A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Yr Wydffa

Yr Wydffa, or Snowdon

Distance: 90 km / 56 mi cycling, ~10km walking

Cycling route
Approximate route up Snowdon

I woke up early this morning, with the sound of light drizzle pattering on the tent above me. At least, I think it was early - I haven’t brought a watch, and my only clock is on my camera, in the bottom of my bag. I like the sense of freedom not having a watch brings; one less link with civilisation, one less distraction. I listened carefully to see if Polly was awake; after a few minutes a yawn told me she was.
“Is that rain?” Polly asked.
“Yeah, think so,” I replied.
“Let’s give it 5 minutes, then I want a quick shower.”
“Sounds like it’s easing off, let’s go.”
We headed down to the shower block, next to the old barn where we made dinner last night. Ah, the joy of camping showers - never knowing what you’re going to get is part of the fun! At least these ones were hot, but they were on coin-operated timers - conveniently placed outside each shower. Anyway.

By the time we’d finished our showers and headed back to the tent, the drizzle had stopped, although the wind and overcast sky didn’t promise sunshine. Five minutes ride back up the hill took us to the crossroads by the church where we met up the night before. The first map stop of the day: which way is Snowdon? Every way leads up, apart from the way we’ve just come. We picked what looked like the right route. It led us towards a mountain that could very well be Snowdon; but then again, so could any of the other mountains around us. We passed a hostel (’adventure centre’) with the inhabitants fast asleep. DSCF2317.JPGAfter a couple of miles, a reassuring wiggle in the road matched the map and told us we were in the right valley. The road steepened and after a series of hairpins we came round the last corner and saw the road leading up to Snowdon pass and the mountain itself towering above us to the left. There is a car park with a cafe and small shop at the top of the pass. The friendly chap at the cafe let us leave our bikes inside in exchange for a donation to mountain rescue, and it was off with the bike shoes and on with the walking gear. There are a few popular routes up Snowdon; we opted for the well-travelled Pyg Track on the way up and the Miners’ Track on the way down. The other way up from the east is the Crib Goch, but this is a much tougher climb and we weren’t really equipped for it - certainly a good choice given the weather, which by this point was closing in rapidly.
There were quite a few people climbing with us, even though it was still very early in the day. In the distance we could see strange white lumps beside the path. They were about half the height of a person, but much more squat, and they were spaced at regular intervals over a stretch of about 500m. With puzzlement, we continued on towards them. Eventually, we saw that they were large sacks filled with stones for repairing the path, laid out in preparation for future work. I’d quite like to know how they got there - there were no obvious tracks from a vehicle, and the ground was too broken for a land rover or similar. Were they dropped by helicopter? That would be very expensive. Hauled up by skidoo in the middle of winter?DSCF2318.JPG
It became colder and wetter as we climbed up, and indeed by the time we reached the final ridge - where the path meets the railway - we were right in the middle of a cloudbank. Nice, but it didn’t make for great views! (Hence the lack of photos from the summit!) We also found out at the summit (thanks to a stone marker) that Scafell Pike is about 100 miles from Snowdon. 100 miles, and - if we’re lucky - 3 days’ ride, thanks to a lot of sea being in the way of the direct route!
We didn’t stay for too long on the summit, soon heading back down the steeper Miners’ Track where we were soon sheltered from the wind by the ridge behind us, and as soon as we descended below the cloud we had a great view across Llyn Llydaw. The Miners’ Track descends very quickly initially, and from there on it was a pleasant stroll around the lake back to the cafe and our bikes.