The image above shows the view on a good day.
What if it’s not a good day?
Rather one like this:
Where the temperature is approaching 4-5C (30 40F), it’s windy and wet.
If you’re prepared, these are excellent conditions for a walk. If you’re not … well, let’s just say “may the force be with you.” You’ll need it.
What do I mean by being prepared? Here’s my gear list.
- Rain gear
- Winter coat
- Thin hiking sweater (Marks and Sparks has an excellent one – wool and silk.)
- Wind shirt.
- Dry bag in pack containing Fleece, change of clothes. I use a trash-compacter bag as a pack liner.
- Food and water.
- The rest of the “10 Essentials.” Map, compass, headlamp, first aid kit, and cell-phone.
This looks like an enormous amount to carry. Especially if you add in my camera and GPS. It isn’t. I’ve chosen light-weight gear. The single heaviest think I carried was water (@ 1 kilogram/liter). The total weight was about 3-4 kilograms.
There are five major routes up the mountain. They range from long (following the train) to short and steep (Watkin and Pig trails). We’ve used the Ranger Trail and Rhyd ddu paths. The Ranger Trail is probably the easiest with children. The Pig trail is the shortest climb, but it’s decidedly steep and the parking lot at the base is always a zoo. An informal survey of the people in the restaurant at the top suggested that most either come up the Pig trail or take the train.
Our route this year was up and down the Rhyd ddu path. My wife and I did this path when we were just married. I think we actually made better time as old-codgers. (Walking poles help, a lot.)
This map shows a trip we made a few years ago. We thought hard about coming back this way, as the Ranger Trail is a lot easier to follow in the dense fog. The path across the bottom, through the abandoned slate quarry, is swampy even in a dry summer. Therefore, rather than face the mire, we decided to take it slowly on the way down.
The trail starts with a well-maintained track of large stones embedded in the soft peaty ground. It’s land covered with sheep. We chose shearing day for our stroll; the local farmer had gathered his flock and we started to the noise of distraught ovines.
The trail rises faster than you think. I thought we’d been walking on the flat when we stopped here. About 1/3-1/2 the way up, the fog descended. It usually burns off by mid-day. I started out looking forward to purchasing a pint at the top. A few minutes later, a cup of tea seemed a much better idea. Leaving us with this view from the top.