Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking

Winter comes early on a Snowdon horseshoe.

Cloud clearing over Y Lliwedd

Cloud clearing over Y Lliwedd

Arranging a weekend away for a group always has some challenges. Work and social commitments come first and pushed our autumn meet back into the middle of November. We settled on Snowdonia and in anticipation of the colder weather stayed in a hostel rather than a hut. Last weeks storms made planning tricky, our trip could have been a weekend in the pub and climbing wall or would we brave the extreme weather? Then, unfortunately, Andy had to drop out due to a bought of flu, a shame as he had skipped a business trip to be with us.

Pen Y Pass hostel is such a great spot, with a fantastic atmosphere and history. So we happily settled in there on Thursday night giving us two full days in the mountains on our doorstep. It seemed churlish to not go up Snowdon with the PyG track on the doorstep. Plan A was to do the Horseshoe, none of us had done it for a long time. Mikes and my attempt last winter had to be curtailed due to getting caught up in an Army exercise.  Widespread gales and buffeting was forecast, so Crib Goch was out of the question, but we would still go for the summit.

Heres the group (less DIck behind the camera) setting off from Pen Y Pass

Here’s the group (less Dick behind the camera) setting off from Pen Y Pass

We enjoyed the walk up the PyG track, stopping only for Nas to do his e-mails and the odd conference call. We couldn’t stop for long, even in the shelter of the Cwm it was still cold – falling to 2° as we climbed. Peaking out onto the ridge the full force of the gale hit us. Hoods up, zips fastened and  gloves on, we forced our way to the summit through spindrift and a covering of snow.

Even on a Thursday in mid-November, during a gale and  with snow underfoot – the summit was still busy. People there didn’t hang around long though, the few hardy ones that insisted on taking a lunch stop were huddling in the shelter of the cafe. Bill was still miffed that he couldn’t get his Oggy pasty at the cafe. We suspected that was his initial motivation for coming out with us, although to be fair we did know the doors would be firmly shuttered. Dicks meat pies did help fill the gap.

Mike, Steve and I on the summit.

Mike, Steve and I on the summit.

I wanted to stick to Plan A as far as possible so decided to finish the horseshoe over the top of Y Lliwedd. Mike and Dick came along with the others droppng down to Llanberis for tea and cakes and the bus back to base. Actually not a difficult choice in the weather we were having.

As the three of us reached the top of the Watkin path turn-off the gale picked up hail stones. Hoods back up while we found the finger stone pointing our way down the hill. It was good to find the stone, the path was covered in snow and no-one had been up that way so far that day. In the lee of the Snowdon summit pyramid it was much calmer, good to get out of the bluster above.

Soon we were below the cloud line and views down to Cwm Llan and Bethania opened up. The much less used Watkin path cut across the hillside below us. The old mine workings were illuminated by the afternoon sun.

View down Llyn Llydaw from Y Lliwedd

Mike and I posing above the view down Llyn Llydaw from Y Lliwedd

It wasn’t immediately obvious where the track up Y Lliwedd started, snow still covering the path where it headed off. We knew we had to head upwards, keeping the cliff edge to our left. That worked fine and we scrambled up the hillside to the twin summit. Grey clouds stayed just above us with an occasional break letting rays of sun stream down into the valley. A brilliant scene.

Sun breaking through over Bedgelert

Sun breaking through over Beddgelert

It wasn’t long before we made it down to the Llyn and Miners track taking us straight back to the hostel and our nice pot of tea and slice of excellent YHA Carrot cake.


For some reason, I didn’t get my camera out this day. So thanks to Dick Goodband for his excellent pictures.



2 comments on “Winter comes early on a Snowdon horseshoe.

  1. Bill W
    November 29, 2015

    What a great day … Cold but uplifting!

  2. Pingback: A Touch Of Snow In The Ogwen Valley –

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2015 by in Blog, Mountain Leader, Snowdonia and tagged , , , , , , , .
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