Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Autumn Thrills in Snowdonia - Day 6


Climbing Mt.Snowdon



Snowdonia                                                                     Wales

Thursday 22nd October 2015

The smell of breakfast spurred me on to get out of my warm bed and head downstairs straight away. the first thing I did though was head to the window to check if the weather was fine; it was thankfully as I could see the beautiful mountains once again in the distance feeling as though we were going to have a good day ahead of us; it was still quite blustery though but nothing too severe. I immediately packed my small rucksack with warm clothes and my binoculars because today we would be climbing the monstrous Mt Snowdon; so we were hoping the weather would be reasonable. This would be our biggest adventure on this trip to Wales and we were looking forward to the journey; my mother was quite nervous though with lack of belief that she could do something like this. I assured her we would be taking our time as it wouldn’t be a race to the top.

Breakfast was over and we were ready to leave for the journey ahead of us. With everything locked behind us we began walking straight towards one of the 6 routes up to Mt. Snowdon. We began right at the back of the farm along the small group of trees as the path would lead us to the main route we would be using; the Rhyd Ddu path. This would be the last time we would be amongst the trees because we were now on the grassy meadows at the foothills of Snowdon. The route was mainly mud and grass to begin with hoping we were heading in the right direction. We continued up the grassy area as the wind began to pick up; it wouldn’t bother us though as we embraced this.

Snowdonia

The clouds were breaking up even more revealing a heavenly view of the sun peaking over the hills to our right and huge sun raise spanning out towards us and ahead of us giving us the feeling that it was providing us with a direction. Moments later we had arrived at the Rhyd Ddu path and we were happy at the sight of a sturdier and smooth rocky pathway. We were still climbing at the foothills area so full of greenery but the long grass was behind us now. We realised as well that there was nobody to be seen around us so we felt alone which I thought was excellent. The incline slightly increased too but didn’t seem to slow us down; especially not Smudge as she was off her leader running around enjoying the freedom. I kept telling her she would regret it later but she wouldn’t listen to me and continued running around. 

Guiding Sun in Snowdonia

Smudge Feeling Free

We were still climbing on the pathway and it was obvious that the higher we were, the more breathtaking the views became. We had the habit of looking back and witnessing how far we had walked. We were really enjoying the walk despite the inclines constantly looking out for the footpath ahead of us seeing which way it was going. As we continued on, the pathway became harder as we were climbing steep steps which were turning left and right for a long while. We were walking a bit slower at this point and we were quenched with thirst. We didn’t want to use our water supply just yet as we didn’t bring a great amount with us to begin with; so the alternative was to drink from the small network of streams flowing down the mountain. It was quite funny trying to get down to the water to drink it as it was either running down the footpath or flowing down awkward ditches. The water was very clear and fresh as we dug in drinking it up like a sponge. 

Snowdonia

Moving on, the gradient became steeper and then we had realised we were half way up. There were quite a lot of walkers catching up to us as though they had done this route before. We were taking our time though as the ground became a lot wetter and slightly slippy too on the jagged rocks. The next section began to test our endurance and morale as we were heading for yet another steep incline up a stream and smooth rocks. A lot of people had passed us going up the stream whereas we took our time avoiding any injuries; Smudge began to slow down too which was quite sensible for her. So we climbed and climbed until the stream was behind us and a new terrain of loose stones, patches of large rocks and very short grass arrived. The air became colder too which made us all put our warm jackets on and even our gloves; unfortunately for Smudge she didn’t have anything warm to put on.

Snowdonia Trail

Rhyd Ddu Path

The views were phenomenal at this point too and once more we looked back at how far we walked; the farm was completely tiny. It was surreal how high and far we had walked and then we came upon the harder section of the pathway. The path was a hell of a lot steeper as we passed the ¾ mark. It was definitely slowing us down especially with the strong cold wind pushing against us. We wouldn’t give up though as we were eager to reach the top. At this point we were walking amongst some beautiful mountain flowers with colours of white, purple and yellow which we didn’t want to disturb. We also realised that the top of the mountain was thick of cloud and we were heading straight for it. 

