This was my first visit to Snowdonia and as I had no idea what to expect I made the ascent to Mount Snowdon via the Llanberis Path. I had read some negative reviews on this route mainly things such as 'least interesting route', 'tourist trail', 'hiking motorway' and 'easy but lengthy'. My experience is as follows:
Based on the reviews I had read I decided that I wanted to ascend as early as possible to avoid the large cluster of people that would no doubt begin to climb between 9.30 and 10.30.
I was the third car to park on The Legacy Royal Victoria Hotel car park, which was quite high priced at £6 but the car park attendant was very pleasant and informative. The attendant suggested that I wrap up as cold weather was predicted, asked me if I had packed drink/food and asked me if I needed guiding to the start of the path - he could have just took my money and let me get on my way so thanks to him.
I made my way to the Llanberis path along Victoria Terrace and reached the cattle grid at bang on 8am. First mistake I made was to walk too quickly too soon and by the the first five minutes had gone I was ready to turn back to my car - take your time, there is no rush (lesson learnt for next time). The first half hour in which I only passed a couple of descending people was very steep and at times my legs were burning and felt like they were going to drop off. After that and up to the Halfway House the climb wasn't all that bad and was mainly flat. I carried on up and that is when the fun really started.
I came to the base of some really steep stone steps which seemed to take forever to climb, I then went under the second bridge that runs beneath the railway track. By the time I reached this stage the visibility was about ten metres and the wind was blowing between 35-40mph, on went the windproof jacket. I was struggling and stopped every ten steps or so for a breather and whilst doing so some super human guys ran passed me in shorts and vests! I continued on for another half hour and all of a sudden (once the other routes merged towards the summit) a load of people appeared from no where, I couldn't keep stopping now and needed to keep up the pace in order to attempt to keep my dignity!
Visibility was extremely poor, my nose was running, my legs were on fire and my ears, face and hands were freezing cold. I had to remind myself it was July and not mid winter! I knew I was getting close to the summit as the Altimeter now stated I was 1025m above sea level. Finally after climbing what seemed like a million steps I made it and got a picture the brass dial at the highest part of Snowdon.
I headed into the visitor centre (very clean and tidy - I expected worse based on reviews) for a hot chocolate and watched with amusement as the plastics (lazy/rich folk who took the train [n/a to disabled or the medically unfit who travelled up]) came out of the warmth to have there picture taken on the summit.
As I made my way down I began to realise how inspiring my ascent was and how good I felt as I was passing all those on the way up. I also realised how much rubbish was up there, items from banana skins, jelly shots, dozens of water bottles and sandwich cases - its appalling.
I felt very smug as I passed the 'tourists' (hollister tracksuits, denim shorts with flip flops, shorts t-shirts, man in his Sunday best shirt, trousers & blazer and what looked like a stag doo of lads drinking Carling and wearing jeans, trainers, shirts) they really had no idea what was coming and I would love to know what percentage of those made it to the summit so ill equipped and under prepared - it was cringeworthy. A total of four out of breath red faced people asked me how long have I got left on my way down, one even asked me near the halfway house - obviously not the brightest person.
I got back to the cattle grid (now just down to base layer) 4 hours 47 minutes after I had started and was already mentally planning my next ascent up Snowdon. Can't wait to go back up but this time I will take my gloves and a hat!
So based on the reviews I had read which were 'least interesting route', 'tourist trail', 'hiking motorway' and 'easy but lengthy', I can confirm it was interesting and it was a tourist trail and hiking motorway (on my descent only) but it was not easy at all!
If you are in two minds about going just do it and make sure you have boots, thermal base layers, fleece, windproof jacket, hat and gloves. Go early like I did so you share the ascent with only a handful of people, its much more special and inspiring. Also, Its worth climbing just to see the tourists'!