Snowdonia: walking into the cloud

Wales is a beautiful part of United Kingdom, and it lies west of England. It is mainly surrounded by gorgeous coastline. The mountain ridges in North Wales twist and turn, stretching endlessly. Among these mountains, Snowdonia is one of the famous attractions and also the highest peak in UK. The first destination before climbing up Snowdonia is a peaceful small seaside town called Caernarfon, which is about 30 minutes drive away from the Snowdonia Miners track. Arriving about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, with some light raindrops, there was hardly anyone walking on the street in the town centre. Time seems to be frozen because of the serenity of the place.. The quietness of the town will make visitors forget where they came from and what are they going to do, but the desire of staying and getting a dose of beautiful scenery will become increasingly strong. The whole town centre was surrounded by high walls, which were built 10 centuries ago along with the royal fortress, Caernarfon Castle. Inside the castle, you will be amused by the 1000 years old architectural design and how it was focused on defense. You will also have the chance to glance through the Wales royal castles’ histories. On the top of the castle, there is a place to soak in the best view of Cearnarfon in the whole town. You can see for miles and for lack of a better phrase: it looks like something that should be on a postcard. At the front, there is the endless sea and the coastline. From the back, the whole town is within your sight. Beyond that, there are the mountains fading into the clouds, and one of them is the Snowdon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWp3-U8p37E There are two paths leading up to the Snowdon Mountain, and one of them is the Miners track. A return journey will take about 6 hours, covering over 13 km of walking and climbing up to 723 meters. On the way from Caernarfon to the starting point of Miners track, you would have the opportunity to enjoy the view of Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris. They are deeply buried inside the mountains, and almost no wind can get in here. The surface of the lake was so calm that you can see the reflection of the mountain and sky. Almost every hiker would stop here take a few moments to stare at these two lakes. Arriving at the starting point, there’s a small café for refreshments on the way up, and then a walking map guide at the entrance of Miners track. The first stage of the track is flat and easy, and wide enough that you can have two people walking together. In about 30 minutes from the start, the first and the smallest lake Llyn Teyrn will appear in people’s perspectives. It’s sitting by the mountainside and below the walking path. With only a small stream feeding into the lake, it’s almost like the magical Lady of the Lake from King Arthur’s legend. Further down the path, about 100 metres decent, you come to the largest lake near Snowdon, Llyn Llydaw. The Miners track would lead you to the same level as Llyn Llydaw, and then half way of walking around it before another climb. This climb will take you all the way to the top, where the clouds covered the tips of Snowdon. If you are lucky enough, you will see the wild life around the lake. There were sheep practicing their pro climbing skills and seagulls chilling in the sky. At the end of the Llyn Llydaw walk, you will reach another climb and this is where the journey become challenging. The flat walking path turns into big spiky stones with hill climb about 20 to 30 degrees up. Although you might spent most of your time looking down at where your next step is, the path would give you a chance the enjoy the sightseeing with flat area at about every 200 meters. One sight worth mentioning is that there were numerous small streams coming down from the top of the mountains and formed into a waterfall fed to the Llyn Llydaw. The steams are extremely refreshing and enjoyable. Unfortunately, by the time we got this far, the sky was getting dark and telling us to get back. As we spent too much time taking pictures on the way up and with the running shoes slowing us down, the time flew by. As tips, if you are up for a challenge climbing the Snowdon, make sure that you plan time well, bring plenty of refreshments, wear waterproof outdoor clothing if case of rain and finally, wear some proper hiking shoes if you are aiming for the top of Snowdon.

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It is extremely rare to have endless sea view and enormous mountains side by side, so don’t miss your opportunity to have this experience. Pictures: Haoyu Xu

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