Tuesday, June 12, 2012

South Stack via Snowdon

On the 26th May I decided to have a go at running up Snowdon as I have an entry in the Snowdon Mountain Race at the end of July. The route follows the Llanberis path, which is also known as the tourist route as it is supposedly the easiest way up. It is about 5 miles to the summit from Llanberis.
It was a beautiful, hot May day; hard to believe after all the rain we've been having recently. Never having walked this way to the summit, (or competed in a fell race!) this was more of an exploratory run to see how my legs coped with the terrain. After parking in the town I jogged slowly up the road that leads to the path to the summit. Within a few minutes I was already walking up one of the steepest tarmac roads that I have ever seen. Thankfully, once onto the rocky path I was able to start jogging again. It was a very hot day, but the main obstacle to my progress was the near gale-force wind; I was glad to be wearing my sunglasses to protect my eyes from the dust. I made my way slowly up the slope passing many walkers. The views were fabulous, but I had to walk in many places due to the wind and the steepness of the gradient. I reached the summit in just over an hour. It was impossible to stand on the summit due to the strength of the wind and many walkers were taking shelter in the lee of the summit cairn.
Suppressing my desire to enter the cafe and buy a refreshing coffee, I immediately set off on the return run back down. With gravity aiding a quick decent my lungs could breathe easy again, but I held back from an all-out flight down to try and save my leg muscles. This was a wise decision as by the time I regained the steep tarmac road my thigh muscles were aching with every step. The journey down took 40 mins, and I was glad to reach my car and down a few bottles of water.
Once changed and re-hydrated, I drove over to Anglesey and visited the beautiful RSPB reserve at South Stack. This superb area of heathland and cliffs is home to fabulous seabirds such as Guillemots, Razorbills, a few Puffins and that enigmatic crow the Chough. I spent a lovely afternoon here admiring the wildlife and the scenery, but my leg muscles didn't appreciate the walk down the steep steps to the lighthouse after my exertions in the morning!

Guillemots nesting on the cliff.

The much-photographed South Stack lighthouse.

Chough with larval prey item.

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