Posted by: Paul | October 2, 2010

Snowdon – the first attempt

The main purpose of revisiting North Wales was for my Dad and I to walk up Snowdon a second time, and meet Ali, Adam and my Mum at the top. Snowdon is quite unique in the UK in having a funicular railway which goes right to the summit (Cairngorm has one, but it doesn’t go right the way to the top, and the rules are very strict – you can’t go outside the visitor centre at the top of the line as they’re worried about thousands of people trampling all over the fragile ecosystem, as opposed to the fairly small percentage who walk all the way up. If you go up on the train you go down on it, and if you walk up you walk down – and never the twain shall meet.)

Anyway, the first attempt on Snowdon five years ago was less than successful. We walkers took the easier Llanberis path, which follows the train track most of the way up. We made it to the top, but could hardly see our hands in front of our faces once we got there, having entered the clouds some time before we reached the summit ridge. The weather became worse and worse, with torrential rain the entire way down. And the thing about going up on the train is that it can’t cross the ridge after the penultimate stop at Clogywn, 75% of the way up, if the wind is too strong. My Dad and I stood in the lee of some boulders while the train driver got out and measured the windspeed, almost being blown off his feet in doing so. We waved through the window to our spouses as the train reversed slowly down the slope.

So that was that. We trudged on, wanting to complete the exercise but now feeling less enthusiastic. About halfway along the ridge, we spotted a finger-slim standing stone marking another – very steep – path joining from the other side of the mountain, with a couple of hardy souls slogging their way up. Apart from them and us, there was no-one else around – the weather forecast must have put most other potential walkers off that day.

Five years later we returned to try the same exercise again, via a different route, and with a two-year-old in tow. Would we have more success this time? Tune in tomorrow to find out…

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