Mike turned 30 last week, and decided that what he wanted to do to celebrate was to go climb a mountain. So he booked us a few days staying in Betws y Coed and we headed off on Wednesday. After many trains on the way there we checked into the Royal Oak hotel, I changed into a summer frock, and we spent the evening gently pottering around the village and a little way along the river. Summer frocks are not ideal for climbing stiles :)
On Thursday morning we breakfasted nice and early, collected our packed lunches and headed off for the Sherpa Bus to Pen y Pass, arriving just after 9am. It was a gorgeous morning, and the Pyg Track was incredibly busy at first, so it seemed almost like queueing to climb. It gradually thinned out though as we got a bit higher. Although it wasn't our planned route it turned out to be a great way to climb: with some slightly steep scrambling in places but nothing difficult, and some lovely views down over the lakes by the Miners' Path. Reaching the pass with the view over the other side was spectacular although hazy. Then there was just a short push to the top where I sang happy birthday :) By then there was a little cloud cover too, and it was cool enough for us to need our fleeces as we sat and ate our lunch. We headed back down along the Snowdon Ranger path to start with, before taking a left across some slightly boggy moorland and over the impressive slate tips to find our way to Rhyd Ddu for a swift drink in the pub and a bus back to Pen y Pass, just in time to catch the other bus back to Betws y Coed. Despite a long day we still went out for a little walk after dinner :)
Friday was another gorgeous day, and instead of taking it easy we headed out again and took the path up along the River Llugwy to Swallow Falls. This was a lovely route, partly by the river itself where we stopped and paddled our feet in the sunshine, and partly through the woods on the steep valley sides. The waterfall itself was pretty impressive, and our photos just didn't do it justice. Walking back we struck away from the river into the woodland, and found ourselves on a bit of ancient Roman road, which was rather fun. We had a bit of trouble with the last bit of route back into the village: coming up across the end of people's gardens, but eventually found our way home. It tipped it down rather spectacularly in the evening, which was fun to watch, and we had fish and chips for tea sitting in a bus shelter.
Saturday dawned cloudy, and with tired legs we decided to do something other than walking :) Instead we caught a train to Blaenau Ffestiniog and treated ourselves to a ride on the Ffestiniog Railway. This is a narrow-guage heritage railway running with steam trains and restored carriages, over the hills and out to Porthmadog harbour. Where we stopped for long enough to grab some sandwiches before hopping on the same train back again, and then another normal train home, finishing off our day with a 10 minute ride on the miniature railway in Betws y Coed. It was definitely a fun day out and made a nice change. Dr Who on the telly followed by a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant finished the day nicely.
And Sunday was our trip home, with the clearest day yet and a lovely sunny bus ride back to Llandudno Junction (since there were no trains) and straightforward journey home. A lovely holiday in a lovely part of the world.