Before I start, I just want to say I am no expert blogger or writing genius. Just wanted to share my story of a personal challenge I set myself just a few weeks before I left for the UK.
Three peaks UK involves ascending the highest peaks of England, Wales and Scotland and essentially bagging the peaks, meaning climbing the mountain from the foot. There is also a 3 peaks challenge which involves bagging these peaks inside 24 hours.
This however was not my aim as I would be doing this alone and knew the dangers of driving with fatigue over the long distances between each peak. With no traffic it is over 5 hours drive between each one.
As I was only visiting the UK for a short time in July, I bided my time and kept an eye on the weather for favorable conditions. After all, one of the joys of getting to the top of the peak is to enjoy the views.
I was driving from Newcastle to Portsmouth to visit my mother when I noticed the weather all of the sudden cleared up. I made a gamble and took the highway towards North Wales and to Mount Snowden (Yr Wyddfa) at 1085 meters. As I was brought up in Snowdonia, I knew the small roads and villages well and soon got to Llanberis where the small mountain railway starts. Here I parked and intended to get up and down within 3 hours despite the signs saying it was a 6 hour trek.
I took the Llanberis path as I was familiar with it from my childhood and also wanted the quickest way up. It starts with a steep road after the you leave the village and passes by a couple of farms and of course, a pub. Then over a gate to start the main rocky trail upwards. From this point it isn’t too steep and was able to easily build up a good fast pace. Soon you are able to get great views over towards Electric mountain (Elidir Fawr) and the old Dinorwig slate quarries to your left and then on your right is the railway and beyond is Llyn ffynnon-y-gwas. As it was late in the day, around 3pm, there was next to no one going up and was mainly people coming down and there were plenty of them.
Soon you go under the railway and some more gentle climbing and the trail is pretty wide with large flat rocks and then it’s not long before you go under the train tracks again and come to the top of the mighty Clogwyn Du’r Arddu cliffs and the stunning views down into Llanberis pass. Here you hook a right and climb up which is getting a bit steep now and more loose gravel and small stones. A few stragglers going up this bit but doesn’t last long before you are on a steady path again contouring around Garnedd Ugain. After a while you will finally see the summit and the crowds of people milling around, mostly brought up by the mountain railway. Difficult to run this bit due to the amount of foot traffic and can get frustrating with people going very slow. It’s very easy to spot the summit and the trig point and here it was worth stopping for a few moments to catch my breath and take in the views. It took me just over an hour 15 mins to get to the summit. There is the new railway building where there is a café and a souvenir shop and you can get fluids here but at a tourist price. I, however decided to try and run down as you often see when watching the Snowdon race. Again there are a lot of people in the way but only after around 3-400 meters you can let your legs loose and let gravity take you down. On the whole return leg the only dodgy bit is the slope with the loose gravel and stones by the cliffs I mentioned earlier. I would not recommend running down this as a four people died back in 2009 by going over the cliffs.
It should take less than an hour at a gentle jogging speed to get back down to the road. Once back in Llanberis it was straight to the pub for a celebration drink of completing the first peak. This mountain I would say in my opinion is the easiest and quickest to climb up and get down and took my just a bit over 2 hours to complete.
Total distance was 15km with around 1045 elevation gain. Gear used were Scott T2 Kinabalu 2.0, twin skin socks, Salomon S-lab advanced skin 3 12 set with around 1.5 litres of fluid.
Once I had been for a celebration drink I went to visit my childhood village of Rhiwlas which was just a few short miles away on the side of Mynydd Bach (small mountain) and had some nostalgic time seeing my old school was still there although after 40 years, didnt know anyone who currently lived there. No pub here!
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