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I’d never been to Wales before, but in preparation for our Italian High Level Route trip in a couple of months, daddy Miller suggested a sprint up Crib Goch and Snowdon. I was a little apprehensive because it was such a long way to travel from Leeds for one day of hiking, especially when the Yorkshire countryside is stunning enough for me, but I can now confirm that it was 100% worth it!
Expecting bad weather (we get a lot of it when we plan our walks), we weren’t expecting to be able to include Crib Goch on our route, but surprisingly the weather looked great and this ridge sounded too exciting to miss. If you’re thinking of heading to Snowdonia, here’s my guide to where to stay, what to expect and, obviously, what to eat whilst you’re there!
Planning Your Trip
Where to Stay
If you’re reading this blog post you probably don’t live in Snowdonia… if you did you would have already climbed up Snowdon and wouldn’t be reading my tips! In which case, you’ll need to find somewhere to stay.
If you’re happy to camp or stay in a hostel/bunkhouse, there are loads of places near the route. We opted for a B&B because breakfast is everything, and stayed about a 30 minute drive from Snowdon in Betws-y-Coed: a lovely little village with great pubs, a few outdoor shops and a beautiful river.
We (well, dad) chose Fairhaven B&B, a traditional B&B in the heart of the village which I would highly recommend. The beds are comfortable, the couple who own it are lovely and will give you the warmest of welcomes and the breakfast is TO DIE FOR.
There are a few dishes to choose from including the hearty breakfast, avocado smash and eggs Royale. I opted for eggs Benedict which was not only was delicious and served with perfectly poached eggs, but it also came with black pudding! I felt like my eyes had been opened and every eggs Benedict that future Nell has will be lacking.
How to Get to Your Starting Point
Unless you arrive at the very crack of dawn, you’re not going to get a parking space at the bottom of Snowdon. Fear not, if you’re driving from Betws-y-Coed and continue for about 10 minutes after the main car park you will arrive at the park and ride. We got there for about 9.45am and easily found a space. Once you’ve sorted your parking ticket you can queue for the bus or get a taxi… the taxi was £2 a head which was exactly the same as the bus but a hell of a lot quicker as there’s no waiting to board and alight!
The Route: What to Expect
The night before our walk, I googled Crib Goch to see what I was getting myself into and the top drop downs were ‘Crib Goch deaths 2018’ and ‘Crib Goch deaths 2017’. At this point I very nearly pussied out, but I’m so glad I didn’t as it was probably my favourite UK hike that I’ve been on. As long as you’re an experienced walker, it should not be missed! Oh and it turns out that although a lot of people are googling it, there have been hardly any deaths and it’s nothing to worry about.
You’ll start off on the Pyg track along with half of the other walkers starting from the same point (the other half taking the Miner’s track) until you reach the decision point. If you’re feeling brave, turn right and ascend up the ‘Bad Step’.
I knew there would be some scrambling at this point, but I didn’t realise quite how much… at some points it was more like actual climbing! No need for any ropes or anything, but it did involve finding a good hold (of which there were loads) and using some upper body strength. Luckily there was a very attractive man behind us to take my mind off any nerves.
At the top of the ‘Bad Step’, there’s time for a quick breather (I certainly needed it!) before stepping onto the ridge of Crib Goch. It is a little nerve racking (it’s a thin ridge with a steep drop either side after all), but it’s not as scary as people make out… I’m not particularly brave and I was fine! If you have a head for heights and good balance, you can walk along the top of the ridge, but its far easier to walk to the left so that you can grab the rocks for balance and confidence.
My overall summary of Crib Goch is as follows:
- As long as you’re an experienced walker and not scared of heights this is 100% the best way to climb Snowdon.
- It’s STUNNING. The views are amazing, everything about it is amazing.
- There’s nowhere on the ridge to go to the toilet. This made me feel a bit nervous but luckily I was fine, and there are plenty of rocks when you get to the end, before you get to busy Snowdon.
