Winter Hiking Tips for 2017

Keeping Warm and Safe this Winter

Snowdon may well be considered one of the easier British mountains to ascend, but that doesn’t make it a cake-walk by any stretch.

Now that we’re well and truly heading into the Winter season there are a few extra safety tips that are well worth keeping in mind, if you’re considering taking a trip up to the peak in the next coming months.

Before you head on your Winter expedition up Snowdon, keep these tips in mind so you have a safe and fun time:

Keep an eye on the weather forecast

This is something that more people forget to do than you’d think! The boffins at the Met Office are getting better at predicting the weather every year, to the point where it’s actually a safe bet to trust them especially for short term forecasts.

The weather can change on a real knife edge up here in Snowdon so it’s best to know how bad its going to get, before you make the trip to see us. Once you know the very worst that it can throw at you, then you’re in a better position to pack sensibly.

It’s getting colder – so put some layers on!

From here on in, the temperatures can get pretty low at the peak, not to mention the surrounding land of Snowdon. Over night, the temperatures can drop to -4 degrees, during the day it might not get above 4 degrees, so it’s really important that you layer up well before you head out.

A long-sleeved technical t-shirt is a great choice for a base layer, you can then cover this over with a lightweight jumper, then a bigger jumper – finish off with your waterproof for extra insulation and don’t forget about your hat and gloves!

Always take a friend

As romantic and totally ‘insta-worthy’ it might sound to go hiking up Snowdon all by yourself, during Winter this is really not a good idea. Although there might well be hundreds of people ascending Snowdon up a variety of paths, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be there to help you if something goes wrong.

Having at least one friend hiking with you will mean that you have a lifeline in case First Aid is needed or you need to stop for any reason. One more person also means one extra bag, which means more kit and food – which is never a bad thing.

Pack smart

Although the average ascent-descent time up Snowdonia is usually low, at around 4-6 hours, you’ll need plenty of food and hydration in order to do the excursion in comfort. Food and drink should be your priority when it comes packing your bag – a few litres of water are a good idea and you should seriously consider a thermos flask of cocoa or tea, to keep you warm whilst you enjoy the view from the top.

You should always consider taking some emergency gear with you, regardless of how pleasant the weather forecast is looking. If every member of your party takes a piece of gear (emergency shelter, first aid, mobile phone etc.) then you’ll have the kit to spare should something go wrong.…

The Ultimate Walking Boot Guide

It would be foolish to attempt to walk up Snowdon without a good pair of walking boots..

…but what makes a good pair and are they easy to come by?

If you’re thinking of booking a hiking trip to North Wales then one of the first things that you should be thinking of packing is a sturdy pair of walking boots. Although you could search online to find the cheapest pair possible – this would inevitably result in a serious amount of blisters and a hampered hiking experience.

Before you jump head first into a purchase that you don’t quite understand, take a look at our guide so that you can figure out what kind of boot you need:

Durability

You would think that durability would be one of the first criteria that you’d want fulfilled when buying your first pair of walking boot, but you should think twice before buying the most heavy duty pair possible. The sturdier the boot, the more expensive it will be and the longer they will take to break in. Consider a less sturdy boot, if you’re only going to be doing some relaxed hiking a few times a year.

Weight

So you’ve bought a pair of boots that will safely protect your feet from gale force winds and up to 10-ft of water, but did you consider how heavy they might be? Sometimes it’s worth opting for a lighter boot, especially if you’re going to be hiking in summer when the weather is (usually) much more mild. Don’t weigh yourself down unnecessarily.

Price

You don’t need to spend an absolute fortune on walking boots in order to remain comfortable and well supported for the entirety of the hike. For around £40-50 you can buy a decent, branded pair of boots that will serve you for a good few hundred miles. For the cheapest prices around either travel to an outlet shop or visit a wholesale sports retailer online.

Terrain

The type of terrain that you’re planning on tackling should be reflected in the type of walking boot that you purchase. If you’re intending on scrambling up a few of Snowdon’s trickier ascents, full of scree and rubble, then it might be wise to buy a hybrid climbing/walking shoe that allows greater freedom of movement, in addition to better grip.

Flexibility

Different shoes are required for attempting hills than are needed for simply having a ramble along lowland paths. If you’re not going to be attempting any serious inclines then you won’t need a shoe with a massive amount of rigidity. So if you’re thinking of visiting Snowdonia but not attempting to ascend the peak itself, then you’ll want to pick a shoe that is comfortable right out of the box. If the peak is your aim then you might want to consider buying a shoe with more rigidity.

