Part 1: Hiking in Wales

Not only did our trip to Wales include castles, we also did a fair amount of hiking. I’ve only recently gotten into hiking in the past few years. I’m not a hardcore hiker by any means. I just enjoy seeing nature at my own pace.

While in Northern Wales, we decided that we want to hike Snowdon mountain, the tallest mountain in Wales. Getting to the area to hike was an adventure it itself.  My boyfriend had rented a car to get from place to place. However, as you may know, the cars in Britain drive on the other side of the road. So that naturally made driving a bit more interesting to begin with. As we got closer to the area near Snowdon Mountain, the roads got narrower and narrower so it was only one lane. Now, I don’t mean one lane in each direction; I mean one lane period. You had to pull over to the left as much as possible to allow cars to go by. And then there was the fog with 10 foot visibility. And to top it off, there was a triathlon going on so there were bikers all over.

Once we found our starting place and parked our car, we had our first mini-hike. We wanted to get to Pen y Pass, a small town that was really the base camp for Snowdon. Some of the well trekked hikes started from there. So this was a forty-minute hike up a hill, stepping on stones and occasionally mud. It was completely foggy so we really didn’t’ know how far we had come nor where to go. Occasionally, the fog would clear for a second, we’d see some sheep and maybe a stream, but then it would return. It had this wonderfully eerie aspect to it. I felt that if there were evil spirits or fairies, they could easily have led us to our doom in these conditions.

Eventually, we got to Pen y Pass which seemed like a tiny town. There was a café, a parking lot, and a hostel. Maybe there was more but we didn’t see it. We stopped for lunch at the café which had lovely little meat pastries. We consulted with one of the rangers who recommended the Miner’s trail. He recommended it because we would see three lakes. We didn’t have time to go all the way to the top because we wanted to get to Portmeirion before it closed. This hike would provide a lot of cool things to see.

So finally, we began our “real” hike. And it was incredible. As much as I loved the castles, this was my favorite thing on the trip. Eventually, the fog melted away (we got above it) and these incredible green mountains emerged. There were occasionally sheep and clouds overhead in a blue sky. Brilliant. We got to the first lake, Llyn Teyrn, which was below us. It looked so incredible idyllic, something that I’ve only dreamt about seeing in real life.  Then we made it to the largest lake, Llyn Llydaw, where people were swimming. Again there were sheep and occasionally ruined buildings. We also stumbled upon a luxury van commercial that was being filmed. Apparently, the trail at this point was big enough to sustain the weight of the car. It was kind of random considering this windswept environment. Later, on our way back we saw an old mountain goat with these impressive horns. We kept our distance naturally. Also, there is a pipeline that is very out of the place in the scenery.

Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013
Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

Then the path got a bit steep and stony. Previously it had been paved or the stones had been big enough to not even notice. Now, we were firmly aware of each step. But the views got more impressive as we climbed up. Soon the large lake was a memory below us and we could see a waterfall. And then the third lake, Llyn Glaslyn, emerged from above. There is nothing quite like seeing a lake level with your head. We waded into the water that almost looked like a rainbow from the blue sky, the green mountains, the brownish red rocks under the water. It was magical.

Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013
Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

And then we turned around. The hike got even steeper from there. The ranger told us that it looks like you are three-fourths of the way there when you hit the third lake. However, because of the steepness of the path, you are about half way. We didn’t have the time. Moreover, there was fog around the peak of the mountain so we wouldn’t have seen much anyway.

But what a wonderful place!

If you can go to Snowdon, I highly recommend it. I hope that someday we can go back and finish the hike.

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