Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Always Catching up, never there on time - part three

The next morning we intended to go around Caernarfon Castle, but the weather was bright and clear with rain promised later in the day, so we decided that morning was a good time to go up Mount Snowdon. We had no intention of walking up, so we headed straight for the Snowdon Mountain Railway and bought tickets for the first train.

The railway has been operating since 1896 and consists of a narrow gauge engine towing a single coach.  The coach is divided into compartments with two seats facing each other, taking up the width of the coach and so providing enough room for four adults on each seat. The railway is a funicular system, using a cogwheel to drive the train up the steep incline via a third toothed rail between the normal train tracks.

It is fairly unusual to get clear weather at the top of the mountain, because, being the highest point for a long way around, it tends to push the moist air from the coast up into the colder regions and clouds form more often than not around the summit. The chance of a clear day was too good to miss and we arrived at the summit with no clouds anywhere near. TBH in a conversation with a delighted fellow Snowdon visitor was told that this was the sixth time he had been to the summit and the first time it was clear. I have been lucky. I have been up there three times and only once was it cloudy at the top.  This time, whilst it was very slightly hazy but otherwise we had blue skies all morning.

Going up - taken from the train
The last time I came to the summit of Snowdon, I walked there and so I am entitled to wear a badge saying ‘I climbed Snowden the hard way’, but I was a lot younger then.
There are six paths to the summit for walkers, but we took the Watkins Path, which is considered to be one of the toughest, although we did not know that at the time.  When we were on that particular climb all those years ago and beginning to wonder if we were quite sane, a group of soldiers ran past us rapidly disappearing out of sight up the path to the summit. Eventually a few hours later, we triumphantly reached the summit in thick fog and after a short rest, and a lot of self-congratulations, started back down again. By half past four, we were about half way down when the same group of soldiers ran back down past us again. I asked them if they had run all the way to the top and they replied, yes and two other peaks as well. They were on the three peaks run and our achievement of having walked to the summit, taking all day, suddenly seemed less of a triumph.

If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see the second train at the first passing place with the rail track snaking along the ridge
This is a picture I took in the 1970s when they were still using steam trains

Someone doing it the hard way
A couple of the local inhabitants
Nearly at the top
This year, TBH and I, after leaving the train at the summit station, only climbed the last few feet to the top. There we took each other’s photo to prove we did it and then went back down to the summit cafĂ© for a quick coffee before boarding the train for the descent. My ambitions seem to have changed a bit with age.
The summit station

This person has not only done it the hard way, they have brought their bike too.  It will be quicker going down for him. but a tin tray would work just as well.

That afternoon after we returned to the Llanberis station, we drove through Llanberis pass and took in the scenery from the car, weaving around to cover as much of Snowdonia as possible.

 Returning to Caernarfon, we decided to do a tour of the castle and by the end of the day we were quite stiff from climbing up and down spiral stairs and my legs (not me) refused to climb any more.

Taking pity on my semi crippled state TBH then got us a taxi for the short journey back to the hotel. Having eaten out for several days on the trot, we decided to have a light meal and stopped at the local Morrison’s where we bought some salad ingredients which we took back to the hotel room and ate there.
A view from our hotel window.  Sunset over the Menai Strait

The following day we set off for Llandudno, where we were booked into the Quay Hotel, a rather posh place, close to Llandudno and right on the estuary of the Afon Conwy, overlooking Conwy Castle which dominates the opposite shore. 


  1. So was the journey to the top worth it? We'll be in sort of that area later this year and I've thought about it. But it's for the train ride as much as anything. And there are lots of other little trains round there that wouldn't take us into the clouds so we couldn't see anything.

    (I'm still at the planning stage)

    1. You have to pick your day and I would recommend catching the first train otherwise you queue forever.

  2. What a fun day you had! The sight from the top of Snowdon is stunning, as is the view from your hotel room. I think you did amazingly well to accomplish all you did in one day. No wonder your (older than mine) body was protesting by the end of the day. Lovely photos, as usual. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to visit places I will likely never get to see in person.