Material

Walking boots come in many different shapes and sizes. Around thirty of forty years ago they were all designed and manufactured in the same material: leather. To some extent, leather is still a sound option to go from, it weathers well and is easily treated – however, it’s also heavy. Modern materials, such as Gore-tex, are much lighter but can be difficult to clean and treat. The choice is up to you!…

5 Perfect Snowdonia Escapes for Walkers

So you’re thinking about taking a walking trip over to Snowdon?

Well, unless you’re thinking about simply attacking the mountain in one day (which is a possibility for those of you walking at pace) you’re going to need a cosy bed to return to, so that you can get the proper rest that you need before you head off onto the dusty trail again.

Thankfully, there are loads of great places to stay in the area and we’ve found five that really stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious manor house or something a little more rustic, there’s plenty to choose from right here:

The Slate Shed

When it comes to proximity to the park itself, it doesn’t get much better than this! Not only is the Slate Shet pet and bike friendly, it also sits right on the edge of a walking trail that takes you on a scenic trip between Barmouth and Dolegellau. You can even hire a bike so that you can explore the trail for yourself!

Pen Y Gwryd Hotel

Authenticity and Historical heritage are at the forefront of what the owners of the Pen-Y-Gwryd offer. It’s served the countless visitors of the Snowdonia area since the 50s, with such illustrious patrons as legendary Everest conquerors Hillary and Tenzing. Since then the hotel has become something of a place of pilgrimage for hikers and mountaineers alike.

The Dolgoch B&B

Tucked away in the South Western corner of Snowdonia, when you stay at the Dolgoch you get a real glimpse into what living in the hills of Wales is really like. Staying in comfortable and bright rooms, you’re just a stone’s throw away from all the major Snowdon attractions, including great spots for mountain climbing and bird watching.

The Princes Arms Hotel

Featuring truly stunning vistas and great access to the key tourist destinations of the Snowdonia, The Princes Arms Hotel is a great mid-priced option for those wanting a bit of stately luxury without breaking the bank. With a well-received restaurant on site, you’ll not have to go far to grab a filling meal after your long day of walking!

Pale Hall Hotel 

Lastly, we have the big ticket option; a truly world-class stately home, dripping with class and character. The service at Pale Hall is up there with with the best of them and the food, devised by Michelin Star chef Michael Caines, is second to none. Should you tire of walking around the rugged mountains of Snowdonia, you can always take a more leisurely stroll in Pale Hall’s peaceful woodland.…

North Wales Is Crowned Fourth Best Region In The World

There’s nothing like a bit of recognition.

After the hard work put in by local government officials and businessmen – the prestigious tourism writers of Lonely Planet have named North Wales the #4 Best Region to Visit in the World.

The region has undergone huge changes in the last few years and Lonely Planet have chosen to reward this with a much valued place on their coveted ‘Top Regions’ list.

Not resting on their laurels, Welsh tourism chiefs are hoping to double down in the next few years with plans for huge installations, further investment in castles, in addition to brand new adventure attractions – akin to Zip World and Surf Snowdonia.

Before you take advantage of all of the wonderful new adventures you can discover in North Wales, have a quick look at this list of things you’ll need to make the most of your time in this award-winning region:

Telescope for Stargazing

Officially named a Dark Sky Reserve by the Institute Directors in December 2015, if you haven’t considered buying a telescope for your trip to North Wales – then you might want to change your mind!

snowdonia-stars

You can buy relatively cheap compact eyepieces from most retailers – but a telescope is for life – so you may as well splash out on something a little more upmarket…

Mongolian Fur Gilet for Warmth

If you haven’t noticed, it’s starting to grow a little chilly in Snowdonia. If you’re thinking about taking a weekend away at any point from now until April, you should bring along some serious thermals.

mongoliangilet

Of course, hiking thermals are always recommended but for extra snugness grab a Mongolian Black Fur Gilet to keep yourself warm in style.

Wetsuit Boots for any kind of Water-based Activity

From the truly epic experience of Surf Snowdonia to the humble day of Gorge Walking, these rubberised neoprene booties are an absolute must-have for any water based occasion.

wetsuit-boots

They’re going to get mighty battered on any trip to Snowdonia, so there’s no need to spend a fortune on these guys – just make sure that every member of the family has a pair!

One Good OS Map – because it’s a big and people always get lost

Each and every year there are countless of reports in the local news of even the most experienced hikers and adventurers losing their way amongst the hills of the Ogden Valley and trails of Snowdon.

ordnance-survey-snowdonia

Do yourself a favour and avoid calling out the Rescue Patrol. Buy just one decent Ordnance Survery map of Snowdonia and you’ll be sorted for life. Pair this with a standard compass and you’ll always know where you are, regardless of network signal.

