Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Snowed on on Snowdon

It wasn't really a run (apart from the bit I ran to escape the blizzard. More on that later) but it was up a mountain so I suppose it qualifies for the blog.

I'd spent the weekend at a Northern Soul Weekender at Prestatyn. This finished at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning (which was earlier than the 8 a.m. finish the previous two days) so I grabbed a few hours kip then took off for Llanberis. I'd not been up Snowdon before so I thought I'd take the opportunity being so close. I did toy with the idea of running it but after a weekend of a lot of dancing, little sleep and not a little beer I thought it maybe wasn't wise. So I walked.

The weather forecast was for rain clearing later and as predictied I set off up the main tourist path (route of the Snowdon Fell race) under an overcast but dry sky at around 1:30.

Rather than take the road I first took the very picturesque path through the trees that come out at the Pen Y Ceunant Isaf tea rooms. Up the road for a few hundred yards then its onto the Llanberis path proper. As you'd expect the path is well trodden and is currently under repair in several places (presumably getting ready for the summer onslaught).

Being a Monday afternoon in March there weren't many people out. I could see a couple in front of me and half way up a self confessed unfit and overweight runner caught me up. I overhauled the couple who I presume turned back later as I didn't see them again. That was it until I reached the top, apart from the runner coming back down through the snow about a quarter mile from the summit.

Three quarters of the way up the weather improved to the point where I wished I brought the sun lotion. However, the clouds that had been shrouding the summit remained I was soon into them. Just prior to that though I passed under the mountain railway and got a brilliant view down into the Llanberis Pass.

A hundred yards further up I found out why the trains didn't run to the top, and as a consequnce the cafe at the top wasn't open.

From here on in the path was mostly covered with snow plus visibility was down to a few yards. If it hadn't have been for a few footprints I might have lost the path. As it was I met the runner on his way down. He said he'd been to the top but I was a bit skeptical has I expected it to be much further. But there it was soon enough, some two hours after I'd set off (the fell race takes the winner just over an hour to get up and down!).

The summit platform and pillar loomed out of the mist. Right on cue as I got to the top the wind picked up and it started to snow. I came down off the summit platform before it blew me off and took a quick look at the very closed and shuttered cafe. A couple were huddled in the doorway having a drink. They'd come up the Pyg track which they said had some 'interesting' sections in it. I left them to their tea and took off back down as the snow had now turned to very painful horizontal hail. I jogged most of the way down to get out of the cloud but it followed me down. It finally stopped as I approached the Ceunant tea rooms. I decided to pop in for a cup of tea. Good decision. It's like a little farmhouse kitchen in there with a roaring log fire, a little table and bits of antique furniture. The proprietor came and joined me with his cup of tea and dog and we had a good old chat for 20 minutes or so. He's also got a small art gallery in there where he exhibits his collection of Kyffin Williams paintings. After I paid the bill and was about to leave he gave me an apple and piece of fruit cake. That's what I call a friendly cafe.

That just nicely capped off a great day in the hills. Having done that I now fancy a crack at the Snowdon Fell Race. The path is very runnable. Unfortunately, this year's race sold out in 12 days so I'll have to wait until next year.

As I was driving away from Llanberis I looked through my wing mirror and there was Snowdon and surrounding peaks with their crowns of snow in a completely clear blue sky!


GWR said...

Looking forward to my first visit to Snowdon and Llanberis this weekend.Enjoyed reading about your adventure. Wish us luck:)

Mick said...

Thanks for the comment GWR. Hope you enjoyed your trip up Snowdon. I'd like to see the view from the top.