This Summer has probably been one of the best that I can remember. Blue skies, warm weather, late sunsets and early sunrises, perfect for landscape photography….not! Despite the less than favourable photographic conditions, it was perfect to spend some nights in the Snowdonia mountains!
Back in June, I had been planning to head up to a little spot called Cribau, just off the summit of Snowdon. The route I had planned started at Pen-y-Pass car park and headed along the Miner’s Path to Llyn Llydaw before veering left and up onto the ridge followed by a traverse of Y Lliwedd. This spot provides a spectacular view down Llyn Llydaw and of the surrounding hills. A good friend of mine, ‘Corny’, had said he wanted to come along as well so after work on a Friday afternoon, we met in Llanberis and headed to Pen-y-Pass. The route we took is below for anyone interested.
Once we had sorted out all of our kit, we started off up the path. The weather was glorious, mid twenties but pretty humid. With a pack weighing in at close to 18kg, the humidity made the walk tough going, especially as we began the climb up onto the ridge. The path is fairly obvious throughout and poses no major issues for summer conditions. Once up there, the visibility was superb and you could see all the way West across to Anglesey and South West to Porthmadog. The walk across Y Lliwedd is throughly enjoyable and I will definitely be heading back up there in Winter as it has several photographic opportunities. Along the ridge we passed a guy and his dad heading in the opposite direction, doing our route in reverse. After a brief chat, we continued up to our camp spot and found a suitable piece of ground to pitch the tent.
Once the tent was up and Corny had stashed his bivvy bag inside, I thought about the best place to go for sunset. Despite it being a bit cliche, I decided to head up to the summit of Snowdon and see what would work. The rucksack was much more comfortable now everything but my camera gear and jetboil had been emptied out! We began the slog up the final portion of the Watkin path (which is chuffing steep!) and eventually arrived at the top. It was pretty busy as you can imagine being a Friday evening in the height of Summer. There were lots of groups around who had just completed their 3 peaks challenge so I decided to head back down a little bit and see what compositions I could find. After a few handheld shots, I found a composition I liked, set up the tripod and camera and then waited for the sun to drop a bit lower. The images were never going to be anything amazing due to the clear blue skies, but it was just great to sit enjoy the views. I got my shots and as the final light disappeared off of the land, I put my camera gear away and switched on the Jetboil to make dinner - chicken curry.
We finished eating, packed up and headed back down the Watkin to the camp spot. It was about 23:00 now and sunrise was at 04:51 with first light being around half an hour before that. This meant minimal sleeping time, but worth it. The alarm was set for 03:50 to give me enough time to sort everything out and find a composition. I had already spotted one or two whilst setting up the tent that were less than 10m from the tent, perfect. The forecast was promising good conditions for the morning so once back at the tent, I handed Corny his bivvy bag and crawled inside for some shut eye.
My alarm went off at 03:50 after what felt like finally nodding off about 20 minutes prior. I crawled out of my sleeping bag, put my boots and down jacket on and unzipped the tent. The view was absolutely amazing. The first rays of sunlight had begun to light up the high level cloud that was lingering overhead the summits and there was the faint sound of voices. I walked a couple of metres to the edge and could see several head torches marching their way up the Miners path like a trail of luminous ants in the early morning darkness. I turned around to look at the summit of Snowdon above me and was surprised to see that there were already people up there too. It was great to see so many people out so early to witness a stunning Summer sunrise from the summit of Wales’ highest peak.
I set about sorting my kit out, set up the camera and as the light improved, I was spoilt for choice with what to shoot. The sky began to light up with many different shades of pinks, purples and blues before the sun started to peek above the horizon. The distant hills disappeared into varying layers of contrast and colour as the purple hues increased in intensity. Whilst enjoying this spectacle, I had totally forgot about Corny who had remained sound asleep in his Bivvy! I gave him a kick and woke him as he had said the night before that he wanted to watch the sunrise. After getting the images I wanted, we had breakfast, packed up and headed down the ridge towards Glaslyn. This is a bit tricky with a large pack and would definitely be easier going up. After a few attempts of lowering bags down big rocks, we made it to the Miners path for the gentle walk back to the car park, passing lots of people who were just starting their trek up Snowdon.
Below are some of the images I captured that morning interspersed with iPhone snaps of our trip. Thanks for reading!