It’s what we call the golden hour here in north Wales. Sunrise in the depths of winter is rather a magical thing. We get a beautiful sunrise once every ten days, so it’s worth getting up early for. This time of year the sun rises right in the centre of the snowdonia range from where I live on Holy island and I get to see how magical it is from our attic conversion. With the shortest day of the year, been and gone on (21st December, winter solstice), the celebration of the return of the light begins, in many religions, cultures and counties is given great president. It’s worth taking a moment to remember that the darkest days are now behind you and that the day light will increase by three minutes a day from now on in.
I was given a call by a good friend and local sailor who was heading up onto the hills for some sunrise snaps, in snowdonia. He wanted to get to the top of the PYG track and get some spectacular shots of with the sun gracing the Llanberis pass and the rest of north Wales with its warm golden rays. Gareth and his lady Lou where to set off at four am to begin the hike up the PYG track from pen y pass and get a parking space before the masses arrived. Alas I couldn’t make this one with them, due to work commitments but Gaz managed to get some lovely snaps and I thought id do a small blog on the route with his images. I’ll keep this short and sweet as most of the readers who walk in Snowdonia, know the PYG track and are quite well acquainted with it.
It’s a very relaxed winter walk and will take between 4-5 hours and more depending on fitness with a full pack and at a chilled out pace. It’s a good choice for a sunrise as the track winds its way up the inside of the various lakes and cwms underneath snowdon and you get the sun on your face all the way down, if your early enough..
In terms of equipment I always like to edge on the side of caution with my ramblings on here as I have seen some rather epic sights up the hill sin my past (People in superman outfits, jean shorts and pumps in white out blizzards!) So its full winter pack list, b2-b3 boots and crampons packs just incase of a load of ice on the flag stone area which happens a lot with the water running down the zig zag steps. Take a map and compass (obviously) and extra layers too in a winter sack. See my winter hiking pack list herefor more info.
As mentioned before park at Pen Y Pass and pay your parking fees, get the poles out (if you have any) Check your phone for charge. Let our nearest and dearest know what route your doing and get on the track! The route winds up above Llyn Llydaw a glacial lake that is flanked by the miners tack. Both the miners track and the PYG (Pen Y Gwryd ) track meet up further up the route. The PYG track takes you then above Llyn Glasllyn and uptoward the zig zags that lead to the flag stone above, this is where the magic happens with the light if your a photographer after that super image for Instagram.
Gareth and Lou who are my friends who where out on this rather beautiful morning had the whole hill to themselves that morning, with frosty tracks and a beautiful clear blue sky, they got all the shots they where after after they topped out on the upper track above the flag stone, on the last drag up to Snowdon summit. With a lovely quiet mountain to yourself and glorious blue skies – what more could you want on a morning hike?
They topped out on the summit took some more fab snaps which they kindly donated for the blog, after telling Gareth that 4 am was a little early for my liking I kind of feel I should have got out of bed for this one…moral of the story. Say yes more. Thanks to Lou and Gas for the awesome images and ill join you next time 😉
Anyhow, just a short and sweet blog for you on some of the beautiful winter walks you can do in Snowodonia and start your year off with some great early morning hill fitness too. Enjoy and as always go safe on the hills in winter, pack accordingly and pick a little litter up on your way, help us clear our mountains up. Safe hikes, N. oh see our other blogs on Snowdonia walks, Snowdonia winter walking , and Intro into winter hiking / climbing in Snowdonia
Details about the hike :
Pyg Track Route Summary
- Difficulty: Moderate – requires a good level of fitness
- Distance: 4 miles
- Ascent: 750 metres
- Duration: Average 3-5 hours
- Start Location: Pen-y-pass Car Park SH 647 555
- Parking: Pen-y-Pass Car Park postcode: LL55 4NU or in Llanberis (bus)
- Map: OS OL17 Explorer 1:25K
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