A Stunningly Beautiful Ride up Snowdon


Note the cog wheel in the cog rail within the symbol on the sign. This mechanism is how it can climb the steep grades to the top. Seeing footage of the steam trains, the ascent, the views are what prompted my visit.

I would highly recommend that everyone visit Mount Snowdon and ride the Snowdon Mountain Railway … by any means other than mass transit. It took four hours to go up and down the mountain but an additional 11 hours to get from and to Liverpool. Granted, I didn’t have to choose an English city from which to visit western Wales but the long haul isn’t what took all the time. It’s the inefficient local bus system that added unnecessary hours of waiting and wandering. Go in a car, but go.

Two days ago I came to the mountain to scope out the situation. The weather on Tuesday was horrible so I was just as happy not to be climbing Snowdon that day. Upon consulting with the national park’s information office we concluded Thursday (today) was the best bet this week for a climb so I headed to the ticketing office and bought a round trip train ticket. Though my intent was to ride the train up and hike down, in the event the weather was bad I wanted a Get Out of Jail Free card.

The weather this morning was spectacular. Inside I was smiling the whole time I was headed to the mountain. If the forecasters were to be believed I’d finish my hike just around the time the rain would start. As luck would have it, they were almost exactly right. The heavens opened up as I rounded the last lake of the descent.

The train ride up was a special adventure. The railway was begun in 1897 and was based on Swiss technology, in particular a rack-and-pinion conveyor system that allowed the train to go up steep grades. The locomotives were originally steam-based but in recent decades the fleet has grown to include diesel and electric as well. These engines don’t push many passengers and they don’t exceed five miles per hour but boy can they climb! Being a part of history, watching the other trains in action as we climbed, seeing all the hikers, it was fun.

The descent was fabulous too but I’ll not describe it. I leave you with pictures below because they do a good job of telling the story of the ride, the hike and the stunning beauty. I feel very fortunate to have made this trip and know that I’ll quickly forget the transportation challenges and just remember my time on the mountain. This was an adventure of a lifetime!


One thought on “A Stunningly Beautiful Ride up Snowdon

  1. Hi,
    Just got back from our England/Wales trip.
    It was wonderful, sunny every day! Had a great time.
    The idea was to take the family — Karen, the oldest, and the grandkids, and Tanya and her husband, Henry, to visit some of the places where Marlene grew up, where we met, married, etc. All that worked out great!
    Regrettably, time worked against us in Wales. Taking the steam train up Snowdon was high on our list, but we just ran out of time. (Too many relatives 🙂
    So, thanks for this posting! It helps give us an excuse to go back!

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