A Snowdonia road trip. Spontaneous trips are always the best, right? Well, it was semi-spontaneous! We had planned to go to Snowdonia National Park to walk Snowdon (or ‘Yr Wyddfa’ for our Welsh-speaking friends). This was the first of the Three Peaks we want to walk. The others being Ben Nevis in Scotland and Scafell Pike in England. And what an adventure it was! The Welsh name ‘Yr Wyddfa’ means “grave”.
According to the snowdonia.gov website, it’s believed that the giant Rhita Gawr was buried on the mountain. ‘Snowdon’ comes from Saxon “snow dune” meaning “snow hill”. Snowdon stands at 1085m high and is accessible from both sides. In comparison, the world’s highest mountain, Everest, is roughly nine times the height of Snowdon, which is quite remarkable.
24 Hours in Snowdonia National Park
1 | Whittington Castle
We’d planned to leave first thing Saturday morning. We live roughly 2.5 hours from Rhyd Ddu Car Park. So, it’s not too far to drive to then head up the mountain on the same day. But we decided to head off on Friday evening. We could get ahead of the game and maybe spend a second night in Bumper. After hitting traffic due to an accident, we took a little detour through a little village called Whittington. Whittington is home to the beautiful Whittington Castle. The site dates back to the thirteenth century. What remains is part of the moat, some ruins and the well-preserved gatehouse, which you can see below.
For more info on the castle, visit the Whittington Castle website HERE. We gobbled some fish and chips from Whittington Chippy and parked around the back of the castle. There’s a little car park which was full of campers. There was a £2 charge and by the look of it, you could stay the night. It would appear Stace was rather hungry. She scoffed her fish and chips and some of mine. It’s usually the other way around!
2 | Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
It seems like a daily occurrence to be adding new places we want to visit to our Saved Places in Google Maps. It’s hard to tick them off as fast as they are being added, so we try to plan trips and routes to tick them off. With this in mind, we took the opportunity to briefly get off the A5 to visit Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
I’ve always been amazed by the canal network. The canal network is a feat of engineering as it is but the engineers also managed to build viaducts that carry water, hence the name ‘aqueduct’. It actually blows my mind that they managed to figure this stuff out and I can’t even figure out how a split charge relay system works in Bumper!
We have spent quite a bit of time on the canals in the West Midlands over the last few months on our kayaks. There’s something calming about them and this was no exception. Despite the rain, it was a peaceful walk along the canal to the aqueduct. When you’re on the aqueduct, you can see Traphont Cefn Mawr Viaduct – another marvel of engineering. Spring is duckling season in the UK.
You might not be able to tell, but there are loads of ducklings at the side of the canal boats. They thrive on the canals and are super cute with their little squeaky noises and they look like they can actually run on water like one of those crazy lizards! Ha!
3 | Llanberis Pass
The next stop on our Snowdonia road trip was Llanberis…for beer. But before we got there we had an hour or so to drive along the A5, through Betws-y-Coed to Capel Curig and then through Llanberis Pass, which we will talk about in a bit. As for the A5, the stretch from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Capel Curig is both incredibly scenic and beautiful to drive but out of nowhere comes one of the most incredible roads we have ever driven anywhere…Llanberis Pass, AKA the A4086. It’s not particularly long, but it is particularly dramatic, probably because it’s sandwiched between the two epic mountains of Snowdon and Glyder Fawr.
We hadn’t picked a spot to park for the night before we left but noticed another camper and some cars parked along Llanberis Pass, so after picking up some chilled beer we headed back to the lay-by to crash for the night…and woke up to one incredible view! If you’d like to know, the lay-by we stayed in is right next to Cromlech Boulders. It’ll pop up on Google Maps.
4 | Breakfast With a View
After breakfast and coffee with a view, we headed back down to Llanberis. This is where you can catch the train up to the summit of Snowdon or you can walk the path that roughly tracks alongside the train track to the top. We continued round to Rhyd Ddu, which is on the southwest side of Snowdon, to walk up the mountain.
Parking is £3 for four hours or £6 for the entire day, up to midnight. Clever pricing because you will be hard-pressed to make it to the top and back in four hours! From leaving Bumper to returning to Bumper, the walk took us three hours and 52 minutes, including a very brief stop at the top. More on the brief stop shortly.
5 | A Walk Up Snowdon
The walk itself was pretty epic, in more ways than one! We had kept an eye on the weather and was satisfied with a bit of rain, even though it was worse on the day than what the forecast said. Either way, the weather wasn’t going to deter us from walking up. We were about a mile from the top when we walked into the fog. Up to this point, the walk had been fairly decent.
Although the track is popular, it’s not well beaten in the way you might expect for a place that gets around half a million visitors a year, although I expect most of these visitors take the Llanberis path (which is the path you should take if you want an easier walk). We had rain and a headwind for most of the way up, followed by fog, wind and rain, which was fine until we hit the ridge.
6 | The Ridge
I must admit, I felt somewhat uncomfortable at this point. It’s not particularly wide, there was a strong wind, we couldn’t see more than 40 or 50 feet in front of us and we didn’t know how long it went on for. So, while I’m waiting for Stacey to hurry up and catch up so we can move on and get to the top, she’s faffing around on her phone trying to record a video she didn’t even press record on! Ha!
We’re not sure if we’d have rather have been able to see the bottom at this point or not. Anyway, onwards and upwards! We continued and out of nowhere (because we couldn’t see anything), there was Hafod Eryri, the Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre.
7 | The Top of Snowdon
We made it to the top, all 1085 metres! We’d also made up a Chilly’s flask with our favourite daytime drink…Aldi double choca mocha, with an extra shot of coffee. The problem? It was too bloody hot to drink at the top and we were too bloody cold to wait around for it to cool down to drink! Haha! Another problem…you know when you tip a packet of crisps up to eat the crumbs at the bottom?
Well, I advise you don’t do it in windy conditions with a packet of sweet chilli Sunbites because you might end up with some sweet chilli powder in your eye, which hurts…a lot! Ha! I thought I’d have to venture back across that ridge with one eye and probably end up 1000 metres below in a snotty heap.
Unfortunately, the cafe at the top was closed and we got very cold very quickly, so we didn’t hang around at the top very long before heading back down. And there are two things I found rather odd at the top – 1) people wearing shorts and trainers, like it was a summer’s day when it was really cold and 2) people drinking alcohol. I’m not sure how difficult the walk along Llanberis path is, but there is no way I would attempt the Rhyd Ddu path under the influence of alcohol!
8| In Total…
In total, we walked 8.41 miles by the time we got back to Bumper. Once back, we got the kettle on, changed into some dry clothes, warmed up and contemplated what to do next. The weather was shocking, so we decided to head home. Despite the rain, the drive was another gorgeous one, via Afon Tryweryn lake and Bala. And that concludes our 24-hour road trip to Snowdonia National Park. Our next trip is to the Argyll Coast, Scotland, in a few weeks, so watch this space…
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