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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Ladies Day on Snowdon - June 13

 The last day of June and I returned to Snowdonia to help Tracy complete her first ever mountain route as she prepares to undertake the 'National 3 Peaks' later in the year.
Tracy hadn't walked in the mountains before so was slightly concerned to see mud under foot!
  In an out of character charitable moment of madness I had mentioned to Tracy that I would help her as she prepares to undertake the National 3 Peaks later in the year. Having made, what I think, is a late start to her program due to Tracy's frequent overseas and weekend commitments I decided to get straight into it with a trip up Snowdon via the Watkin Path.
 We would be joined on the day by Ali who, having returned from trekking and summiting Kilimanjaro a week earlier, was keen to stretch her mountain legs again.
On the Watkin Path below the cloud base.
 The route to Snowdon summit would take us around 3hrs to cover the 4miles and 940m of ascent and the path is regarded as one of the most demanding routes available to walkers, it does rise steeply and passes over large areas of scree and so care does need to be taken in places.
Onward to the cloud!
 Watkin Path was named after a railway entrepreneur and MP Sir Edward Watkin who retired to to live in a chalet in Cwm Llan at the foot of Snowdon. A path already ran from South Snowdon Slate Quarry through Cwm Llan and Watkin extended this path to run from the quarry to the summit. It was the first designated footpath in Britain!
 Prime Minister William Gladstone at the time officially opened the path in 1892 when he addressed a crowd of 2000 people from a rock at the side of the path which became known as the Gladstone Rock.
Ladies day continues as the ascent grows steeper.
  Arriving in Snowdonia at 07:30hrs we parked up along the A498 at the foot of the Watkin Path. Making our way through the wooded area at the start of the route we were soon rising steadily and reached the new works constructing a hydro electrical facility in Alon Cwm Llan, the stream that runs with some force from Cwm Llyn.
 The path continued to rise steadily until we reached the derelict former mine buildings. It then takes a turn for the much steeper as it rises through old discarded slate mounds. This seemed to slow Tracy down a little from the pace she had set, thankfully!
 Heading up the path turned to scree where care was needed as we reached first Bwich Ciliau, then Bwich Saethau and finally the Snowdon Visitor center. On the route we had met a few people, most notably a couple of young lads who had camped near the summit and endured a long, wet, windy night!
Approaching Snowdon Visitor Center



 Some people look at you daft when you say there is a cafe, toilet & railway platform at the summit of Snowdon, others then expect facilities at the summit of all mountains! There are many different opinions on having such a building at the top of a mountain, I'm of the opinion that it gives people who wouldn't normally visit the summit of one of Britain's mountains the chance to get a small sample of what those that walk the hills enjoy. There are hundreds of other mountains that have nothing other than a pile of stones at the summit so a few tourists visiting Snowdon by train can't be too bad can it?
On Snowdon summit.
Can be a busy place Snowdon summit!

 After the compulsory walk up to the summit point and photo we had a break in the cafe where lots of day trippers and foreign tourists were looking out of the windows at the expansive views of the inside of a cloud! Making use of the facilities and having a luxury hot chocolate we listened to the dulcet tones of the friendly train conductor as he gently called his passengers for the return trip down the mountain before we set out again.
 Rather than simply retrace our steps we would make the route a circuit by heading along the small ridge of Bwilch Main and descend into Cwm Llan.
Tracy fails at Hide & Seek!
  The cloud base had by now started to lift and the wind started to drop, which was nice!
Dropping into Cwm Llan.
Girl talk!
  After a short walk along the ridge we had soon dropped into Cwm Llan and were making our way carefully through the wet marshy ground back to the Watkin Path.
Scree down into into Cwm Llyn.
Looking back up toward Cwm Tregalan.
  Back on the Watkin Path at the ground works we followed the track back down past the waterfall and through the wood back to the cars. The route took us under 6hrs and was enjoyed by all (I was led to believe!). It gave Tracy an insight as to areas she would have to look at as she gets ready for the National 3 Peaks, it gave Ali a chance to stretch her legs on the hills and it gave me a chance to try stay awake for 36hrs having worked the night before and working the night after!


                                          Watkin Path Ascent video.




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