When you finish Crib Goch you’ll join the path to the top of Snowdon. I’m going to be completely honest, I didn’t like this bit of the walk one bit! It was mega crowded and felt more like a tourist attraction than a mountain, and after the adrenaline filled ridge of Crib Goch it was a huge anti-climax.
Yes the views were great, but you couldn’t enjoy them because there were just too many people. We didn’t even get the satisfaction of reaching the summit because there was literally a queue to walk up the steps to the very highest point, where people were crammed on taking selfies. As someone who walks to feel peaceful and remote, this wasn’t for me.
We descended down the Miner’s path, which was steep at first but then very easy to walk. It took us past some beautiful lakes and views back of Snowdon and Crib Goch were stunning. I have to admit that I did get bored towards the end of the flat path, but I reckon with an extra snack I’d have been happier.
If we’d had more time (we spent too long enjoying breakfast) we would have taken the Horseshoe Ridge down from Snowdon. This would have added another few hours to our walk, but it looked absolutely stunning. If you’re up for a longer walk and want to continue the excitement after Crib Goch, I would heavily recommend that you do this rather than the Pyg track or Miner’s track!
Food & Drink
If you read my blogs you’ll know that I wouldn’t leave you without some food and drink recommendations! As we stayed in Betws-y-Coed this is where we did the majority of our eating and drinking over the weekend. There are several pubs and restaurants in Betws-y-Coed, and we walked up and down the Main Street studying all of the menus before deciding where to eat.
The Royal Oak
If you want a friendly, traditional pub with good beer and classic pub grub this is the place for you. On our first night we went here for dinner, and we liked it so much that we went back on the second night for a beer before AND after our dinner!
When it comes to beer, I like a ‘proper’ bitter rather than any fancy craft beers or anything too hoppy. I was in for a treat with Welsh Pride, by far my favourite of the three beers I tried and so full of flavour… a few pints of this were managed over the weekend!
The food was hearty and tasty – I had a steak & ale pie with chips whilst my dad opted for a girlie salad (although actually it looked just as filling as my pie!). The pie was gorgeous but there was one HUGE issue… it didn’t come with gravy and when I asked for gravy the chef had to make it especially! But nonetheless it was delicious.
Oh my goodness. We went here on our second night to reward ourselves for our hard work climbing mountains and it was incredible… do not miss this restaurant if you’re in Betws-y-Coed! The staff were friendly, the atmosphere was spot on and the food was fantastic.
Let’s start with the wine. Dad loves a Pinot Noir (don’t we all?) and was overjoyed, but a little sceptical, that a bottle of it here was a mere £18. It was a fabulous wine and tasted a lot more expensive than £18.
Onto the food. We began with complimentary canapés of cute little Welsh rarebit (I was getting a little flustered that my trip to Wales was nearly over and I hadn’t had any rarebit yet!) and some salmon mousse before moving onto our starters. I had Brest Ysguthan Wyllt gyda Chrempog… in other words breast of wood pigeon with blueberry pancakes, crispy bacon and a red wine and chocolate sauce. It was absolutely perfect.
For my main course I couldn’t resist the duck breast, which was served pink with the creamiest potato gratin, buttered Savoy cabbage and a Welsh marmalade and Penderyn whiskey sauce. Again, it was absolutely perfect!
If there is a chocolate dessert on the menu I will always go for it and I like to consider myself as a connoisseur of brownies, so it will come as no surprise that I chose the warm chocolate brownie with ice cream and honeycomb. It was the perfect amount of sweet and the perfect size to finish off a great meal. Or so we thought, until we were handed some chocolates and Welsh cake as a final touch! I’d never had Welsh cake before, and when I told the waitress how much I enjoyed it she brought me two more.
I hope this has been of help if you’re heading to Snowdonia, and if you give Crib Goch a go I’d love to hear all about it and compare pictures so please get in touch!