On our way back to London after hiking Snowdon in Wales, we passed by the Lake District. It was as quaint and as beautiful as one would imagine from English novels.
Everyday started off with a full English breakfast from our B&B. These are probably the only breakfast sausages I would willingly eat again – Cumbrian sausages that have a distinct herb-y flavour and were something ridiculous like 90% meat.
Keswick was a cute little village with lots of shops, some homey pubs, and a welcoming market. The cottages were especially charming as they were built from this beautiful dark blue-green stone.
We didn’t do too much research for outdoor activities in the Lake District prior to arriving. Most English walks we’ve encountered have been quite tame, so we figured we would just rock up and see what’s nearby. We ended up kayaking on Windermere for a bit and found an easy fell called Cat Bells. Even near the summit we were greeted by sprinkles of sheep.
As we had just flown in from Vancouver, we knew that driving 5 hours nonstop from London to Llanberis with jetlag would be no fun. So we drove to Birmingham first, then drove the next half of the distance after a night’s sleep. The highways were comfortable and I was thankful for well-equipped rest stops every hour or so. It became more and more scenic as we drive closer to Wales. The mountains and stone fences (and sheep!) were a welcome change from the “industrial” Birmingham and motorways we were experiencing.
We arrived in Llanberis at our Airbnb, a cute little room in a gorgeous stone cottage hosted by a very outdoorsy Polish couple. The high street took all of 10 minutes to walk from beginning to end, sprinkled with plenty of climbing/hiking/other outdoor activity equipment. The local Spar supermarket was well-stocked, and we picked up some groceries for breakfast and our hike. We had the afternoon to spare so we took an hour or so to check out Dolbadarn castle.
In the evening we had a look at the available trails up and down Snowdon. After some research we loaded our GPS with the Pyg Track (moderate for the way up) and the Llanberis path (easy for the way down). The Snowdon trails have more than enough information on the trailhead plaques and would be difficult to get lost on. It was just a good idea to test out our GPS before taking it on our 9-day Haute Route hike in case it didn’t work.
Before heading to the hike I went into one of the local outdoor sporting goods stores to get a water reservoir. I couldn’t find a 3L one in Vancouver but luckily the local store had a decent Camelback one. We then went to the Subway in the Spar supermarket and got this amazing Eurocup promo deal… 2 footlongs, with crazy combos where we ended up with 4 drinks, 4 of cookies or chips for only €10. After packing all of that for our lunch, we headed to the bus stop for the 10AM bus which took us to the Pen-y-Pass Car Park where the Pyg/Miners Track trailhead was.
The hike was difficult at the start, probably because I haven’t hiked or been to the gym for the past year in London. It was quite steep as we gained elevation, and I was being extra careful of any wet rocks as I slipped the day before just walking around after the rain. After getting into the groove of hiking again we were rewarded with a beautiful view as we hiked along two big lakes. I was thankful to have gone with the Pyg Track (recommended by the boyfriend) as where the Miners Track joins the Pyg Track looked really difficult even though Miner’s Track was supposed to be easy.
The trail became more tricky and involved a tiny bit of scrambling as we continued in the mist, where it began to shower and all of the rocks on the path were wet. At this point I was questioning why giant rocks are used as steps for UK hiking trails, as it’s neither safer nor easier than gravel or dirt. The wind picked up quite a lot more at the top and felt almost like it could blow me over. A bit of vertigo kicked in when I couldn’t see much past the fog and mist. Soon after this the trail joins the Llanberis path and it was an easy (albeit low visibility) walk to the cafe and summit.
After the cold winds and mist, hot chocolate was a must! We ate our slightly mushed but tasty Subway subs and revelled in our accomplishment.
The Llanberis path down was a good choice for an easy descend, as we were rewarded with the view of the valley the entire way down.
After a delicious night’s sleep, we had a quick breakfast and I spent some time playing with Fifi, our hosts’ dog. We then packed our things and were on our way towards the Lake District.
Just happened to be in Chinatown looking for a drink when we remembered that there was a speakeasy nearby. I didn’t know what a speakeasy was until just last week, way to forget all the cool things from history class.
The single-door entrance looked completely nondescript between a shop dedicated to imported Asian snacks, and a row of restaurants. However, the two men at the door were more than welcoming when we asked if we had found the right place.
I must say I didn’t mind the Chinese-themed decor. In a lot of restaurants and bars it can be super tacky because they throw all the stereotypical things together, but this place was just subtle enough to feel respectful.
While the cocktails seemed alright at £12 each, it wasn’t a pleasant to find that our simple gin and tonics ended up being £14 each. All I can assume is that we were drinking doubles… but who knows?