Yr Wyddfa or Snowdon (never Mount Snowdon) as it is otherwise known is the highest point in England and Wales. It forms the epicentre of the Snowdonia Mountains and is located in the county of Gwynedd.
A towering landmark, the mountain stands at 3,560 feet with a unique summit that shows the interaction between man and nature.
The History Of Yr Wyddfa
North Wales is rich with high mountains, tumbling rivers, lakes, rugged crags, and a unique, varied coastline.
One of the most notable landmarks here is the Snowdonia National Park with 15 mountains, with Yr Wyddfa being the most prominent. The mountain’s name means burial mound in welsh and was originally formed over 450 million years ago.
The formation of the mountain was through tectonic plate collision. At the time of its formation, the mountain was underwater. This is confirmed by the fossils of shell fragments that are found on the summit area.
The shape that Yr Wyddfa is known for today was formed through a series of massive folding and mountain building phases. The rock was exposed to intense heat and force that squeezed the mountain upwards.
During the formation, there were also periods of cold temperatures that resulted in ice ages. The most recent of these was 10,000 years ago, responsible for the sharp peak and valleys currently on the mountain.
According to Welsh Folklore, Snowdon’s summit is said to be the tomb of Rhitta Gawr – a giant hence the name. The folklore goes ahead to indicate that the giant wore a cloak made of men’s beards and was slain by King Arthur after the giant claimed the king’s beard.
Copper and Slate Mining
The Mountain has always been a part of the livelihood of the community since the Bronze Age. Back then, the locals used the mountain as a mine for copper and slate. There were also older settlements and farms, with most of the remains of human and natural history still evident on the mountain.
The Victorian Age introduced mountaineering, which has risen in popularity over the years. This has further pushed the popularity of Snowdon.
Those who visit the mountain today get to see the first stone shelters built at the summit in 1820, and there is a unique visitor centre at the summit called Hafod Eryri, which was re-designed and opened in 2009.
Part of the group of mountaineers that come here come as an expedition to the Himalayas, Everest, and the Alps.
For a mountain of its height, the climate at the summit of the mountain is expected. During winter, the mountain is often covered by snow, hence its English name, Snowdon. However, the amount of snow covering the summit has recently decreased.
On the slopes, the mountain has the wettest climate in England. The slopes receive mover 5,100mm of precipitation every year.
Snowdon doesn’t have an abundance of plants. However, some of the plants found on the mountain are rarely found anywhere else in Britain. Some of these include the Snowdon Lily and the Gagea Serotina, which is also found in the Alps and North America.
A few animals have been spotted near or on the mountain, like otters, polecats, and goats. Birds like the Raven, Peregrin, Osprey, Red-billed Chough, Red kite, Moorland birds, and Merline are also a common site. The Pine Martens are an endangered species that haven’t been seen for many years but were once a frequent scene around the mountain.
How to Get to the Mountain
Being one of the busiest mountains in the UK, you can expect there to be several paths you can use to get to the top of the mountain – and there are. Some of the most commonly used ones include:
The Llanberis Path
This is the longest and most gradual path to the summit of the mountain. It follows the railway line, and it is the least interesting. The course is common among the Snowdon Race enthusiasts. While the path is generally safe, some patches of the path, like the patch beside the railway near the summit, has been dubbed the Killer Convex in icy conditions because of its potential to send unware walkers over the cliffs. In February 2009, four people died in this area.
The Snowdon Ranger Path
This is a shorter and more arduous path. It begins at the Youth Hostel beside Llyn Cwellyn to the west of the mountain. It is possibly one of the oldest path to the summit. The route starts with zigzags through turf before you make your way to a flat boggy mess. At some point, the course meets the railway after wrapping around the Clogwyn Du’r Arddu. There’s not much to see on this path as well, but it offers a more adventurous ascent.
Rhyd Ddu Path
This is an even shorter path with a higher elevation. The total distance you can expect to cover with this path depends on your exact starting point.
It is also called the Beddgelert Path and starts from the village of Rhyd Ddu on the west of Snowdon. It begins as a gentle climb before climbing steeply to meet up with the Watkin Path. It is considered one of the easiest routes to the summit. From the start of the route, you can see the summit of the mountain. Surprisingly, it is one of the least used routes.
For mountain walkers that are up to the challenge, this is the most demanding route to the summit of Yr Wyddfa. It starts at the lowest elevation and has the steepest gradient. The path was initially designed as donkey tracked and was even opened in 1892.
The Watkin route has the prettiest begging of the routes to the summit and offers plenty to see along the way to the top.
Over Y Lliwedd
This route is frequently used for descent because it forms the second half of the Snowdon Horseshoe walk. Some of the other available routes to use to the summit include the Miners’ track, the Pyg Track, and the Crib Goch, which is easily described as one of the finest ridge walks in Britain and also part of the Snowdon Horseshoe.