Here’s a challenge for an active family weekend. How about heading to North Wales, staying in a historic climbers’ hotel then walking to the summit of Snowdon?
- Welsh mountain views
- Lots of fresh air and exercise
- Family bonding
- Traditional climbers’ hotel
- Delicious food
- Lake swimming
Walking in Snowdonia with Teens
This is a guest post from teenager Ed with tips and ideas for a walking weekend in Snowdonia. Read on for lakes to swim in, a cool hotel and a route to follow to the summit of Snowdon
📸 For more of Ed’s photos on Instagram @ed.peacock.photo
Ed: In May, I went with a couple of friends and my dad to Snowdonia in North Wales for a weekend. My dad and I have been mountain walking since I was quite young. We’ve already been to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. My friends enjoy being out in the mountains too and we all wanted to climb Snowdon.
Snowdon is a tourist trap but it’s also an icon and for mountain walkers it’s a have-to-do. But we also wanted to have an amazing climb on a mountain all to ourselves. To do this we chose the quieter ridge, opposite Snowdon, that encompasses Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach.
Staying at Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel, Snowdonia
It was a five hour car journey from London and our arrival was heralded by rain. We found our hotel in the shadow of the mountains. The Pen-Y-Gwryd, is an historic climbers’ hotel at the foot of the rising peaks of Snowdonia.
The PYG was the base of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they trained for their attempt at the summit of Everest. On the 29 May 1953 these climbers became the first people to stand upon the top of the highest peak in the world. The walls of the PYG bar are adorned with ropes, crampons, and boots and these days it’s almost a place of pilgrimage for mountaineers the world over.
It feels like you have stepped back in time at the PYG, the landscape around you unchanged from the last century. You can sit in the chairs that Hillary and Tenzing would have sat on and look at the same large map on the wall, planning tomorrow’s adventures. Everyone in the hotel is very helpful and eager to know your plans and you can even bring your dog to stay in your room. The food is delicious, especially the roast which is amazing!
Walking the Glyder Fach route
In the morning we checked the weather, found the rain had cleared and headed downstairs for a large breakfast of porridge. We set off early, up the steep gradient to the summit of Glyder Fach. The Glyderau route was practically empty as most people flock to the Snowdon paths despite the fact that there’s only an 80 metre difference in the heights of the summits.
The route we chose starts from the back of the hotel and rises up steeply for about an hour until you appear on to a ridge. The terrain was slightly slippery after the previous day’s rain, but it wasn’t too difficult.
Once on the ridge, the going was easy. Soon we were jumping between Glyder Fach’s surreal summit stones that stick vertically out of the rock.
Heading to the summit of Glyder Fawr
We carried on for about forty-five minutes until we found a hidden ledge, overlooking the valley and onwards to Snowdon. Here we had a packed lunch, prepared by the hotel for guests heading out into the mountains.
After filling up we pushed on for a little over an hour to the summit of Glyder Fawr, the highest summit we would meet that day, standing at 1001m. At the summit there were a few people milling around, and some sheep unsure of how they had got up there. The wind picked up as we were no longer protected by the ridge.
At this point we decided to turn for home and go for a swim in the hotel’s lake before dark. We could have pushed on to a third ridge but the first ascent had been steeper than we’d anticipated and we were all quite tired. We descended down a steep scree and across an open bog before reaching our base again. This was not part of our original plan and it turned out to be quite a steep descent!
The small lake out of the back of the Pen-Y-Gwryd was icy cold and exhilarating. Jumping in the water shocked the air out of our lungs and after seeing the reactions of the first swimmers, not everyone decided to go in! No one stayed in for long but it helped our tired legs.
Walking up Snowdon
The next morning we set off at sunrise and set our sights on Snowdon. We were up around 05:45, too early for breakfast, and quietly left through the back door of the hotel. We bundled our heavy packs filled with water and layers into the car and drove the two miles up to the Pen y Pass car park.
Waking up early was definitely worth it as we had the mountain almost to ourselves. There were a few other walkers up this early, but not very many.
On the PYG track
We started up the PYG track (which may or may not be named after the hotel – opinions differ!). This route is not the easiest nor the hardest to take up Snowdon. There are a wide range of tracks depending on how long you have and how much you want to do.
The PYG starts winding around the side of the mountain before climbing up under the shadow of Crib Goch. We made good progress up the PYG track and after tackling some very steep ground with steps cut into the rock we reached the ridge at around 9am.
It had taken about two and a half hours of climbing but from there it was an easier walk to the summit of Snowdon. This really was an amazing moment as we could see for miles.
We were extremely lucky with the weather, given it was May. The sun shone brightly although the wind was quite strong.
It was much colder at the top of the mountain than it had been at the bottom and we all put on extra jackets. We soaked in the view as we drank tea and ate oat bars for breakfast.
Eventually we decided it was time to descend and we set off down a similar route. We stopped at Glaslyn, or Blue Lake, which is one of the highest lakes in the UK. Here we decided to jump in for some more ice bath treatment to the bemusement of onlookers. We swam, albeit briefly! Glaslyn really is a blue lake and it was very cold, if not quite as cold as the PYG’s lake the day before. It meant that we could cool down as we’d got quite hot as we descended in the sun.
We reached the end point of our climb at Pen Y Pass car park around midday. After finding some lunch we headed back to London.
Which route was best?
The walk on the first day, when we climbed Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, was easily better than the Snowdon walk. It was quieter, with fewer people around, the actual climb was more fun and we could take our time to explore the summit ridge. But we all felt that whilst we were in Snowdonia it would be a shame not to climb Snowdon!
Walking in Snowdonia with Teens
Before you Go
🛌Ed and his friends went to Snowdonia in May and stayed at the Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel, Nant Gwynant, Gwynedd, North Wales, LL55 4NT. To book tel: 01286 870211 http://pyg.co.uk/ It gets booked up, so do plan ahead if you want to stay there.
🎒Not done any mountain walking before? Comfortable walking boots are a must along with backpacks stocked with essentials such as extra layers of warm, waterproof clothing, a map and compass, food, water and a small first aid kit. Take a look at this useful website with essential advice on mountain and hill walking safety in the UK. Here’s a link about the kit you’ll need http://www.mountainsafety.co.uk/Hill-Walking-Safety-Kit.aspx/
🏔Which route to take up Snowdon? https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/guides/snowdon-routes-to-the-top/
⚠️Mountain walking can be dangerous especially if you are a novice or unprepared. Ed followed the PYG track up Snowdon but take a wrong turn and the unwary could find themselves on the hazardous Crib Goch route with sheer drops to either side. You’ll need to research your route in advance and to be able to read a map. NB a smartphone can’t be relied upon on a mountain.
💦Always make sure to check the weather forecast in advance. Ed and his family use this link for the Mountain Weather Information Service for the UK http://www.mwis.org.uk/
All photos, unless otherwise credited, are by Ed and are all rights reserved. Photos may not be reproduced without prior written permission.