“We must be nearly there” I said with a chuckle as I switched the windscreen wipers up a notch to cope with the harder rain. The view across the lake and down the valley was momentarily blurred. Still smiling on the outside my heart was sinking just a little bit on the inside as I found myself resigning to a wet weekend. We turned right and went up. The skies cleared and I switched the windscreen wipers off. There was no comment in the car, desperate not to tempt fate.
We arrived at the campsite above the town of Llanberis – the adventure capital of Snowdonia – and set to putting the tents up with utmost efficiency for fear of another passing shower. And then a pause, a breath. Freshly brewed tea and a seat in the sun admiring the view of Padarn lake. What could be better?
But this was not meant to be a relaxing weekend. It was the weekend of the Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon (and marathon and 10K). The clouds did reappear so it seemed the right time to collect race numbers and see what was going on in town. The most common conversation seemed to be along the lines of “…but you’ll be back a long time before me…” There were lots of hardy looking folk about, looking fit and ready for the race the next day.
The town is cute. With colourfully painted buildings, narrow streets and a relaxed vibe. Nestled in the valley it is surrounded by mountains which are green, but also grey and violet. The sunset view had the clouds rolling down from the top against a pink sky.
We found a restaurant a little way out of town – still within walking distance, but not quite as busy as anywhere in the town centre. A calorie laden dinner primed me for a great night’s sleep. We were staying in the quietest campsite ever (or maybe it was our chosen location in the campsite – deliberately slightly inaccessible). Despite it being a working farm, even the animals were quiet. Everytime I woke up I was convinced I could hear rain. I was making it up and woke up to clear skies and that view. I did see a pig wandering about in a neighbouring field, but the campsite was still quietly going about its business. Peaceful. Green. Refreshing. I lit the stove for more tea, breakfast and then a wander down the hill to the start area.
The start area was on the football field and was a lot busier than it had been the day before. It was a contrast to the rest of town, which was on a usual Sunday morning pace. After each wave of runners were set off, and the crowds thinned out to find coffee and refreshments, the field was turned from a collecting pen into a smart finish area.
The weather was good all day and after the race, finishers could enjoy the sun, watching others complete their race and enjoying a more informed view of the Dinorwic quarry – once the second largest slate quarry in the world and now home to the Welsh national slate museum. There wasn’t time to pop into the museum during the run, but I’m sure it would be an interesting visit on another day.
Although Snowdonia is known for its outdoor activities, there are several indoor activities too. But even if you prepare for the worst, if you take the chance to embrace the elements, you may be rewarded with views to die for that include the sun reflecting off the lake. And there’s nothing better than waking up on the hill and spending the day exploring on foot -you’ll learn about the environment and yourself.