After a begrudging absence from the Snowdon hike my friends made last year, it seemed I had subconsciously added it to a List Of Things I Would Like To Do. Alongside The Pocket Pirate, I work as a dresser backstage – the flurry of activity during quick changes in the wings is always exciting. Working in the theatre we understand that holiday times are show times, and extended hours on costume maintenance for Lion King over the festive period meant Christmas would have to wait…
When the run of shows subsided, my husband and I set a getaway weekend aside. Now came the dilemma…where to go? In the excitement, I was paralysed by possibility. We started looking at flights to other countries, determined to ‘make the most’ of my newfound free time, but unable to decide how. Budget and Time soon reminded me of a longstanding niggle – why do we automatically turn to far flung destinations, when there is so much to explore here? And so the Snowdonia seed was sown.
We stumbled across a beautiful holiday let nestled at the foot of Mount Snowdon; we could practically roll out of bed onto the footpath to the summit. (We later discovered we could also roll back off the footpath into a little pub serving great beer by their open fire. Winner.)
A proper Welsh Welcome awaited us – horizontal rain, a mountain swallowed by fog accompanied by home baked Bara Brith and local cider. I would have expected nothing less – us Welsh recognise a test of character… Naturally we spent the evening sampling the local produce and watching the weather jovially in front of a crackling fire.
We had designated Saturday as Snowdon Day. Given the time of year, the weather was definitely going to be the boss of any hiking expeditions. The fog was gone, the sun was out, the top of the yesterday’s invisible mountain was covered with snow. We decided we would go as far as we could and be happy – there would be other opportunities to conquer the summit (giving us a perfect excuse to return, as if we would need one).
The path from Rhyd Ddu is a relatively forgiving one most of the way. The weather was kind, offering up one spectacular panorama after another with each 20 or so strides. Hills rolled into mountains, which parted to frame sparkling lakes and rose to have their peaks capped by icing-sugar snow.
On reaching the plateau before the path becomes a rocky scramble, we decided this was as far as we would go; as we climbed the idyllic powdery snow had gradually morphed into sheets of polished ice. Despite being passed by a determined couple equipped with spikes and walking poles, I had to admit I was not disappointed to fall short of the summit. Not only was it again cloaked in cloud, I did not share my husband’s unwavering enthusiasm to make the descent in a helicopter….
The final day of our stay was again accompanied by low cloud and intermitted sideways drizzle. For those unseasoned to this weather, it likely would have dampened certain visitors’ spirits. But for me, (even through the rain), the wild and unbridled elegance of this beautiful place really does take your breath away. After a leisurely Sunday morning stroll up through the woodland to the nearest lake, we felt no guilt at all in retiring to the local pub for sunday roast in front of the fire.
When planning our precious free time, it is all too easy to knee-jerk to foreign climes and bypass the genuine beauty right on our doorsteps. In Britain we often forget all the magnificent adventures available to us here. With so many places to explore, why not stay home next time you want to get away?