Interesting facts about Mount Snowdon, Wales

If you’re planning to visit Snowdon in Wales this summer, here’s some interesting information about the mountain that you might want to know.

Snowdon, in Welsh, is Yr Wyddfa, which means tomb or monument. Legend has it that it is the tomb of Rhita Gawr, an ogre who killed kings and made cloaks with his beard. He supposedly puts the end of it when King Arthur climbed to the top of Mount Snowdon and killed him.

No one knows who first conquered Snowdon, but climbing the mountain became popular when Thomas Pennant published ‘Tours’ in 1781 and included his visit to the top.

Snowdon, like the surrounding area, has been mined since the Bronze Age, and evidence of copper mining can be seen all over the mountain, from old mine buildings to old tramways. Care must be taken around these old buildings.

Snowdon facts and figures

Snowdon is at an elevation of 1,085 meters (3,560 feet). Every year 350,000 people reach the top, some on foot and others by train. The summit gets 200 inches (508 cm) of rain per year and can reach temperatures of 30 Celsius in the height of summer and plummet to -20 Celsius in winter. Add to this winds up to 150 mph and the temperature can feel more like -50. The summit buildings at the top can get covered in ice and snow between November and April.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

Before the railway, ponies used to take tourists to the top of Snowdon. Sir Richard Moon and Mr. George Assheton Smith were responsible for the idea of ​​the Snowdon Railway: Sir Moon as a way of driving tourists using his standard gauge lines, and Mr. Smith when he realized that money of the tourist can compensate him for the loss of income from his declining mines.

They imported a fully functioning 800mm gauge mountain railway from Switzerland. The railway remains the UK’s only rack and pinion railway. It has zippers with teeth in the center of the track that engage with teeth under the cars.

The only accident on the railway occurred on the day it opened to the public in 1896. Locomotive #1, Ladas, derailed and plunged down a slope. The crew jumped out of the engine and survived, and the guard applied the parking brake to the cars, bringing them to a stop. Unfortunately, one of the passengers panicked and jumped out of the car, falling onto the tracks and under the wheels. He later died from his injuries. The saga wasn’t quite over, as just as the carriages came to a stop, the engine following them (Enid, still running today) hit them from behind!

The railway was closed. Since it reopened the following year there have been no more accidents! And since that date there has never been another Engine #1 on the Snowdon Railway!

The cost of the train ride isn’t cheap (aside from being a nice ride in itself – another reason to try to summit on foot!), but it’s a great way for those who can’t make the climb to travel to the top. However, good weather cannot be guaranteed and you may start the journey on a clear day, only to find yourself in a cloud when you reach the top.

If you choose to take the train up to Mount Snowdon, you can walk back along the Llanberis Path. You can get wonderful views of the trains going up and down the road. Not all trains are steam, there are also diesel engines.

If you plan to take the train to the top of Snowdon, be aware that the trains get very crowded in the summer, and it is best to arrive early or even better to book in advance by calling 0870 458 0033 at least the day before. If you don’t, you may have a long wait. A sign next to the ticket office will tell you which is the next train with available seats. You can buy a lap, or just one at the top. Single tickets for the trip down are only sold in standby mode.

Weather permitting, trains run from mid-May to late October to the summit, but from mid-March and a bit into November, they stop at Clogwyn. The trains start running at 9 am and continue until the end of the afternoon.

Buildings at Snowdon Summit

In 1820, a guide named Lloyd built the first rock shelter at the top. A copper miner, William Morris, had the idea of ​​selling soft drinks from the shelter, an idea that continues to this day. Having walked up the mountain is probably as welcome today as it was for the previous tourist, to be able to eat and drink something before starting the descent.

Two hotels were opened on the summit, one called the Roberts Hotel, the other the Cold Club. Both competed fiercely with each other. However, there were often more visitors than beds, and conditions were not the best. In 1898, the Snowdon Mountain Railway and Hotels Company took over the hotels and began rebuilding them: the harsh conditions at the top of Mount Snowdon meant that any building had a limited lifespan. In the 1930s, it was decided to replace the buildings on the summit with a hotel, cafe, and multi-purpose station. With little regard for preservation, the builders simply pushed the old abandoned shacks down the mountainside to make way for new construction (imagine the fuss today!). Sir Clough William-Ellis, the architect and designer of nearby Portmerion, designed the new building, complete with huge windows so visitors could better enjoy the panoramic views. Unfortunately, the windows only lasted six months before they blew out and had to be replaced with much smaller ones.

During the war years, the buildings on the summit were used by the Ministry of Supply for experimental radio work, and later by the Ministry of Air, the Admiralty and the Armed Forces, and the top of the mountain was closed to visitors. tourists. The hotel did not reopen to tourists after the war.

In 2004 it was agreed that the buildings on the summit would undergo a total refurbishment. Demolition is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2006, and the new center will be ready in 2007. There has been much debate about the shape of the new buildings, but one thing is for sure: whatever the new buildings look like, they are always they will be a welcome sight for walkers who have struggled to reach the top of the mountain!