Snowdonia

A long time had passed of gravelled terrain until we came upon flatter grasslands. As soon as we got upon it, we were gobsmacked with what we had to climb next. It was a very steep ridgeline with a 50 – 60 degree angle amongst a jagged rocky path. My mother couldn’t get over the fact we had to climb up and I could see she was nervous. I spurred her on though continuing on knowing the great feeling she would feel being at the top. We were beginning to walk along the ridgeline and then we clapped eyes on the monstrous sheer drop to our left. It had a fantastic view nonetheless but quite horrifying to see it knowing one wrong move would result in us falling down it. We began the epic climb to the top and I could see my mother was struggling so we took our time. The route ahead was disappearing too as we were level with the clouds and I was quite excited to be in amongst it. We wrapped ourselves even more at this point with thicker coats and I immediately felt sorry for Smudge the most as she taking on all the elements thrown at her; she still looked happy marking this down as her greatest walk ever.

Breathtaking Snowdonia
Snowdonia

The spectacular views we had below us disappeared as we charged into the clouds. It was so surreal to witness mother natures forces in front of us as the wind and clouds rapidly rushed over the ridgeline. We began to feel pain in our legs and knees at this point but it still wouldn’t push us back; we did take regular breaks though constantly reassuring my mother as she lost morale for a moment. The higher we climbed, the harder and deafening the wind became as we got the full brunt of it. We couldn’t really tell how far we had to go as we could only see 20 – 30 metres in front of us. To be honest it was good for my mother to not see further just incase we were precariously hanging over a deadly drop. Speaking of which, the pathway became a lot smaller and more rough which was definitely a challenge of its own and made my mother more petrified. I pushed her on officially naming her ‘Mam-Wise the brave’ hugging her, praising her and giving her positivity and confidence to carry on.

Rhyd Ddu Pathway

To our surprise, the clouds broke up slightly revealing an absolute monstrous drop with such mesmerising views which I was staring at. My mother was even brave enough to take a gander and couldn’t believe how high up we were. This was definitely the area we had to watch our footing with so we focused hard for the next 15 minutes; then we came to a fork in the pathway. Great I thought as both ways looked as though they were moving up. There was no sign indicating which way to go and there was nobody around for help. So I took the lead and took the left path which brought us to a steep rock area. I climbed it and realised it was the correct path to take. Calling my mother and Smudge over we all began to walk again. To be honest at this point it was truly peaceful as we were tucked behind a wall of rocks and grass meaning we avoided the deafening wind and the fact nobody was around. We spent a moment here making sure my mother was still confident to move on though she had no choice really as she couldn’t turn back now. It was a great feeling too once we got moving knowing we were closing in on the summit.

Luckily for us at this point, the land became slightly flatter and wider and we were now on loose stones again. At this point also we could hear a faint sound of a trains whistle. It was the Snowdon railway train from Llanberis and it sounded like it was quite close. We could still only see 20 – 30 metres ahead of us but as we continued up becoming more tired in the process, a building emerged through the dense cloud and there it was; the end of our trail. It was an overwhelming sight to see especially for my mother as I could see a smile appear on her face with disbelief that she climbed Mt. Snowdon. It gave her a great boost and pushed her up the stairway to the building.

However, this wasn’t the very top because as we arrived at the building there was a very small set of concrete stairs lead to the very top where a plinth was located. It was even colder at this moment but we walked up towards the stairs together. My mother didn’t want to go up the stairs and I said to her “you haven’t walked all this way to look at the very top from below; let’s finish this together”. So we climbed holding our heads high with a sense of achievement and pride in our hearts as we stood at the plinth; the emotions we felt there was truly outstanding. We all did it and hugged each other as well as Smudge who was freezing her paws off. We were definitely the three explorers; me as ‘Shaun the eagle traveller’, Mother as ‘Mam-Wise the brave’ and Smudge as ‘Smudge of the elements’. There were people making there way up to the plinth who had used the train looking smug but we felt as though they didn’t deserve this feeling.

The Three Explorers

We soon headed back down the steps and towards the building to seek shelter from the cold wind and be able to have a nice hot cup of tea. However, we would be disappointed as the building wouldn’t accept dogs. I wasn’t happy about that so I had my mother bring Smudge into the entrance part to try and keep Smudge warm because I could see she was shaking. I spoke to my mother about getting back down using the train to Llanberis to save the walk back down. I was completely shocked with the price of an adult ticket stating it was £20. Then I became more frustrated at the fact no dogs were allowed on the train. My mother was gobsmacked too when I told her the news and then reality hit us realising we had to walk back down. Someone overheard our conversation and actually praised us stating that the Rhyd Ddu pathway was one of the hardest routes up to the top. He also advised us to take the Llanberis pathway which would take a hell of a lot longer but very easy too.

