The highest – and most cramped, crowded and highly annoying place in England and Wales, Snowdon also offers the least reward of all for reaching the top. The cafeteria block has no running water, the toilets stink and the drinks machine is empty. If you can find a place to sit, you are sure to be pestered by unnatural scavenging seagulls. Looking for a good path down, you see streams of tourists scurrying up and down the main paths like ants along a filthy kitchen wall.
But two routes down are not busy. Firstly, to the north, Crib Goch. Second, to the south, the East and West Peaks. The path to Crib Goch looks unfeasably narrow, and Crib Goch itself a knife edge: The East and West Peak path runs very close to the cliff edge too, before it disappears and you are left to scramble (don’t go left) to the top and along the ridge.
We make our way towards Crib Goch to ask walkers: “Actually, today’s the sixth time I’ve done it, and the first time I’ve not seen anyone freaking out.” We return to contemplate the East and West Peak, scramble down towards its base and spend 10 minutes watching others climb it. I stare at the cliff and realize – what are you thinking of?
Disappointed little ants, we walk away. Three teenagers, though, pass us and head up it. Without thinking, we follow them, and, five minutes in, gripped and exhilarated, we know we can do it.