Remedial mountain action (Snowdon Ranger Path)


kay, so yesterday didn’t go to plan and today we woke up with two distinct needs:

  1. my kids could use a fun walk and a summit
  2. I am knackered, and REALLY need a rest

It’s time for the Ranger path!

This is one of my kids’ favourite mountain walks, because you can see the whole mountain route (almost) from the beginning of the main climb, and it’s a steady, easy climb to the top. For me, ehh, it’s like the scene in the film Chocolat – it’s good, really good, but it’s not my favourite. Except for today when I was, after all the year, and the challenges, and the travel, and the work, and yesterday’s broken boot hike… dammit, gimme easy.

I’ve blogged before about the Ranger Path but to save clicking, here are the basics:

It starts with an annoying (but easy) gravel zigzag that lasts about 1.5km… after that you hit a little footpath crossroads (straight on) and then it’s rolling turf and a sweet path that leads you up to the west side of Yr Wyddfa with a cracking view of the whole mountain (summit included if you don’t have cloud). We started our day with a cloudy summit, but it burned off during the day (today’s weather was in all senses exactly what we needed yesterday).

Lower Ranger Path leading to the west side of the mountain

The real slope starts at about 3km and after that it’s 4km of upwards hike with gorgeous views of all things west of the mountain (hills, sheep, sea) and it finishes with a track heading over a wide, sloping field up to the Llanberis path and the Bwlch Glas convergence, then steps to the summit. No drop-offs, no exposure, no scrambling, no real effort, no boring bits, just a steady loveliness and an easy summit.

I managed the day in my teen’s old size 6.5 Karrimors which are too big really, but OK for this walk and actually pretty comfy – in any case, they’re all we had in the car after my own boots fell apart yesterday.  (We picked up some new boots for one of the kids the other day after a pre-holiday sprained ankle meant he needed more support, and the guy in the shop said some people spend HOURS trying on boots. This is not me, I will never voluntarily spend hours in any shop on this earth: shopping is my hell. I would rather walk barefoot up the mountain*.)

*not in front of the kids

So it’s relatively easy – I should probably say, there’s no truly lazy walk up Snowdon – you have to lug your own bodyweight to the top and it’s the top whichever way you go, and walking when really tired is an effort: by the first real hike up (about 3-4km) I was feeling dizzy and sick and miserable. This soon wore off though and after we’d reached the summit, the long, gentle bob downhill was absolute heaven.


How’s the Ranger path special, then? 

This is a great walk for families.

The lower reaches are super-mellow and the party doesn’t have to bunch up. My youngest was able to amble down alone, twisting grass stems into shapes, while my elder two rabbited on together without my supervision. Everyone was able to grab a little much-needed personal space and I could daydream.

The higher reaches give everyone their exercise and lovely views and if you stick to the path, it’s pretty hard to fall off. Again, this is SUPERB for parents. Kids can’t go up unsupervised necessarily, but you don’t have to grab them every two seconds. (OK, the dad with the 5y/o needed to keep a close eye, but parents of older or more experienced kids get an easier ride.)

I walk as a lone parent – for health reasons, my kids’ father can’t do this. (And trying to organise friends to come along means finding friends who will (i) walk up mountains (ii) in the same week, not easy at any time, impossible in 2020 when we weren’t even sure if we’d make it up.) I find hiking with kids is usually more mentally demanding than physical because no matter how fit I am, always, always, there’s the mental watchfulness of looking after three kids in a potentially dangerous area. On the more tricky slopes, I don’t get two seconds off in a row. If things go wrong, I don’t get to reach out for help: I just have to deal with it. I have to pack all the first aid kit, and spare bottles of water. It’s incredible to watch novice children turn into experienced children, but they’re still children.

I see other people taking up little kids and it’s almost always one child per adult, or several adults per child – and it’s a different ballgame then because they have another adult to reach out and say, “hey, it’s OK, we can do this”, or  “I made you some lunch” or “I have a first aid kit, you don’t need one” or “I’ll hold his hand, you just have fun and take photos”. I have to be more careful than these people because if they fall, one adult can stay with the child while the other goes for help. I don’t have that (although my elder kids are starting to download maps and make lunches – yey!)

With the Ranger path, usual mountain caution applies, but still I get an easy ride. It’s like a big mountain hug.

I picked up more litter on the way down today (and wasn’t the only walker doing this – one even thanked us) – and this was my thank you to Yr Wyddfa for giving me a much-needed day off, and a lovely walk.

Boy coming down from the mountain (summit clearly visible – obviously TODAY would have been perfect for Rhyd Ddu…)

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