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Traveller's Journal: Snowdonia National Park - Day 2

The Royal Victoria Hotel sits at the head of Llanberis Pass, near the foot of Mount Snowdon. Its elevated position provides wonderful views over Llanberis village, reminiscent of a wise old headmaster appraising his class. Sandwiched between the two lakes of Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris, the hotel is an excellent base for exploring the wild terrain of Snowdonia. I awoke to another gloomy day. The rain had continued through the night and showed little sign of letting up. Apparently Llanberis gets twice as much annual rainfall as Caernarfon ten miles to the west and I could certainly believe it.

Breakfast was a pleasant affair. Staff dressed all in black were only too happy to serve your every whim. For the early risers, there's the luxury of a table in the conservatory and great views across the village and lake. Unfortunately my aching limbs would not allow the advantage of an early start and I took my place with the commoners in the breakfast room. The staff all seemed to have strange accents, my best guess that of eastern European.

This seems to be the norm these days. Everywhere Iíve travelled in Britain recently has been staffed with foreigners. There appears to be some kind of European swap shop going on. Somewhere in the far flung corner of the continent must reside a glut of English people serving tea and coffee, and asking people what they thought of the weather. I decided to take a walk in the village. Despite a population of just 2,000, Llanberis provides jobs for over 1,200 people, mainly through tourism. Its most famous attraction is the Snowdon Mountain Railway, Britain's only rack and pinion railroad. Believe it or not it opened the same day as the modern Olympic Games at Athens in 1896. Unfortunately the opening day was not without its casualties when one of the carriages derailed and tumbled down Llanberis Pass. Amazingly there have been no more derailments to this day, a comforting thought as I made my way to the ticket booth.

Alas, the train today would only be going three-quarters of the way up due to ice on the track at the top. Having driven all the way to Llanberis the least I can do is wait for the ice to clear and travel to the summit. So I decide to wait another day. Hopefully the rain may also have cleared by then. Itís only later I realise, not only is it the wrong day, but the wrong season and the snow will not clear until the summer. For now, however, itís time for lunch.


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