If someone had told me 30 weeks ago I’d be at the top of Snowdon in North Wales, with a baby bump the size of a watermelon clinging onto my partner in blistering winds I’d have probably laughed in their faces! But life has a funny way of throwing surprises your way, so there I was – taking my ‘30 week’ Bumpie (Bump Selfie) with incredible views and very numb fingers. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little unsure about the challenge whilst pregnant, especially considering how exhaustingly unwell I have been from day 1. Not only that but eating for two takes its toll and my fitness definitely was going to have suffered – combined with the fact that I am a bit of a novice when it comes to hikes and climbs. All in all it seemed like a pretty random and out of the blue activity for me to do.
That being said there was something that sounded so relaxing about being in the middle of nowhere, climbing a mountain and being free from any kind of phone signal or apps, hashtags and reality TV! Well, perhaps relaxing is the wrong word, but in a way it was the best cure for pregnant boredom, constantly ‘resting up’ and watching endless re-runs of ‘One Born Every Minute’.
As soon as we crossed the border into North Wales we were blown away by the landscape. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been before or that it had taken us so long to get here. I’ve never seen so many green rolling hills or cute little cottages reminiscent of a children’s story book. The time flew but we’d been driving for almost 6 hours! We pulled into our hostel – Basecamp Wales and the excitement continued – with stunning views of Snowdon itself it was the perfect location to get rested before our impending climb. The owners, a pair of adventurous brothers, went above and beyond and had great local knowledge of trekking routes, transport and tips to make the best of our mini-break. If you’re looking for luxurious extravagance this definitely isn’t for you – but we were chuffed with our very reasonably priced bunk room, equipped with towels and linen and all around comfort. All rooms had private bathrooms and the fully equipped kitchen was the perfect place for us to make our carb-loading pre-climb feast that evening. We relaxed in the common area, playing a few rounds of pool, reading up on the local area and chatting to a few other visitors from far and wide.
The following morning we were up bright and early, and you should do the same – I cannot stress enough how much better it is to start early for this, most car parks are full by 06:30-7am. Even though we were at the Pen Y Pass car park for 0700hrs we still missed the last space and ended up parking further away adding another 2 miles to our trek. It’s also essential that you have the appropriate clothing; you don’t need to be Bear Grylls but walking boots and comfortable waterproof clothing is ideal. Stock up on water, food, a first aid kit and some kind of route map for the ultimate safe and successful experience. Be aware that the fog descends and visibility reduces out of nowhere, at times we couldn’t see any walkers ahead of us nor where the path was! It’s easy to go off track and find yourself in hairy situations so take your time and most importantly don’t wander off the side of a cliff.
We wanted a fair challenge so picked The Pyg Track for some good climbing and great views, it took 3 hours in total to complete with a lot of stopping (mostly from me). From the off there’s a fairly steep incline with quite a few sections of scrabbling to get to the summit. We were lucky to have clear views most of the way and dry skies to encourage us to the top. Our main challenge was the 30mph winds whipping up the valley making you cling on tight to the rock for fear of blowing away. When we reached the top the wind speed felt like it had doubled to the point where you couldn’t hear yourself think and the fog had descended like a scene out of a horror movie. But, alas, we had made it, the adrenaline kicked in and took us the final 400 yards to the summit for a pretty terrible photo with nothing but cloud in the background. Bad photo taken, summit reached, time for an overpriced hot drink at the conveniently located café.
The humidity of the fog had us slightly wet but otherwise the weather had been pretty kind, unfortunately we weren’t so lucky on our descent. After a quick coffee stop we needed to make headway and get ourselves back down the mountain – figuring it would likely be a lot more dangerous going down! We were a little disheartened to step back out into even stronger winds, stinging our faces like ice, and it had officially started raining. The rain only got worse on our way down, the initial climb had been hard but having to retrace our steps on rocks that were now slippery and cold was more of a challenge than ever. Climbers coming up looked completely battered and beaten by the weather, and all were asking ‘Is there far to go?’ as they went passed. We took a different route back – The Miners Track, supposedly one of the easier routes which we thought would be a nice relaxing change for our descent. Well, the first hour was a sheer scrabble down Snowdon, just as challenging as The Pyg Track, the only relief was that once you hit the lakes in the valley it was a fairly straight forward walk for the final few miles back to Pen Y Pass car park.
The difficulty for us was the torrential weather we had for the entire journey back, even closing the café and train thanks to high winds. So arriving back at our car with rain filled boots and soaked through to our underwear we enjoyed the hand dryers to bring our extremities back to life. Our feet were sore, our knees knackered, and my back completely ruined by the end but it was an incredible experience and one that most people could do, even if you decide to get the scenic train back down. If I can do it when I’m almost ready to pop then so can you!
The drive back home, stopping only to stuff our faces with fast food, was a sweet relief – thank goodness for seat warmers and Welsh radio, which was all we could get for the first part of our journey. I have never been more happy to sit in a car for a long journey. I truly recommend you try Snowdon at least once in your lifetime if not many times – pregnant or not you won’t be disappointed!
Tips for Snowdon:
- Get there early (7am at least)
- Make sure you have change for parking (£10), the card machine doesn’t always work
- Don’t rely on the train or café to be open in certain weather
- Walking boots are a must!
- Waterproof you phone/camera – mine hasn’t come back to life yet
- Take plenty of energy snacks!