Well, today I’m off to the heady heights of the Snowdon Summit – a whopping 3,560 feet up! This is no Mount by the way – it’s definitely a MOUNTAIN! The highest peak in England and Wales. What an Attraction!
Have I got my walking shoes, my rucksack full of energy snacks and a whole heap of training behind me? Well no, actually I haven’t!
I’ve climbed to the top of Snowdon about 4 times in my life, and it’s fantastic…..but it’s a bit of a trek to say the least. So, for the 1st time ever, I will be reaching the summit by train – on the Snowdon Mountain Railway!
Now, one of the things walkers have always got to be aware of is the weather at the peak, and I’ve been caught up in it a couple of times over the years. Sometimes because of the weather, and even if its sunny – you spend a lot of the time looking at the ground to make sure your footing is right…. (no one wants to fall off a mountain after all)
This is what attracts me about the train, time to sit back and enjoy those breath-taking views & stunning scenery, time to relax!
Now lets talk about the weather again… (well I am British!) On the day I decide to go up Snowdon on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the grey clouds start to come over. I felt a little disappointed, especially considering the summer we’ve had!
However, honestly – once on the train it didn’t bother me. I was immediately taken with the fact that a train would be taking me 1,085 meters up a mountain. The fact that a steam or diesel engine is PUSHING your carriage up the mountain rather than pulling it! A train track that was built in 1896. Wow, that must have been a mammoth task. You feel like you’re going back in time, what would it have been like to be one of those 1st passengers on the Snowdon Mountain Railway!
Soon after you leave Llanberis station, the train crosses a viaduct across Afon Hwch river, where the Ceunant Mawr Waterfall plummets into the gorge below. Your then immediately engulfed in the open Snowdon mountain range. And cloud cover or not, the views are awe-inspiring. You could see the Menai Straits behind you and Anglesey in the distance. Looking down we were towering above the Llanberis Pass, we passed over stunning lakes and mountain drops. It felt like a different world….
1 hour chugging up the railway track, passengers snapping the views all around me, we arrived at the Summit. Well, not quite, – to be fair, those 1st engineers couldn’t quite get the track to the cairn, so the train stops outside the Snowdon Visitor Centre – Hafod Eryri. The good people of Snowdon Mountain Railway let you feel like your getting a little climb in, so I walked the 20 or so steps up to the summit cairn.
The weather had become drizzlier…but it wasn’t going to deter me from getting my selfie in at the top!
I now definitely deserved a warming cuppa in the café! Hafod Eryri was opened in 2006 and is a contemporary building but built sympathetically to its mountainous surrounding – full floor to ceiling windows provide an amazing view of the Snowdonia Mountain Range, with lots of info on the history of the mountain & the legends that form part of its romance. Visitors can also get their postcards franked in the shop with a special Snowdon stamp – nice little touch!
Half an hour later, we’re back on the train, and we’re now being held by the engine behind us. This is our Guard Paul who was a fabulous!
More amazing views from a different angle now, click click went the camera’s in tune with the train!
The total journey time is 2.5 hours – an hour up, an hour down with half an hour to have your cuppa and take your pictures at the summit.
Time well spent indeed. I’d thoroughly recommend it! Make sure you book in advance though, especially in the holidays – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to just turn up and hop on a train in these times. Also, make sure you’ve got plenty of storage available on your camera!
For more information, and to read about the history of Snowdon Mountain Railway go to www.snowdonrailway.co.uk
Jo – Marketing Manager, Snowdonia Attractions