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Driving to Snowdonia & How We Nearly Turned Back

Drone view of Snowdonia national Park with mount Snowdon in the background

It was time for our third camping trip. We’d been holding it off for a couple of weeks in the hope that the weather would pick up. It also allowed us time to finally get the car fixed. 3 weeks later, the weather still wasn’t great but I just couldn’t hold off waiting any longer so we decided to go anyway. After our not-so-great time camping in the Peak District, we decided to drive further afield and thoroughly check the campsite to make sure it’s what we were looking for. We really loved our first camping experience in a picturesque National Trust campsite in the Lake District so opted for another National Trust campsite but this time in Wales, Snowdonia National Park to be exact.

Of course, with us, nothing really goes to plan. It was Friday, the day we were planning on leaving and we still didn’t have a campsite booked. I’d told my partner about a nice little campsite in South Snowdonia between two rivers. Turned out, this campsite didn’t even exist and I’d just got confused. Typical me. Fortunately, we found another campsite in Northern Snowdonia. The only issue was that we had planned to save this campsite for better weather so we could get the train up Snowdon. If it’s cloudy, I can’t imagine the view from the top being any good. Well, we didn’t have any other options so we decided on this campsite. It was a ‘self service’ campsite meaning we paid when we got there.

We were planning on leaving at 3pm. The drive would take roughly 3 hours meaning we’d be set to arrive at 6pm. Yeah, we didn’t leave at 3pm, or even 4pm. It was past 5pm by the time we finally left and tensions were flaring. We’d already bickered about what time we should set off, planning it around work. Uh, the dreaded work. It always takes over!

We’d been driving for less than 20 minutes when the bickering got too much and I pulled over, frustrated and defeated. That’s it, I thought. We’re going home. My insides were screaming that going home was the wrong thing to do as I needed to get away but at that point the stress was getting too much and it was easy to give in to comfort.

I don’t know what made use change our minds but we somehow continued with the journey, stopping off shortly for croissants and ham. I guess the food gave me life and I was once again raring to go.

Sunset and mist over forest in Snowdonia, Wales
Welsh village on the drive to Snowdonia, Wales
Tea room covered in ivy in Snowdonia, Wales

Fortune was not on our side. It was absolutely pouring down with rain. Imagine being sat under a waterfall or a giant shower above you on full blast, that’s what it felt like. I trudged down the motorway, barely able to see a metre in front of our car because the spray was that bad. The other drivers didn’t seem to keen on it either and we slowly all crawled at around 30mph down a normally fast-moving road. Then came the traffic. So much traffic. A normally 3 hour journey ended up taking more like 4 hours. Just great.

As we entered Snowdonia National Park, the traffic finally eased off and simultaneously, the rain stopped too. The sun even started to poke its head through some grey clouds, illuminating the landscape with a beautiful, vibrant hue. Forest-covered mountains started to engulf the roads and a magical-looking mist had settled in atop some of the forests.

We drove through quaint villages, the roads scarily narrow. We found ourselves zig-zagging across a river, small single-track bridges taking us to one side and then another bridge taking us back to the other later on. I was grateful that I didn’t bump into anyone coming the other way across one of these bridges.

The sky started to darken just as we found ourselves on a straight road, carving straight through a valley. To the left of us was a beautiful, calm lake and beyond that was a mountain, small in comparison to the ones ahead. To our right was another mountain, the occasional stream trickling down over its path of rocks.

We saw various campsites along our way, wondering if any were ours. Some looked quite enticing.

At the end of the valley, the road turned to the left and we found ourselves crawling along a road that wound round the side of a mountain, a steep drop to my right that led down to another lake. Behind that lake was the largest mountain I had seen yet, its summit completely coated by a thick layer of grey cloud. Several streams trickled down, looking like veins, the life of the mountain.

We descended and found ourselves in another valley. This was where our campsite was. We trudged down a narrow, bumpy road which led to a farm where our campsite lay. By the time we arrived it was 9.30pm and light was fading fast. We quickly pitched up our tent in a field where there were only 4 other tents. It was lovely to have our own space. We chose a spot by the river, the roaring of the water soothing our ears. Finally, at around 1am, we settled down to sleep.

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