THAT age is just a number has been proved true by a man who has climbed Snowdon at 90 years old - and went to the gym two days later.

Cliff Wilkinson, from Rhos-on-Sea, is one of the oldest people ever to have scaled Wales’ highest peak, which he did out of courtesy of introducing a family member to the natural beauty of the area.

“I felt OK,” said Cliff, after completing the 1,085-metre feat on Sunday, June 6. “I’m pretty used to doing these things.

“Because the cartilage has gone on my knees I did use walking poles to help a little bit.”

North Wales Chronicle: Front row from left: Kay Hatton and Adrianne Jones, Cliff's daughters. Second row: Family friend Amanda Walker, Cliff, son David and granddaughter Lottie. Back row: Nathan, who is visiting from South Africa, family friend Roger and grandson Tom.Front row from left: Kay Hatton and Adrianne Jones, Cliff's daughters. Second row: Family friend Amanda Walker, Cliff, son David and granddaughter Lottie. Back row: Nathan, who is visiting from South Africa, family friend Roger and grandson Tom.

Cliff, who is diabetic, has become more active later in life, having run his first half-marathon aged 70 and covered the equivalent distance of the equator since the age of 60. He also goes to the gym three times a week.

He was joined by nine family members on the walk up the Miners’ Track and down the Llanberis Path.

They were able to reach the trig point at the top of the mountain in just over three hours.

“We took our time and managed it OK, and then there was a long queue at the trig beacon and people wanted to take photos,” he said.

“Coming down was probably worse than going up if you have got dodgy knees, but we managed all the way to the tar, and then my daughter brought the car to take us to the bottom.”

North Wales Chronicle: Cliff and Tom near the trig point at the top of Mount Snowdon.Cliff and Tom near the trig point at the top of Mount Snowdon.

Cliff has lived in the Conwy town since 1974, after moving from Zambia where he was the headteacher of a secondary school that had one of the best track and field teams in the country.

He had grown up in Fort Elizabeth, South Africa and was a competitive sprinter, running the 100 metres in 10.8 seconds at a time when the world record was set at 10.3.

He moved to North Wales after visiting family members in Denbigh and Prestatyn, and took over a grocery store opposite Wetherspoons in Colwyn Bay. He sold the business to semi-retire in 1989.

Grandson Tom, 25, who was among the group to join Cliff on the effort, had “watched every step” that he took.

“We think he must be oldest to climb up it,” Tom said. “We didn’t want to tell him beforehand, but we did when he got to top. It was quite funny as he didn’t believe us.

“My only concern was that he can be stubborn, so if he got injured then he would want to carry on soldiering through.

North Wales Chronicle: Cliff and Tom pictured after walking up Snowdon in just over three hours.Cliff and Tom pictured after walking up Snowdon in just over three hours.

Tom said that, during the walk up and down the mountain, “random people wanted to take photos” with his grandfather.

“They were amazed by what he was doing,” he said. “The amount of people congratulating him was unbelievable.”

Near to the top of ridge the group had sat down for a short rest.

“I asked if he wanted to get up and he said ‘no, it will hurt my pride if someone helps me up’,” Tom said.

The pair had made a bet with each other that Cliff would not be able to go to the gym according to his usual routine the following Tuesday.

“I owe him £10 now,” Tom said.

“He said next time he will try to do a quicker time.”

Cliff’s son, David, said his dad had been talking about doing the walk since last Christmas.

“He keeps active and his wife passed away from dementia during lockdown, so it has been a hard time with that, but he seems stronger and fitter.

“He is very determined, very focussed. Next time he goes up will have to train harder as coming down was hard on his knees.”

Cliff added: “I only did it as I had a young South African relative visiting after I found out he existed and is living in Newcastle.

“We have also been to Caernarfon Castle, Betws-y-Coed, and we have taken him around Conwy.

“He has met all the family and is impressed with how we live.”