Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, has drawn many people to North Wales over the years. Part of the Three Peaks Challenge, (Scarfell in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland being the other two) and where Snowdonia National Park gets its name, the mountain is a beautiful and majestic part of Wales’ history and geography. But how much do you actually know about it?
Snowdon is a staggering 1,085 metres or 3,560 feet in height, making it the highest mountain in Wales and England. Scotland’s Ben Nevis is the highest in Britain. Snowdon is one of 90 summits that reach over 2000 feet in Snowdonia National Park, and one of 15 that reach higher than 3,000 feet. Several neighbouring peaks to Snowdon are over 3000 feet, called the Snowdon Massif.
Millions of Years of History
Go back five hundred million years ago, and Snowdon was on the seabed, which is evidenced by fragments of shell fossils that have been found on the summit. Snowdon is on the northern extent of the Harlech Dome, said to be Snowdonia’s oldest physical feature. Volcanic rocks produced some of the mountain’s distinctive features, and nearby valleys were formed millions of years ago by glaciers gouging out the landscape.
Choose Your Path
There are six official routes you can take up Snowdon, varying in difficulty, and approaching the summit from different sides. These are Watkin Path, Llanberis Path, Miners Path, Pyg Track, Rhyd Ddu Path and Snowdon Ranger. And if walking is not for you, there is also a train right to the summit from Llanberis, so you don’t miss out on those incredible views.
Behind the Name
The English name, Snowdon, derives from the Saxon “Snow Dun”, which means snow hill, as Snowdon has a dusting in snow for much of the year. In Welsh, the mountain is called Yr Wyddfa Fawr, which in English translates to the Great Tomb or Great Throne. It was also known at one time as Carnedd y Cawr, or the Cairn of the Giant.
A Legendary Mountain
The old Welsh names of Snowdon, translated into English mean The Great Tomb and The Cairn of the Giant, suggest the mountain has some interesting links to legend and myths. One, in particular, surrounds King Arthur, and in one story, Arthur kills a giant, Rhitta Gawr, on the slopes of Snowdon, to avoid having his beard added to the giant’s collection and the mountain is said to be the tomb of the giant. Another tale suggests that Arthur’s body lies beneath a cairn of stones at Cwm Tregalan, while his knights lie in a cave on Y Lliwedd, a mountain connected to Snowdon.
Thousands of Hikers
It is estimated that over 350,000 visitors reach Snowdon’s summit every year, approximately 444,000 in 2016, be it by foot or train. The first recorded ascent was by the botanist Thomas Johnson in 1639, and there have been much more who followed him. Walking and hiking up to the summit is done as a training exercise, a charity challenge or just for fun. One person who used to train on Snowdon was Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand mountaineer who became the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest in 1953.
The views from the summit of Snowdon are spectacular, and on clear days you can see England, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. You can also see 24 counties, 29 lakes and 17 islands in the panoramic views from the top. You can also catch views of the mountains in the Peak District and South Pennines that surround Manchester. The view between Snowdon and Merrick, located in southern Scotland, is the longest theoretical line of sight in the British Isles at 144 miles (232km). In practice, the atmospheric conditions make such sightings extremely rare, and there have been no reported sightings. Remember binoculars if you head up Snowdon to catch a glimpse of Ireland!
Rock Climbing Hotspot
Snowdon is part of the Snowdon Massif, one of three mountain groups in Snowdonia that includes mountains over 3000 feet, and the peaks in the group hold an important place in the history of rock climbing in the UK. Clogwyn Du’r Arddu, known as Cloggy among climbers, was the site of the first recorded climb in 1798 and is now considered one of the best cliffs in Britain for rock climbing. Cloggy is on the north flank of Snowdon, and reasonably remote, 700m above sea level.
How many of these facts about Snowdon did you know? If you head up the mountain yourself when buying one of our static caravans for sale North Wales, you are sure to learn more about the beautiful place, and want to try each route to the top! Be sure to check back later in the month for more fun fact guides, and take a look at our facts about the Great Orme.