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Snowdonia (North Wales)


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Snowdonia is a mountainous National Park in North Wales, although the use of the word mountainous is subjective here.  Snowdon is the highest mountain with  a height of 1087m, which wouldn't even count as a hill in much of the rest of the world.  However we're starting at (or near) sea-level most of the time, so in terms of height gained and effort expounded it's of a decent size.  I'm also including the stretch of coast north of Snowdonia (roughly Llandudno to Bangor).


The majority of interest lies to the north of the park where the biggest mountains are.  Snowdon is undoubtedly the most popular and probably the easiest.  There's a train to the top :darkone: and several other routes of ascent.  The best of these is called the Snowdon Horseshoe and involves a scramble over Crib Goch - an exposed knife blade ridge followed by a scramble over the Pinnacles.  This is very popular and if you take it you need to start early, otherwise you'll end up as part of a conveyor belt of sorts.  (Plus if you're not at the Pen y Pass Carpark by about 6 during the Sumer, you're either parking a long way down the hill or waiting for a bus).  Pen y Pass is a great carpark in terms of location, Pen y Pass is the saddle between the Snowdon and Glyderri range so starts part way up the hill, there's an excellent cafe at the car park, but overall the park is very busy and exspensive (Last time I went it was £5 for 4 hours (just long enough to walk up and down by the easiest route) and £10 for the day - most walkers will need this option). 



Heading up Tryfan via the North Ridge is another popular walk, although this is more of a scramble.  In fact it's a scramble, full stop.  The basic walk (which is probably enough for most people) is 3.5 miles and currently takes me about 5 hours to walk (including lunch).  So parking is free and from the road you head up.  In most guide books that's the only description.  Popular things to look out for include The Canon (a cantilever slab of rock that juts into nothing) and Adam and Eve at the top (traditional to leap between them).  I'd say you'd need to be a pretty confident scrambler to attempt this as walking off isn't really an option and is more likely to cause an accident.  Once at the top to head off you head south along the ridge, once at the saddle between Tryfan and the rest of the Glyderri head west along an easy path to a lake.  Detour to Llyn Idwal and eventually head out by Ogwen Cottage.  They're currently rebuilding a visitor centre.  From here it's a short walk along the road back to the car. 



(The Canon)


I'll limit myself to two walks, although I could go on all day (but I want to head up Tryfan again)


There are various other outdoor activities; climbing, bouldering, mountain biking, kayaking, sea kayaking, sailing, surfing (bring a wetsuit), kitesurfing...  not to mention the always important sand-castle building in Summer and snow ball fights/snowman building/sledding in winter.  There are also easier walks, both in the mountains and along the coast.


There's a variety of excellent pubs everywhere.  The Albion in Conwy has a rotating choice of real ale.  There are some excellent takeaway's (since fish and chip shops fall into this category - cooked fresh when you order, you have to wait 5 minutes, but it's worth it), cafe's (The Hambone in Llandudno), restaurants (the Seahorse in Llandudno).


Architecture wise, Conwy Castle is pretty impressive and hosts plays during the Summer.  We have the smallest house in Britain (I haven't been in as I don't think I could stand up in it, even if they removed the first floor).


Within Snowdonia, most people will stop off in Bettys y Coed which is a strange juxtaposition of coach tourists shopping for tat and ice cream and outdoorsy folk looking for walking shoes and, uh, ice cream.  It hosts several outdoor shops including a Cotswold Rock bottom (out of season cheap stuff).  Further in there's Capel Curig - an excellent start-off point for getting into the hills, Bethesda and Llanberris.  All of which host cafes, pubs and shops. 


Public transport is reasonable - there's a train link from Manchester international airport along the northern coast and from Llandudno there's a train into Betwy.  Buses run every hour or so - the Sherpa Bus running from Betwys to either Bethesda ot Llanberis is particularly useful as it allows one way walks to be undertaken.


Weather - well it's still in the UK, bring waterproofs and boots.  Weather is very changeable and unpredictable - last year we had our first barbecue on the beach at the end of February.  It was also our last barbecue on the beach of the year :rolleyes:




By the time I had finished my coffee and returned to the streets, the rain had temporarily abated, but the streets were full of vast puddles where the drains where unable to cope with the volume of water. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you would think that if one nation ought by now to have mastered the science of drainage, Britain would be it.



