A dismal but enjoyable activation of Tal Y Fan was out the way and having seen the views we missed, oh well maybe another time ?
It was out again to Pentir for scran and a discussion, the topic ? was it what draught cider tonight ? nope it was the next day’s activation and more to the point, would it be Snowdon ?
The Met Office forecast showed fog for most of Wednesday’s daylight hours and lets just say high winds with Thursday even windier if that seemed possible but one problem could be in the way.
The Tour of Britain cycle race..
which I had hoped to see. Llanberis was the finish of Stage 4 which would start from Stoke-on-Trent and the town would be in near shutdown mode late morning to late afternoon. This reminded me of the fishing trip I’d gone to Ireland just as the foot and mouth epidemic had started here in the UK and unbelievably we found out the evening before we headed across, a total ban on fishing….I can say the black stuff took a terrible pounding that week but we got to see more pubs than normal. I must go back some day with radio in mind.
We decided that Wednesday was the best option with an alternative route up the Llanberis track if needed. We already had a recce to the train station and the start of the track in Llanberis so we could just turn up and go. Business out of the road it was more excellent food washed down with draught cider, heaven…
It was back to base to double-check everything and prepare for the next day.
I did a bit of ‘surfing’ and came up with a recent story of a 4×4 which ‘appeared’ on the summit driverless. Click on link to read the article HERE. You must read the update at the very foot of the article, I almost sprayed my keyboard, coffee this time when I read what had happened to the vehicle whilst they decided its fate…only at 3,500ft. I also came across this old footage of an earlier successful attempt circa 1920 click HERE. Enthusiasm at its best.
An early rise and after some frenetic phone calls it was a quick dash to the train station at Llanberis to book Patsy on the uphill choo choo. No phone bookings today, the woman had said. She had also said there had been the odd snow flurry at the summit in the last 24 hours, oops. All booked it was time to have a quick look at what was now a hive of activity with barriers being set up for the Tour finishing line just down from the railway station, the town was busy even at 9am.
We stopped and asked about the road closure and good news, the Pen Y Pass would only be closed on a rolling roadblock as the cyclists powered their way through. Excellent news so it was off to grab our gear and to that supermarket for another excellent brekkie. It seems all we do is eat on these trips. I stocked up with such essentials as dolly mixtures, gummies and choc buttons (sugar for energy boost, honest).
We set off the 10 mile trip from Bangor to the top of Pen Y Pass where we arrive to find the car park already full with lycra clad cyclists milling about hours before the peloton would flash by in seconds.
As Patsy drove off we started out a gentle incline along an excellent track and almost right away, it started to lightly rain but it cleared soon after as we took in the sights and sounds as we ascended via the Miners Track, there are many tracks which lead to Snowdon’s summit and this one was well worn plus we met early birds were heading back down. After not too long we turned into what be described as an magnificent amphitheatre with high rock walls on three sides. This was impressive although we knew the serious ascent would come soon.
As we walked across the causeway at Lyn Llydaw, the path headed left and soon we were passing the old mine buildings. It must have a hard life to work here all year round. Read this link about this track which mentions how the copper ore was first taken off the mountain HERE. The track we were heading along was built later to service the mine. My camera decided to play funny boggers at this point so after a quick check, I just packed it away.
Once we reached Glaslyn, the serious stuff of 2000 ft ascent in just under a mile, it was a pleasant hike up with the results of my recent cycling and walking regime paying dividends. I stopped occasionally to take in the dramatic surroundings looking for the pillar which signalled the last summit push, I had a quick break to take on water and ‘dolly mixtures’ which I shared with another two lads before who had laughed but admitted a great way to take on sugar. I now pushed on to the pillar which marks junction with the Llanberis path. I stopped and I knew by the sound in the distance, a train was heading my way, was it Patsy ?
I stopped and checked the time, it would be the 1.30 choo choo and waved at the Patsy fella as the train headed the last stretch to the top. We headed up what is a well trodden path and there in the scuttling cloud was the summit station, visitors viewing area and summit cairn. We made it !
