S is for Snowdon Mountain Railway

Published July 26, 2013

There were a few options for the S of my Alphabet Adventure, but when I thought of Snowdon, there could be no other contender. The point of the adventure is to go to new places, visit different things and get a view of the country I haven’t had before. Going up a mountain fits into all those categories and then some. I opted for the Snowdon Mountain Railway, because I thought climbing a mountain on my first go would be a bit much and… well, it was so hot.

It was beautiful, incredible, an outstanding view and perspective that was made even better by the clear conditions we were very lucky to get. Although it was baking hot on the ground, by the time we got to the top of the mountain it was cloudy and a cool breeze was blowing through. It was refreshing and lovely.

Mountain paths

Mountain railway

Mountain ridge

Mountain sleep

Mountain huge view

Mountain wall

So it was a good experience but I have a list of things that were less positive about the day. None of them were enough to dour the trip entirely, and in some cases it’s just because of the type of person I am. But these things do add up to take away from what could have been brilliant.

  • It costs £27.
  • It was supremely busy. I arrived at their stated opening time of 8:30am, and there were two or three people queuing at the day tickets and a huge line at the pre-orders. As I was buying on the day, the first train I could get on was for half twelve, which gave me four hours to while away.
  • The trains are cramped. You’re assigned a compartment so they can keep things orderly, and make sure they bring you back down off the mountain as well as take you up. There were two benches facing each other, and five thin cushioned areas on each. On the way up I was in the middle of one side, and personal space was limited.
  • It takes an hour. The views don’t really get good until the last twenty minutes or so. There’s a recorded audio tour guide but it was almost impossible to hear it over the loud engines.
  • I was ever so slightly disappointed to find that all there was at the summit was more people who had gone up a mountain.
  • There’s a building, hosting a fast food style café, a dingy souvenir shop and toilets. It smells like a locker room, because these are mostly people who have been climbing for several hours.
  • There was no signal.
  • I felt like I’d cheated because a lot of people there were experiencing the reward of having climbed. All I had to revel in was surviving the claustrophobia of the train compartment.
  • The way back down was slightly better because one of our fellow travellers didn’t show up so I got to scooch over by the window and take photos. Having said that, my back was starting to ache from the hard seats.
  • All the best souvenirs say “I climbed Snowdon” and I couldn’t buy one of those. I ended up with a less than impressive mug with a photo of the concrete summit building on it.

These sound like moans and complaints, and I suppose they are, but I want to accurately reflect the experience. It was amazing to do, and I’m happy to have done it, but now that it is done and in the past, it feels more disappointing than it should have.

It has made me want to climb a mountain though. An easy one. Not with ropes and stuff. Then I can buy the good souvenirs.

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