My wife and I took advantage of the wonderful weather we had today in Snowdonia; blue skies, almost no wind and just a little bit on the chilly side. Perfect for cycling! My wife had not ridden one of mine and many local cyclists’ routes cycling closely past the Snowdon Massif, and as she is currently in training for a sportive in April, she needs to keep her mileage up and increase the amount of hills she climbs. A sportive is basically an organised event on a set route where an entry fee is paid and many cyclists take part.
The route is around 32 miles/55 kilometres and starts (depending on where you live, of course) in our village of Bethesda, straight up the sinuous A5 into the mountains via the Nant Ffrancon climb and through the stunning expanse of the Ogwen Valley and within spitting distance of Tryfan. This leads you to Capel Curig (often cited as one of the coldest and windiest places in Britain; I can confirm that!), where we turn right and head past the Plas y Brenin mountain training centre, where the view opens out to the west over the county-splitting Dyffryn Mymbyr. This is always a good spot to snap a photo, and as the Snowdon range is wearing a nice thick coat of icing sugar at the moment, with the sun shining from the east still as we set off in the morning, the light was ideal. So I snapped a couple, plus one of my wife. I have so many shots from this point and to be honest, it’s not often it is as clear as in the images below, as the mountains are so often under thick, brooding clouds.
So from here, we cycle four miles to the Pen y Gwyrd Hotel/Pub, where George Mallory and the 1953 Everest expedition team stayed as they prepared themselves on the flanks of snow covered Snowdon. Those days, the snow-line in winter was reliably a lot lower than it is these days. This stretch of road is often very windy and demoralising, but thankfully today, the wind was not as strong as it usually is, but it’s still hard work along here as it’s a gradual pull up and the road surface isn’t particularly great.
At the hotel, we turned right, heading up on the road up to Pen y Pass, with its vertiginous flanks in places. Pleased to say that my wife did really well, as I stopped here and there to get some photos of her. We arrived at the top, which is around 350 metres, with blue skies stretching away north to Ynys Mon/Anglesey. I warned my wife to take it steady on the way down, but she has descended Alpe D’Huez in France, so I knew she was perfectly capable! At the bottom she said she wanted to do it again! 🙂
The route carries on through Llanberis on flatter roads. We continued through a couple of villages and eventually turned back east, heading for Bethesda and home for a nice cup of tea!
We had a lovely ride and if you want to check out the route, then please go here.
Here are the images I took during the ride. Again, taken with my Fuji point-and-click, so some blown highlights, especially loss of detail in snow. Images edited in Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom for finishing touches.