During the Easter holidays, my girlfriend and I decided to take a trip up to Snowdonia in the North of Wales. Since getting into climbing we had seen countless photographs, articles in magazines and posters around the climbing centre which had inspired us. I had seen photographs and read up about the area, so was dying to go to this beautiful location. After some researching in books and the internet, I found this awesome looking hostel called Plas Curig, in the village of Capel Curig, so booked a twin room for us – we wanted to have the privacy of our own room instead of the shared dormitories that the hostel also offers.
I was a bit dubious about staying in a hostel, but as soon as we arrived, I was put right at ease. The place was absolutely spotless, so clean and tidy, with plenty of private bathrooms to accommodate the visitors. We were both very impressed with the large, immaculate (and fully equipped) kitchen and the modern, cosy decor in the shared lounges.
Although our room was compact, it suited our needs perfectly – for sleeping and keeping our belongings safe. The bunk beds were brill and really comfortable, We definitely got a great night sleep, especially after all of the hiking and climbing we did over the next few days.
We woke up on the first morning of our Snowdonia adventure both super excited! We put on our newly purchased walking clothes, including our SmartWool Trekking Socks. These socks are lush and so comfy. They are made from something called Merino Wool which help the socks have loads of elasticity, so you get freedom of movement as well as the socks being snug and secure in all of the right places. First impressions of them were 2 thumbs up. They were soft to the touch and they went over the ankle to prevent any rubbing from the walking boots. More on them later!
We decided that our first walk had to be up to the summit of Snowdon, ‘Yr Wyddfa’. After packing lunch, loads of snacks (just incase) and the necessary essentials, we were ready for our first trek up a mountain. The Snowdon Horseshoe is only 6 miles away from the hostel, so a very short drive. We arrived at the Pen-y-Pass carpark (the main carpark for the majority of routes up to Snowdon). Top Tip – Make sure you get there nice and early as this carpark fills up super quickly, even at this time of year.
And so began our trek. We chose to walk up the Pyg Track, which is a gradual climb along a well constructed path (it leads to the start of Crib Goch which is what we had really wanted to climb). There were signs leading the way to the start of this path, so we didn’t need our map just yet. This climbs up to Bwlch y Moch, ‘The Pass of The Pigs’- the panoramic views of the Snowdon Horseshoe from here were spectacular as you can see above.
We were both so pleased we had each invested in some Helly Hansen mid layers and trousers. My girlfriend hasn’t stopped talking about her Waterproof Packable Pants: “They are such a good fit, they look really lovely on, and felt so comfy walking up the Pyg track up to Snowdon’s summit. The material is quite stretchy and I love the shape of them. They were really easy to move in and although I was worried that I didn’t have any thermals underneath, I found that I didn’t feel cold at all. As we reached the top of Snowdon, it got really snowy and misty, so quite wet too, therefore the bottoms of these trousers were pretty soaked. They are waterproof so they were bone dry when we descended. They really are such a great pair of trousers for all outdoor occasions, a very good purchase for something so stylish and practical.”
I really love the Helly Hansen outdoor wear. My own Helly Hansen Cargo Pants are just as good as my girlfriends, and although not waterproof, I was so surprised at how quick the fabric dried. They are such a nice pair of trousers to wear and look stylish too. I was so pleased with the freedom of movement I got from them. I found them ideal for this kind of hike as there are loads of pockets, which were really practical for storing smaller items in for quick access. Although the weather forecast snow on the top on Snowdon, I decided not to wear thermals underneath (and to pack them in my bag just in case)- I didn’t even need to get them out as my legs remained warm at all times. They were very comfy to wear and look great in too.
Both of our Helly Hansen Vertex mid layer jackets have a slimmer cut, so look very contemporary and well fitted- I chose a half zip, whilst my girlfriend chose a full zipped one. What we love about them is how lightweight they are, perfect for this kind of holiday. We both got so hot whilst scrambling/walking up Snowdon, so were really glad that these fleeces have some sort of air channels which help to circulate air around the jackets. They are also very lightweight, which obviously makes them very practical for more higher paced outdoor pursuits. I was amazed at how hard we could work and keep cool in these. At the same time, even when snow and ice was around, we didn’t get at all chilly.
