Snowdon – facts and figures

* Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales at 3560ft (1085m) and the highest in the British Isles south of Scotland. Snowdon is a very busy mountain with something like half a million visitors a year who ascend either by the rack railway or by one of the mountain’s many paths.

* Snowdon is one of the world’s oldest mountains, at the extreme end it is probably four hundred million years old, although after erosion in the last ice age its height and size was reduced considerably and in its present state it may be said to be around four to six million years old.

* The first officially recorded ascent may have been in 1639. There are historical records showing that the mountain was used for celebrations as far back as the 12th century.

* Snowdon has the world’s oldest commercially operated summit hostelry. The first summit ‘cafe’ was established in the 1820’s although it appears that tea, coffee, and sandwiches/cakes were being supplied at the summit as early as 1815.

* The Snowdonia National Park was established in 1951 to convert a larger area to national park status. Before that Snowdonia (Eryri) referred to just the area immediately around the mountain itself. As recorded in the 1949 book, ‘Snowdonia the National park of North Wales,’ it was queried whether the area for the park needed to be extended so far beyond the original area.

* The furthest one can see from Snowdon – in theory – is southern Scotland at 144 miles distant, although it is said that no-one has recorded such a sighting so far as it requires perhaps unusualy optimal weather conditions.

* The Snowdon Mountain Railway is the only commercially operated steam railway in the British Isles. It operates four steam locomotives which are complemented by four diesel locomotives. The railway operates from April to October and it takes tourists from Llanberis up to the smallest public transport served mountain top in the world.

* Passengers may baulk at the 30 minute turn-round at Snowdon’s summit. In comparision the much longer round trip of 3 hours to the summit of Mount Washington in the USA entails a break of just 20 minuntes upon its 6288ft summit!

* People often have consternations about the weather on Snowdon – relax its not that bad – compared to Mount Washington which is claimed to have the “worst weather in the world.”

* All five countries of the British Isles (Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man) can be seen from the top when conditions permit. 24 counties can also be seen. Other mountain ranges visible include the Mourne mountains and Wicklow mountains in Ireland, Snaefell (Isle of Man) the Lake District and the Peak District, as well as the nearby Welsh ranges such as the Berwyns and Moelwyns.

* The summit cafe, Hafod Eryri (the ‘summer residence’) opened in 2009 & took 3 years to build due to the generally difficult weather conditions. Haford Eryri is the highest building in England and Wales but not the UK. The record goes to the Ptarmigan cafe on CairnGorm Mountain in Scotland at an elevation of 3600ft (1097m)

* Snowdon is quite near the sea at 10 miles, although the nearest 3000 footer to the sea is Foel Fras (3091ft) which stands just over 4 miles from the coast! Mention must be made that Snowdon and Foel Fras are at the extremities of a series of 15 peaks at over 3000ft stretching across 26 miles and many people try to ascend the 15 peaks in under 24 hours which is something of an endurance feat.

Copyright © 2010 Gwychder y Wyddfa

Comments are closed