A Rubberized Case For Your Phone

Speaking of phones, yours won’t be much good if it slips from your hand whilst your taking a hike up to the peak. We know mobile phones lose their chic slimness when you slap a chunky case on it – but you’ll thank us when it bounces harmlessly off a rock rather than shattering to pieces.

otterbox-defender

A phone case doesn’t have to be for life – just buy a decent outdoorsy rubber case (there are plenty to choose from right here) and you’ll be covered for all the selfies on the move you’ll be taking whilst your mountain biking, zip lining and hiking around the region.…

This Year’s Record-Breaking Snowdonia Marathon

Records were being smashed left, right and centre in this year’s run!

It’s been another huge year for the Annual Snowdonia Marathon – thanks to perfect running conditions and record amount of entrants.

The Snowdonia Marathon, which has been a yearly fixture for the past 34 years, is well known for being one of the world’s toughest. It’s reputation for brutal inclines, as well as treacherous weather conditions, has made it legendary in the running world – with many dedicated marathon runners shying away from the 2,300ft climb needed to complete the race.

This year however, few runners were perturbed as glorious sunshine and mild weather encouraged around 2,500 runners to attempt the three courses in and around Snowdonia.

snowdonia-marathon

This was a stark comparison to last year’s race.

Held around the same time of year – previous entrants were not so lucky with the weather – having to struggle through the 26.2 miles slug in the face of biter winds and heavy rain.

iorwerthThere were many notable runners in this year’s race, including former Wales International Rugby Captain, Ryan Jones as well as former Winger Shane Williams (who’s been making a habit of running races since competing earlier this year in Wales’ Ironman competition). In addition to these local legends, 73-year-old Welshman Iorweth Roberts competed in his 34th Snowdonia Marathon – he’s the only man to have competed in every single one of the events.

Despite stiff competition, it was local man Russell Bentley (who recently moved from Kent to the Snowdonia village of Beddgelert) who pipped his competitors to the post. Recording an impressive time of 2:30:05, he was a over a full minute ahead of the nearest runner, Daniel Jones, who finished in 2:36:48.

 

Jones had this to say:

bentley-web“It was the toughest race I have ever done! I’m delighted to win and I wasn’t aware that they were closing in on me at the finish. But hey, I’ve done it. It means so much for me to win this race, I live locally and my children are growing up in Wales, learning Welsh, so today I am very, very proud!”

Setting an early lead in the opening miles of the race, Bentley showed great determination to come out on tops – building the majority of his advantage during the gruelling climb to Pen Y Pass. By the end of this incline, he was a full 40 seconds in front of his nearest rival – giving himself the time he needed to further his lead.

joanneJoanne Nelson came in first place for with women, smashing the previous course record with a more than respectable 3:03:59. Coming close to winning last year, Joanne was over the moon that she was able to return and do so well.

A breathless Nelson told News North Wales:

“It’s an amazing feeling to know that I have won this race. After last year I thought I really wanted to come back to try and win it, and I have!”

Thousands turned up to support the runners this year, providing the local area with a much appreciated boost in business. Although the yearly run can often cause a few transport issues within the region, this year’s went off without a hitch.

Here’s to next year’s event being just as much of a success!

Stay In Snowdonia For The Weekend

You’ve travelled hundreds of miles to reach the Summit of Snowdon, why not stay for longer?

Although hiking up and down Snowdon can take a day in itself, there’s no reason for you to simply head home once you’ve done the hike. There’s a whole heap of fun activities and sights to see whilst you’re in the greater region of Snowdonia – so you should make the most of your time here!

Speed Through a Quarry at Zip World

Zip World’s main site at Penrhyn Quarry is just a 45 minute drive away from the peak of Snowdon, there you’ll find the fastest zipline in the world which also holds the record for the longest in Europe.

zipworld

On a clear day you can see Anglesey and even the distant Isle of Man, that is until you plummet head first through the quarry at speeds exceeding 100mph…

Eat Your Fill at Hebog Bwyty & Llety

If you’ve built up a real hunger after ascending and descending Snowdon, then you won’t have to travel far to find a great place to get your fill. Hebog Bwyty & Llety is nestled in the charming little village of Beddgelert.

hebog

The warm cafe becomes a cosy bistro in the evening serving classy dinner options that will please even the fussiest of diners.

Get Wet and Wild Canoeing on Llyn Gwynant

Although there are some great kayaking options in the gorges and fast running rivers of Snowdonia, that might be a little too much exercise for your after your hike up to the Summit.

canoeing-llyn

Instead, how about a serene paddle on Snowdonia’s most tranquil lake? Surrounded by the stunning scenery, you could even give yourself the chance to take a little nap – just don’t forget to get the boat back in time!

Explore Harlech Castle

Just under an hour away from Snowdon, on the southern reaches of the National Park, lies Harlech Castle – a medieval fortification that was built in the late 13th Century.

