Snowdonia (Welsh: Eryri) is a mountainous region in northwestern Wales and a national park of 823 square miles (2,130 km2) in area. It was the first to be designated of the three national parks in Wales, in 1951. It contains the highest peaks in the United Kingdom outside of Scotland.
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
A map of Snowdonia National Park
|Area||823 sq mi (2,130 km2)|
The English name for the area derives from Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales at 3560 ft (1,085 m). In Welsh, the area is named Eryri. A commonly held belief is that the name is derived from eryr ("eagle"), and thus means 'the abode/land of eagles', but recent evidence is that it means Highlands, and is related to the Latin oriri (to rise) as leading Welsh scholar Sir Ifor Williams proved.
In the Middle Ages the title Prince of Wales and Lord of Snowdonia (Tywysog Cymru ac Arglwydd Eryri) was used by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd; his grandfather Llywelyn Fawr used the title Prince of north Wales and Lord of Snowdonia.
Before the boundaries of the national park were designated, "Snowdonia" was generally used to refer to a smaller area, namely the upland area of northern Gwynedd centred on the Snowdon massif, whereas the national park covers an area more than twice that size extending far to the south into Meirionnydd. This is apparent in books published prior to 1951, such as the classic travelogue Wild Wales by George Borrow (1862) and The Mountains of Snowdonia by H. Carr & G. Lister (1925). F. J. North, as editor of the book Snowdonia (1949), states "When the Committee delineated provisional boundaries, they included areas some distance beyond Snowdonia proper." The traditional Snowdonia thus includes the ranges of Snowdon and its satellites, the Glyderau, the Carneddau, the Moelwynion and the Moel Hebog group. It does not include the hills to the south of Maentwrog. As Eryri (see above), this area has a unique place in Welsh history, tradition and culture.
Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) was established in 1951 as the third national park in Britain, following the Peak District and the Lake District. It covers 827 square miles (2,140 km2), and has 37 miles (60 km) of coastline.The Snowdonia National Park covers parts of the counties of Gwynedd and Conwy.
The park is governed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority, which is made up of local government and Welsh representatives, and its main offices are at Penrhyndeudraeth. Unlike national parks in other countries, Snowdonia (and other such parks in Britain) are made up of both public and private lands under central planning authority. The makeup of land ownership at Snowdonia is as follows:
|ownership type||share (%)|
|National Park Authority||1.2|
|Natural Resources Wales||17.5|
More than 26,000 people live within the park. 58.6% of the population could speak Welsh in 2011.
While most of the land is either open or mountainous land, there is a significant amount of agricultural activity within the park.
Since the local government re-organisation of 1998, the park lies partly in the county of Gwynedd, and partly in the county borough of Conwy. It is governed by the 18-member Snowdonia National Park Authority; nine members are appointed by Gwynedd, 3 by Conwy, and the remaining six by the National Assembly for Wales to represent the national interest.
Unusually, Snowdonia National Park has a hole in the middle, around the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, a slate quarrying centre. This was deliberately excluded from the park when it was set up to allow the development of new light industry to replace the reduced slate industry. (There is a similar situation in the Peak District National Park where the boundaries were drawn to exclude large built-up areas and industrial sites from the park with the town of Buxton and the adjacent quarries outside but surrounded on three sides by the park.)
The Snowdonia Society is a registered charity formed in 1967. It is a voluntary group of people with an interest in the area and its protection.
Research indicates that there were 3.67 million visitors to Snowdonia National Park in 2013, with approximately 9.74 million tourist days spent in the park during that year. Total tourist expenditure was £433.6 million in 2013.
Snowdonia may be divided into four areas:
Many of the hikers in the area concentrate on Snowdon itself. It is regarded as a fine mountain, but at times gets very crowded; in addition the Snowdon Mountain Railway runs to the summit.
The other high mountains with their boulder-strewn summits—as well as Tryfan, one of the few mountains in the UK south of Scotland whose ascent needs hands as well as feet—are also very popular. However, there are also some spectacular walks in Snowdonia on the lower mountains, and they tend to be relatively unfrequented. Among hikers' favourites are Y Garn (east of Llanberis) along the ridge to Elidir Fawr; Mynydd Tal-y-Mignedd (west of Snowdon) along the Nantlle Ridge to Mynydd Drws-y-Coed; Moelwyn Mawr (west of Blaenau Ffestiniog); and Pen Llithrig y Wrach north of Capel Curig. Further south are Y Llethr in the Rhinogydd, and Cadair Idris near Dolgellau.
