A road trip to North Wales to visit my Grandma over Easter was always going to end with a little exploring of Snowdonia National Park, I couldn’t help myself buying the OS map and planning a little adventure.
On Easter Sunday I woke early and drove to Llanberis, the little Welsh town at the base of Snowdon from which all walks begin. At 7.30am it had already started raining so I prepared my wet weather gear and mini eggs for the journey and headed off towards the clouded peaks.
I had several route plans, weather and time dependent, all starting just south of Llanberis so I parked the car on the side of the road near the youth hostel and just started running. The first peak on my route was Moel Eilio standing at 726m and promising views of a wide range of mountains from its summit.
Not on Sunday.
The path begins at a derelict farmstead and heads North before turning West, reaching an open area just before a forest where there is a sharp left turn ahead of a gate. From here the path climbs steadily, initially southwest, over grass then sharp red rock, meeting a derelict stone wall leading to the summit and a small cairn.
From the top of Moel Eilio you can hop over the fence on the stile and descend South over Foel Gron to reach Foel Goch, an easy and undulating ridge that’s runnable and very enjoyable. Snowdon was supposedly ahead of me at this point but I couldn’t see twenty meters in front of my feet due to the rain clouds let alone any summits in the distance.
Due to poor visibility I decided to make Foel Goch my final ascent and began descending down a broad ridge just North of the summit. The path does continue onto Moel Cynghorion and eventually joins the Llanberis tourist path to Snowdon but, better to be safe than sorry, I chose the path I could find and headed back. The path was clear initially but I lost it somewhat in wet, boggy ground, only just getting my bearings by spotting the stiles directing the way. After a few more stile hops I found a more distinct path leading to a wider track at Brithdir, leading to a bridleway that brought me around full circle and back to the car.
My circular route from Llanberis taking in the peaks of Moel Eilio and Foel Goch was just over 9 miles but took almost 3 hours as I hiked the ascents and enjoyed running the flatter sections and the downhills.
I wish the weather had been more on my side and maybe I’d been a little braver, but I had a special solo adventure exploring somewhere completely new and was proud of my navigation skills and mental strength to take on such a route. I was prepared – I planned my route and carried all the essentials just in case – and cautious and it paid off, allowing me to feel safe in a new environment and strong enough to take on the terrain in such poor conditions.
Snowdon, I’ll be back to conquer you another day.