If you spend enough time with Londoner or those in the UK for that matter, you will notice how much we go on and on and on and on again about the weather.
This summer like every summer everyone is was dusting off their bikinis and flop flops in search for sunny horizons (we all know those don’t really come around the UK that often or long enough). Booking holidays to Spain, Greek Islands, Caribbean islands. Having just taken on the heat wave in New Delhi and Agra this May, dosed up on sunshine sailing around Santorini and while exploring Athens in July, I was in the mood for something different. Say, a little adventure close to home.
One of my boyfriend's friends had been trying to get a group of us to go away on a hiking trip for a long time now and after voting on dates when everyone was available and it was then time to decide on whether to head to Lake District and Snowdonia National Park (think soaring mountains with peaks playing hide and seek with the clouds). Lakes spread across national parks, hiking routes with breath-taking views, small towns filled with cozy little cafes with a local and traditional touch. Yep, I was up for all of that and then some. It was as if the stars seemed to have aligned as everyone’s diaries cleared up for the long August Bank Holiday, which also happened to be my boyfriend's birthday week.
Friday came and the road trips started, with a meeting point set for a beautiful house by the lake side and overlooking the Welsh mountains. With people driving from London and one as far as Cornwall(another place I want to visit next summer). My boyfriend and I got delayed so we didn’t leave London until later in the evening and then 20 minutes into the drive we punctured a tyre just before we joined the motorway out of London, which put us an hour behind schedule. In a way it turned out great as we had the roads to ourselves for the rest of the journey into Wales. And as if being guided by the light, I remember us driving way past midnight, the sky was pitch black, the moon was high and really really bright as if guiding our path into the Welsh lake district.
We were the last to arrive at close to 2am in the morning, we were met with a quiet house, but the stairs where decorated with little paper arrows left behind by friends to direct us to our room as we didn't know which was left after everyone chose a room. When morning came I was greeted with views of the lake and mountains right from our room!…Let’s just say I was sat there in awe for a while until I had someone bring up a cup of tea to rustle me out of the room.
The last time a group of us made a similar trip was for another birthday trip camping (with a dash of glamping) in a beautiful part of the English country side. This time round we were going to be taking on the Peaks in Snowdonia National Park. There are many routes you can take to the top and each with varying degrees of difficulty depending on your fitness levels. For anyone taking to the mountains you should always come prepared with the right equipment as well as making sure you take safety precautions, but I will list below some of the things to consider taking with you.
One the reasons I was dying to see this part of Wales is due to its beautiful elevated lake that you have to hike up to first then a further hike up another 1K+ meters to get a birds eye view. We hiked up to have lunch close to the lake but as the clouds were starting to move in so we moved on to get to the peak before that was totally covered in clouds. We then made another stop for a cup of tea with views of the mountains to one side and on side with views of the sea miles into the horizon. I always try and encourage visitors coming to the UK, especially if you love the outdoors, to visit not only city limits but to go beyond that as UK has some of the best landscapes out there but a lot of people don’t usually venture out past Big Ben, which is a real shame. There is so much to see and do…and Wales, as the pictures below will hopefully show you is just a marvel for those seeking an adventure with mother nature's of eye-popping, mind-blowing views that will have you wishing you can stay longer and pitch up a tent to further cling to the calming surroundings before you. Who needs the city anyway when you have these views?!...
Hiking Packing List
A couple of days before the hike my boyfriend and I dropped by Ellis Brigham in Covent Garden and updated some of our items as I need a new pair of boots and waterproof jacket. Its one of my faviourite outdoor shops as they also have an ice wall to test out some of the ice climbing gear. What I love about about the store is, for the money you are spending you get to fully try out and test out some of the items in addition to the really knowledgeable advice from their stuff. I feel like I should be getting paid for this but that is how much I love this store. Next is Snow+Rock which I have been waiting on to open up, has also recently opened a new store in Canary Wharf where I am based during the week. I spend a lot of time in these stores as most of my rock climbing gear is from these two shops. So if you are heading out for a hike or adventure sports be sure to pop into these or any good outdoor store near you and get expert advice before taking to the mountains. Below are some items to pack as well as some tips for hiking below.