Bill Bryson - Notes from a small island.  (Porthmaddog - just west of Snowdonia)


In spoilers because it's a long quote





I remember when I first came to Britain wandering into a bookstore and being surprised to find a whole section dedicated to 'Walking Guides'. This struck me as faintly bizarre and comical -where I came from people did not as a rule require written instructions to achieve locomotion - but then gradually I learned that there are, in fact, two kinds of walking in Britain, namely the everyday kind that gets you to the pub and, all being well, back home again, and the more earnest type that involves stout boots, Ordnance Survey maps in plastic pouches, rucksacks with sandwiches and flasks of tea, and, in its terminal phase, the wearing of khaki shorts in inappropriate weather.


For years, I watched these walker types toiling off up cloud-hidden hills in wet and savage weather and presumed they were

genuinely insane. And then my old friend John Price, who had grown up in Liverpool and spent his youth doing foolish things on sheer-faced crags in the Lakes, encouraged me to join him and a couple of his friends for an amble - that was the word he used - up Haystacks one weekend. I think it was the combination of those two untaxing-sounding words, 'amble' and 'Haystacks', and the promise of lots of drink afterwards, that lulled me from my natural caution.

'Are you sure it's not too hard?' I asked.

'Nah, just an amble,' John insisted.


Well, of course it was anything but an amble. We clambered for hours up vast, perpendicular slopes, over clattering scree and lumpy tussocks, round towering citadels of rock, and emerged at length into a cold, bleak, lofty nether world so remote and forbidding that even the sheep were startled to see us. Beyond it lay even greater and remoter summits that had been quite invisible from the ribbon of black highway thousands of feet below. John and his chums toyed with my will to live in the cruellest possible way; seeing me falling behind, they would lounge around on boulders, Smoking and charting and resting, but the instant I caught up with them with a view to falling at their feet, they would bound up refreshed and, with a few encouraging words, set off anew with large, manly strides, so that I had to stumble after and never got a rest. I gasped and ached and sputtered, and realized that I had never done anything remotely this unnatural before and vowed never to attempt such folly again.


And then, just as I was about to lie down and call for a stretcher, we crested a final rise and found ourselves abruptly, magically, on top of the earth, on a platform in the sky, amid an ocean of swelling summits. I had never seen anything half so beautiful before. 'Fuck me,' I said in a moment of special eloquence and realized I was hooked. Ever since then I had come back whenever they would have me, and never complained and even started tucking my trousers in my socks. I couldn't wait for the morrow.





(strictly speaking not about Wales, but it sums up walking in the UK fairly well.)


And finally 5 reasons to visit you probably won't find in the guide book:


1. You can come and see/stay with me.  I live in a town on the northern edge of the NP, it's possible to walk into the park from my house (albeit the very northern edge, most low-lying hills), but it makes for a great walk before or after work.


2.  Trying to pronounce the town names - Dwygyfylchi, Llanfairfechan, Abergryngregyn (tell me you weren't smiling as you tried)


3.  Salsa night at Bangor


4. Snugberries ice cream is now being sold in Conwy


5. Pub skittles in Penrhyn (yes it's perfectly possible to throw a ball and miss all 9 skittles by throwing the ball in the gap between them)




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Awesome review BFG! I learned a long time ago not to try and pronounce anything in Welsh, but of course I did try. LOL


You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. But could you tell me what the heck are pub skittles? All I can think of are rainbow candies. =oD

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Doogievulcki, Clanfairfeckin, and not sure :)


Pub skittles is like bowling, but wooden skittles (pins) and ball (without finger holes).  The ball and skittles are smaller and the skittles are set far enough apart it's easy to throw the ball between all of them when they're all still standing.  The big difference is that it's a knockout tournament.  You take it in turns to bowl, if you fail to hit any skittles you lose a life and you have three lives.  Once (between you) all the skittles are down they're stood up again, etc.  It's a lot of fun, and faster than bowling.



Have you ever been to Wales?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nope, I've been as far west as Ireland, but that is it.  I do want to make it over there someday though.  I read the Brother Cadfael mysteries and can never pronounce the names in them.  LOL


Thanks for the explaination though!  NOw I won't be imagining rainbow pubs...or maybe I will.  *winks*

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