The question we have been asked the most since coming back from Wales is ‘can I really climb Snowdon with my dog?’ and the answer is most definitely YES! As became the most commonly heard phrase of the day ‘If those sausage dogs can make it, we can too!’
This blog post will tell you about our experiences, as well as prepare you to take on the challenge with your woofs.
Mt Snowdon is the tallest mountain in England and Wales at 1,085 metres tall. It isn’t an easy hike, but definitely manageable for most humans and doggies. The surrounding areas of Snowdonia National Park are absolutely stunning, and contain some of the most beautiful spots in Wales. If you are coming to the area, there is so much to see and do in Snowdonia. You can see all the things we got up to in Wales here.
Before you go
We didn’t do any preparatory hikes, or specific exercise in advance – we are quite a spontaneous family. In true form, we decided on the Friday that we would climb Snowdon, and did it on the Tuesday.
We made sure we had suitable clothing though, we used breathable activewear and most importantly, walking boots that supported our ankles. A tip: make sure the boots are broken in too, the last thing you’d want is blisters on the way to the summit!
However we did do some research on which path we should take. There are 6 main routes that are commonly used when hiking Snowdon, of varying difficulties. You can find out more about these on the Snowdon website.
We toyed between the less challenging routes: Llanberis Path, The Pyg track , or the Miner track. The other paths did not seem suitable for our dachshunds. The Llanberis Path is the longest in distance at 9 miles, but has less steep climbs. It is widely considered the easiest route. The Pyg and Miner tracks are very commonly done together, with hikers choosing to ascend one, and descend the other, and are known to have the most beautiful views.
Considering Sarah (dog mama) is rather unfit and had never hiked Snowdon before, AND we were taking two sausage dogs who may have wanted to be carried, we decided to go for the Llanberis Path. Once we had chosen our route we made sure we knew where we were going to park, as each route has a different car park.
There is the choice of riding the train to get up the mountain – but if you want to take your furry friends this isn’t an option, as it is not dog friendly. If you do decide to go for the train, make sure you check the times and whether it is running to the summit, as when we went, the train wasn’t going the full distance due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Remember to check the weather too! We checked repeatedly in the days leading up to our climb – we wanted to make sure as best we could we would be climbing on a clear day. It is a mountain though – they are known for their unpredictable nature. So be prepared.
What to take
This is perhaps the most important part of your preparation, making sure you have the right equipment! You need to make sure you stay safe on the mountain by keeping your energy up.
For the dogs
- Water bottle – we took this reusable bottle from Pet Pavilion* which includes a bowl
- Jackets – you can’t count on the weather, so we took Equafleeces in our backpack just in case
- Treatos – we knew we were taking photos and the boys may need some extra energy throughout the day
- Poo bags – don’t be that person!
- Collar and lead – we didn’t let the boys off lead due to the livestock
For the humans
- Backpack – small and light backpack to carry essentials
- Lightweight jackets – again, never trust British weather! You may want to take heavier jackets depending on the weather forecast
- Water – we took 2L per person – the shop at the summit was not open due to Covid-19
- Food – sandwiches and chocolate bars to keep our energy high
- Camera or smartphone – you’ll surely want to get some photographs of the beautiful scenery, and your dog at the summit. Also, your phone can be used for emergency calls
- Sun cream – we forgot this and had to borrow some from a kind stranger at the summit
We set off at 5.45am from our cottage to arrive in Llanberis town super early – we wanted to beat the rush as we had heard it was pretty busy during the Covid-19 pandemic. We made it to the carpark and we were actually the only car in the whole lot!
We set off hiking just before 7am. The first section was quite steep, but once we got used to it, we were all ok! Cheddar and Chester took everything in their stride and seemed to be loving all of the new sights and smells. There were so few people around, it was great for the dogs and for us – it was quiet and peaceful.
The thing the sausage dogs loved the most was definitely the sheep. So. Many. Sheep. All Cheddar wanted to do was chase them! He was on leash all day for this reason!
We decided to hike to the summit as quickly as we could, trying not to stop too often. We knew we wanted to get some beautiful shots of the boys, but we figured we could do it on the way down. There were some tough sections of steep and rocky ground, but honestly Sarah found it much tougher than Cheddar and Chester! We attempted to pick the boys up and carry them for some parts, but they really didn’t want to be held – they were enjoying it too much.
When we reached 3/4 of the way to the summit, we noticed a little train coming up the mountain. We were confused as it appeared to be transporting a digger! We didn’t think too much about it, and continued with our climb.
When we reached the top, there were not many people there – setting off early had really paid off. We made it to the summit in 3 hours according to Strava, which we were very pleased with. We sat and had a cup of tea (how British of us) and let the boys relax for a while. We then went to the summit marker and took this amazing shot of the boys. The sky was basically clear of all clouds so we had the most fantastic views! The last time Aaron visited as a child, the visibility was very poor due to thick cloud, so we felt very lucky to be able to see so far.
The hike back down was quite tough too, although a lot less tiring. We had many more breaks to get lots of pictures of the boys, and take in all the amazing views we sped past on the way up. We took it slow and steady, as coming back down can put a lot of pressure on your knees. It was recommended by seasoned hikers that if we climb any more mountains we should take hiking poles.
During the hike back down, we discovered the use for the digger we had seen earlier – construction workers were digging up one of the paths!
We ended up having to walk along the train track for a short way, which is where the picture was taken.
Don’t worry – it was completely safe, as the train was not running at the top section of the mountain.
So many people commented during our descent, saying that they were surprised our little sausage dogs had scaled the mountain all by themselves – and that’s where our ‘phrase of the day’ started – “If those sausage dogs can do it, so can we!”
We popped into a pub at the bottom of the mountain called Penceunant Isaf, where I ordered a well deserved gin and tonic, and Aaron got a local lager from Snowdon Brewery. The dogs got some fresh water, and the opportunity to bork at another Instagram dog in the beer garden! That was an excellent way to end the hike.
We were massively relieved when we made it back to the car, feeling very accomplished. Cheddar and Chester slept the entire way back to our cottage… and for the entirety of the next day! It is very impressive that they managed to walk the whole distance, completely refusing to be carried. Very proud of the boys, our little troopers.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dog friendly day at Snowdon – definitely one to tick off the bucket list. We hope this will be the first summit of many! Which mountain should we climb next?
*This item was gifted to us, but we have chosen to write about it with no request from the company.