Visit Snowdonia; Watkins Waterfalls & Path

Thursday, September 13, 2018

I breath a sigh of relief as we drive around the mountain ridge in the dusky light and I spot smoke from about a hundred campfires disapitating in to the nearly night sky. We have been driving for six hours and as we arrive on to the site, which is nestled on the banks of the mountain tarn Llyn Gwynant, I am surprised to see that the quiet campsite I was expecting is actually a tent city, the smoke from the fires creating a thick smog in the air. Despite this, we manage to find a spot that isn't too busy, or smokey, and set up camp. By the time we have finished I can't feel my toes and my fingers are knotted and freezing. It is so so cold. Two days ago it had been twenty seven degrees in London, now it is seven degrees but feels like minus two. The consolation is the night sky; there is no light here and the sky is frosted with stars.
After a cold night, we wake up and decided to head out of the campsite early. Although in a spectacular location, I'm craving a bit of peace and quiet, so we drive to our first stop Llyn Dinas, one of the nearby tarns. Here there are no crying children or stag parties starting off their morning with some warm tinnies of fosters, instead it is perfect seclusion and mirror-like stillness.

Llyn Dinas
After brekkie and a paddle we drive on to the bottom of Snowdon. Here is the beginning of the Watkins path which eventually leads to the summit.

The Watkins Path follows the river up the lower reaches of the mountain.
At the bottom of the path there are hints of the waterfalls further up, clear silvery water flowing over pebbles, and snatches of blue water pooling in quieter stretches. As we ascend the path the pools grow bigger and the clarity and prettiness of these pools far surpass my expectations. Unlike the peaty waterfalls in Brecon Beacons, these are smaller, but much much clearer.

Many of the pools are busy; whole families, decked out in wetsuits, jump from the rocks in to the water. We continue on, and when I spot a waterfall buried behind thick undergrowth, I follow my instincts and we bushwack our way through head height bracken to take a closer look. We are rewarded with a waterfall fed pool that is completely private. Perfect for skinny dipping, it's more of a plunge than a swim, but refreshing all the same. 

After my plunge we continue to follow the Watkins path up the mountain. We decide whilst we are already here, we will attempt to summit Snowdon. We knew the rain was coming in but what could really go wrong? It was only a bit of rain right? WRONG! Cue a hefty lesson from mother nature. It was when we were half an hour away from the top that I realised that I had foolishly underestimated Snowdon; we were inside a rain cloud, buffeted by strong winds, soaked through, cold and trying to climb up steep, slippery scree. Another twenty minutes and I was done. Visibility had become so poor that I wouldn't be able to tell if we had reached the summit or not. Instead of continuing, we decided to take a quick selfie and just tell everyone that we climbed to the top anyway. See the evidence below... prove that we're not at the top!
We head back down the mountain and it takes two hours to descend in horrible conditions. On reflection I underestimated Snowdon and I would strongly advise any novice climbers to learn from my mistakes and follow all their safety guidelines. Click here.
Alternatively, don't bother climbing Snowdon and just check out the waterfalls which are well worth a visit on their own.

Top tips: Parking can be tricky if visiting in summer, arrive early or get the bus. 
Access: There is a car park at the bottom of Watkins Path. There is also parking along the road here. We arrived quite late and managed to get a spot on the road. The path is clearly marked and there are lots of other walkers around heading in the same direction. The sherpa bus service runs to the Nant Gwynant car park.
Facilities: There is a small cafe at the bottom of the path. 

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