Pen Y Pass Hostel Life

Kelsey Breseman
3 min readMay 20, 2023

Tonight is the last of our six nights at the Pen Y Pass Youth Hostel. It's nice to have a long stay in the middle of a trip, enough time to settle in. We've grown so used to our little room that it's almost strange that we're leaving in the morning.

We've become the denizens of a passing-through place. We know our way around the self-catering kitchen, which knives are least dull, where the graters are kept. I talk somebody through the finicky wifi at a communal dining table.

The local fauna, too, have grown familiar. In the early morning, the knocking sound at the window is a crow that pecks the windowpanes. Eileen has developed an attachment to a particular lamb and its mother ewe that graze and nap outside our window each day.

Pen Y Pass has also been a superb base of operations. It's central, a de facto transit hub, and a high point with many trails leading out.

When Eileen takes a rest day, I tackle the Glyder Traverse: stunning, rocky, and steep. There is scree and scrambling. I help two different people who have gotten turned around find their way. I overdo it myself: my body is strong, but I allow myself to be tempted by one more thing, and one more thing, ultimately returning after seven hours, red-faced and with no food or water left over. Luckily, I did plan ahead enough to have a gentle route down.

We have seen rescue helicopters overhead every day, including one right in front of us. A woman took a tumble down a waterfall before we arrived and injured her spine. It is shocking but not surprising; the terrain is very rugged, and there are few safeguards. It's easy to get in over your head and need good knees or scrambling skill to get out.

Snowdonia's infinite peaks and ridges tantalize, trails to every one of them. But for the sake of Eileen's knee, we've been choosing some lowland routes. We've been rewarded for the change. In the valleys, the trails are empty, and we find waterfalls, streams, and caves. We bathe in a deserted pool, sing into the darkness of an old copper mine shaft. I didn't know bluebells had a fragrance, but a field of them in warm sunshine is heady with sweetness.

Now we're settling in for night: checking the morning bus schedules, getting a last shower: the showerhead is spitty, and the knob has to be pressed every thirty seconds to keep the water flowing, but you can turn it up pretty hot. You get used to it. We've made thorough use of the sink in our room: my laundry lies draped on a radiator that won't quite dry it by morning.

It will be dry enough to pack. We bus out at eight tomorrow: down from the mountains, towards the coast again. Where will we go? We don't yet know, exactly. But we're getting a van, and plan to sleep in it for the next week. Adventure awaits.

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Eileen watching her sheep friends