Day 33: 25 Apr 2014; Beddgelert to Capel Curig

Day 33: 25 Apr 2014; Beddgelert to Capel Curig
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 33
Date Fri 25 Apr 2014 Start to end time 09h 07m
Start point Beddgelert End point Capel Curig
Miles today 15.99 Cu miles 618.01
Ft today 4,995 Cu ft 105,439
Route miles left 859.77 Route ft left 93,464
Today’s weather Started dry with hazy sunshine. Gradually clouded over, rain from about 2pm . No wind, even at summit level. About 14C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

Today was a Big Day for the LEJOG hike – ascent of Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain, and the third of my eight checkpoints along the route (the others being Lizard, Land’s End, Wigan (halfway point), Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis, John O’Groats and Dunnet Head).

In my head, I’d broken down the route into three parts – an excellent bit in the middle sandwiched between two rather dodgy bits at the start and end.   As a result of my various route re-adjustments, I’d ended up last night in Beddgelert – this was deliberate as I wanted somewhere a bit less remote to camp than I’d originally anticipated (and this was definitely a good decision, as I had an excellent meal in a local pub last night).   But it’s not a good site to start an ascent of Snowdon.   I had a discussion about the route with the campsite owner and he recommended a cross-country route starting above a small hamlet called Perthi then striking out across unmarked moorland towards the Bwlch Cwm Llan at the south end of the summit ridge.   I followed his advice and it worked ok – through covering five miles across boggy pathless heathland was very hard going.   Fortunately the weather was good, and it wasn’t raining.

From the Cwm, the ascent of the steep South ridge was very hard work with a rucksack that weighs a quarter of my body-weight, but it was an exhilarating climb.   Breath-taking panoramas opened up as I ascended, made all the more dramatic by the swirling mists.   Eventually, I reached the top, at 3560 ft / 1085 m, after about 4 hours hiking.   It felt great, after 33 days walking, covering 608 miles and 105,000 ft of climbing, finally to be there.   The weather was a bit misty, but there was almost no wind and it wasn’t too cold (though there was still a little snow in some of the gullies).

The summit itself was heaving with day-trippers, brought to the top by the rack-and-pinion steam railway, opened in 1896 (it’s amazing what you could do in the days before planning permission!).   There is also a café at the top, and although a true mountaineer should shun such niceties, I must admit the two cups of tea and packet of chicken tikka sandwiches it served up were extremely welcome!

There are three possible route down to Pen-y-pass from the summit – Crib Goch (too hazardous for me), the Pyg Track (the most gradual descent, but rocky), or the Miners’ Track (steep and rocky at first, then gentle at the end).  In the interests of speed and ease, I chose the Miners’ and I was down at Pen-y-Pass in about 2 hours.

The third part of the route – and the part I was least looking forward to – followed the main A4086 road down to Capel Curig.   I had to break my rule about not walking on red roads to do this – but I’d taken the precaution of Google Streetview-ing it before I set off and I knew it had grass verges, so should be OK.  In the end, it was indeed fine – the road was quiet and the grass verge was wide and made for easy fast walking.   It started to rain with a vengeance as I descended, so I enveloped myself in Gore-Tex-world and made surprisingly good time over the 5 miles to Capel Curig.

I’m camping tonight in an exceptionally basic campsite, which I’m sharing with a group of teenagers on Gold DofE practice hike.   They’ll no doubt be excitable and noisy, but after today’s exertions I suspect I’ll sleep through virtually anything!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Looking back south from hills above Beddgelert – a study in grey Pointing out the obvious! The summit never actually seemed to get any nearer..
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Old copper mines (I think) on south slopes of Snowdon On the top. At last!!!
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Yes – there is even a railway here! At Plas Y Brenin mountain centre – rescue not needed today!
Looking down into the Afon Glaslyn valley from the Summit ridge.
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