The park has 1,479 miles (2,380 km) of public footpaths, 164 miles (264 km) of public bridleways, and 46 miles (74 km) of other public rights of way. A large part of the park is also covered by Right to Roam laws.
The park's natural forests are of the mixed deciduous type, the commonest tree being the Welsh oak. Birch, ash, mountain-ash and hazel are also common. The park also contains some large (planted) coniferous forested areas such as Gwydir Forest near Betws-y-Coed, although some areas, once harvested, are now increasingly being allowed to regrow naturally.
Northern Snowdonia is the only place in Britain where the Snowdon lily (Gagea serotina), an arctic–alpine plant, and the rainbow-coloured Snowdon beetle (Chrysolina cerealis) are found, and the only place in the world where the Snowdonia hawkweed Hieracium snowdoniense grows.
A large proportion of the park is today under designation (or under consideration for designation) as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, national nature reserves, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Biosphere and Ramsar sites.
One of the major problems facing the park in recent years has been the growth of Rhododendron ponticum. This fast-growing invasive species has a tendency to take over and stifle native species. It can form massive towering growths and has a companion fungus that grows on its roots producing toxins that are poisonous to any local flora and fauna for a seven-year period after the Rhododendron infestations have been eradicated. As a result, there are a number of desolate landscapes.
Snowdonia's importance in the conservation of habitat and wildlife in the region reflects in the fact that nearly 20% of its total area is protected by UK and European law. Half of that area was set aside by the government under the European Habitats Directive as a Special Area of Conservation. Rare mammals in the park include otters, polecats, and the feral goat, although the pine marten has not been seen for many years. Rare birds include raven, red-billed chough, peregrine, osprey, merlin and the red kite. Another of Snowdonia's famous inhabitants is the Snowdon or rainbow beetle. The park has three RAMSAR Sites: the Dyfi Estuary Biosphere Reserve, Cwm Idwal and Llyn Tegid.
Snowdonia is one of the wettest parts of the United Kingdom; Crib Goch in Snowdonia is the wettest spot in the United Kingdom, with an average rainfall of 4,473 millimetres (176.1 in) a year over the past 30 years.
Aberangell (Welsh pronunciation) is a village in Gwynedd, Wales.Abertrinant
Abertrinant is a small settlement in Gwynedd, Wales. It is 7 kilometres (4 mi) northeast of the town of Tywyn.Afon Aber
The Afon Aber is a small river in Gwynedd that enters Liverpool Bay on the coast of North Wales at Abergwyngregyn, 53.242°N 4.027°W / 53.242; -4.027. It rises in the Carneddau mountains on the northern watersheds of Drum, Foel Fras and Garnedd Uchaf and the eastern watersheds of Drosgl and Moel Wnion. It is principally noted for the spectacular waterfall of one its principal tributaries, the Aber Falls, where it leaves the hills and descends in a single drop to the valley floor. The river, joined by the other main tributary, the Afon Anafon, then flows through a densely wooded valley which is now a nature reserve before entering the sea just north of Abergwyngregyn.Afon Dwyfor
The Afon Dwyfor is a river in Gwynedd, north-west Wales, in total the river is 12 1⁄2 miles (20.1 km) in length. It rises in Cwm Dwyfor at the head of Cwm Pennant, gathers to itself numerous streams which drain the surrounding mountains from Mynydd Graig Goch in the west to Moel Hebog in the east, then flows southwest towards Dolbenmaen and out of the Snowdonia National Park.After a brief diversion west, it turns south, then southwest again, heading for the village of Llanystumdwy. Beyond Llanystumdwy it heads for the coast and Tremadog Bay. Its mouth has been diverted eastwards by almost one mile by the Pen-y-chain shingle spit resulting from longshore drift.Its principal tributaries are the Afon Henwy which enters on its left bank above Dolbenmaen, and the Afon Dwyfach which joins it as a right-bank tributary to the west of Llanystumdwy. The Dwyfach itself rises in an area of flat ground to the west of the A487 road between Bryncir and Llanllyfni and flows in a generally southerly direction.'Afon Dwyfor' signifies the 'big holy river' in Welsh whilst the 'Afon Dwyfach' is the 'little holy river'.The river is bridged by numerous minor roads and paths but also by the A487, B4411 and A497 roads as well as the railway line between Criccieth and Pwllheli. At Dolbenmaen it is believed the Roman road to Segontium forded the river. A motte-and-bailey castle, once the residence of Llywelyn the Great, guarded the ford during the Middle Ages.Afon Ogwen
The Afon Ogwen (Welsh, meaning River Ogwen in English) is a river in north-west Wales draining from some of the greatest peaks in Snowdonia before discharging to the sea on the eastern side of Bangor, Gwynedd.Afon Tryweryn
The Tryweryn is a river in the north of Wales which starts at Llyn Tryweryn in the Snowdonia National Park and after 19 kilometres (12 mi) joins the river Dee at Bala. It is one of the main tributaries of the Dee and has been dammed to form Llyn Celyn. Water is stored in winter when flows are high, and released over the summer to maintain the flow in the Dee (water from the Dee is used as the water supply for large areas of north-east Wales, and for the Wirral and much of Liverpool in England.Aran Fawddwy
Aran Fawddwy is a mountain in southern Snowdonia, Wales, United Kingdom. It is the only peak in Wales outside North Snowdonia above 900m, and higher than anywhere in Great Britain outside Northern Snowdonia, the Scottish Highlands (and islands) and the Lake District. The nearest urban centres to the mountain are Dinas Mawddwy to the south, Llanymawddwy to the southeast, Llanuwchllyn on the shores of Bala Lake to the north, and Rhydymain to the west.
