Boots and a packed lunch in the car, we were following the twisting roads across Wales to the highest peak in the country. It’s not a mountain I am familiar with as the only thing I knew about where we were heading was the car park at the bottom of the Watkin Path. We’d ventured up to one of the first waterfalls on the path last summer, taking a dip to cool off on a hot blue sky day.
The 1st January 2019 obviously looked very different; deciding on how many layers to wear by looking between the seasoned walkers and those less experienced in the car park. I’ve learnt from my mistakes of over-estimating how well my body copes with the cold, so I opt for more layers than less.
Laces tied we cross the road to the stone pillar reading ‘Watkin Path’ that shows the start of our New Year’s Day wander.
The winding roads had already brought us far from any sort of noise that daily life seems to entail these days. Yet, walking up through the trees pushed it all further away.
We reached the waterfalls that we’d came across last summer. The water still looking just as enticing to jump into. The water so clear, yet it still has a colour you only find from water in the mountains.
Whilst we weren’t expecting to have Snowdon to ourselves, we were glad to have chosen the less popular route to the top. We might not have been able to see much of it with the clouds hanging so low and rain coming down, but it still offered sights to remember. A mountain-side teeming with history and tough work, but now it is something used for leisure.
At first we were following the river and crossing railway sleeper bridges, but soon we found ourselves ascending steps made up of perfectly placed rocks. We mainly walked alone but did come across other walkers every now and then. Some in two’s, but others in groups with their four-legged friends.
700m of elevation.
We were slowly edging closer to the peak.
Fog making visibility difficult and way markers few and far between, we took a turn on what we thought was the path. When walking turned to scrambling, we only then started to think we’d taken a wrong turn. You know, past the point of being able to turn back…not like us at all!
The only thing I will say is that I feel sorry for the poor guy who followed us thinking we knew where we were going.
Two became three whilst we got ourselves out of the pickle we’d found ourselves in.
A few points of brushing off our bouldering skills later, we all looked at each other when the sound of people reaching the summit came into ear shot.
It was one time I was actually thankful for fog as it meant we had no clue how steep the mountain-side actually was. Although, without the fog maybe we wouldn’t have made the slight navigation error in the first place…
The thought of being able to have lunch kept me moving up the mountain. We climb the steps to the official summit by doing that typically British thing of forming an orderly queue on the steps and waiting our turn to see the grand total of bugger all. You’ve got to love Wales. Even when the weather’s against you, it can still put a smile on your face.
We head to the side of the closed cafe in order to get out of the howling wind. Our planned lunch stop turned into a quick sandwich break only for us to get moving again.
Our scrambling adventure meant I had to ditch my thick gloves, so the mountain sapped out any sort of warmth my hands had. I was relieved to come across a sign for the Watkin Path that pointed us away from the steep ascent we had just climbed.
This confirmed we had definitely strayed away from the Watkin Path.
We left the swarms of people that had climbed the Pyg track behind and began to feel more human again the warmer we got.
We passed groups on their way up.
We were overtaken by those swiftly on their way down.
But all of a sudden about an hour had passed without us seeing a sole.
We stopped for a short while as the sun started to burn away the clouds. I threw my arms up in the air and shouted:
The mountain we had just climbed slowly started to reveal itself. The rocks were jagged, but somehow still uniform. Their shadows came and went as the sun tried its hardest to come through.
The further down we got, the more the clouds started to clear. It seems we had quite literally had our heads in the clouds. Still drenched from our 5 hours wandering, we were fairly close to the bottom, only to pass a couple saying:
“We must be over half way now!”
Ryan and I looked at each other and smiled.
Back to the railway sleeper bridges and waterfalls, we breathed a sigh of relief. Then burst out laughing as we followed train of sheep down the path, with one attacking, going for the breakaway.
Then there was a stop Ryan had already anticipated when his eyes fell on a black Labrador who I would soon be giving all of the attention to. We chatted to the family of four, then covered the last stretch back to the car park.
We got changed out of layers, then stopped at the closest cafe as during the walk Ryan had realised his coat wasn’t exactly waterproof anymore. We sat in the Moel Siabod Cafe with our hands wrapped around cups of coffee desperately trying to warm them up. We were also munching on cake I’d bought after feeling guilty I’d eaten the Mars Bar Ryan was planning on eating…
The cafe was full of friends, families and their woofers in tow. There were no Instagram perfect selfies going on here. It was all wind-swept hair and damp clothes, but it was perfect in the real sense of the word. Everyone was smiling, chatting and completely disconnected from the digital world.