One of several castles built during the reign of Edward I, Harlech’s grand Gothic architecture and arresting position offers wonderful views for everyone involved. Climb to the top of it’s ramparts and you’ll get a commanding view of the surrounding area, as well as a glimpse of the purplish heights of Snowdon.

Grab Some Air Mountain Biking Through Ogden

Sometimes the one answer to tiredness is simply to engage in some more strenuous activity. You can rent mountain bikes for relatively small change and there are loads of downhill routes to blast through.

ogden-bike

Strap a helmet on and zip down through the rocky paths of the Ogden Valley to blast the tiredness out of your bones and truly get to grips with the rest of Snowdonia.

There’s a veritable wealth of things to do in North Wales (visit here for some other ideas) that it definitely warrants more than just a day-trip.

Come to conquer Snowdon, stay to explore the rest of the Park.

10 Things You Need For Snowdon

To Be Prepared Is Half The Victory

Miguel De Cervante’s maxim has never been more true when it comes to preparing for a hike up Snowdon. Although Wales’ tallest peak has a reputation for being one of the easiest to master, there’s always an element of risk when you take a walk on the wild side.  

These 10 things are absolutely essential to your hike up Snowdon – regardless of which route you take:

An Early Start

With Daylight Savings fast approaching, it’s essential that you get an early start on your hike up Snowdon. Ideally, you should try and book a night in at one of the two Youth Hostels that lie at the feet of the mountain – that way you can rise early and make the most of the morning light.

If you arrive any later than 12, you’ll risk losing the light as you head back down the mountain and you’ll find yourself fumbling through the rocky paths – not recommended.


Sturdy Footwear

You won’t get very far in your 5-year old trainers – make sure you’ve got something a bit sturdier to take the impact of the rough paths and stone walkways.

studry

Walking boots are the preferred form of footwear – try and find something relatively light-weight, but with plenty of grip so you don’t lose your footing. On a summer’s day you can get away with sturdy trainers, but if it rains you’ll be glad for some waterproof footwear.


Waterproofs

Speaking of rain – Wales’ weather is unpredictable. Your Weather App may say that there’s a 0% chance of it raining but it’s always best to prepare for the worst.

waterproof-man

Lightweight waterproof tops and bottoms can be relatively inexpensive, remember you’ve always got the opportunity to dry them off once you get to the cafe at the top.


Emergency Rations

Although you might be considering hitting the Halfway Cafe via the Llanberis Path on the way up (or even holding out til the Visitor Centre at the top), it’s always a good idea to grab a few snacks for your rucksack

nuts

Nuts, Chocolate and Sandwiches never fail to go down well. You’ll be burning anywhere between 1500 and 2500 calories on the walk, so it’s important not to neglect your body.


Hat

Rain or shine, a hat is a must have for any hike. When you’re outside exerting yourself for any longer than an hour in the cold, you’ll be losing valuable heat through your head. A balaclava or woolly hat will serve you well in winter.

hike

Come the summer, you’ll be needing some protection from the sun’s rays. Although Wales isn’t famed for it’s scorching temperatures, you’l be surprised how much the altitude will effect you the higher you go.


Thick Socks

Did you think just a sturdy pair of shoes would do the trick? If you head out for a 2-3 hours hike with nothing more than a thin pair of trainer socks, your feet will feel it by the end of the day. Blisters and sores are the price you’ll pay for not being prepared.

hikinh-scks

You can find cheap hiking socks at most Outdoor Pursuits outlets, but if you’d rather save the cash, just stick on a couple of pair of socks instead.


Cash For The Train Down

Sometimes it’s best to prepare for the worst. No doubt you’ll be taking enough money to grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake – but you should grab some extra cash for the train back down just in case.

snowdon-train-2

The walk can tire you out more than you might think – if you’re not used to long hikes, the altitude or sharp increases in elevation, you may find that your energy is sapped by the time you reach the top.


Water

Although this may seem like somewhat of a no-brainer, you’d be surprised by how many would-be hikers leave themselves short when it comes to hydration. Just one small 500ml bottle won’t cut the mustard here.

Make sure that you allow at least 2 litres per person, you’re going to be sweating out a lot of water on both trips – so you’ll be thankful for it when the time comes.


A Game Plan

If you simply turn up, park then follow the crowds up the hill – chances are you’ll be OK. However, you do run the risk of accidentally joining a trek that might be far outside your comfort zone.

Take a look at our ‘Getting Up’ section before making the journey so that you understand what you’re getting yourself in for.


Determination

Although many people may sneer at the relative ease of Snowdon’s routes – you’ll still need a good amount of determination and grit to reach the top of the mountain.

determination

Come fully prepared with the aforementioned things and you’ll be in good stead to master the summit – but a good mental attitude is always a must!