Snowdonia is the 3rd biggest National Park in the UK. With 1,497 miles of public footpath, there is so much to be discovered with and without kids. We decided to tackle Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, on a late November day.
We researched a lot before our visit, as Snowdon is not somewhere to be tackled on a whim, especially on a first visit. I must admit, when we arrived I felt apprehensive and a bit overwhelmed.
Snowdon is a hard slog if you are new to hiking or not used to the ascent. There are parts when your thighs will feel it, or at least they will the next day! For adventurous kids, we would recommend Miners Track up and down, or Pyg up then Miners down. This is the most popular choice for many walkers too.
We chose the Miners Track to go up and down for our first visit. The straight walk around the lakes gave us time to open up our lungs and get the legs stretched enough to tackle whatever lay ahead. There is a slight ascent up as you head round Llyn Llydaw, enough to get the blood pumping and for the kids to start shedding their coats!
As the path seems to run out, a rock face opens itself up as the way forward. At first glance, it seems as though there is no affordable route. But as you start upwards, a path reveals the way up, up up! It zigzags it’s way up the mountain, and so the kids did their thing and scrambled up with a spring in their step.
We made sure to stop every now and then to drink and have a few snack stops. For my kids, food is fuel. If they are lagging, a breakfast bar or piece of fruit will give them another couple of miles at least!
As we were heading up in the wintery month of November, there was bound to be snow ahead. As we got higher, the temperature shifted and a chill wrapped itself around us. The coats were put back on and everything felt damp. Ice crowded the route and people on their way back down were warning us to be careful.
Mother Nature truly is a wonderful thing. Only an hour ago, a few hundred feet down, we were in bright sunshine. Now, visibility was low and we were avoiding large ice patches on the ground. How quickly things can change. It just goes to show how powerful these places can be and that we shouldn’t be ignorant to the conditions on the ground.
Snowdon is a truly wonderful place and is very achievable for those who respect their surroundings and take their time. For us, having to commandeer 3 children through fog and ice, with no concept of where we were or what we should be able to see, was unnerving. We cut short our hike at roughly 10 minutes from the summit, purely because of safety. If either of us had been before, or we could trust the ‘oh it’s only 10,20, 30 minutes from the top’ from well meaning walkers coming back down, we would have stayed on. But, Snowdon will always be there and we can always come back another day.
Routes To The Summit
Watkin Path – The Watkin path is tough and hard going. But certainly the most fulfilling. A 8 mile walk over 6-7 hours.
Snowdon Ranger Path – The oldest route and another quiet one. A fairly easy route of 8 miles in 5-7 hours.
Miners Track – Starts at the same place as the Pyg track but follows the lakes around the base of the mountain then joins the Pyg track after a short scramble. Again a distance of 7.3 miles and time of 5-7 hours.
Llanberis Path – The most popular and considered the easiest path. A distance of 9 miles there and back in a time of 5-7 hours.
Rhyd Ddu Path – The quietest route with the most stunning views. 7.5 total miles in 6-7 hours.
Pyg Track – Starting at Pen-Y-Pass, this is the shortest route, but starts off quite steep. A distance of 7.3 miles and total time of 5-7 hours. Make sure you bypass the Crib Goch route, a knife edge which shouldn’t be undertaken with kids, unless you really know what you’re doing.
Top Tips for Snowdon With Kids
- Allow plenty of time. Take a full day to fully experience the grandeur and beauty of the mountain. Kids pace slower than adults, although they can seem quicker in short bursts!
- Patience. If it’s a first for both of you, patience is needed to determine routes and best practice. Also to avoid walkers coming in different directions and those that want to overtake you.
- Food. Take all the food. Protein, fruit and veg, and lots of water too.
- If you are taking the bus back to Llanberis or Nant Peris, make sure you take enough change for there and back! We got caught out on our second visit and only one of us could bus it back to the car. It was lucky I had a bit of change otherwise our walk would have been much longer!
- In the cold, phones will not work and batteries will die. Make sure you have a back up charger if needed for the way back, or arm yourself with knowledge of map reading.
Essential Items To Take with You
- Tissue. There will likely be a runny nose here and there.
- Anti-bacterial wipes or baby wipes.
- Head Torch
- Map and Compass
- Spare car charger for phone or charging device.
- Camera! You will want to take pictures.
- Depending on the weather; hand warmers.
- First aid kit, complete with foil blanket.
- Walking poles. Good for the knees and to steady children.
- Even in the summer, the summit can be quite chilly. A spare jumper is good to have at hand.
- Money for the cafe. In peak season, the Mountain Railway Cafe is open, providing hot food and drinks. There is a little souvenir shop too. Opening season is March to October. Please see the website for more accurate timings, closer to the date of your visit.
- Spare socks and shoes to change in to afterwards. Your feet will thank you!