Taking on Wales’ tallest peak
A South Carolinian wanders into a bar in somewhere in Northern England. There’s got to be a joke in there somewhere, right? After my first few weeks in Stafford, I’m feeling the urge to get out of town. And not being from the area, I don’t exactly know where to go. And when in England, the bar is the place to get answers.
My first weekend away landed me in the charming village of Betws-y-coed, North Wales, a village of about 500. Bewts-y-Coed is located in the heart of Snowdonia. Wales may not be home to the tallest mountain peak, but it still has some challenging hiking.
It has charming waterfalls.
But really what I came to Snowdonia National Park to see was Mt. Snowdon, and it did not disappoint. You see, I like to think that I’m a bad-ass hiker chic. I have visions of hiking the Appalachian Trail or some other multi-week trek. Or climbing Aconcagua. Or Denali. In reality, I’ve rarely done much more than overnight camping and nothing more than a day hike on my own. Certainly not scaling any peaks anywhere. But back when I spent an entire summer in Great Britain, I was a 19 year old college athlete who thought I could do anything, and anything included climbing mountains without any preparation and only minimal supplies.
You see those little squiggles… that’s the hiking path… It’s none too wide, and a bit scary the higher up you get. I didn’t know that these peaks were also ski paths in the winter.
If I’d known what I was in for, I might have been content to hang around the lake all day.
Tips for Climbing Mount Snowdon
- Entrance to the park is 100% free. It costs to park, but some B&Bs offer shuttles to the park so if you can snag one of those, total cost is F-R-E-E.
- Bring lots of layers! It was quite chilly on the summit and this was in late June! — bring a water-resistant parka, gloves, and a hat. All I had with me was a light windbreaker, a long- sleeved shirt, and a baseball hat. Clearly, I was expecting better weather from June.
- Try to climb on a clear day. Your photos will be so much better. I got lucky. With minimal planning or prior knowledge of Welsh weather, I had a great day. As I have since learned, weather at the bottom of a mountain is no prediction of weather at the top of a mountain.
- Snacks, water, and for me, ibuprofen are crucial. I only had 1L of water, a few power bars and fruit, and zero painkillers. I crawled into a ball when I got back to my room, and finally, after a hot shower or two and 800mg of motrin, I could walk some kind of normal again.
- Believe in yourself. Before I started, I NEVER thought that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t research it. I just heard about it and it sounded like a cool thing to do. Once I got started, I didn’t think I’d make it. But I’m too stubborn to quit.
This is Wales’ tallest peak; had I known I’d be hiking a ridge, I probably would not have done it. Balance has never been my strong point.
- Climbing Snowdon is absolutely worth it. This is one of Wales’s best adventures, and one that you’ll always remember.
Be prepared for anything when you are hiking in the Welsh mountains. The weather can change in an instant.
The view from the highest peak in Wales–will simply take your breath.