Easter Holidays in Snowdonia National Park
Probably one of the best memories of the year was the four nights Taido, Simon and I spent over the Easter Holidays last spring in Snowdonia.
Snowdonia is in Northern Wales. I’ve mentioned that we can hop over the Bristol Channel and go hiking in Wales in just over an hour from our house, but Snowdonia is a good bit further. It’s also more mountainous. We hadn’t ventured that far north yet into Wales so we were excited to get up that way and do some hiking during the school break.
Over four days of hiking, we stayed in 2 different YHAs (youth hostels). We usually just get a four bunk room and then make our meals out of the community kitchen. It’s rustic but on a hiking trip we are not there except to eat and sleep so it works. The beds are comfy and reasonably priced.
Our first full day in Snowdonia was supposed to have the best weather so we decided we would go ahead and tackle our biggest hike that day. At 3560 feet, Mt Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) is the highest mountain in Wales (and England), so we set out early in the morning to get to the top.
There are several routes up Snowdon, and you can even go up by train for part of the year. We took the Miner’s Track that begins just across the street from the Snowdon Pen-Y-Pass Hostel.
I cannot imagine a more beautiful trail. You ascend gradually for a long time through a valley that circles a mountain lake.
The path is rocky and kind of bare. Or at least, in early spring there was very little vegetation.
Parts of it felt like what I imagine it would be like to walk on the moon. There are bits of Northwest Scotland that feel this way to me.
After circling the lake, you begin to climb in earnest. The path gets very steep.
We zigzagged back and forth up this hill for a long time before reaching a ridge path that took us the rest of the way up the mountain. Several paths converged on the ridge so there were quite a lot of folks at the top.
They say on a busy summer day that you have to queue to get your photo on the tip top of the mountain but it wasn’t that busy for us in April.
From the top you could see the whole way we had walked below. The path along the ridge and the lake we had walked along spread out before us like you could almost touch them or trace them with your finger.
On the way back down, we retraced our steps for the first part and then took a different trail that stayed high above the lake.
We had our lunch sitting above the lake and watching folks far down below have a swim!
The descent always takes longer than I think it’s going to. We had made really good time climbing up but I was tired and the last part of the way down was steep and hard on my knees. I relied heavily on my trekking poles the whole time.
Eventually we made it back to Pen-Y-Pass and to celebration drinks at the hostel around 3pm.
The next day we did a hike with not quite as much climbing to give my knees a rest. The weather stayed pretty for most of the day, and I relished the sunshine.
The national animal of Wales is the dragon, and I love spotting all the dragons when I am in Wales.
This ornately carved dragon bench was in the middle of the path as we walked.
We hiked another valley on the other side of Mt Snowdon, and again I was reminded of hikes from our Scotland years.
I’d like to come back to Snowdonia in the summer when the heather is in bloom.
And when the new ferns are all grown in.
Again we had our picnic lunch out on the hills, but we visited the little town of Beddgelert for a wander (more dragon spotting) and a drink by the river
We moved to a different youth hostel that night in order to hike in another area of Snowdon. The hostel was only about 20 minutes up the road but we woke the next morning to a whole new valley and set of hills.
The wet spring weather we had been expecting for our whole trip arrived, but we were prepared with our rain trousers and rain coats so we headed out to explore in the mist.
The YHA here in Ogwen Valley is called Idwal Cottage and it’s one of the oldest youth hostels in Wales. We found it to be super cozy and charming, especially after the hustle and bustle of the bigger one on Pen-Y-Pass.
The hiking right out the door of Idwal Cottage was just beautiful.
We climbed in the rain and the wind on and off all morning, but the mist cleared away enough for us to get some gorgeous views down the valley.
We were all smitten with Snowdonia after our few days there and I wasn’t quite ready to leave. The sun came back out as we drove home, so we stopped and did one more hike, ending at a pub to cap off our adventure.
Because how could we not stop at a place called The Green Dragon?
We only wished the rest of the Chinos had been there with us to sing:
You can drink your fancy ales,
You can drink them by the flagon,
But the only brew for the brave and true…
..Comes from the Green Dragon!