The highest peak of England and Wales, Snowdon is an epic climb boasting jaw-dropping views and unmissable sights but where do you start as a beginner? For those not wanting to join the hordes on the cute tourist train and willing to don their walking boots (or trusted trainers) for the climb, here is your first-timer’s guide to walking this Welsh gem.
1. Plan Ahead
Like many cloud-topped heights your experience of Snowdon will depend on the weather conditions when you make the climb. Due to its altitude, Snowdon experiences more extreme weather and some of the slopes can become treacherous in icy conditions. Even on the average day the peak is extremely windy so it is worth packing a light jacket for when you reach the top. Remember, you are climbing a mountain, so although a mid-summer day in full heat might feel nice before you start, once you are slogging away in the heat you might soon change your mind.
2. Choose Your Path
Whilst there are a number of paths taking various routes to the summit, those unused to climbing should stick to one of the ‘easier’ paths. These are by no means easy ways to reach the summit but will be a lot less harsh on beginner climbers than some of the more difficult routes. The most popular route is called the ‘Llanberis Route’ and starts near to the railway that makes the ascent to the top. This route offers a gentler climb than other routes whilst still boasting heart-stopping views and lots of photo opportunities on the way up and down. Perfect for first-timers, this route passes by a café (cash only) at around the half way point for those wanting a quick tea stop and a break from the walk. A quieter route I would definitely recommend is the Rangers path. Starting at the Rangers hostel and meandering through hillsides teaming with sheep and some pretty spectacular views this route is a definite must-try for those wanting to take the challenge away from the crowds.
3. Be Prepared
Do not underestimate the climb, easier routes are by no means easy and are a completely different kettle of fish to other types of exercise (as my companion found out on one of our outings). That said, it is a spectacular experience and with proper preparations is completely doable by those with a reasonable level of fitness. One of the most important things is that you are dressed appropriately for the climb and time of year. Comfortable, supportive shoes are a must, as are clothes that are comfortable to move in. Dress in layers with plenty of warm clothing for colder months (I would not recommend you walk during full winter as the paths become dangerous). The top will be a lot colder so take something to slip on when you get higher even during summer months. Take plenty of food to snack on and water to keep you hydrated but be wary, there will be no toilet stops (apart from the half way café on the Llanberis route) so stop off somewhere on the way if you journeying from a distance.
4. Top Tips
- Take the walk on a warm summers evening for a quieter walk and more photo opportunities at the top (as the peak marker sometimes gets quite busy when trains are running).
- Be sure to pack a light jacket such as a pack-a-mac even if it is a warm summers day with no chance of rain. The top is extremely windy and you will be glad of the wind break once the warmth of your walk up has worn off.
- Take plenty of energy-filled snacks to keep you going and take breathers when you need it. The mountain isn’t going to disappear.
- Whilst the toilets at the train station are available for those walking the Llanberis route, others such as the Rangers path have only porta-loos (don’t expect much in the way of upkeep) or none at all so stop off somewhere pre-route unless you are willing to go the whole route to the summit to use the Visitor Centre’s facilities.
- Take a head-lamp or torch with you if you think you may be making the descent in darker conditions (evening) phone torches may work just as well but you can’t guarantee they wont be dead from all of the pictures you are taking and you DO NOT want to be walking down a mountain in the dark.
Looking for more? Check back soon for more travel tips here.