With an elevation of over 1,085m over sea level, Snowdon is not only the highest mountain in Wales but also the highest point in Britain outside the Scottish Highlands. The welsh mountain is located in Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd and has been designated as a national nature reserve due to its rare flora and fauna.
Despite the slightly scary meaning of the mountain’s Welsh name ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (grave, tumulus or barrow) it is a very popular travel destination among hikers and tourists, especially the peak of the mountain itself. The name might come from the legend of Rhitta Gawr who was a giant that hold curt in Snowdonia and fought against the kings Nyniaw and Peibaw. As trophy for his victory Rhitta Gawr took their beards and fashioned them into a cape for himself. As the 26 kings of Britain assembled their armies to fight against the giant he overwhelmed them and used their beards to expand his cape that should protect him from the cold. Later on, Rhitta demanded the beard of the red-eyed giant Cernyw who was slayed by King Arthur. The king marched furiously up Snowdonia to fight Rhitta in a duel where he conquered the giant. Afterwards, he commanded that a cairn should be built over the dead body which now forms Rhita’s Carin (Gwyddfa Rhudda) which became Yr Wyddfa over the time. The Old English name Snowdon stands for ‘Snow Hill’.
The rocks forming mount Snowdon were produced by volcanos in the second of six palaeozoic Eras, the Ordovician Period. Later, glaciation sculptured the massif pyramidal peak of Snowdon, the arêtes of Crib Goch (knife-edged arête in the Snowdonia National park around 923 metres above sea level) and the Y Lliwedd (mountain connected to Snowdon with around 898 metres above sea level). This area, especially the cliffs facing Snowdon which include Clogwyn Du’r Arddu (around 700 metres above sea level meaning ‘Arthur’s Cliff’ od ‘Cliff of the Black Bear’), are very well known for rock climbing. In 1953 Edmund Hillary used the mountains there to train for his climb of the Mount Everest. Today, the peak of Snowdon can be reached by either a number of well-known paths or the Snowdon Mountain Railway which opened in 1896 and carries tourists 7.6km up the hill to the peak café and back. It is the only rack and pinion mountain railway in the UK and therefore, after 100 years of operation, a tourist attraction. It can be chosen between a ride with either the steam or diesel locomotives.
When we arrived in Llanberis where both the walking path and the railway to the summit of Snowdon started the weather was changing back and forth between sunshine and clouds. Hence, we decided to take the steam train up the hill and walk down depending on the weather. As many people wanted to try the tourist attraction we had to wait around an hour until our train would depart. Meanwhile, we went to the railway museum and walked around the small village. When we finally started the journey, unfortunately, the peak was wrapped in clouds and disappeared in all the fog. However, we were extremely lucky. After the arrival at the café, we decided to climb up a few stairs to see the summit cairn which was built in 1819. The wind was extreme and it was freezing cold. I still can’t get why some people went up there in summer dresses and sandals.
After a few minutes up there the clouds cleared and we were able to enjoy the stunning view all over the British isle.
As it was quite windy the joy about the clear sight didn’t last long and the peak was hidden in the clouds soon again. However, we decided to take the footpath down the hill to enjoy the landscape and nature.
Arriving in Llanberis I was nearly defrosted and it definitely was a special time and view.