Travel | Climbing Mount Snowdon - The Watkins Path

By Issy Goode - 20:40

It's less than a week now until we fly out of the UK and onto Peruvian soil to climb Machu Picchu and explore the Amazon Rainforest. In preparation for this trip, we've been fitting in walks where we can - not as many as we should have done might I add - but one of the first was Mount Snowdon. 

On a Friday evening we quite abruptly decided that we'd travel down to Wales the following day and climb Mount Snowdon. My Sister has completed this hike, and in winter too, so she wisely advised us to stick to the easier routes. I was confident I'd stand my ground knowing Michael would pick the toughest path, but of course when he suggested it I immediately agreed, always eager for a challenge. 

But boy, was I an idiot. 

It was a beautifully sunny day in April and not too hot either. We shared the drive down to Cardiff and arrived to parked cars lining the side of the road all the way to our destination car park at the bottom of the route we were taking. We'd decided on the Watkins path after spending the entire evening before learning everything we could about the routes. Despite learning everything we could about the routes, we didn't really heed the warnings of how challenging this route would be. We're regulars at the gym, but lifters not cardio bunnies, so I should have anticipated the difficulties we would encounter. 

We began around 11am with a fairly steady climb with lots of other walkers. Due to how late we'd left Nottingham, it wasn't long before I wanted to pull over for some snacks - and where better to stop than with the view of a waterfall?


After a short break we were back on track and trundling up the hills. The sun was blazing and it was a beautiful day, on our pitstop to put on some suncream Michael caught the sight of this little guy out of the corner of his eye. He's got such a sharp eye for wildlife and I honestly don't know how he managed to see this lizard, let alone catch him!


The walk continued and I can honestly say I struggled. As I said before I'm not the type for doing cardio so this really did come as a shock to me. I know I'm not good at it, but I thought maybe all my weightlifting had given me more overall fitness - that was silly of me. Michael trekked on at his own pace for much of the walk which was fine by me. Half way up we started chatting to two guys, one  who was named Jeremy had been climbing Snowdon with his Dad almost everyday since he was 7. The other lad was doing it for the first time like us which made us feel a little better about choosing the most difficult route! Jeremy, the more experienced one of the two, told us what was to come; a steep scramble up to the top very close to the heart wrenching edge of the mountain. We knew this already from studying the route, but he really did knock our confidence a little. 

Once the top started to come into view, we could see the amount of scree lining our climb and Michael, who has a fear of heights, was feeling a little less sure of himself. I on the other hand was quite impressed I'd already come this far. Climbing would give me the chance to put my muscles into practice, and without a fear of heights I was ready for the challenge. So we began our climb to the top.


At what we thought was the top, we breathlessly said hello to the two chaps we'd previously been walking with. Jeremy, with his experience and his friend, who was quite clearly built for cardio (and who's name we never actually caught) had long abandoned us due to our (my) slower pace, but they met us with a clap when we fell to our feet on the mountain and grabbed a cereal bar beside them. I think they were particularly impressed we'd managed it with no experience. We felt elated for a short moment in our exhaustion, until we turned around and saw that we still had a little way to go.


We composed ourselves and made our way right up to the top, where the crowds from all paths had clustered. We had to queue a short while to get to the absolute top of the summit, which was met with a little hesitation by Michael and Jeremy (a fellow acrophobian) due to the banister-less staircase either side of the summit. Climbing up the staircase there was a rock and a podium to your left, and a terrifying fall down the mountain to your right so I understood their discomfort, none the less, we all reached the top together and beyond the crowds, there really was a stunning view. 




After coming down from the top of the summit, we took in the view for as long as we could. 


In the centre of this photo you can see people dressed in black and red - that is more people climbing the very tiny route of the Watkins Path as we had just done! It doesn't look particularly steep, but we really were on our hands and knees! 
More people continued to climb and descend The Watkins path.
Whilst many chose to use The Watkins Path to head back down the mountain, Michael and I really dislike travelling on the same route to get back to our starting point so we waited for a short while for Jeremy's group to join us from the summit, and decided to make our way back down on what was most of The Llanberis Path. I say most of because we certainly diverted on a few occasions and some parts of the descent were more difficult than the ascent. The Llanberis Path is described as one of the easier routes to the top, so we quite quickly realised we'd probably lost that path. We found ourselves walking on the knife edge of the mountain with terrifying drops either side of us. Again, Michael and Jeremy weren't feeling too great about this route but we'd committed and we had navigators and a map or two. 

After the fine rocky line we had trekked we crab walked down flat rocks and continued on a very bumpy route. 

With a fair few stops and a long time spent soaking in the view, it took us between 6-7 hours. Being the organised people we are, we hadn't yet found a campsite and we'd also forgotten our BBQ. Unsuprisingly, Wales has very little signal but Jeremy gave us directions to a village where he was sure we could find our way to a shop for a BBQ and a campsite on from there. Wonderously, we found both and put our tent up as the sun came down. 

Personally, I felt like absolute rubbish when I came down from Snowdon. The descent was knackering but I managed it, though as soon as the tent was up it all hit me. I gathered quickly that it was dehydration more than anything else, so top tip, don't be self-conscious about taking a nature pee and focus on staying hydrated instead.

All in all, it was a great trip and necessary for us to do before moving on to Machu Picchu. Admittedly, I am worried about the trip to Peru as I'm not confident we've done the amount of preparation we should have done. Nonetheless, Snowdon definitely provided us with a challenge and I'd highly recommend it. If you like a challenge, the Watkins Path was certainly that but there's plenty of other routes to the top!
MissIsGoode

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2 comments

  1. Wow well done! We're going on holiday to Wales in September and I have to admit I'm thinking of getting the train up to Snowdon rather than climbing it!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes, I've been told the train is a tad more relaxing, there are easier routes than this to take so I'd certainly recommend it if you're an outdoor person!

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