Hiking in Snowdonia

Snowdonia National Park is, by far, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  We had a three day weekend for Labor Day the first weekend in September last year, so we decided to visit the Snowdonia area and hike Mount Snowdon.  Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England, and though we didn’t hike to the very peak, we were pretty darn close!  B, Benjamin, and I went with a single guy B works with as well as another couple and their three-year-old.

So five adults, a three-year-old, and a ten-month-old made the drive in two cars Friday, September 4, 2015 in the afternoon.  It was quite the adventurous drive across England and into Wales.  We were staying in the adorable town of Betws-y-coed, about 20 minutes from Mount Snowdon.  By the time we got into Wales, the windy, narrow roads were made even more difficult to navigate by the dark and rain.  The seven of us stayed in an awesome house called Bryn Awel {only downfall was its driveway, which was quite treacherous!}.  The house was situated in a perfect location; we could walk into town for meals and exploring, and it allowed easy access to Mount Snowdon, Swallow Falls, and Conwy Castle.

So, the Welsh language is pretty insane.  Luckily, most things were in English as well, but seriously, can I buy a vowel?

dsc_1623-min

Anyway, we arrived late Friday night and pretty much just passed out immediately, as we were planning on hiking Mount Snowdon the following day.  We started our Saturday morning with a walk into Betws-y-coed town centre and had breakfast at Alpine Coffee Shop (we enjoyed it so much that we returned Sunday and Monday morning too!).  After filling our bellies we gathered some info about the mountain from a local information centre, then headed to the trailhead.

We got there around 11:30, and ended up having to park a little ways away from the actual start of the trail.  There are 6 main routes up/down Mount Snowdon with varying degrees of difficulty.  Because we had two kiddos in hiking backpacks, we decided to do a kind of middle-of-the-road difficulty trek: the Pyg Track up and the Miner’s Track down.  Including our journey from the car to the trailhead, we ended up hiking about 11 miles total.

**Sidenote:  B and I purchased a hiking backpack [similar to this one] secondhand from another military member, and it was perfect for this trip–it provided much more stability and support than our normal everyday carriers, was mostly comfortable on the hips and shoulders, and had some storage room for a few diapers, wipes, and snacks.  I carried Benjamin on the hike up, and B took over for the descent.  I didn’t like the idea of falling forward with something like 30 extra pounds on my back on the way down, so I opted for the ascent!  As you can see, Benjamin seemed to like the carrier too!    

The weather was absolutely perfect for us.  No rain and barely a cloud in the sky {practically unheard of in the UK!}, with the sun shining and temps in the 50s.  We truly couldn’t have asked for a better day!!  The scenery was seriously breathtaking.  I have never seen such green grass and turquoise, sparkling water.  I will just let some photos do the talking….

Gorgeous, right?

All of us were dog-tired after our adventure, so we got some dinner in town, then headed back to the house for some wine and beer nightcaps before bed.

Sunday, after breakfast, we headed to the town of Conwy, about 3o minutes away.  The town is pretty cool because the original town walls are still in tact in many areas, so you can climb up and walk around them.  They gave great views of the surrounding areas and the castle.

We made our way to the castle itself after a stop in a yummy bakery we stumbled upon.

The castle was pretty cool {our friends’ three-year-old especially thought so!!}.  Much of it consisted of ruins, but there were intact interior spaces and towers that we could climb, giving amazing views!

That afternoon, once we got back into Betws-y-coed, B and I (and Benjamin) headed into town to check out the stream/waterfall and bridge running through town, which was pretty.  As you can tell in the pictures, since we drove to Wales and had room in the car, we brought our Ergo and stroller in addition to the hiking backpack carrier.  We had a yummy dinner in town and spent the evening relaxing with everyone in the house.

We wanted to get on the road relatively early Monday morning, and were hoping to check out Swallow Falls, a well-known dramatic waterfall in Betws-y-coed.  We almost drove right past it, as it is fairly well hidden despite its fame.  There is a £2 fee to enter the park area, but it is well worth it!  Once you walk in, you are led to the first part of the waterfall, which is impressive in itself.  However, after many more stairs and some serious legwork, you can see the entire falls in its glory.  It was beautiful!  Definitely worth the stop and the entrance fee!  I think my favorite part was when our friend decided we should take a selfie with all of us, so we used a wallet to prop up his cell phone on the {wet from the mist of the falls} handrail and used a timer.  After a bit of finagling, we got it to work without anything falling into the water, miraculously!  I am so glad we found it and spent the little bit of time to see it!

I think we all agreed that this was a great little road trip from where we live – not too far and absolutely beautiful!  I would love to revisit Wales sometime!

 

 

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