I did it! By some way of a miracle, I slept all the way through the night, lulled into a deep and peaceful sleep by the therapeutic rumble of the river outside our tent. It certainly made a difference that I remembered to bring pillows this time. Top tip, a lack of pillows whilst camping makes for an awful, uncomfortable experience filled with neck cramp and ear ache. If you bring anything camping with you, bring a pillow!
Light seeping into our tent woke me up and I sprang out of bed, despite going to sleep at way past 1am the following night. I felt great! I hadn't felt this good for ages. In my head I was imagining sending the drone up over our campsite, the activities we'd get up to today and of course, my cup of tea. My cup of tea is always one of the key excitement points of the day. I nudged my partner who was already awake and checked my phone for the time. 8am, not bad - for me anyway.
As I exited my tent, it was only for the first time that I got to take in how beautiful the campsite was. We were in a secluded field, a river right beside our tent. Behind the campsite was a tall, looming peak, birds circling across the summit. The water bubbled down from it in 2 streams which merged into one as it reached where we were. On the other side of the field was another mountain, smaller than the other but covered in a graceful pine forest. I decided that this was my favourite campsite we'd been to so far. The beautiful campsite in the lake District nestled between three great mountains was a close second. However, the privacy in our own field made this one take the lead. Plus the river is a bonus!
Our Snowdonia campsite. Can you spot our bright blue tent?
We had breakfast (our greatest camping breakfast achievement! It was perfect!) and then jumped in the car, excited for what the day had in store. We were in Snowdonia so we decided that we wanted to reach the summit of Mount Snowdon, the tallest peak in Wales. No, I wasn't going to walk it! There's a train that takes you right to the top. That's much more up my street - especially since my fitness levels are at an all-time-low. I'm out of breath from climbing the stairs at home so I'm not sure how I'd fare on a mountain that's over 1,000 metres high. I can tell you now, it wouldn't be a pretty sight!
The drive was even more spectacular than the drive down, the day before. We found ourselves in a deep valley, a majestic peak on each side of us. I was convinced that one of them had to be Snowdon. At this point in the day, dark clouds concealed the summit of the peak on our left, the one I had an inkling was the great Snowdon. The peak on our left was incredibly craggy. Frequent streams carved their way down the side of the mountain, winding round fallen boulders. There were some spectacular waterfalls, dropping from some incredible heights! I was left completely awestruck. Who'd have thought such beauty could exist so close to home?
The drive to Snowdonia National Park
At the end of the valley was a town, the town where the train to Snowdon begins. We drove past the station, shocked at just how many people were there. People were everywhere, overflowing onto the streets. I'm not exactly one for big crowds so I started to feel a little concerned. Then we saw the carpark had a big sign blocking the entrance, stating 'CARPARK FULL'. Great. Well, it actually was great as the parking for the day there was £8 and we found a carpark only a short walk away which cost us £4 for the day. We thought it was a great deal until we arrived at the ticket-office where a sign said 'ALL TRAINS BOOKED FOR THE DAY'. What? My heart dropped. My dreams shattered. OK - I'm exaggerating a bit but I was pretty bummed out. I'd set my heart on going up Snowdon and there was no chance I was walking.
"Are there any trains tomorrow morning?" I asked the lady at the desk, unable to hide the disappointment from my voice.
"The earliest tomorrow is at 5pm." She responded flatly.
No chance. I politely declined, shuffling out of the ticket office with a heavy heart. Top tip, if you want to take the train up Snowdon, you will need to book at least 2 days in advance. In fact, I'd be tempted to say book a week in advance. It wasn't even like it was forecast for great weather this weekend but it was still completely booked up. £4 on parking didn't seem like a good deal now.
I still wanted to see Snowdon so we decided to drive back up the valley towards Snowdon. Perhaps we could climb part of the way. On our way back up the valley, I saw a beautiful stream on my left.
"Let's stop here and explore." I suggested.
If only it was that easy. The road through the valley was incredibly narrow with the very occasional pull-over spot which was rammed with cars. Our luck seemed to change and I spotted a potential spot. Sure, it may have been a dip on the side of the road with a fairly deep puddle at the bottom with sharp rocks jutting out here and there but it would do. Only problem was that we only decided to go for it once we'd driven passed. We had to drive all the way to the other side of the valley in order to turn round and we didn't even know if it would still be there when we got back.
Luck was on our side, finally. It was still there! I guided my partner into the spot, kicking large rocks out the way as to not damage the car. Yes, we were in. I noticed a car slowing down on the road beside us. Oh, no, I thought. They must think we're leaving. Sure enough the man wound down his window and yelled, "You leaving?"
"No, we just got here. But there might be room to squeeze next to our car."
The woman on the passenger seat shot us a look of pure disgust and hatred. I swear her mouth was agape. Without a word, they huffed off. How rude! They certainly weren't in the holiday spirit. Well, it didn't matter - we were here! I couldn't wait to explore.
Aerial view of a waterfall trickling down one of Snowdonia's peaks
The first thing we wanted to do was send the drone up. The landscape was spectacular and I didn't feel like my photos were doing it justice. We started to climb up the side of the mountain to find ourselves a nice, secluded yet relatively flat spot to send the drone up. We stopped atop of a boulder, taking in the incredibly views around us. Below us the road snaked through the valley, a line of small cars rhythmically following it round bends. On the other side of the road was the sloping sides of Mount Snowdon, its summit becoming visible as the clouds began to gradually disperse, letting us glimpse the clear blue sky. When I craned my neck to look above me, I could see the jagged sides of the mountain we had begun climbing, it's perilous terrain tantalisingly beautiful. Then of course there was the stream, the beauty that initially caught my attention. It tumbled gracefully down its path of rocks, bubbling gently in my ears.
