Ranger Path – A Mountain Bike Trip through Snowdonia

Snowdonia National Park is located in northern Wales and is home to Snowdon, the highest mountain outside of Scotland. Local Welsh people call that elevation Yr Wyddfa, meaning The Grave. And indeed, Snowdon can become dangerous as it is the first mountain opposing weather the approaching over the Atlantic Ocean. Something that you can feel on a mountain bike ride on the famous Ranger Path.

Ranger Path up, Llanberis Path down

Shortly after 6 o’clock my buddy Ben gives us a lift from Holyhead to Rhyd Ddu, a village at the western flank of Snowdon. There, at Llyn Cwellyn lake, the Ranger Path begins, which we are set to ride this morning. The trail climbs from 145 to 1087 metres, hence we have to cover a total 942 metres in altitude. Reflecting the total distance of our 20-kilometre mountain bike ride, we even have to cover 1210 metres in altitude, cumulatively seen. The climb’s lion’s share has to be coped on the first 6.5 kilometres though.

Between kilometres 4 and 6 we literally have to carry the bikes on our backs as the uphill Ranger Path is too steep and definitely unrideable, hence we drag the bikes onto the mountain for some 400 metres in altitude. The trail over the Clogwyn-Du-Yr-Arddu leads along the picturesque mountain lake Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas and right up there wind is blowing hard. The worst gusts on Snowdon’s Ranger Path today reach wind forces of 8 to 10 and almost blow us over.

Having reached the end of Ranger Path, Snowdon summit is still covered in clouds. Everything beyond 20 metres is out of sight, that’s how foggy it is. Taking a quick “2 guys in the fog” photo, we’re already heading down. Almost we rode the wrong and quite dangerous Pyg Track, but my orientation sense leads us back onto the Llanberies Path, which hammer down now. Well, we try, as there are quite some uphill hikers on the way. Of course we take care of them. Hikers even cheer on and open cattle gates for us. Quite some positive vibes. In my home country fellow Germans would only piss on us from all sides…

Final stop in the forest and the Bike Park

Having arrived the valley shortly before Llanberis Falls, our trail turns (south) west again. We use the pass between Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion to get back to Ranger Path leading down to Rhyd Ddu. On that path things become physical, as our tyres dig themselves into the muddy melange of wet soil, sheep as well as cattle shit. To boot, a few metres before finishing our trail, I kiss the ground though as in a curve of Ranger Path the rear wheel loses traction on fresh gravel. Fortunately, my projectors absorb the worst.

Next day downhill action is on the bill as we ride the trails at Antur Stiniog Bike Park. A lot of fun, even if my bike, being optimised for trails, and my rear tyre, having a flat tread, clearly shows me the limits of what can be done and driven. The kids in front and behind us go hog wild and show amazing skills. In the following days Wales proves that Snowdonia is the rainiest place in Great Britain. It’s bucketing down and national weather service even warns of floods, hence we head back to Holyhead. Wales, that was a cool thing! We will see each other again :-) And many, many thanks Ben. Your friendship and positivity is ace, a book others should take leaves out.

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