Snowdon (Welsh: Yr Wyddfa, pronounced [əɾ ˈwɨ̞ðva]) 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 inSnowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) in Gwynedd, and has been described as “probably the busiest mountain in Britain”. 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.
Snowdon offers some of the best views in Britain. The summit can be reached by a number of well-known paths, and by the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a rack and pinion 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 and built in 2006 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 “thetumulus“, 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).
The first recorded ascent of Snowdon was by the botanist Thomas Johnson in 1639. However, the 18th-century Welsh historian Thomas Pennant mentions a “triumphal fair upon this our chief of mountains” following Edward I‘s conquest of Wales in 1284, which could indicate the possibility of earlier ascents.
Snowdon offers some of the most extensive views in the British Isles. On exceptionally clear days, Ireland, Scotland, England, and the Isle of Man are all visible, as well as 24 counties, 29 lakes and 17 islands. The view between Snowdon and Merrick (southern Scotland) is the longest theoretical line of sight in the British Isles at 144 miles (232 km).
Snowdon has been described as “probably the busiest mountain in Britain”; a number of well-established and engineered footpaths lead to Snowdon’s summit from all sides, and can be combined in various ways. The circular walk starting and ending at Pen-y-Pass and using the Crib Goch route and the route over Y Lliwedd is called the Snowdon Horseshoe, and is considered “one of the finest ridge walks in Britain”. The routes are arranged here anticlockwise, starting with the path leading from Llanberis. In winter conditions, all these routes become significantly more dangerous and crampons and ice axes should be carried. Many inexperienced walkers have been killed over the years attempting to climb the mountain via the main paths.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Main article: Snowdon Mountain Railway
The Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) (Welsh: Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa) is a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway that travels for 4.75 miles (7.6 km) from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon. It is the only public rack and pinion railway in the United Kingdom, and after more than 100 years of operation it remains a popular tourist attraction. Single carriage trains are pushed up the mountain by either steam locomotives or diesel locomotives. It has also previously used diesel railcars as multiple units. The railway was constructed between December 1894, when the first sod was cut by Enid Assheton-Smith (after whom locomotive No.2 was named), and February 1896, at a total cost of £63,800 (£6,442,000 as of 2014).
Text from Wikipedia