The nearest settlements with around 2,000 people are Bala and Dolgellau. On the eastern slopes of Aran Fawddwy is the small lake named Creiglyn Dyfi, the source of the River Dyfi. Its sister peak is Aran Benllyn at 885 metres (2,904 ft). There is also a middle peak- Erw y Ddafad-ddu.
A cairn is placed on the eastern ridge as a memorial to RAF Mountain Rescue team member Michael Robert Aspain who was struck and killed by lightning in 1960.Carnedd Llewelyn
Carnedd Llewelyn, usually spelt Carnedd Llywelyn in Welsh, is a mountain massif in the Carneddau range in Snowdonia, north-west Wales. It is the highest point of the Carneddau and the second highest peak by relative height in Wales, 49th in the British Isles and lies on the border between Gwynedd and Conwy.Dinas Mawddwy
Dinas Mawddwy (Welsh pronunciation) is a town and community in south-east Gwynedd, north Wales. It lies within the Snowdonia National Park, but just to the east of the main A470, and consequently many visitors pass the village by. Its population is roughly 600. The village marks the junction of the unclassified road to Llanuwchllyn which climbs up through the mountains to cross Bwlch y Groes at its highest point, the second highest road pass in Wales. This minor road also provides the closest access to the mountain Aran Fawddwy and is the nearest settlement to Craig Cywarch.
Dinas Mawddwy is the home of the 1996 British Rally Championship winner Gwyndaf Evans and his son Elfyn Evans, winner of Wales Rally GB 2017.The community includes the villages of Mallwyd, Aberangell, and Llanymawddwy.Glyder Fawr
Glyder Fawr is a mountain in Snowdonia, Wales, the highest peak in the Glyderau range at just over 1,000 metres, having had its height recalculated in 2010 using GPS. It is the fifth-highest mountain in Wales and has several walking and scrambling routes leading to its summit. According to Sir Ifor Williams, the word "Glyder" derives from the Welsh word "Gludair", meaning a heap of stones.Llanegryn
Llanegryn is a village and a community in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. It was formerly part of the historic county of Merionethshire (Welsh: Meirionnydd, Sir Feirionnydd). It is located within Snowdonia National Park south of the Snowdonia (Eryri) mountain range. Travelling by road, it is around 4 miles (6 km) north-east of Tywyn and 17 miles (27 km) south-west of Dolgellau. The nearest railway stations are at Tonfanau and Llwyngwril, both less than 3 miles (5 km) away.
Llanegryn is named for St Egryn, with llan meaning church or parish – a common feature in Welsh place names. The village lies in the Dysynni Valley (Dyffryn Dysynni).Pen y Gaer
Pen y Gaer (or Pen-y-gaer) is the location of a Bronze Age and Iron Age hillfort near the village of Llanbedr-y-Cennin in the Conwy valley, Wales.
A natural defensive site, it had a long history of occupation, indicated by the complexity of the defences, which were amended over time. There are two Bronze Age cairns on the north-west slope, and extensive prehistoric and later field systemsare nearby. The remains as seen today are mostly of Iron Age origin, but further earthworks, probably of medieval origin, lie on the south-eastern slopes.
