Follow in the footsteps of Hillary and Tenzing as they prepared to summit Mount Everest with a stay in their Snowdonia basecamp and a walk in the foothills of one of Britain’s best-loved peaks.
In the 1954 book South Col, Everest veteran Wilfrid Noyce recalled that: “Outside Pen-y-Gwryd, in the calm frosted air of Snowdon, I looked up at those still unrivalled pyramids, snow-covered and dimly shining in the starlight… When the top of Everest floored the sea, Snowdon stood greatly upon pedestals whose fragments remain. And now she lay coiled in dreams of that past, yet watching, as it seemed, the tiny creatures preparing to swarm up her gigantic successor.”
Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, towers above Llyn Tern ©Dave Porter
The thought had been a prophetic one: the previous year he had been part of the British-led team that succeeded in putting New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay on the summit of earth’s highest peak. And it was in Snowdonia that the team had trained, and at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel that they had stayed.
This ornate and slightly anachronistic mountain inn remains as great a draw to mountain-lovers as ever. Step into the bar area and you’ll find the signatures of generations of climbers adorning the ceiling, while behind the bar there’s a mini-museum of Everest artefacts ranging from photographs of the ‘53 team to their clothing, equipment and engraved mugs. The bedrooms aren’t the most up-to-date but that’s not the point of a stay at the characterful PYG.
View of the Snowdon Horseshoe ©Getty
1. In the Horseshoe
Follow in the footsteps of Hillary by hiking along the flanks of Snowdon. Walk or drive a mile uphill from the inn to Pen y Pass, where you can also park. A circular walk from here will reveal the jagged glory of the Snowdon Horseshoe.
2. The low road
Follow the signs for the knife-edged ridge of Crib Goch (don’t worry, you’re not going up it!) on to a meaty path heading upwards to the west-north-west towards Bwlch-y-Moch.
3. Epic vistas
After roughly a mile you’ll reach Bwlch-y-Moch, marked by a fence post and the opening up of the view. Do not follow signs to Crib Goch. Instead, continue following the lower trail (signed Pyg Track) along the shores of the valley’s three lakes – Llyn Teryn, Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn.
Looking down upon Glaslyn, Snowdonia ©Getty
After 1.5 miles, drop down towards Glaslyn on the Miners’ Track, and back to the car park.
Find out more about Snowdonia National Park