I am not what you would call a “camping personality,” but when my husband and I decided to take a small weekend getaway to Wales we decided to camp. We packed our cheap camping gear which we purchased at a local Halfords and then drove to Snowdonia. We found several campsites online but they were all full upon arrival so a short drive in the countryside led us to a sign outside a farmstead that read: “Camping Available.” We pulled into a sheep field-the sheep had been shuffled into another field for the occasion—and we parked alongside others who had come early morning to pitch their tents. We set up our camping gear and jumped in the car to go explore the beautiful area.
What to Wear:
Although it was August when we went on our camping trip, it was rather chilly and we wore layers of clothing and jackets to stay warm. We knew to bring waterproof clothing because Wales is known for rain and good thing we did! It rained off and on throughout our stay, however we were very lucky and experienced quite a lot of sunshine. Hiking boots is a necessary and something as waterproof as possible! My husband got stuck in the mud and lost one of his boots and was suffering with wet shoes ever since! Luckily we had packed plenty of dry socks which was our savior throughout our trip. A warm cap was also necessary as my ears would have gotten quite cold. A scarf was useful as well but what I really needed was something to cover my face and nose during the long hike up the Snowdon Mountain!
We explored the nearby town and found a wonderful pizzeria to eat dinner. We also walked around the town and enjoyed the landscape and quaint churches and buildings. It was the perfect setting and our campsite was just around the corner making it easy to find breakfast and dinner during our stay. This city has a lot of buildings made with the traditional stone and slate and it looks spectacular. There is also a river with a few small waterfalls right through the town center and it was the perfect spot to relax and get a few photos before choosing a café to sit and enjoy a warm cup of hot cocoa. We also found small shops to stock up on snacks before venturing outside town to try our legs at hiking and visiting some of the nearby ruins and old castles.
Enjoy A Pub Ride
One of the first things we did was schedule an early morning pub ride. There were several different equestrian stables in the area and we pre-booked a 5 hour Pub ride. My husband and I are both horse riders and we often look for places to ride on holiday, however this was my husband’s very first horse riding holiday since he started learning to ride only months earlier. We reserved a medium-level ride but ended up getting stuck with tourists who had never sat on a horse before. Because of this, the majority of the ride was spent in walk so I recommend that if you are a rider to find a stables offering horse riding holidays for advanced riders.
Despite the majority spent walking, the views were lovely and it was fun to ride to a local pub to grab lunch before riding back to the stables. We sat outside and watched our horses nibble on the grass while we ate under the sunshine. It was a nice way to explore the mountains without having to hike!
Hike up Mount Snowdon
The drive to Snowdon was a spectacular drive in itself. The mountains and landscape was jaw droppingly beautiful with green mountain peaks and white fluffy sheep peppering the roadside. We were aware that there were two possible routes to trek up Mount Snowdon, one being from halfway up the mountain so as to be a bit of a more manageable climb and the other at the base of the mountain. My husband and I are young and fit enough so we chose to start at the bottom and work our way to the summit. We woke very early, hoping to beat the rush and allow us plenty of time to attempt this climb. We found a place to park (which was 5-10 GBP) and grabbed our small backpacks full of snacks and water to begin the long climb.
Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales (and the highest mountain in England) and stands at 3,560 feet. We started at 6am and were told it could take 5 hours to climb up and down the mountain. I have lived my whole life at sea level so immediately upon the descent my breathing started to quicken and I was a rather slow climber compared to my husband who is an avid bicycler. I struggled with the steep ascent and elevation gain but we eventually made it to the halfway house. It was very foggy weather in the early morning but there were a few crazy climbers like us who scrambled inside the warmth of the small building. It was the only place for a bathroom break so I took advantage and we had a warm cup of tea and a short break before beginning again. The air was rather wet—though not really raining—and everything was getting pretty soaked so it was nice to get warm and dry for a bit before venturing back out. The climb after the halfway house was the most difficult part and everytime we thought we neared the top, the fog would reveal another steep climb upwards and upwards.
Eventually we made it to the top but instead of a spectacular view we saw nothing but wind and fog. The wind at the summit was pretty strong and it was far to cold for us to sit and relax. Not to mention there was no place to use the toilet or sit or get inside so we did the only thing we could do and begin the walk back down. Going down was just as tricky as climbing up as it was slippery and steep but we made good time.
The best reward was once we reached the bottom there was a local restaurant and we stopped for “the best hot chocolate in the world.” And it was pretty darn good! That energized me enough and of course the sun began to come out a bit as we headed back to the car but the wind never seemed to let up so we were glad that our climbing was over!
All in all, it was a lovely weekend getaway and Wales is a gorgeous place to go for greenery, chilly nights, warm cocoa by the fireplace and a good hike!