A quick walk up the steps to touch the summit cairn but the wind at this point was blowing hard and one fellow in front of us looked as if he nearly lost his balance. Photographs taken quickly due to the wind and surprisingly mid-week in mid Sept the summit was busy. Im ny photo, I was hanging on for dear life, it was that windy (and exposed to the rear of me)
We snuck in to a nook just below the summit cairn and as we were getting ourselves organised, a party of (I’m assuming) primary school kids gathered below us and proceeded to sing out ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau‘. Song HERE. This was worth the climb to the top alone and as they sang an interested audience gathered round and as they finished, they got the accolade they deserved. Fantastic ! I think someone must know something as 12 months earlier we had topped Scafell Pike a RAF jet had did a circle of the summit then flew off. Top that !
It was now time to get going with the purpose of our climb, one call and it was Sean PZO who was on nearby HuMP Moel Tryfan, I’ve worked Sean before but this time it was in his back yard. As the previous day we shared contacts as the weather wasn’t suitable for a long activation as well as high winds a chilling edge to it brought slowly cooling fingers. The next call brought Karen XYL from the Wirral who had spoken with us the previous day. We found Richard JTD portable on Bowfell in the Lake District, this is not a Marilyn but a WOTA summit so I was glad to catch a chasing point. A good handheld contact of approx 165 km.
Pressing on John ZPL from nearby Bangor was in our log then we soon wrote Mike BLH in Lancashire in the log, I’ve now spoken with Mike on more than a few occasions. Mike compiles the excellent news on Summitsbase with articles from more than a few contributors.
Occasionally glimpses of the surrounding countryside would show but we carried on with Paul PMA in the Wirral, Allan VPX in Pencader then John CBB called us from across the Irish Sea, an EI station in the log as I’d hoped, John was approx 165 km but a LOS contact. We called on .500 but no takers and with the cold now taking effect, I took out the 4m FM handie and first call was Bob RHD in Pwllheli and I had a quick chat before I left to try one more call and Alun CYM replied to my call, I’d worked Alun on 4m before from one of my Beinn a’Mhanaich activations whilst he was ascending Moel Eilio, It was good to have a chat but sadly I was keeping contacts short for reasons already given. I spotted a couple with handies looking at us whilst we were operating and Roddy had nipped down to have a quick word, it was two G stations on a visit but not doing SOTA.
It was a quick pack away of the radio equipment, short activation but 8 contacts on 2m and 2 on 4m in the log. Oh how I would have loved to set up the 5 element yagi.
The summit viewing station was the next stop and I thought I’d better get a postcard sent from the summit with its special postage frank. I must say it was difficult writing with cold hands but I duly paid got stamps then posted. A quick loo visit and it was time to start heading down our chosen path, the Llanberis track.
We passed someone with totally useless footwear but I’ll not comment any further, just a shake of the head…but wedges ?
The track down is excellent and more gradual till its meeting with a single track road on the outskirts of Llanberis. We toddled down taking in the views as the mist and cloud cleared as we fell in height.
We soon reached the Halfway House but no soup or sandwich today as it was closing. A cuppa would have been welcome.
Just over halfway down, my right knee started to feel the strain of the days ascending then descending but no need to strap it up as I slowed slightly and took all opportunities to walk on the softer grass at the side of the path. Roddy chatted with Patsy who had parked at the bottom of the steep tarmac track that would finish the descent for us. I passed through the signposted gate on to a steep single track road then minutes later I was sitting in the car, my knee was glad I think.
Snowdon was ticked off and I had finally completed the Three Peaks Challenge in just under 45 years (not intentional).
Oh and two caches were logged, both at the summit.
It was through Llanberis where they were busily dismantling everything after the cycle race. I’d set the box at home to record all the days of the Tour I would miss. It would have been an exciting finish to have watched, ces’t la vie.
It was not before long we were back at our base and feet up….before our trip to Pentir. Our theory is to find somewhere where the food and drink is excellent and stick with it, Tripadvisor helped us this time round. Our breakfast venue ? consistently good.
Just as an aside, if Snowdon were to be in the Scottish Munro’s List it would be in 57th place of the 283 listed..
The Summit Viewing area is not the highest in the UK as that honour goes to the Ptarmigan Restaurant on Cairn Gorm at 1,097m ASL.
Information on the Snowdon Mountain Railway HERE.
Snowdonia National Park HERE
Vaynol Arms, Pentir HERE
The report ot the Tour stage 4 HERE
Geocaches – Where is Snowdon Summit HERE
Summit or submit HERE
My thanks to all those sites I have linked to and especially Wikipedia..