“Oh misty eye of the mountain below…”
The lyrics from Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” raised the hairs on our arms as we drove across England toward Wales and Snowdonia National Park. Yes, The Hobbit films were shot in New Zealand but the landscapes in this part of the world are similar enough that the Welsh valleys could quite easily have doubled for parts of Middle Earth.
We had decided to climb Snowdon in July 2017 and as always in the UK, hoped the weather would permit us to do so. We’d planned an extra day in the event we had to scrap an ascent due to bad weather. As we arrived at our campsite just outside the tiny village of Rhyd Ddu hopes were somewhat lacking as the rain lashed down with such force the windscreen wipers could barely keep up.
A random stop overlooking a windswept hilltop vista. Photo by Steve Collier, 2014.
One of the biggest decisions we made before travelling to New Zealand was whether to buy a car, rent a camper or try and travel using public/ backpacker transport. The main factor affecting this decision was that before travelling in August 2014, neither of us had passed our test! Yes, we left it pretty late compared to a lot of our peers to get on the road but we hadn’t really needed to before and the cost of running a car in the UK at that point presented a tricky financial prospect. Public transport in the UK is pretty decent if a tad expensive at times (we’re looking at you Chiltern Railways!) but it still worked out more cost effective than running a car. With the possibility of not being able to drive while travelling lingering in our minds, we decided to create a plan A and a plan B much like cartoon villains. Cue maniacal laugh…