We were so excited to scramble up and along Crib Goch, for both the challenge and the views form the top. This is what we can come here for and what we really wanted to do. Unfortunately, once we reached the bottom of this climb, ready to ascend, we realised how icy and misty the conditions were on the top. It just wasn’t worth putting ourselves at that risk of slipping, plus the visibility up there was absolutely zero. So we sadly decided we would come back during the summer to try it again in better conditions. Instead, we continued climbing the Pyg Track route to the summit. It was a great walk up, made very special by the views looking over the lakes, one half of the Snowdon Horseshoe in the distance. However, you couldn’t see the top of Snowdon as the mist and snow was very thick.
As we ascended the path, more and more areas of snow appeared, so climbing became a little more slippy. Once we finally reached the famous Zig Zag Path, the mist was very thick- however, it made the climb even more awesome. The snow started to get pretty thick too so one slip and you could be falling over the side. We carefully made our way to the top ridge, through the mist and snow. I was staggered by how many tourists had come so totally ill prepared to climb a mountain. There were whole families wearing jeans and without a bag big enough to carry any water or food. If you are thinking about going up a mountain, I strongly advise you get a book or read the mountain rescue team’s website. A ridiculous amount of people had poor footwear, no wet weather gear let alone survival kit. I was totally stunned.
As we carried on and some of these people realised they’d bitten off more than they could chew, we were getting close. It was a nice feeling knowing you were nearly there at the very top. The final part of the climb wasn’t difficult, just a gradually inclining path. The mountain train up to the summit wasn’t working due to the snow actually covering the tracks, you could still see bits of the track through gaps in the snow, but I imagine it was probably too dangerous for the train to run.
After about 2 hours of trekking, we reached the top. It was such a great feeling and really cool to know we had done it, although it wasn’t as hard as I’d imagined. One lady commented how cold it was up there, however my girlfriend and I didn’t feel cold at all thanks to our awesome Helly Hansen outdoor wear. We climbed the steps to reach the trig point and the brass plate that identifies all the different summits around Snowdon and how far away they are. Sadly, the mist was so thick you just couldn’t see a thing. It was a weird, but amazing feeling knowing that we were on the highest point in England and Wales.
After a few picture at the top, the wind had picked up and the mist grew thicker. We decided not to visit the cafe and to head straight back down. We descended down the steep snowy paths and carefully back the way we came. Our SmartWool socks were absolutely amazing. Neither of us had sore feet or any rubbing. They were very snug to wear, well cushioned and stop my feet from sliding around in my boots, kept our feet very warm for the whole day and were really comfy to wear all day. A really great purchase – I’m definitely going to get some more pairs as I feel they would be good for all of our adventures as they do different styles for various activities.
Once we reached a certain point, the mist had cleared and the sun was shining- a very bizarre phenomenon thinking that it was just snowy and misty and now it was sunny and green. We decided to join the Miner’s Track for the final part of our Snowdon journey and found a lovely spot by one of the lakes for a picnic lunch. We put our feet up and had a really good rest after the hike. It was just idyllic.
When we got to Pen-y-Pass, we were surprisingly full of energy and the whole adventure had taken a lot less time and effort than we had expected. Desperate to make the most of our time we decided to go back to the hostel, restock on snacks and tea and climb the second mountain of the day. As it was really close to where we were staying, we then trekked up Moel Siabod. It’s not quite as tall as Snowdon but it is very wide and has an awesome view of Snowdon and other mountains from the summit. Climbing a second mountain of the day was definitely a good move and we felt properly tired at the end of it. All that was left was to head to the lovely Bryn Tyrch Inn just down the road from where we were staying for a nice meal and a well deserved pint.