Pocket winter walking checklist

Heading out into Snowdonia’s mountains this winter? Make sure you pack the correct kit to stay safe out on the slopes.

It may be tempting to leave stuff out and travel light, but in the winter months Snowdonia has an alpine climate. Even if there isn’t a covering of snow, be prepared for ice, storm force winds and extreme windchill on the summits. It can be very different from when you set off!

Use our kit list to check off the items you need. This list assumes you will not be tackling Grade 1-or-above scrambles or any gradients where being roped together is required.

Our handy kit list

  1. 1. What is your Plan B? Have it mapped out and timed too.

2. Extra hat, socks and gloves.

3. Map and compass. Have a paper map in case your GPS device or phone dies on you.

4. Mobile phone battery fully charged (tip: turn off GPS until you really need it).

5. Walking poles.

6. Ice axe and crampons if walking in icy conditions.

7. Spare carrier bag for wet gear.

8. Sunglasses / goggles with interchangeable lenses.

9. Torch/head-torch with good batteries.

10. Water.

11. Chocolate and energy bars.

12. Sign up for emergency SMS/text messaging (Text “register” to 999).

13. Survival Bag, such as these sold by Lifesystems.

14. First aid kit, including aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen.

15. Add emergency numbers into your phone:

  • – If you’re stranded on the coast dial 999 / 112 and ask for the Coastguard
  • – When caving dial 999 / 112 and ask for the Police and then Cave Rescue
  • – In the mountains dial 999 / 112 and ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue
  • – Tell someone where you are going and when you intend to return – give them your number

More winter walking advice

For tips on clothing, read our blog about layering. Alternatively, find more general advice on winter mountain walking here.

Enjoy your winter waking, and stay safe!

Three North Wales beaches you are likely to have to yourself

There’s a trick to finding a quiet beach you might have all to yourself. You won’t find it signposted from a road or a footpath. You will almost certainly need to walk to it. And it may not be your picture-postcard sandy bay, but a mix of rocks, sand and shingle.

But if you’re willing to look, you can find them easily enough.

To help you, here we feature three beaches you will rarely – if ever – find photographed for a tourist brochure or see on someone’s Facebook feed. Let’s get ready to explore North Wales’s quiet coast…

Clynnog Fawr Beach

Between popular Dinas Dinlle and Trevor village is a stretch of coast mostly ignored by visitors whizzing along the improved A499 Caernarfon to Pwllheli road. The coves at Aberdesach see a few visitors thanks to nearby caravan and camping sites, but further south towards the historic village of Clynnog Fawr, the beaches are quieter still. Don’t expect perfect sands. The coast is mostly rocky or shingle with patches of sand, protected by low cliffs behind.

Roadside parking can be found in the village. From here, a footpath on the south-west side of St Beuno’s church leads to and across the A499. It then continues for about a quarter of a mile in a straight line to the beach, where a short flight of steps descend to the shore.

The beach won’t win any beauty awards, but you’ll be rewarded by the sound of waves and seagulls and nothing else. If you pick your way northwards, you’ll find a section of coast with more sand (especially at low tide). Halfway along the approach path, a track on the left (coming from the village) leads to the ancient burial chamber of Dolmen Bachwen. Approach carefully as there are often livestock in the field in which the chamber is located.

Abermenai Point

On the map, Abermenai point and Traeth Abermenai do not look promising. It’s shallow, hidden just inside the southern end of the Menai Strait, and with Newborough’s glorious beach just a few sand dunes away, why bother?

The reason is that so few people walk this far. You can reach the area simply by parking at Newborough beach’s main car park and walking the beach south-eastwards (with the mountains ahead of you). A far quieter visit can be had by parking at Pen Lon just off the A4080. Not at the car park with the marram grass sculpture, but a smaller, hidden area if you turn left off the mini roundabout on the main road. From here, it’s a mile or so waymarked walk across Newborough warren, and then an indistinct amble around the shoreline towards Abermenai Point.

If you can pick your moment, aim to reach the Point avoiding low tide. True, higher tides will make your walk out a little longer and require you to navigate a few hidden creeks. But then you’ll discover a small sandy bay just inside the point with the sandbars and mudflats flooded over. This is a beautiful, tranquil spot where you can enjoy the views across to Caernarfon Castle and Snowdonia beyond. Best of all, you’ll be truly unlucky if you see another soul.

Porth Pistyll Beach

This little visited beach is just over a mile long and boasts a lovely setting, cradled by the headlands of Penrhyn Bodeilas (to the south) and Penrhyn Glas. It’s south of the beach at Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh language centre, and north of Nefyn, and so easily missed by most visitors. The shore is mostly granite pebbles and some sand at low tide, backed by grassy clay banks. A disused jetty once used to ship granite from a nearby quarry at the southern end of the beach adds more interest too.

To find the beach you need to leave the B4417, which links the A499 with Nefyn, at the village of Pistyll. A small lane just north of Pistyll village leads right (coming from the A499) to St Beuno’s church, prettily located in a hollow next to a small stream. There is a small parking area just a few yards down this lane and if needed there is further parking in a lay-by on the opposite side of the B4417.

To reach the beach you need to turn right at the church into a field, heading for a small gate at the opposite corner. The path down to the shore is a little indistinct, but rocks have been set into the ground to form some basic steps. You can also join the Wales Coast Path at the church, with the route north in particular providing wonderful views across the beach.

Do you have a favourite quiet beach in North Wales? Let us know by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Images courtesy: Clynnog Fawr by © Copyright Alan Fryer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Abermenai Point by  © Copyright Arthur C Harris and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Porth Pistyll by © Copyright David Medcalf and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.