The remains of the two walls of stone can be seen, as can those of a chevaux-de-frise. The entrance is to the west, and access can be gained from a car park, reached by the road from the village.Rhyd, Gwynedd
Rhyd is a small village in the Welsh County of Gwynedd, located on the B4410 road, halfway between Maentwrog and Llanfrothen. Situated on an elevated site within the Snowdonia National Park, the village has views of the Moelwyns, notably Moelwyn Bach. The village is located one mile from Tan-y-Bwlch railway station, one of the principal stops on the historic Ffestiniog Railway.Rhyd-ddu
Rhyd Ddu (Welsh for Black Ford) is a small village in Snowdonia, North Wales which is a starting point for walks up Snowdon (via the Rhyd Ddu Path), Moel Hebog, Yr Aran and the Nantlle Ridge.
It lies on the A4085 between Beddgelert and Caernarfon, at its junction with the B4418 to Nantlle and Penygroes.
Rhyd Ddu railway station is one of the stops of the Welsh Highland Railway between Caernarfon and Porthmadog.
T. H. Parry-Williams, the poet, author and academic was born and raised at Rhyd Ddu. He twice won both the Chair and the Crown at the National Eisteddfod, in 1912 and 1915.River Llugwy
Not to be confused with the River Lugg, a tributary of the River Wye.River Llugwy (Welsh: Afon Llugwy) is a tributary of the River Conwy, and has its source at Ffynnon Llugwy, a lake in the Carneddau range of mountains in Snowdonia in north-west Wales.River Machno
River Machno (Welsh: Afon Machno) is a river in Snowdonia in north-west Wales. It is the first major tributary of the River Conwy, which it joins south of Betws-y-coed, just past the impressive Penmachno Falls.
It has its source in the slopes at the head of the Penmachno valley, and flows through the villages of Cwm Penmachno and Penmachno.Scouting in Wales
Scouting in Wales is largely represented by ScoutsCymru, a branch of the Scout Association of the United Kingdom, although some groups of the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association also operate there.
The Scout Association in Wales is administered through 12 Scout Areas. It has 14,000 young people, and over 3500 adult volunteers. ScoutsCymru is the governing body. There is a Chief Commissioner for Wales and Commissioners for the various sections – Commissioner for Beaver Scouts (Wales), Commissioner for Cub Scouts (Wales), Commissioner for Explorer Scouts (Wales) and Commissioner for the Scout Network (Wales). A small team of staff manages the administrative office in Llantwit Major, in addition the Development Team support Scouting volunteers across Wales.
Aberystwyth Student Scout and Guide Organisation, Bangor University Guides and Scouts, Cardiff University Scouts and Guide Society, Glamorgan University Guides and Scouts, and Students of Swansea in Guides and Scouts, all affiliated to the Student Scout and Guide Organisation (SSAGO), are situated in Wales.Snowdon
Snowdon (; Welsh: Yr Wyddfa, pronounced [ər ˈwɪðva]) is the highest mountain in Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands. It is located in Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) in Gwynedd. It is the busiest mountain in the United Kingdom and the third most visited attraction in Wales, with 582,000 people visiting annually. It is designated as a national nature reserve for its rare flora and fauna.
The rocks that form Snowdon were produced by volcanoes in the Ordovician period, and the massif has been extensively sculpted by glaciation, forming the pyramidal peak of Snowdon and the arêtes of Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd. The cliff faces on Snowdon, including Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, are significant for rock climbing, and the mountain was used by Edmund Hillary in training for the 1953 ascent of Mount Everest.
The summit can be reached by a number of paths, and by the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a rack railway opened in 1896 which carries passengers the 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from Llanberis to the summit station. The summit also houses a cafe called Hafod Eryri, open only when the railway is operating; it opened in 2009 to replace one built in the 1930s. The railway generally operates to the summit station from Whitsun to October. The daily running schedule depends on weather and customer demand.
The name Snowdon is from the Old English for "snow hill", while the Welsh name – Yr Wyddfa – means "the tumulus" or "the barrow", which may refer to the cairn thrown over the legendary giant Rhitta Gawr after his defeat by King Arthur. As well as other figures from Arthurian legend, the mountain is linked to a legendary afanc (water monster) and the Tylwyth Teg (fairies).Soar, Gwynedd
Soar is a small village or hamlet in Gwynedd, Wales.
It is located about 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Harlech, close to Talsarnau and Llandecwyn.
Parentheses denote year of establishment as a National Park. An area with ‡ has similar status to a UK National Park. Areas marked † are proposed.