Facts about Snowdon

Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England, reaching 1,085 metres or 3,560 feet above sea level at it’s highest point, which is only second to Ben Nevis in Scotland which stands at 1,345 metres or 4412.73 feet.

There are many mountain summits within the Snowdonia National Park, around 90 summits are over 2,000 feet and Snowdon is one of the 15 peaks which exceed 3,000 feet.

The english origins of the name Snowdon derive from the Saxons, meaning “Snow Dun” or “Snow Hill”. In Welsh we call it “Yr Wyddfa” which was shortened from “Yr Wyddfa Fawr” meaning Great Throne or Tomb.

There are some mythical stories about Snowdon surrounding Arthur, the ‘once and future king’. It is said that Arthur killed a giant named Ritta on the slopes of Snowdon to avoid having his beard added to the giant’s cloak collection.

In another story Arthur’s body lies beneath a “Cairn of Stones” named Carnedd Arthur at Tregalan, whilst the bodies of his knights in full armour have been layed at a cave on “Y Lliwedd”.

Snowdon was part of Edmund Hillary’s training in preperation for his expedition to the top of Mount Everest.

There are six main pathways up to the summit of Snowdon and these are called the Llanberis Path, the Miners Track, the Pyg Track, Rhyd Ddu Path, Snowdon Ranger Path and finally Watkin Path, with approximately 350,000 visitors every year.

If you’ve ever heard of the three peak challenge, you will know that along with Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, Snowdon makes up the third mountain summit to reach.

The summit can also be reached by the Snowdon Railway Line which opened in 1896 and runs from Llanberis to the smallest mountain top cafe/restaurant in the world. The first stone shelter on the summit was built in 1820 by a guide named Lloyd, then a copper miner, named William Morris, realised it would be a great idea to sell refreshments from the shelter.

The shelter was rebuilt to incorporate more people and be environmentally friendly and on 12th June 2009 the summit building, named Hafod Eryi was officially opened by the First Minister for Wales, the Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan AM.

The Snowdon railway was the idea of two men, Sir Richard Moon and Mr George Assheton Smith.

Sir moon realised by using his standard gauge line he could attract more tourists to the summit and Mr Assheton Smith saw the benefit of inviting more tourism to the mountain as a way to compensate for the loss of income from his declining mines.

They imported a fully working 800mm gauge mountain railway from Switzerland and this is still the only rack and pinion railway in the United Kingdom.

The only railway accident occurred on the opening day in 1896. Ladas, Engine 1, derailed and plummeted down the slope. As the crew jumped from the engine a guard applied the hand brake and brought the carriages to a halt.

Unfortunately, a passenger panicked and jumped out of the carriage and fell onto the tracks and under the carriages wheels.

On a clear day you might be able to see around 18 different lakes and 14 other summits over 3,000 feet.

Snowdon has a lily named after it knows as “The Snowdon Lily”. It is a delicate white flower with a grass like leaf and is an arctic-alpine plant. Throughout Britain, this Lily has only ever been recorded as growing high up in the mountains of Snowdonia.