Our Journey up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) for Mental Health charity Mind.
It all started over dinner one afternoon, five friends sharing a meal and chatting about all things in life. The good, the bad and the downright heartbreaking.
It had been a tough period for us all in one way or another but for one of our friends especially, who lost her brother Robin a year earlier to suicide.
Robin was the glue that held us together, my dad worked away regularly and my mum left the family home when we were young.
Whilst for Ellen her mum leaving was loss enough, six years later her dad sadly died leaving Robin to step up as full-time carer to Ellen and her siblings.
“This was just Robin, always there for us and others. His caring and kind demeanour continued throughout his life even when he began to struggle himself.”
I will never forget the 8th of July. I had spoken to him in the morning, and I knew that he was not in a good place, he had been struggling with his mental health for some time and later that day I received the phone call that no one should ever receive – I learned of his passing.
From that day life is not the same, he was the only person I had looking out for me and ever since his passing I have felt like a huge piece is missing”.
Five women dine and plan to take strides for mental health charity Mind
As we sat around the dinner table discussing the trials of the past, we each felt compelled to do something, turning our thoughts from what had happened to what we could do to help.
We didn’t expect the idea to surface which involved us walking up Yr Wyddfa at 1:00 am in the morning, perhaps it was the wine, nevertheless, we took on the challenge, choosing to raise money for the mental health charity, Mind.
Wyddfa is higher than Scafell Pike (978m) in the Lake District making it the highest mountain in England and Wales.
Now let’s be honest none of us are mountaineers, we are five fun-loving friends who enjoy leisurely walks and the odd adventure, but with this challenge, we did not let that stop us and have not taken it lightly.
Whilst statistically, mountain walking in the UK is fairly safe there are still dangers to be aware of and it was clear we needed to do our homework.
We read countless articles, downloaded maps and watched the weather forecast like hawks in preparation of the BIG EVENT. Vowing never to be one of the 200 callouts mountain rescue teams receive each year. This was serious stuff and if the weather was not on our side, we agreed we would be sensible and stay home or turn back for an attempt at a later date.
The main dangers in the British mountains can be broken down into four hazards:
- Ground conditions
- Getting lost
As long as we prepared for all eventualities and considered the dangers, we knew we could do this.
There are six different paths to choose from, each varying in difficulty level with the Llanberis path being the most accessible and safest to walk in the early hours, so it made sense that this would be the route for us.
In Our Kit Bag
You do not have to be a mountain climbing extraordinaire to climb Yr Wddfa but you do have to apply commonsense and choose sensible attire, preparing for every eventuality and whatever the British weather may have had in store for us.
Layers seemed to be the key to the changeable weather conditions and spare gloves, and hats for if the weather got wet and windy.
In our kit bags, we packed:
- Headlamp – Spare batteries
- Trekking poles – courtesy of our friends at Robens
- Small personal first aid kit
- Spare socks, hats and gloves
- Water and a flask of tea
- And a camera to capture the day’s events.
What we wore:
- Long Sleeve top
- Water and windproof jacket
- Thermal leggings
- Walking trousers
- Reflective cuffs
- Sturdy Walking Boots
Where we stayed
There was ample accommodation to choose from in and around Eyri national park. We chose a modest, budget-friendly, Miners Cottage as our base in Blaenau-Ffestiniog, costing £250.00 for two nights. The accommodation slept six and provided a clean comfortable bed for the night and all of the cooking and dining facilities you would ever need.
The Climb – A Lesson in Perseverance
Climbing Yr Wyddfa, the highest mountain in Wales, is no easy feat and we added the challenge of doing it in the dark at 1 am with only our torch to guide us.
The Llanberis Path is a well-known route to the summit of Yr Wyddfa. The path begins at the Pen-y-pass car park and winds its way up through the forest, passing through numerous tunnels and bridges along the way.
As we started our ascent, we quickly realised that despite what we had read about it being one of the more gentle paths it was going to be tough.
The darkness made the climb even more difficult. We couldn’t see what lay ahead of us, apart from what our torches lit up. We stumbled on rocks and roots, and the steep incline made it harder to catch our breath.
But as we continued to climb, we realised something interesting. Because we couldn’t see the path ahead, we didn’t know how much further we had to go. We couldn’t see the challenge that lay ahead of us, which meant we didn’t have the opportunity to doubt ourselves or question our ability to reach the summit.
Instead, we plugged on with a positive mindset, focusing on each step and each breath. We encouraged each other and celebrated small victories along the way, like reaching a particularly steep section or seeing the first signs of morning.
As we passed under the second bridge, ahead of us we could see the Eyri mountain range in all its dark and mysterious glory, its edges highlighted with a stunning orange glow. It stopped us in our tracks and was the first glimpse of the morning that would meet us.
Around the next corner was a crescent moon, so close we felt we could reach out and touch it, we knew we were nearing the summit and it felt great – just a few more steps to negotiate and we would be there.
As we finally reached the summit, just in time for sunrise, we felt a sense of accomplishment and pride. We had pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zones and persevered through the darkness and the struggle.
You’ll know you’ve reached the summit when you see a small stone cairn, like a miniature Stonehenge. Here we took a moment to celebrate our success. The sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching the top for us was life-changing; it’s something that will stay with us forever!
Eyri National Park stretched out before us like a giant painting on canvas – mountains that seemed almost unreal with their beauty and majesty; lakes reflecting light back into space; clouds dancing across hillsides like white horses galloping across green fields…it was breathtaking!
This experience also taught us a valuable lesson that applies to our everyday lives. When we start to struggle, we often retreat to comfort and avoid the challenge. But sometimes, it’s important to continue with the struggle, even when we can’t see the path ahead. It’s a case of mind over matter, and with a positive attitude and determination, we can overcome any obstacle.
Climbing Yr Wyddfa in the dark was a challenge, but it was also a reminder that we are capable of more than we think. And the reward of watching the sunrise from the summit and the fact that we had raised money for Mind and can help people like Robin made it all worth it.
In our group, as we sat admiring the view and preparing for the descent, we discussed whether we would have continued if we could have seen the path ahead. Would our minds have created doubt and caused us to stop? It’s hard to say for sure, but what this experience showed us as we looked back at how far we had come is that sometimes it’s better not to know what’s coming.
This mountain tested our strength and resilience, but it can also provide an opportunity for growth and healing that few other experiences can offer. If there is one thing we learned from our climb up Yr Wyddfa, it’s that taking the time to appreciate each step along the way is what makes us stronger.
After climbing Yr Wyddfa, we were exhausted and in pain. Our bodies were sore from being on the mountain for so long, but it wasn’t just physical fatigue that we felt. The journey had been emotionally exhausting as well–we experienced highs and lows, moments of joy and despair. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other during this trip: how much we can push ourselves physically; how important rest is after an intense experience like climbing and what it means to give back to others.
Walking Yr Wyddfa in the dark via Llanberis Path is a unique and unforgettable experience. However, it is important to be prepared and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable climb. With the right preparation and mindset, this can be an incredible adventure. I hope that our journey has inspired you to take on a challenge. The lasting impact of this journey will be felt by our little group for some time to come, for those who donated to the mental health charity, and those who benefited from their donations.
If you are struggling with mental health issues or know someone who is, please reach out for help! – it’s never too late.
If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to donate to mind please follow the link: justgiving.com/page/carrianne-stones