Camping, Scrambling and Rambling in Snowdonia: My first adventure after lockdown

Llyn Padarn in Snowdonia

“Soon we were balancing along Crib Goch Ridge, with drops on each side like nothing you could imagine. No ropes and no hand holes – just fresh air and amazing views…”

It’s been a while since my last hostel adventure, so as you can imagine, I’ve been itching to get out and about and go camping as soon I can. Since the start of COVID I’ve sadly said goodbye to my loyal friend Jaffa, but I’m glad to say that I’ve since met a new furry friend called Skye to share in my adventures.

man and dog snowdonia

As soon as restrictions had been lifted, I decided to make the most of my Ramblers membership and look for a group to join. I found that the MAD walkers (the Manchester and District Ramblers) had a what they call a ‘DIY Weekend’ where you had to find your own accommodation, then you could meet up with them for walks and meals.

The plan was to meet in Snowdonia, but due to their strict rules on arrival times I was not able to camp with the group. Luckily, I was able to stay at Pentre Bach Hostel, which suited me and Skye perfectly as they had no set check-in time and camping was available.

Dog outside pentre bach bunkhouse
Skye getting excited to camp at Pentre Bach Bunkhouse

After driving through the night, we finally arrived in the early hours of Saturday morning, surrounded by the darkness of the valley. I was able to grab a few hours of sleep before I had to get up again, at which point I met up with Karen – the manager of the hostel – who gave us a guided tour.

dog camping at snowdonia hostel
Skye camping at Pentre Bach

My plan was to cook breakfast, but Karen suggested that I go straight to Llanberis as there was road works going on. I’m glad I took her advice as I found a brilliant café there called Pete’s Eats. Unfortunately, it wasn’t dog friendly inside, but we were able to get a table outside and have a lovely meal.

After breakfast, I went to meet the rest of our group at the bus stop. We then piled on to a double decker bus, which took us through the beautiful valley with its amazing scenery.

dog in snowdonia valley

On our arrival at the top of the valley, we had an induction by the walk leader before starting along the Pyg Track, towards the summit of Snowdon.  The leaders and other walkers advised me to stay on the paved Pyg Track because I had Skye with me, but we ignored them and decided to do the Crib Goch scramble along the ridge.

It was easy to start with, but it kept getting steeper and before I knew it, I was on my hands and knees climbing from hand hole to foot support. Despite this, Skye and I were a great team and worked well together. I would let him go ahead as far as the lead would allow, then he would sit and wait as I scrambled up.

Dog on Crib Goch Snowdonia

Soon we were balancing along Crib Goch Ridge, with drops on each side like nothing you could imagine. No ropes and no hand holes – just fresh air and amazing views.  We were lucky with the weather; I would not like to do such a precipitate route if the rocks were wet or icy. It was busy on the ridge, but we still had time to sit and relax (trying not look down!), as well as chat to others. It was a great experience.

dog on snowdon ridge

Halfway along, we stopped for lunch break before we did the last climb – up to where the paths join the Pyg Track and Miners track from Llanberis. After that was the last few feet up to the top of Snowdon.

People were everywhere and the queue to the trig point was a few hours long, so the group decided to follow the crowds going down the Miner path towards Llanberis.  The track was long and the views where incredible.

dog walking down snowdon

Once we joined the road, we found a tearoom bar called Penceunant Isaf, which has a terrace overlooking the valley below. It felt very welcoming as we sat in sunshine enjoying our afternoon tea and chatting about what we had achieved. The café was really dog friendly – Skye had lots of treats and a bowl of water.

Afterwards the group split up, with some going back to the accommodation to get ready for dinner in the evening. Skye and I did the last mile into village where a local suggested going to a nearby lake called Llyn Padarn. Once there, we lay in the sun and enjoyed the very peaceful atmosphere.

lake in snowdonia

That evening, we met up at a pub called The Heights – a lovely dog friendly pub.  We sat outside and were served homemade pizza and steak and chips by the very friendly staff.  The Heights is a short drive from Pentre Bach Camp Site.

Dog outside of The Heights

After another peaceful night’s sleep in Pentre Bach’s camping ground and a lovely warm shower (it was great to shower without a coin meter) we packed up and headed back to Llanberis, which incidentally has a dog friendly steam train.

We spent the morning educating ourselves with a trip to The National Slate Museum, which is dog friendly and free to enter. We learned about slate mines and how the miners lived and worked. They had their own town with a hospital, factory and houses. We were able to visit houses from different decades all together in one terrace.  The site was powered by a giant water wheel.  There was so much to learn there, I recommend it.

outside the national slate museum

The group then did a walk from the Country Park, which is only a short 5 miles around the lake and through the woods, past the site of an old slate mine. It was a nice easy walk, with a few trails to choose from – blue, yellow and white – I’m not sure which one we did but it was lovely. Streams flowed downhill through the trees and into the lake below. At the halfway point, we stopped for a lunch break at the top of the hill to look at the stunning scenery.

snowdonia country park

On getting back to the village, we went back to the café and had breakfast. We had a lovely afternoon tea (Skye got more treats) and as for cake, what a great choice of cakes! After that, it was time to say goodbye and hit the road after a great weekend away.

To sum up, I think a weekend away was not enough time, there’s plenty of walks near where we camped and a what looks like a great pub nearby. We were also a short drive away from some other big attractions. I could do with week or two to experience it all.

About Alex Russel

Alex and his dog Jaffa explored regions of the UK staying at Independent Hostels. Jaffa passed away in 2019 but Alex has a new dog "Skye" and they continue to get away for walking weekends whenever they can.