It’s a real struggle with the ego to set off up a mountain and not push your luck to get to the top. We really, really yearned to climb Snowdon but knew our limits with the girls, and knew we probably wouldn’t make it all the way up and back down in good time.
For those who haven’t climbed before, Snowdon is Wales’ highest peak, and though it is pretty small in mountain terms, it can be a difficult climb. Sir Edmund Hillary used to train here before embarking on his successful expedition to be the first person to get to the summit of Mount Everest. My Nain (Welsh for grandmother), danced with him one night at the nearby Pen-y-Gwryd hotel – one of my family’s favourite claims to fame!
I’ve been up twice before, both in very different conditions, and one other time had to turn back near the top due to very bad weather conditions.
So, knowing we weren’t headed for the top, but wanting to stretch our lungs and legs in the mountains, we decided to head for the waterfalls that lie a third of the way up the Watkin path.
Our walk started from a car park (£2 for 4 hours & there are toilets) at Nant Gwynant, a little above sea level; and first crosses the Afon (river) Glaslyn, before heading through National Trust woodland at Hafod y Lan.
The girls just love trees and we picked up sticks and leaves for them to play with to keep them occupied in the backpacks. We are constantly chattering away to them pointing out anything and everything that might take their interest, and this keeps them excited and engaged in our hikes for much longer.
Before long we reached the end of the woodland and the waterfalls were revealed to us as they cut down through the valley, with one of the peaks of Snowdon in view far above.
We headed up the valley on a stone track, and stopped for a snack break overlooking the impossibly picturesque turquoise blue water cascade from one pool to the next; I guess they are so blue because of the presence of copper in the water. The mountains at this time of year are so colourful; although the day was hazy, the purple heather & vibrant green bracken meant it was far from dull.
We decided to let the girls walk a bit to stretch their legs – and stretch them they did! We were astounded by how far they managed to walk, just holding our hands. The path was steep and uneven but they were determined to keep going. The only grumbling was when we put them back into the backpacks after half an hour!
We pushed on up to the disused quarry buildings and the famous Gladstone Rock; this path was famously opened by Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1883. We stopped at the Rock for a picnic and looked longingly up at the summit but both agreed that it would have been a terrible idea to try to do it with the girls, and with my dodgy back too!
After a picnic of tinned tuna, oatcakes, cucumber & blueberries, we headed all the way back downhill, not stopping for a break this time.
On the journey home we reflected and decided it was lovely to have been on Snowdon, and for the girls to have taken their first steps up the mountain at such a young age; but that we were both equally frustrated not to have been able to get to the top, and are wondering when we will next get the opportunity.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has hiked to the top of Snowdon, or any other mountain, with a toddler – what would be your top tips?