We took on his advice and parted ways thanking him. We were starving at this point and took a seat sheltered from the wind trying to keep Smudge warm. All of a sudden, I seemed to be quite snappy and becoming angry. I didn’t know if it was because I was freezing myself or the fact we couldn’t get the train down with Smudge. My mother and I were kind of arguing at the fact that I wanted her to get the train down and I would walk with Smudge but she didn’t want too. So we soon picked ourselves up for the very long walk using the Llanberis pathway. I could see my mother was tired especially knowing we would have to take a very long route back but yet again I reassured her that this pathway was going to be easy on us all.

Snowdonia

The wind was overwhelming as we began our descent on a smooth rocky pathway. It felt quite goof to be walking down the mountain rather than the treacherous Rhyd Ddu path; we still had to take care where we were stepping in some areas on the route down. As we were walking down, we could hear the distinct sound of the Snowdonia train making its way down passed us and heading for Llanberis. It was very beautiful to see amongst the mountain views but I was discreetly cursing it for not accepting dogs. Along the way my mother began to complain about her aching knees and she became quite upset at the sight of a bad section of very loose stones and a steep decline. I felt sorry for her but I stated that constantly stopping would only cause more problems; so again I urged her on to keep moving forward as well as praising her for what she had done so far. Despite this setback, the views were phenomenal as well as the fact this was still the easiest way down.

Llanberis Trail

A very long while had passed as we were below the cold clouds and strong winds until we were level with the green lands and farm fields still far below us. At this point we could see the town of Llanberis far in the distance. It was still miles away but again we continued on as I began to experience pain in my knees; god knows what Smudge was feeling with her little paws. The pathway became a hell of a lot better too as it was very large smooth rocks but still it would prove quite difficult for my mother making her way down. A most welcoming sight of a small building was dead ahead of us and as we closed in, we realised it was a small café with toilets. Perfect we thought as we made our way inside and ordered a very nice hot cup of tea. We rested for a long while still praising my mother and then once again we picked ourselves up and began the final section of the pathway. The lower down the mountain we walked, the warmer it became and it felt amazing. What else was amazing to us was the sight of Mt. Snowdon’s summit behind us. We were completely overwhelmed with how far we had walked knowing the end was in our sights. 

Snowdonia

Me and Mt. Snowdon in the Distance

By this point though the sun was at its last stages of setting and the small town ahead of us was lit up by street lights. I could see my mother just wanted this to be over with now and then right in front of us was a wooden gate marking the start/end of the route. We had made it but still we had to make our way to the town centre. My bearings helped us pass through the confusing roads and housing estates as we made it to the central area. Our next concern was figuring out a way back to our farmhouse as it was 15 mile away. We originally planned on using public transport but as we approached a bus stop nearby, we had missed the last one by 45 minutes. Great we thought as we continued through towards the high street.

Llanberis Town

Luckily though I had the sense to take note of a taxi phone number I sighted on the way. It was pitch black at this point and my mother was panicking thinking we would never get back to the farm. What made me laugh was when she thought we would have to spend the night on a park bench. After laughing I then told her that I received a taxi number and then I rang it immediately. With luck someone answered and so stating my name, location and destination, we sat and waited for a taxi to pull up. My mother was worried about the price for the journey but I wasn’t as I just wanted to get back.

A short time had passed and then a taxi pulled up to us. What an incredible feeling it was to sit in the taxi and be driven back to or farm. No sooner than we left Smudge fell asleep in the very warm taxi. My mother and I were talking to the taxi driver and he stated that we are not the only people who get into these situations as they get it all the time. He was amazed at what we had accomplished today and then without realising, he pulled up at the farms gate. We left the taxi paying the man about £30 for the journey and we made the last quarter mile walk to our front door. Words couldn’t describe the overwhelming feeling of entering the farm, flaring the wood burner up and finally relaxing feeling at peace. Smudge was out for the count next to me as the warm fire heated us all up. 

'Smudge of the Elements' Fast Asleep

I never stopped praising my mother for what she had achieved and I could see the pride flowing through her as well as the relief to be sitting down on the cosy leather chair in front of the fire. Her legs were still hurting but at least we were back instead of sleeping on a park bench. What an incredible day this was and to be honest we felt as though this was a perfect end to an epic holiday even though we still had two more days to go; nothing would ever beat what we accomplished today.

Blazing Fire
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