Llanberis Pass, Snowdonia, Wales
There’s a very old joke about the weather in North Wales: “Summer was great this year, it was a Wednesday”. Cruel perhaps, but sadly there is some truth to it.
On a great day, it is a superb place to be, with far-reaching views in every direction. On anything but a clear day, it is a different story. A mountain guide I know jokingly refers to Snowdonia as ‘Mordor’; be warned.
But we’re forgetting ourselves, because the terrain that shapes the weather provides plenty of features for roads in the area. That is a good thing. This time, we visit the Llanberis Pass, or the A4086, past Snowdon.
Unlike many of the headline routes in Wales, famous for long, sweeping moorland circuits, the Llanberis Pass is almost diminutive in comparison, but equally fun.
It may only be six miles long, but it really is in spectacular scenery, surrounded by attractions. If you’re looking for a road to make a weekend of in family company, this is probably the one.
It isn’t a fast one though, nor is it billiard-table flat, so is more suited to the older model 911. We reckon a sorted 964 would be glorious here, in third gear up, and second downhill.
We start at Llanberis, by the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The first mile or more is slow past houses, but shifts into plenty of bends and a rising gradient. Past the attention-seeking roadside boulders, the road changes character, becoming a well-sighted, ricocheting scar up into the road summit, eventually passing by the Pen-Y-Pass Youth Hostel.
This section reminds me of the Isle of Man mountain section, where you’ll get a glimpsed sight line up the road as you weave around certain bends. At the Pen-y-Pass, we descend around a very scenic Armco edged bend with open views down to the Pen-Y-Gwyrd hotel, and Llyn Gwynant on the right.
Our top tip is to drive this at sunrise or sunset, when you’ll have it to yourself. Once done, walk up Snowdon via the Pyg or Miners Tracks (or the cheat’s way via the railway from Llanberis).
Food-wise, what better than to enjoy lunch in the evocative Alpine Room in the Pen-y-Gwyrd, with its ceiling signed by Everest Summiteers?