Hiking in Snowdonia

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Hiking in Snowdonia

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  Distance of this hike 60 km (40 miles)
  What kind of hike is this? Hiking with backpack
  Where does the walk start? Maentwrog
  What is the rating of this walk? Rating: 75/100

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Snowdon, the highest mountain in England, is just one of the strengths of the spectacular Snowdonia. We made one of our finest trekking in this awesome landscape. To top it off, a stay at the famous Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel stole our hearts.

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Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay

Near the Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay trained for the first successful ascent of the Mount Everest. At the top of Snowdon, in this harsh weather, we could imagine to be training buddies of Hillary and Tenzing.

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Hiking in Snowdonia

The first three days we were captivated by the weather. Heavy rain and wind forced us to leave the tents in our backpacks. We stayed in hotels and made day hikes. The walk that will stay with me for many years, is climbing to the summit of Snowdon, with 1085 meters the highest mountain of England and Wales.

Scrambling to Snowdon

We started at the Pen-Y-Pass and walked along a broad path halfway up to Snowdon. From there it was a lot steeper to the top, sometimes so steep that it was more scrambling than hiking.

A few meters visibility

Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel they promised us views over the unprecedented beauty of the surrounding landscape. But the harsh weather conditions hindered visibility. At the top, the view was just a few meters and we had to cling to the circular tableau to stay on the mountain.

Hiking with our backpacks

At last the sun breaked through and we had more than two days for a hike with our backpacks and tents. Quickly we packed our bags for a mini trek, starting at the village of Maentwrog (pronounced Miejntwroek) where we parked our car.

Nuclear power walking

We passed along Llyn Trawsfynydd, a large artificial lake built in 1920. Initially, it had to provide more water for the hydroelectric plant of Maentwrog. In 1965 on the shores of the lake a nuclear power plant arose, which has been closed since 1991.

Swampy landscape

Beyond the low-lying lake we climbed along vague paths to 600 meters. From there we got into a wide valley that stretched as far as the eye could see. We followed the edge of the valley to the south via a sheep path that was getting more soggy every minute. Miles further we stepped out of the swampy landscape. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with an asphalt path.

Clouds of midges

A little further we found a place for the night at the ruins of an old farm house. The sun was about to set when we set up our tents, accompanied by clouds of midges. Moments later, a crackling campfire warmed us and kept the midges at an appropriate distance.

Day 2 of our trek

The second day of our trek we hiked for miles on a deserted country road through a gorge of the beautiful winding river Afon Gain. After that we hiked along grassy paths that ended in.... Nothing. We had to use the compass to find our way across grassy meadows. Gorgeous scenery, that reminded us of our hikes in Scotland.

Sheltered camping spot

Suddenly we saw the big ‘nuclear’ lake again on the horizon. Along ancient roads and the Roman amphitheater at Tomen y Mur we continued our path northward. Just before the village of Llan Ffestiniog, we found a lovely sheltered camping spot.

Magical atmosphere around Llan Ffestiniog

The whole area around Llan Ffestiniog has a magical atmosphere. Especially around the Cynfal Rhaeadr Waterfall. Mind the rock above the waterfall, "Huw Llwyd's Pulpit ', named after a local eccentric magician who lived in the 17th century.

Frank’s Tips

A few practical tips:

  • We flew to Liverpool with Easyjet, and drove with a rental car to the south. Northern Snowdonia took us about two ours driving.
  • Wales has a huge shortage of good walking paths and routes. We chose the only long distance route we could find in Snowdonia, the Cambrian Way. Forget this route, it’s really quite complicated. But maybe we were to stupid for the Cambrian Way.
  • Paths that were on our topographic maps sometimes didn’t exist, or stopped halfway, or were extremely vague. Learn to handle your compass and find your way through the bush bush.
  • With compass and topographic maps, you’ll find your way. Do not take the smallest paths, especially when it has rained a lot.
  • "When it has rained a lot" ... hahahaha it rains almost continuously in Snowdonia. This is one of the wettest areas of England. And England is not particularly known for its abundant number of sunny hours. An advantage: it’s really green in Snowdonia....
  • Really green and really wet: in these circumstances the midges are in top condition. We thought that this little devils lived in Scotland (and Scandinavia). But no, they eat you for breakfast in Snowdonia. Take a midges head net with you and try to make a campfire in the evenings.
  • Despite all whining above: go to Snowdonia, go and enjoy the enchanting nature.

Tags: backpacking, Britain, Wales