1. Hiking Boots
2. Walking Socks
3. Base Layer
4. Waterproof Jacket
5. Walking Trousers
6. Head Torch
7. Water Bottle/Camel
11. First Aid Kit
14. Food(food, water camel and flask with hot tea/coffee)
15. Compass or digital compass watch with GPS
Tips For Hiking
1. Have the right gear - the list above includes the basics and some essential items. This list will grow if your hike includes camping outdoors. An all important one for me is having the right pair of shoes as you will be walking for hours sometimes. Get this wrong and your walk will be cut short before really getting the benefit of being at one with nature. Equally important is a good jacket. Make sure this is rain proof and not just shower proof. If it rains for a few hours will get seriously wet and may end up hypothermic. "If you are up the mountain, this will quickly become a serious situation". So make sure you invest in a good jacket and warm layers suitable for your activity and weather.
2. Make a plan of the route you will be taking, inform someone as it will make it easier for others to find you if you don't report back.
3. Pick clothing colours that are bright which will make it easier for others to spot you.
4. Be ware of your surroundings, weather changes and plans for signalling for help should anything happen. This is why point 2 is important. Plan your route well and how long you think it will take because the weather can sometimes change dramatically and so quickly so if you don't have the right gear(point 1) then it can make a simple hiking situation and turn it into a dangerous one. Remember that cold weather can also kill you, so have those gloves and base layers. (Not obvious in pictures but soon after we started walking I become too hot and ending up taking my hiking trousers off and hiking in my base layer leggings which were warm enough to climb to the peak - key is to peak merino wool base layers but check advice for the right base layer material for the activity and terrain of you activity)
5. Know a few basics of map reading or orienteering so you can navigate from point to point on your hiking unless you have pro map readers in your group. Lucky our group had 3 experience map readers to coordinate our routes and manage any changes to routes as well hiked. Knowing the basics will help, should the weather change(or any other reasons that may cause you to change course) you can easily make adjustments to your planned route.
Below are some of the pictures from our 2 days hiking through Snowdonia National Park.
Below are some of the pictures from our 2 days hiking through Snowdonia National Park.
Above is Llyn Cau - A huge, dramatic glacial cwm in the crater of Cadair Idris set beneath 400m high mountain walls. (You also have to hike up to get to it. Its an elevated lake)
This part of Snowdonia is known as Cadair Idris. It lies at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park near the town of Dolgellau. The peak is one of the most popular in Wales for walkers and hikers, with classic glacial erosion features such as cwms(starting point of a glacier), moraines, striated rocks, and roches moutonnées. From what I have heard in colder months climbers come here for ice climbing too or at least with more complicated gear than a hiker.
There are several walking trails in Cadair Idris. I can't even remember which one we took but had to change trails as the weather was starting to change and we were getting tired with another person having also sprained an ankle. The map above(in my Instagram picture), which we bought from Ellis Brigham has several options for trails. Some of which my friends took on the second day while I went solo on a more flat route along the lake. Below are some of the trails you can find, but I would highly recommend you by the map or print a few options before heading out.
This route, which begins in the north from either Dolgellau or the Mawddach estuary, is the easiest but the longest of the main trails. Its length from the mountain's base is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) with a 600 metres (2,000 ft) climb.
This is the most direct way to the summit as the trail leads straight up the northern face. The 3.8 kilometres (2.4 mi) ascent involves a climb up a 310 metres (1,020 ft) cliff-scree face. However, this part of the Fox's Path has been heavily eroded in recent years making the descent dangerous.
This route starts on the southern side of the mountain near the glacial Tal-y-llyn Lake. Hikers using this ascent climb past Llyn Cau and along the rim of Craig Cau (rockwall) to Penygadair. Its length is 4.4 kilometres (2.7 mi) and involves two climbs of over 300 metres (980 ft).