Travel Diary: Million Star Camp In Thar Desert!
North Wales is indeed a paradise. The spectacular seas and mountains, beautiful beaches, small towns, huge castles and other architectural wonders, flocks of sheep on the green fields and farm lands, the friendly people and the beautiful Welsh language makes it a wonderful country to visit. The area of North Wales has been named as one of the world’s best regions to visit by the Lonely Planet in 2017. The Snowdonia national park constitutes a major part of this area, which is a chain of mountainous landscape that is spread across the Welsh counties of Gwynedd and Conwy.
Snowdon, the highest mountain peak in all of Wales and England having an elevation of 1085 metres above sea level is a major tourist spot in this area. The nearest International airport is in Manchester, which is a two hour drive from the national park. Snowdonia is also well connected by public transport as well, where one can easily take a train from Manchester and reach Bangor in North Wales, and then take a bus to Llanberis from Bangor. There is a hiking route as well as a train route known as Snowdon Mountain Railway that takes the visitors up to the summit of Snowdon. The train usually runs from March until October because of favourable weather conditions at this time. Other than this, there are about six trekking routes which the visitors can take to hike up to the summit which starts from six different sides of the Snowdonia national park.
I, being a student at Bangor University in North Wales for a year, had visited the Snowdon summit thrice- hiked twice through two different routes and once took the train from Llanberis. It is so astonishing that even after being there thrice, I would simply love to visit that place again. My best experience was the most recent one in November 2018 when three of us, me including two of my friends, took the 4-hour hiking route from Llanberis. Winter was approaching, thus we started early in the morning so that we could walk down to the town before sunset. It was a clear and sunny day, but a November day in Wales means just around eight to nine hours of daylight. So we had to plan accordingly. We started hiking when the sun was about to rise from the horizon which illuminated a side of the mountains that looked beautiful. At that time, it looked like parts of the beautiful green mountains were painted in gold, and the reflection of the first light in the nearby streams made it even more beautiful. It was an easy walk in the beginning, however it started to get steeper and more difficult as we were moving up.
However, the picturesque views of the green fields and mountains, herd of sheep, tiny lakes in between the high mountains and the sea at a distance made us forget all our physical stresses. It was Saturday, so there were a lot of people including families, elderly and children were hiking up the mountain. It took around four hours to reach the summit and we were totally tired, even though we took several breaks in between. But the 360 degree view we got to see from the summit on a fully clear day looked like a fairy tale that I will not forget ever in my life. As we were standing up on the highest point in the whole of England and Wales, we could see everything- from the blue skies up to the horizon meeting with the rugged landscape on one side and Irish Sea on the other, to the nearby smaller mountains, lakes and towns.
The whole island county of Anglesey could be clearly seen from the top of the mountain as we see it on the maps. Few pristine water bodies and fountains in between the mountains made it even more spectacular. Even though the train was not running at that season, the summit was crowded as people usually choose a weekend like this to make full day plans. We could see rescue helicopters flying around the mountain range, in order to look after people in case of any emergency. Trekking routes like Crib Goch are much harder, so there remains always a risk. Crib Goch is a narrow ridge like a knife which people have to walk and cross which is extremely dangerous and is recommended only for professional trekkers.
When it snows, it looks more beautiful but the path becomes more slippery that poses a risk. While we trekked Snowdon for the first time in the month of September, we took the Rangers path and it was raining heavily thus we missed out some views. But, there is another positive side of this. When the sun shines out of the clouds, there is a spectacular mix of lights and shadows all across the mountain range, which we got to see at that time. Thus, the Snowdonia ranges look different but beautiful in almost all kinds of weather conditions.
So we stayed up on the summit for about half an hour and then prepared to start getting down. It was already afternoon, and the sun was about to go down in a few hours. So as we reached the half way path, we say the amazing sunset- the sun going down at the back of the mountains keeping a back a golden lining in the sky. Like we saw in the early morning, it was almost similar during sunset. The nearby mountains at our side looked reddish. It was a wonderful experience. It was turning dark as we descended, and had to switch on our flashlights. Most people had already trekked down at that time. So it was a fun adventure for us- enjoying the quiet atmosphere and the darkness on one hand, while keeping of track of the dark route through our flashlights. A little later, the full moon came out and illuminated the whole mountain range- it was incredible, a bonus moment for all of us as we didn’t know it was a full moon night. We were in between the hauntingly illuminated mountains from the moonlight under the moon and the stars. It looked heavenly!
Thereafter, we came down from the rugged terrain and reached the main road. It was almost 6 o clock at that time, so we took a bus from the town of Llanberis and came back to Bangor. We were very tired, yet we will never forget the beautiful experience we had.
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