A climb to the top of Mount Snowdon with children aged12 and 15.
One of the difficulties of Big Families with a range of children from different ages is sometimes there are things older children can do, which younger ones can’t. This can be obvious such as a 12 rated film at the cinema or a certain ride at a theme park, or something more challenging physically. It is important that the older children do not miss out, always doing something that all can do and sometimes it works well to split up.
Our youngest four (although to be honest Tyrus is yet to string a sentence together, so did not have much say on the matter) were offered a DVD /Games day in the cottage with Mum, whilst I had the opportunity to take the two oldest for a walk (climb) up the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon standing at an an impressive 1085 meters .
The three of us were up early (6.30am ,which by our standards is early on a holiday) a big breakfast, lunch packed and a short drive from our holiday cottage to Snowdon. One of the benefits of being up early is the young ones miss the stress of, I want to go, why can’t I go etc, It also gave Mandi a well deserved lie in.
Xene and Lochlan happily fell back to sleep in the car, and awoke at Llanberis at the foot of Snowdon. We chose, what we read was the easiest route using the Llanberis Path , and Xene was actively involved in a little bit of route planning. North Wales on occasion can be bright and Sunny in August, but on the day we chose it was drizzle and thick mist.
We set off with enthusiasm past the Snowdon mountain railway station and up the path, it had just turned 8am and the was no one else about. The Children bounded with enthusiasm, we left the track and headed onto the footpath to the summit, which was clearly marked.
Perhaps a hidden benefit was the fact the visibility was 40 meters in the fog and as a result, neither of the children could actually see how far we had to climb! Over the years we have worked out if a child wants to stop, the best thing to do is to stop, they tend to recharge quite quickly, we stopped every 30 – 40 minutes, had a drink, ate, checked the map. Lochlan very proudly carrying an altimeter round his neck, to monitor upward progress.
- We passed the halfway house cafe, a quaint little rail side building, which on better days I am sure has wonderful views across the valley, the path became more rugged and vegetation a bit sparse. The path was hard going, you really do need a good pair of boots.
It was at this point the first mentions of “can we go back now” started to occur. We stopped ate, drank, we had climbed 600 meters, and were over half way, I dutifully took Lochlan’s backpack. we edged toward the summit, in thick mist, the mountain railway train passed us, with the passengers all waving and smiling at us..
- The path got steeper, we passed 800 meters, but then suddenly it all changed.
At 863 meter precisely Lochlan went into meltdown, “That’s it, You’re Mad Dad, I am not going any further, I am going to die” and sat on a rock in the middle of the path refusing to move.
We sat drank, ate, chatted. Xene actually got cross with her brother, as she was desperate to get to the top. Other walkers passed us and smiled politely, Lochlan sat steadfast on a rock, still full of a mix of anger and exhaustion He demanded to be carried on my shoulders, this was not really an option. Time passed and eventually we agreed to go another ten meters up and I would pull Lochlan and pull him I did, we then went another ten and stopped, with me still pulling him (which Xene found hilarious), this recharged him until we got to 900 meters (the altimeter was the surprise motivational key on the whole journey) at this point Lochlan had worked out it was 3 steps to the meter, it was not that far, and overtook me. I was struggling to keep up with two teenagers bounding up the path. We reached the base of the summit and climbed the final few steps to the top.
- Both the children were really impressed, but as for the view, I could see my children, but not a lot further. Importantly, they both had really achieved something and I was really proud of both of them. We sat on the rocks and had lunch (although Lochlan had half of mine, having eaten everything he had at our numerous stops up the Mountain).
- Snowdon is unusual in the fact that it has a cafe at the top. we went in, out of curiosity a strange place, its clean and has a nice design but feels like a terminal and a bit out of place on a mountain. We walked around the summit and began to descend.
Both Xene and Lochlan set off at breakneck speed, decending can actually be quite fun and as it was now midday we began to pass several groups, on their way up, the clouds began to break and we could see the stunning views across snowdonia. The children were both in high spirits laughing and joking. Lochlan counting down the altimeter, somewhat disheartening to the walkers we were passing, going uphill. He also took a great amount of glee returning to the rock he had sat on, during his meltdown at 863 meters
- We stopped at the Cafe, but decided it was a bit busy, so continued down. By this point my knee had had enough, much to the disapointment of my eldest daughter, who was somewhat disgusted by her dads frailties and when I stopped she decreed we should continue, the promsie of an ice cream at the bottom overruling her usually very compassionate side
- We continued the path, it slowly became easier and the sun broke from the clouds, typically as we were nearing the end of our journey
As we neared the bottom, ice cream, became a bag a sweets, as there is a large sweet/gift shop adjacent to the railway station. We returned to the car and drove back to our cottage.
On arrival back at around 3pm, both Xene and Lochlan were bursting with stories, the younger children had played, watched DVD and had a quiet day in, Mandi had read, relaxed and enjoyed a slightly less physically demanding day.
Tips for long walks with children
- Take more food and drink than you need, they will eat it and Keep a pack of surprise sweets in your pocket.
- Offer rewards, in our case it was simply ice cream, but it worked
- Stop as many times as needed, this may help you more than the children!
- Do not make it a mission, make it an adventure and enjoy the journey
Tips from the Children
- Don’t take the train, its cheating (Lochlan)
- If you run out of food, eat Dads (Lochlan)
- Take sweets no one else likes, it’s nice to have a packet to yourself sometimes (Xene)
If you are considering visiting Wales Check Out our post Wales4Kids Holidays Where Memories Are Made