Monday, 28 March 2016

Wales 2016 - Travelogue

Gwynedd, Wales, 26-28 February 2016

One weekend during school term, we took a short trip to Wales. The main highlight was to climb Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. At 1085m above sea level, it isn't actually very tall - Mount Kinabalu is 4096m and Mount Everest is 8848m for comparison. Still, it marked my first time climbing a mountain, and as someone who is scared of heights (or at least, of falling), this was quite an achievement.

We took a train down to Manchester on Friday, from which a chartered bus took us to Wales. The night was spent at the YHA at Pen Y Pass, a little hostel nicely tucked away at the base of Mount Snowdon. There was no wifi available, but in a way, the disconnect was refreshing.

Saturday was spent climbing Snowdon - taking the Pyg Track up and the Llanberis Path down. Climbing a mountain during winter proved no easy feat - it got quite icy near the top, and with no crampons it became difficult to get any traction at certain parts. At one point, I found myself staring at a huge blue-white slate of ice that there was no other way to get around, and wondering how on earth I was supposed to climb up it. We were travelling in a group of 50 students, and at that moment I'd wondered if getting everyone to the peak was even possible. We tackled it slowly, pulling ourselves up by grabbing rocks and cautiously inching up because our feet had no grip. That was probably the trickiest part of the path - any miss-step and one would have slid down the slope, knocking over everyone else on the path behind them too. Nevertheless, with the more experienced climbers running back and forth to help others, the entire group managed to reach the peak. This was the best part of the trip - seeing people rally together to ensure that everyone got to the top successfully.

As someone who is scared of heights, climbing a mountain has actually never ever been on my list of things to do. I'd basically decided this trip would be a good opportunity to experience Wales at a good price, and decided to go with the flow. Reaching the peak of Mount Snowdon was extremely satisfying in ways I had not imagined. Perhaps it was some sense of pride in managing to climb anything at all in spite of my fear (I've hated previous rock climbing experiences on artificial walls), perhaps it was also the exhilaration of standing in high places, while all the while my brain was screaming, "I've climbed to the peak of a mountain!" I walked away from that experience thinking,  "Well now I've climbed one mountain. I feel like I need to climb another.", as if life consists of a gazillion mountains and every time you climb one, you've "levelled up". It's the sense of personal satisfaction after you've been through a tough period in life, but the literal version of that.

The descent was far gentler than the ascent. The path was lined with lovely white fluffy snow, which I proceeded to crunch about in and roll around in quite happily. After a while though, our knees were starting to ache (ah, signs of old age), and we were all very relieved to finally reach Llanberis and sip hot chocolate in a cafe.

On Sunday, a bus took us to Bangor, where we explored the grounds of Penrhyn Castle, before making our return journey back to Newcastle.

Photos taken with Sony RX100 ii & iPhone 6S

No comments:

Post a Comment