This post comes under the “incorporating a number of my other hobbies and interests” part of my blog. I’m hoping people won’t mind if I stray from talking solely about running on occasion to talk about outdoor pursuits, other sports, or any activity-based trips that I have been on. I’m using the rationale that if you’re reading my running blog, you’re probably not entirely adverse to other forms of exercise and being in the great outdoors, even if you’re not exactly smitten by some of the things that I talk about!
Anyway, today’s post is going to focus on Snowdonia. Over the bank holiday weekend my boyfriend, Rob, and I headed to Snowdonia. The primary purpose of this trip, is that ever since I started to pursue a more active lifestyle, a couple of years ago now, I’ve been keen to conquer my first mountain. So on day 1, that is exactly what we did.
After much deliberation over routes, and considerable consultation on the feasibility of Crib Goch with a number of more experienced walker/scrambler friends, we settled for an easier option to break me into mountain life more gently. Helpfully the cottage we were staying in (just somewhere we found randomly on Air B&B) was actually right at the start of one of the routes, Rhyd Ddu, and on hearing that this was the quietest of the 6 main routes, with arguably some of the greatest scenery, we decided to try this one out.
The walk up the mountain was relatively straightforward for us. It took 2 hours 15 minutes to reach the top, which incorporated a few rests stops, mainly to absorb the views and for me to take a gazillion pictures. We walked back down a different, more challenging way, which took around 3 and a quarter hours and which involved considerable areas of scrambling. We weren’t able to find the name for this route (if it had one) but it took us along Bwlch Main / South Ridge towards Bwlch Cwm Llan through a disused quarry and back to Rhyd Ddu.
Having not spent any great proportion of my younger years in the outdoors, it wasn’t until a holiday to the Scottish Highlands last year that I really became aware of how breathtakingly beautiful the UK can be. Suffice to say our hike up Snowdon, and stay in Snowdonia in general, certainly did not disappoint, providing a different, but equally beautiful and aesthetically stimulating experience to Scotland.
Our second day kicked off with our first experience of outdoor climbing. This was a 3 hour session run by Snowdonia Adventure Activities.
I was excited and slightly apprehensive, having been bouldering indoors regularly for just over a year now, to try out the skills and techniques I had learned on some real rock. When we arrived at the rock-face, looking up at it, I definitely made a sharp intake of breath and experienced feelings of minor (or let’s be honest, quite major) panic. However, upon reflection, I realise that I am not, actually, afraid of heights. Instead, like a lot of people, I am (understandably!) afraid of falling. The best way I have learnt to get over this is to practise doing so. Literally sit back in your harness and drop off the wall – As soon as you realise you’ll be caught, the fear almost, if not entirely, goes away!
Barmouth Slabs, where we were taken, was ideal for the beginner, with clear indents and holds for your hands and feet. I was pleased to have taken my climbing shoes, ensuring my feet had a good grip. I was also lucky to have Rob there to belay me. It always helps for your climbing partner to be someone you have full confidence in. I’m not sure if Rob could say the same about me! I genuinely loved outdoor or climbing though, and am already itching to try it again.
In the afternoon we’d booked canyoning through the same organisation (who were amazing!) but unfortunately, due to me having an ear infection, we had to drop out. We asked our climbing instructor (who was fantastic!) for things to do in the local area and he suggested Cregennan Lakes, and my gosh are we thankful that he did as it was beyond stunning, and not somewhere we would have stumbled across ourselves.
After lunching by the water, we did a short but intense hill walk/scramble upwards to take in the area’s glorious views, before heading into Barmouth, which had one of a number of idyllic beaches that we witnessed whilst in Wales.
Monday was our final morning, but before we left on our epic 6 hour (bank holiday traffic!) trip back to London, I had arranged for us to undertake one more activity, and one of my favourites – Horse riding! I arranged this through Snowdonia Riding Stables, and opted for the half day trek. Again, our experience was excellent.
For me, there are very few things as relaxing as being on horseback riding out in the open countryside, and the scenery Snowdonia offered was particularly spectacular for this. By good fortune, the rest of the group we were supposed to be riding out with were delayed, so it ended up being just us. Rob has only ridden a handful of times, and whilst I would not consider myself a particularly experienced rider, I did so a lot as a child, and so have a level of comfort around it. However, our instructor managed to tailor the route so that it was appropriate for both of us; plenty of trotting for Rob, and incorporating several short canters for me.
All in all, our weekend in Snowdonia was fantastic which in some small part was due to being so incredibly lucky with the weather and experiencing brilliant (and almost unheard of) sunshine all weekend! However, regardless of this, Snowdonia is an incredibly beautiful outdoor playground ideal for lovers of open air and anyone wanting to escape city life for a few days. I, for one, certainly hope to return.