The Highest and the Busiest!   4 comments

TJS is now an obsessive Hiker. I’m pretty proud that he’s really keen to get out and has now reached that sad point (for me anyway) where he is fitter, faster and stronger than me – not too tricky these days. Whilst I’m trying to educate him to the charms of lesser known mountains like all new starters there is always that need to climb the higher and more famous peaks. He’s been hassling me for years to take him up Snowdon but it’s not exactly on our doorstep. Whilst in the Llyn Peninsula a few weeks back, less than an hour away, I finally made good on my promise.

We chose a route up the western side, mainly as it’s the closest to where we were staying but it’s also quieter and a side I’ve not seen much of.

Snowdon

We set off from Rhydd Ddu under a grey sky with a promise of sunshine later and headed up through the mine workings to Bwlch Cwn Llan. The sun started to peep through the clouds but Snowdon was still capped by cloud. There was clearly sunshine out west and we hoped we’d see that later – we had a long day planned

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

The col is a fine place, a real atmosphere of industry long gone amongst great scenery. Rather than despoiling a mountain I find these old quarries fascinating. A glimpse into the past.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

As an appetiser we climbed Yr Aran to the south of the col. A summit as good as Snowdon itself but much quieter (we had it all to ourselves). After a steep climb we crested the summit in watery sunshine to a panorama around the Snowdon Massif, across Cardigan Bay and to the western Snowdonia Mountains of Moel Heog, the Nantlle Ridge and Mynydd Mawr.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

I often point out to TJS that smaller hills often give better views than the higher summits and this one is a great case in point

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

We still had our main summit to climb and we retraced our steps to the col and began the long ascent up the south ridge. I’ve read that this is a long and uninteresting route but I thought it was grand.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

For a start it was pretty much deserted, a real blessing considering what was to come. The views across to Y Lliwedd and into Cwm Tregalan were fabulous and we took an early lunch before we ascended to the summit.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

The Rhydd Ddu path came in and the numbers increased as we crossed the narrow ridge of Bwlch Main. Then the Watkin path joins and the crowds and noise increase further.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Nothing prepares you for the summit of Snowdon in summer. It was awful. There must have been 300 people or more on the summit. You had to queue to reach the very top. We managed a quick photo and then found a relatively quiet spot for a sit.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

There was hundreds more people on the Pyg track and the train was disgorging hundreds more. The views from the summit are awesome. Snowdon is a truly magnificent mountain. Ridges radiating in all directions enclosing deep corries and lakes. Truly deserving of the highest summit in Wales.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Trouble is it’s very accessible and massive draw for walkers. I’d expected it to be bad but it was much, much worse. I couldn’t wait to get away. We’d had some reasonable views but the summit was still slipping in and out of the clouds so no sense hanging around with the rest of the UK population or so it seemed

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

As we tried to get away there was an absolute stream of people on their way up still. It was like being in a shopping centre such was the commotion and noise. I took a little solace from the fact that large numbers of people looked very unhappy and ill-equipped, clearly not expecting the summit to be so cold and so far from the car. I know this probably makes me a very bad person. Staggers me how many people have no idea of how conditions can change between a car park and a summit 3500 feet up in the clouds and just how much effort it takes to get there. I felt a little sad about it all.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

When I could take no more we took off from the Llanberis path and went over to the edge that overlooks the pass. The change was instant and dramatic. Suddenly the noise had gone and all was silent, the views majestic

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Now we’d got the mountain back we left the crowds behind for good and headed down to Llyn Du’r Arddu. What a magnificent spot. The massive and well renowned climbing crag of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu towers above. The lake deep and blue even under a grey sky. And the thing is it was completely deserted. A sensational spot just half a mile from the throngs above and it was all ours. Mountains can be an odd experience sometimes.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

I’d planned a swim in the lake but the skies were still grey and the air just too chilly. We pressed on for our return to  Rhydd Ddu, picking up an excellent climbers path that traversed easily back around to the Snowdon Ranger path over Bwlch Cwm Brwynog.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Suddenly the skies cleared and the sun came out in force and we were treated to a wonderful sunny afternoon stroll back to the car. Again ignoring the main paths we found a way across the moors and picked up a fine path through the quarries back to Rhydd Ddu.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

A little boggy in places and much further than it looked but the views were now sensational. Moel Hebog really catches the eye, looking much higher than its modest 782m and very surprising that I’ve never climbed it. I’ll be correcting that soon.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

As earlier Mynydd Mawr and the Nantlle Ridge were also magnificent and the walk back under clear skies away from the crowds was a total pleasure. A staggering contrast to the crowds on the summit that darkened my heart so much.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

Tired and weary – it was 12 mile and 4000 feet of ascent sort of day – we exchanged happy grins at the car. The choice of route had been a good one, minimising our exposure to the crowds to just over a mile.

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

bwlch cwm Brwynog, bwlch cwn llan, bwlch main, clogwyn du'r arddu, cwm tregalan, llyn du'r arddu, moel hebog, Mynydd Mawr, nantlle ridge, rhydd ddu, snowdon, y lliwedd, yr aran, yr wyddfa

We both agreed that any future visits to Snowdon should be out of season and preferably a weekday. The Snowdon Horsehoe still beckons for TJS, one of the UKs best mountaineering routes, just not in the summer holidays

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4 responses to “The Highest and the Busiest!

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  1. Great to see a hike I somewhat experienced while we were in Wales. We took the train up. As I remember, it dropped us below the summit. It was cold and cloudy when we were dropped off. My wife and daughter hiked down from this point. My son and I continued up to the summit of Snowdon in the fog. I was disappointed that we had no views from the top. After a short stay, we turned and hiked back down to the parking lot. On this particular day in June we had the summit pretty much to ourselves (I guess the weather kept the crowds away).

    I do know what you mean about the crowds. Many of the Colorado 14ers close to the Denver metro area are a non-stop train of people along the trail to the summit. It certainly does take away from the enjoyment. And here too we see so many people ill-equipment to hike a 14,000 foot peak – some heading up in sandals and blue jeans with no coat or rain gear. I’ve also seen people heading up to the summit in dark clouds, thunder and even lightning while others are rushing down to get below treeline. Some people have no common sense and that is when serious injury or death happens.

    Great pictures!

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    • It’s inevitable that the famous summits attract the crowds. There were just so many people and large numbers completely ill prepared for the conditions. Many people would not have been down until evening at the pace they were walking. It’s a majestic mountain with many quieter corners, you just have to close your mind a bit on the summit!

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  2. It does look like you made the most of it however and generally missed the crowds. Shame about missing out on that swim. Me and the kids had a dip in Mosedale beck last week. Very invigorating (i.e. cold). Storming mountain. I suppose a very early or late start would be the way to go.

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    beatingthebounds
    • The contrast between the morning/afternoon and the summit was staggering. It was a good day but the summit cacophony just left me shaking my head in bewilderment. A grand wild swim was had the week we got back, more to follow.

      Where is Mosedale Beck? Guess I’ll find out on the blog in a few days/weeks/months/years 🙂

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