Quad Camp Day 7 – Snowdon’s South Ridge
Things were winding down for the Quadrathlon Camp by now. Most people had headed home yesterday so I was doing my own thing. The campsite was horribly busy now as well. I suppose it was the weekend and we had just had a week of glorious weather. My early morning trip to the toilet and shower block had been in complete peace and quiet all week long. Not so today as there was a queue to get into it! I guess it was a little later than usual as well as I’d had a bit of a lie in and it was now 7am.
After a quick breakfast I put on my running kit and decided to head up Snowdon again.
Snowdon’s South Ridge
The weather was a little overcast today and there were clouds obscuring the summits. My rucksack therefore had an extra layer of clothes and some waterproofs in it, along with a map, snacks and water. I was still travelling light through with just running shoes, shorts and a T-shirt.
I took a similar route as last time to the bottom of the Watkin Path and then followed this for a short while before heading off onto another track to the left. This climbed steeply at first to some old mine workings before levelling off to become and easy going path. Progress was good. My legs were a little tired so I walked some of the steeper sections but running along the flat was fine.
It wasn’t long before I headed off towards the South Ridge. I’ve never done this route up Snowdon before. It’s not well known and I knew little about it myself. It looked pretty good though and as I’ve now done every other route up Snowdon (except the Llanberis Path) I thought I may as well give it a go.
I was soon climbing steeply up through a scree-filled gulley to reach the ridge itself. This part wasn’t the most exciting and a bit of a chore but it didn’t last long.
I was then on the ridge which was very nice indeed. There was a little bit of easy scrambling required here and there but the path was easy to follow. There were grassy slopes and views out to the West and rocky crags to my right. Far below I could see a procession of people trudging their way up the Watkin Path. Up here I was all alone.
As I gained height, the clouds closed in around me. There was no wind though so all was eerily quiet. I did then hear voices in the mist ahead of me and soon came across two people coming down the path. The seemed a little lost and asked me if I knew how to get to the car park. After a little discussion I ascertained that they were after the car park at Pen y Pass. They were miles from that, and heading in the wrong direction! They didn’t want to go back up though so out came my map (good job I brought it) and I told them to follow the track down to the bottom, join the Watkin Path and then get the bus back up to Pen y Pass! They seemed happy with that.
I continued on up towards the summit on my own. I was running where I could, but the steep, rocky nature of the path did mean that there was a lot of walking going on too. The clouds cleared a little for the slightly exposed traverse across Bwlch Main as I joined the Rhydd Ddu path. It didn’t seem as exposed as I remember. There was no wind today though and last time I was here it was blowing a hoolie.
I passed the turning to the Watkin Path. My original plan had been to just head back down along it, but with the summit so close I thought that I may as well head up there first.
The place was packed. There was people everywhere and a huge queue to get into the café. Most of them seemed to be moaning about the fact that it wasn’t yet open. I squeezed my way through the throngs and briefly popped up to the summit. It was then back down, dodging people on my way. The café opened at this time and they all piled in as I continued back the way I’d come to the junction for the Watkin Path.
Down The Watkin Path
My descent was down the steep Watkin Path. Not much chance to run at the top but as I got further down the steepness lessened and I was free to run and bound from rock to rock. That said, I was having to dodge the steady procession of walkers heading up the path and occasionally had to squeeze my way through large groups who had stopped for a break.
As I got to a gate at the bottom there were people camping and the smells of fried breakfast welcomed me. They did offer me some bacon but I declined and continued on. As I reached some cottages at the bottom I came across someone else out running. He was about to start heading up the Watkin Path having just asked someone directions. They’d pointed him the wrong way though as he was actually looking for the same path I was about to take towards Llyn Gwynant. I told him to follow me and slowed to his pace until he was on the right track. I then headed off through the fields and woodland towards Llyn Gwynant. Up and over Elephant Rock and then down into the campsite having conquered Snowdon once again.
Time for a shower, time to break camp and time to head home. I was booked in for a another night at the campsite, but there would be lots to catch up with at home and it would be good to see Anna and Morgan. The campsite itself was also very busy now and not quite so nice as it had been. Although the pizza and pie place was open – I resisted though and headed home instead.
A good week away and some good training. It may not have been the sort of training that I needed as I’m not planning any fell races or mountain marathons anytime soon but it was fun all the same and nice to mix things up a little.