was. Then up through the trees and along a bit to the edge of the forest. Here we had our lunch, and got through quite a lot of Chris’ supplies, salads and crunchy energy bars.
It was then a short steep climb up to a first minor peak. We had good views mostly but the cloud did keep going and covering things up. The next section along the ridge it stayed clear all the way and the vista opened up to give us a huge bowl leading into the lake.
We continued up and into the cloud, before long the cairn and shelter loomed out of the mist. A short break to congratulate ourselves and then back down the ridge. We took a compass bearing to get back onto the path as it would be easy to go wrong in the mist and all the sides of the shelter look the same. Our mountain was Mynydd Mawr which tops out at nearly 700m and so a good warm up for the Big One.
The mist cleared as we descended. The short steep bit was quite hard going on descent but once that was done, it was a fast walk back to the car.
We drove round to the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel on the other side of the lake. This is a 3* hostel compared with 2* of the night before. C and I both joined the YHA as we seem to be doing this quite a bit and the hostels are in the mountains so very handy. Our room here was a bit smaller so I pointed out the Rules to C about keeping the bed area tidy. She opined that this did not matter as it was not a dormitory. I spent many happy hours moving my things from one place to another. We had showers and then whizzed off back to the village of Cwellyn and the inn for our dinner.
Whilst C was having fun with a mad system of exchanging her credit card for a plastic key (I still have no idea why), I was making friends with a group of 4 people on a nearby table. Then C came along and our dinner arrived and we started eating. The waitress brought a tray with our new pals’ dinners and bashed it into one of the men’s heads, this started a chain reaction as he knocked beer all over the others. They had to assert themselves to get the beer replaced and it took a while for the staff to come and clean it all up. Then the other man was given a piece of brown plastic which he was informed was crackling. He disagreed and asked to see the chef, he couldn’t bite into it nor even break it. The chef argued with him and all along the man who was quite rightly complaining was also a chef.
Our food was fine although pricey for what it was, burger for C and lamb casserole for me so we supped up and said goodbye to our pals and said we’d see them up the mountain as they were doing a route which meant it was likely that we would.
We went back and straight to bed after a bit of crossword. We were both roasted alive in the night as the room had no window that would open, only a Vent Axia thing that let in a teaspoon of air.

From Mynydd Mawr


From Mynydd Mawr


Lynn Gwynant from Bryn Gwynant Youth Hostel
Half way up Mynydd Mawr
First mountain done!


Saturday 16th

We woke not very refreshed as no air had come in the room which was very condensated. Time to fuel up for the big one. Fresh pastries for breakfast so I tucked in and had croissant, muesli and yoghurt and some beans on toast. C had cooked breakfast with a manky sausage. Butter was again supplied. Perhaps my complaints about the margarine at Boggle Hole and Ennerdale had been listened to?
We set off and parked up at Rhyd Ddu station in Cwellyn and then had to return to the hostel as I had forgotten to retrieve my boots from the drying room. Finally got going at 9.30. The start is quite gentle and doesn’t really climb much until you are past the quarries. Some men were training mountain rescue dogs on a hill which involved a lot of woofing for quite some time. They had passed us with their handsome beasts. (Men and dogs!)
We took regular breaks with things to aim for, usually walls. Part of the route tracks along quite a steep drop on the left side overlooking a series of small lakes. There is very little exposure on this section. The next part is fenced in and this makes you feel surprisingly safe as you course up a zigzag of path. Then the fence stops just as you do a quite exposed section on the left side. I was glad the wind was negligible as predicted. Just as I was getting used to this, then we were on the ridge itself, this was actually mostly ok and exciting as we got the view of the next side of the mountain and views of Crib Goch and the Watkin path.
We met our pals from the night before a bit further along the ridge. To add insult to injury, they had been told not to return to eat at the pub despite the fact they had spent loads of money. They were staying in the bunkhouse owned by the pub landlady and she had been very put out that there were only 4 of them, but still paying the full rate. Money grabbing git.
We carried on up and up, the last bit did seem very hard, and then we were into the mayhem of the visitor centre. I’m sure it is very well built out of local stone etc. and all very eco but it was absolutely hideous. Too many smelly people in one space and over priced not very nice food. We had a beef pasty each and looked at the usual tacky rubbish in the gift shop, waited ages for the loo and then went off. It was so horrible I didn’t even appreciate the view from the top. No matter as we had had lots of great views all the way up.
Chris was keen to take the train down as her knee was hurting but there was a longish wait for a train, no guarantee of a seat and an expensive taxi ride round to get back. We decided to walk it after all so took some painkillers and set off. It had taken 4 hours to get up and the walk back down only took 3 and a quarter as we went quite slowly. However for me, this was good as I was able to appreciate the mountain more fully instead of rushing it. I think Chris felt in the end that walking back down actually made it twice as much of a huge achievement. I was very proud of her for sticking with it.


We got back to the car at 6.00 p.m. Raced back to the hostel. Got showered and were out again in all our finery by 6.50 p.m.
Our reward for all this exertion was a surprise for Chris from me. She didn’t know where we were going until we actually got there. We arrived at Seiont Manor at 7.20 p.m. We had stayed here as my 40th birthday treat from Chris, a mere 12 years ago!
The meal was fab, we got cucumber and orange juice to start us off, C also had gin! Starters we both had smoked salmon which came wrapped around a fishy dill middle with bits of salad on the side. A sorbet of strawberry and Bombay Sapphire was next but I couldn’t taste any gin in it to speak of. For mains, C had sea bass with risotto and green beans and I had a fillet of steak with a sort of compacted beef casserole piled up on top of it, with gravy, sorry, sauce and some orange glazed carrots and green beans. Yum, yum, yum! For dessert, C had profiteroles and I went for Eton Mess which came with the meringue in the shape of a swan. Photo of this may not be very good as it was done on my phone so no flash. We finished with coffee and truffles. All very yummy and rightly deserved!

Going up


Back at the bottom! Wow!


All done

Half way up, this is all right



Are we down yet?



Sunday 17th
Another hot and stuffy night, this time Chris got the mattress off the top bunk and put it on the floor so she had a much better sleep.
Breakfast with more pastries. We were a bit late as had no need to rush out. We packed up and got our YHA membership cards, also a little book with the YH stamp. A quick step down to the lakeside which was stunningly lovely in the earlyish morning.
Drove out and stopped on the east side of Snowdon to admire the views, and line up some future walks! Short break at Capel Curig to check out the shop, then on to Betws-y-Coed for more shops and coffee and lunch in a hotel. Not bad!
Left Betsy to find the Fairy Glen. We parked on the road and saved a pound, weirdly no sign from the road to say there was parking available. 50p got us on to the path to the glen and a short walk down to the River Conwy. Very pretty spot and we scrambled on the rocks. C saw some jumping fish but not a fairy or even a pansy in sight.
Then back to the car and off for home. It took a while to get back as traffic was heavy and some roads were shut but we got to FV just after 6.30 p.m.
All in all a lovely weekend.
Llyn Cwellyn


Snowdon from the east


Fairy Glen



Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.