Snowdon: Part Two – Half a horseshoe

Our walk to the summit had been a relatively relaxed affair, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery. Our return leg took us round the second half of the Horseshoe where some scrambling awaited.

With lunch taken out of the wind and legs rested we began our descent. Our route back to the car park was effectively the second half of the classic Snowdon Horseshoe. It began by picking up the Watkin Path, a far less friendly track compared to those we’d ascended to the summit. A slippy scree covered large parts of the off-camber descent and for the first time we were scrambling over boulders and small drops as a variety of mini route options appeared in several places. Eventually it bottomed out and we were soon shedding the layers; it really was rather warm out of the wind.

y Lliwedd from the Watkin Path
y Lliwedd from the Watkin Path

Briefly on a level we could now clearly see our second summit in front of us – y Lliwedd. Probably just a bump for experienced scramblers, but for the uninitiated it was a reasonable test as we picked a route to the top. I was mostly relieved that we were never as close to the sheer drop as it had looked like we might be when seeing it from the Watkin Path. Celebratory nuts (of the cashew, energy providing variety) all round at the top. Sitting on the top was very special, as well as blisteringly hot (it’s all relative to the bus stop!), as we could effectively see our morning’s route play out below us.

Scrambling to the top of y Lliwedd
Scrambling to the top of y Lliwedd
Looking back to Snowdon from the top of y Lliwedd
Looking back to Snowdon from the top of y Lliwedd
On top of the world...or Wales. Almost.
On top of the world…or Wales. Almost.

Another small ascent and some further lite scrambling and we were now on a steady trajectory downwards, though it was no less tough. My knees and toes were taking a bit of a bashing but I was focused on the point way below where our route re-joined the Miner’s Track signaling a simple stroll back to the car park. The constant calls and songs of a number of Wheatear, fresh from their migration north for the summer, also provided a welcome distraction. It seemed every significant boulder was the territory of a splendid male, flashing his giveaway white rump.

The Miner's and Pyg Tracks
The Miner’s and Pyg Tracks
Descending from y Lliwedd
Descending from y Lliwedd

One of these boulders had my name written on it for my own territorial markings as it were –  I shall never take the wooded tracks and tree-lined lanes of Surrey for granted again! Soon after we were on the familiar and easy-going terrain of the Miner’s Track and with an added spring in our step we strode for the car park, arriving back with a massive sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Back at the Pen-y-Pass car park. Happy.
Back at the Pen-y-Pass car park. Happy.

Our efforts weren’t entirely over though. Instead of opting for the bus back to the car, we walked the one and a half miles down the road. Thankfully it was all down hill and we were out of the wind but it was probably a mile too long for all of us. Arriving back at the car it was a huge fillip just to get our boots off and sit down. We estimated we’d covered getting on for 9 miles, more than I’d walked for many a year. We’d certainly earned a pint of ice-cold cider and some sumptuous pub grub and, after a quick turnaround back at base, that’s exactly what we went in search for. In the shape of the Tyn-y-Coed hotel in Capel Curig we found exactly that. The stagger back to the hostel very much down to muscle tightness rather than cider, honest!

Snowdon: Part One

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