Ever since I climbed Snowdon last April, I’ve been eager to get back to the mountains of North Wales. The opportunity came up last weekend when I joined a group of like-minded Outdoor Bloggers for a weekend of camping, walking and enjoying the outdoors in Snowdonia.
Camping at Llyn Gwynant Campsite
Llyn Gwynant campsite was a perfect choice of location for our weekend. Nestled in a valley below Snowdon, the site is completely unspoiled and surrounded by natural beauty. Arriving on Friday afternoon, Glen and I pitched our tent beside the beautiful clear waters of the lake. I was tempted to indulge in some wild swimming, but rethought that idea after feeling the water temperature!
For the entire weekend, we were on an enforced digital detox with no phone signal or access to wifi. It was actually very refreshing and allowed me to focus on the great outdoors and meeting new people, rather than checking my phone constantly. Over the afternoon and evening, I met the rest of the bloggers as they arrived: Jenni, Zoe, Daniela and Cristian, Allysse, Katy, Cerys, Catherine, Nia and Tryfan, Shell, Helen and Ben.
The weather in Wales is typically unpredictable and we awoke to torrential rain on Saturday morning. Puddles were rapidly forming around our tent, so Glen had the job of moving and re-pitching in a slightly more raised area, while I went to grab some bacon sandwiches!
I’m quite an inexperienced camper (this being only my second trip) so it was good to pick up tips from the other bloggers. Shell and Helen had the most amazing and spacious bell tents with log fires inside. I was shivering in my tent under all my layers, so Glen and I have decided we need to upgrade after this trip!
Delicious fresh pizzas are cooked to order in a wood-fired oven on site, so it made our dinner plans easy and saved the need to venture off the site. Camping in October was undeniably cold so we congregated around the warmth of the campfire in the evening listening to Helen sing folk music.
Some of the group went kayaking on the lake on our final morning, but unfortunately Glen and I had a long drive ahead so we had to give it a miss. Definitely something I’d like to try next time.
Climbing Snowdon on the Rhyd Ddu path
Our guides Ross and Craig from Climb Snowdon met us on site for our walk up Yr Wyddfa (to give the mountain it’s proper Welsh name). Having taken the Miner’s Track and Llanberis Path previously, I was pleased that we would be taking a different route up the mountain. The Rhyd Ddu path is a lesser used but equally scenic route of approximately 8 miles and 895m of ascent.
The route begins with a gradual incline following a well defined track from the car park at the Rhyd Ddu station. Before long, we reached a disused copper mine, surrounded by piles of scattered slate where we stopped for a quick snack. After this, the path begins to climb steeper and become more boggy, I was careful with my footing to avoid getting a boot full of water!
We experienced all weather conditions on our hike from drizzling rain, glaring sunshine, strong winds and thick mist. I was keen to keep moving as it got very chilly when we stopped for too long. I don’t have any waterproof trousers and my jacket isn’t substantial enough for mountain walking, so I felt a little under-prepared compared to the rest of the group. The walk was also a chance to get to know some of the other bloggers, as we had all arrived at different times on the previous day.
We came to a more technical section which requires some scrambling and use of hands. This took a fair bit of concentration to pick my way through the craggy terrain, avoiding any loose rocks. Sheep roam freely on Snowdon and it was incredible to see some of them perched precariously on the edge of a sheer drop without a care.
Snowdon is heavily influenced by myths and legends, as we walked our guides shared some of the folklore of the area. Ross pointed out Bwlch y Saethau (Pass of Arrows) where King Arthur allegedly received a fatal wound from the enemy. The mountain itself is said to be named after a giant Rhita Gawr which was defeated and buried by Arthur.
Our guided tour was in collaboration with the Snowdonia Distillery- creators of Forager’s Gin in based at the foothills of the mountain. I must admit I’m not much of a drinker and I don’t think I’ve ever tried gin, so this aspect of the walk didn’t initially interest me. However after hearing the talk by Chris from the distillery, the passion which goes into the handcrafted artisan spirits became obvious and I was intrigued to sample the gin. Forager’s Gin is produced in tiny batches using traditional methods with all botanical ingredients sourced from Snowdon and the surrounding area. As we walked, Ross and Craig pointed out the juniper bushes which provide the key ingredient in gin production.
The summit was very crowded, so we only stopped briefly to admire the scenery. The clouds rolled in and out revealing panoramic views out to the coastline, lakes and ridges below. Last time I hiked up Snowdon, there was thick snow at the summit so it was interesting to see the mountain under different conditions.
The summit is obviously only the half-way point of the hike, we still had the descent to complete. I find downhill much more tricky and technical, being cautious on the uneven rocky terrain.
Have you ever walked up Snowdon? Do you enjoy camping?