Getting to base camp

Published August 7, 2013

As mentioned in my Snowdon post, I had four hours to while away before going up the mountain. Ordinarily, I think I would have gone on to another location, I had plenty of options of places to visit, but I was a bit worried about getting back in time. Somehow, I’d managed to time my mountain trip on the same day as the Snowdon International Race – a crazy event where athletes actually run up a mountain. They were putting up the required barriers and cones as I arrived, and I knew it might be tricky to get back and/or park, and having spent what I did on the train tickets, I didn’t want to miss it.

So I crossed the road. There was a sign for a castle, which was through a narrow pathway amongst the trees, across a bit of a babbling brook and then up a steep hill. It was merely a circular tower in ruins, but oh my word, the view.

I don’t get emotional about things like this, but it was overwhelmingly beautiful. Breathtaking. Eye-wateringly incredible.

I stayed there a while, then descended, crossing the lake and heading to nearby Padorn Country Park. Studying a map showed me a few trails to follow, and I thought that would kill some time quite nicely. I followed the lake trail, which went up into the trees, along some country roads, rounding the lake to then walk back by the waterside.

Lonely hospital

Mountain range

Lake and mountains

It was brilliantly marked, just as I started thinking I had lost my way, there was another post with the white trail marker on – even in the sections that were more village road than country park.

It was hot, and it took quite a long time, and it wasn’t until I got back to the start and picked up a leaflet that I realised it was a five mile walk! I was ready for a sit down after that, and quite looking forward to the hour long train journey up the mountain.

Meanwhile, the path led me through some gates and into an area where the start of the Snowdon Race was being held. They’d erected the start banners, a man was talking into a loudhailer, and there were burger vans and fair-style games scattered around. I headed out to the road to check on the station but realised I was still about half an hour too early. I tried to go back through to… well, to get an ice cream, and they charged me £1! I had got through for free coming from a different direction, but now my ice cream was going to cost me its price and an extra pound on top. Oh well.

I also got a programme for my contribution, so it wasn’t that bad. I could read all the names of the runners taking part, and saw that the start time was roughly when we would be descending the mountain.

On the way back down, we did seem them making their way up, and almost all of us were shaking our heads and mouthing words like “madness.” It’s not just running, it’s not just running up a mountain even. It’s running up a mountain in one of the hottest Julys in recent history. It’s always a thin line between impressive and crazy.

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