Wales is heaving with waterfalls, some majestic and constantly cascading, others only here for a few days of the year when the rain is at its heaviest. We were fortunate enough to arrive after a heavy few weeks of rain and thus there were a lot more waterfalls flowing than usual. If you want to be guaranteed to see a waterfall in Wales, there are many large falls available to view such as the Four Waterfalls Walk in Brecon Beacons, South Wales.
The waterfall which we climbed up as high as we could
Whilst engrossed in my drone flight, my partner had wandered off up the steep sides of the mountain, walking parallel to the stream. By the time I'd safely landed the drone, he was no where to be seen. I started stumbling up the mountain, a heavy camera bag on my pack and the drone in my hand, just in case I might like to fly it again. Let me get one thing straight - I suck at climbing. My balance of poor at best and I always seem to slip. Today was no exception. As a struggled to get a foothold, fumbling my feet around in the bracken, I managed to slip, landing practically face-first in the dirt, surrounded by sheep poo and bracken which may have been covered in ticks. "Shit", I mumbled. I allowed my elbows to take most of my weight, determined not to damage the drone.
I stood up, my back aching with the weight of the bag and my legs trembling slightly. I'm not scared of heights; I'm just a clumsy oaf. I glanced around me, still unable to see my partner anywhere. I knew he was near the stream so that was where I was heading. I pulled myself together and managed to put on a burst of speed, gliding over the uneven terrain. This isn't so bad! But then I came to a very steep segment of mountain and found myself staring at it blankly, unsure how to tackle it. Perhaps I should put the drone away now. My eyes scanned the sloping ground for an appropriate spot but it was so steep now that there was nowhere to put my rucksack down and I feared I'd topple off the mountain if I tried.
I started calling my partner's time. Silence. It all just felt futile. Plus my phone was on around 9% and I was trying to preserve its battery-life as much as possible by keeping it on aeroplane mode.
I tried climbing higher, my strength clearly ebbing as each step seemed so much harder than the previous. I tried calling him again, my desperate voice echoing off the steep cliffs around me.
Then a head popped up from over some tall boulders, not too far up ahead. Thank goodness! I let out a sigh of relief as he started shuffling over steep rocks, slowly descending towards me. It took a long time before he finally reached me, playfully scolding me for not having my phone on. What can I say? I was saving the battery to take photos. Now that we had been reunited, I could rejoice at how high I climbed and of course, take photos!
I think that's Snowdon. I have compared it to photos of Snowdon to clarify but it's hard. Mountains all look very similar
Me by the waterfall
We climbed pretty high!
In some ways the descend was harder than the ascend. I found myself slithering down on my bum for some of the way, carefully avoiding the sheep poo that dotted the mountain-side. Fortunately, my partner had offered to take the drone so at least I was only weighed down by the bag now. He wasn't faring too much better and we both crawled down together, trying our best not to let gravity take its course.
"Well, that was fun!" I exclaimed as we reached the bottom.
We both agreed on stopping off at a café for a nice cup of tea. We found a cute little café on the outskirts of the village where the train was called, Llanberis. Our car started to ascend up a steep single-road track up, what felt like, the side of a mountain. The small café, called Penceunant Isaf came into view and we were able to park outside in a very small carpark. It was such a cute café with lovely slate tables outside in the sun. We both ordered a mug of tea and my partner also enjoyed a Welsh teacake.
Much-needed tea at a local café
We were planning on heading back to the campsite after our little tea break. However, whilst driving back through the valley, I spotted another captivating sight, a waterfall cascading down a sheer drop before turning into a rushing stream, smaller drops in its wake as it descended down the steep slope. An empty pull-over spot was in comfortable walking distance. Like before, by the time we decided to take the spot, we'd driven passed it so back up the valley we went before turning round and finally claiming our spot.
Re-energised by my tea, I skipped across the grass, excited with my plan of climbing as far up the side of the waterfall as we could before sending the drone up for some awesome shots. At this point, I didn't realise that this slope was in fact far steeper than the last that we climbed. Quickly I started to tire and feel light-headed. I was no where near as high as I had wanted to get. I decided that a tree up-ahead by the river would be the point at which I'd stop and take the drone up.
Finally, I made it. My legs were trembling profusely by now, likely with exhaustion. It was very steep and I'd used perhaps the last of my energy to get up to this point. When I took the drone up, my trembling only got worse. I lost balance a few times looking up and my partner nearly falling didn't help much. Yeah, I had a little bit of a wobble. I always get nervous when flying the drone but flying it from a very precarious position made it so much worse. I managed to get the shots I wanted but quickly crumpled into a heap on the sloping ground as soon as I'd caught the drone again.
I managed to catch my breath as my partner flew the drone again and then we descended on our butts again.
The second waterfall which we climbed
We didn't quite make it to the top! This is a mighty high waterfall!
On our way back up the valley we decided we needed some batteries and the only town we had seen was the town at the other end of the valley. Yep, we were turning around again. It was cute to venture into the centre of the town where the buildings were all painted bright colours. After we'd picked up the batteries we finally headed back to the campsite where we enjoyed a lovely dinner beside a log-fire. We may have had difficulties getting the fire going and had to go out to purchase fire lighters but in the end we had a nice, albeit smokey, fire. With a lovely, full belly I headed off to bed.
The next morning we had breakfast and then packed up our stuff. It felt sad to be leaving such a magical place but I'd truly enjoyed my time here. We may not have been able to go on the train up Snowdon but in the end I think things worked out for the best and we were able to do something more special. Plus, we really got lucky with the weather. When we drove down, it was tipping it down and when we left, it was tipping it down. However, the weather was perfect whilst we were there.