“Behold the sweeping valleys. Where the heathered slopes do lie, with rugged peaks that reach unto the ever-changing sky, where Snowdon stands before me now, as clouds begin to break, Llanberis still the morning light, now rests upon the lake.
I climb the path before me, that is strewn by rock and stone, as the summit, shrouded by the mist, does proudly stand alone, I pause for just a moment there to look across the way, as colours of September rise to bless this holy day.
The shadows lift through darkness, as the sun begins to shine, and valleys dressed in violet veils, then meet the emerald pine, Its peacefulness befalls me, as I breathe the mountain air, and gaze with deepest awe upon, this land beyond compare” – Andrew Blakemore.
THE NATIONAL PARK
When people think of Snowdonia, they often just associate it with Snowdon, the highest mountian in Wales and England and its surrounding peaks. But Snowdonia national park covers over 823 square miles from Aberdovey to Conwy and consists of over 100 other mountains.
It’s a varied landscape of mountains, cwms (valleys), forests, caves, waterfalls, glacial lakes, winding rivers, quaint little mountain villages, an array of many castles and hill forts, sheepfolds, long lost communities of myth and legend, as well as 37 miles of stunning coastline and scattered beaches; a true historical wonderland steeped in beauty and wonder.
Now for me, the land holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a place I have wandered and explored over the recent years. A place where I have studied the world of mountains, learnt to be a competent navigator and wild camper, even learnt about the flora and fauna, its geology, and how it was all formed through glaciation.
Through obtaining this knowledge I recently went on to pass my mountian leader award and spent my first summer leading expeditions here.
I felt I owed these mountains a huge debt of gratitude, for they had become a big part of who I am today. I needed a grand finale to what had become an amazing past few years.
Snowdonia has become a playground for adventure athletes from all walks of life. Challenges like the national 3 peaks and the Welsh 3000s are fast becoming more and more popular and through these challenges people are learning to get outdoors and enjoy the national park more and more each year.
But for me I needed something different, challenging and unique, an ultimate Snowdonia test. So I researched to see if anyone had walked the entire length of the national park and couldn’t find any evidence of this having been done. I then looked into the possibility of summiting every peak over 700 meters high, but had to dismiss some of these peaks as it was navigationaly too big an ask.
So I decided to start my walk from Aberdovey, which I had figured lay at the Southern most tip of the National park. Then the plan would be to zig zag across the whole park until I would eventually reach Conwy at its Northern most tip.
The first few days of the walk were crazy, harsh weather conditions, tough terrain and isolated peaks had made things tricky, but I managed to summit around twenty of the planned 700 meter peaks. I hardly saw a single person walking within the park during those first few days (except on top of Cadair Idris) and I had walked through bogs, dense fog and thick mountain forests.
Eventually I reached the slate mines of Ffestiniog and the mountains and hikers sprung to life, the weather changed for the better and things started to look up. I started walking across the Moelwyns towards Snowdon and its big sister peaks. After hardly seeing anyone for days I strangely bumped into my ML assessor Paul Poole. He was shocked to see a lonely figure walking towards him and his group, and even more shocked when he saw it was me. By this point my feet were sore and my morale was dropping, but bumping into Paul seemed to give me a lift and inspire me to push towards the final big peaks.
All that now lay in front of me was Snowdon and the rest of the Welsh 3000s. Snowdon itself took me the best part of a day, with my wild camp for the night being high across the valley amongst the Glyders. On my final day I started early and walked fast, the weather was now getting humid and my legs were getting tired. But I gave it my all to cross the Carneddau and I reached Conwy and the end of my extreme adventure just as the light was fading about 10pm.
All together I walked over 100 miles and summited over 40 peaks, all in the space of 7 days. I walked in high winds and heavy rain, as well as high humidity and hot sunny outbreaks. I wild camped in some amazing mountian valleys, majestic forests and amongst Snowdonia’s most beautiful peaks.
I felt I had done my favourite National park justice and had experienced the full splendour it has to offer. It will always hold a special place in my heart and may well be the place I decide to eventually lay my hat and call home… Chaz Powell 😊
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