What's on the menu?

What's on the menu?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Coffee At The Highest Cafe In The United Kingdom

Visiting The UK's highest cafe atop the highest mountain in Wales

The Lone Male On Tour In Snowdonia

Hafod Eryri Cafe at the top of Snowdon

Climbing any mountain is a challenge. It takes some hard work and planning to scale a peak although some of that preparation work can be taken care of when climbing up Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales as there is a fantastic cafe located right near the top of the hill which rises to 1085 metres above sea level (3560 feet) alongside the impressive station which visitors can use to take the easy way to the top.

Croeso i Gymru (Welcome to Wales in Welsh)
Lone Male In The Kitchen On Tour
Coffee is definitely well earned at the top of Snowdon at the UK's highest cafe.

Earning our coffee at the UK's highest Cafe

We certainly didn't take the easy way up Snowdon on the train and really earned our break on reaching the summit having climbed up from the Snowdon Ranger station on what is a 13km hard walk up to the summit and bank down to the start point at Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel beside Lyn Cwellyn.

There are a number of well known pathways up Snowdon. Due to their distance they're pretty much all classed as hard mountain walks and shouldn't be started without a level of fitness which will allow a walker to reach the top. Most walks take around 6 hours in total and therefore make for a long day of hiking

Walking Paths up Snowdon to take you to the UK's highest cafe

The Llanberis Path- The most popular path with tourists is also the longest at 9 miles in total. It is also the most gradual as a result of it's length and allows a walker amazing views back towards the Menai Strait and Anglesey.
Both the Pyg Track and Miners Track set out from a relatively high point at Pen-Y-Pass car park (expect to pay £10 or more for the days parking which is seriously expensive). The Pyg Track offers one of the most rugged ascents of Snowdon due to extremely rocky undulating trails. The Miners track offers an initially easier climb including a scenic passing over Llyn Llydaw Reservoir followed by a steeper section up scree to Glaslyn. Whereas those of an energetic and adrenaline seeking nature with extensive walking experience could consider an ascent via the legendary Crib Goch which forms arguably one of the best walks in the UK although best only attempted in good weather as in poor conditions this route becomes a challenge to mountaineers.
Video of the Pyg Track Up Snowdon

The Watkins Path is one of the hardest ways up Snowdon as it starts lower down than any of the other ascents. The start is from on the southern edges of the mountain on the road out from Beddgelert beside Hafof y Llan National Trust farm site from where the route is well signposted. The Watkins Path was actually where the film Carry on up the Khyber was filmed.
The quietest route up Snowdon is via the Rhyd Dhu path which takes you along the Llechog Ridge and Bwylch Main towards the summit. Some of the sections of this climb have steep sides which fall away dramatically so this route is definitely not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights. The Rhyd Dhu path is recommended for experienced walkers as a result. 
Our route was the Snowdon Ranger Path which starts at the Ranger Station car park on the A4085 between caernafon and Beddgelert which ascends the mountain via the back of Cogwyn Ddu'r Arddu which is a steep yet manageable climb for walkers of moderate fitness levels.

Each route will have you ready for a well earned coffee and cake (or even something stronger!) at the summit. 

We started off in very misty conditions and climbed up through the clouds in the hope that the weather system might clear for when we reached the top. 
Lone Male On Tour
Low lying cloud around the start of the Snowdon Ranger path looking out onto Llyn Cwellyn 
Poor visibility heading up the Snowdon Ranger Path
Once we were past the tracks for the Snowdon Mountain Railway the dense cloud started to clear somewhat and gave us some fantastic, yet slightly limited views of the mountains around Snowdon, particularly across to Crib Goch.
Lone Male On Tour
The cloud starting to lift for us when we came in sight of the Snowdon Mountain Railway
As the cloud lifted on our final push towards the summit and our well earned coffee the views became magical. The kind of views you'll remember for the rest of your lifetime of arguably some of the best mountains in the UK.
Lone Male On Tour In Snowdonia
Awesome views over Crib Goch, Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn from Snowdon
On the image above you can make out the Pyg Track which snakes to the left and Miners Track which snakes to the right in the picture

As you reach the top of Snowdon you look down on Hafol Eryri cafe and the train station. Many tourists take the easy way up but climbing Snowdon in itself is within the reach of most relatively fit individuals.

Lone Male In The Kitchen On Tour
Hafod Eryri Cafe right by the top of Mount Snowdon is the highest Cafe in Wales and the UK
The cafe at the top of Snowdon after that long hard walk is actually quite uninspiring. It comes across as more of a school canteen which is pretty disappointing when you consider it cost a whopping £8.4 million to build. The rugged heavy duty seating offers a long term feel of quality but doesn't give you the feel of a cosy coffee shop you'd love to visit again. It's more motorway service station where you rock up to the counter with a tray to load on your choices than trendy Starbucks.

The menu comes across as straightforward with a selection of Welsh themed items as well as the usual coffees and cakes. I plumped for a simple Americano black coffee and a lovely looking scone which was very light and tasty. I  had to get over the fact however that the scone was plonked on the tray not on a plate but a serviette. Very unexpected and I would always expect to be offered items on a plate unless it's self service.

All in all a great climb up Snowdon and a bit of a letdown at the highest cafe in Wales and the UK.

Highest cafe in the UK
The Menu at the Snowdon cafe features a selection of welsh fayre.

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