Best of British: Mount Snowdon
For some years now the national "Three Peaks Challenge" in Britain has drawn participants from around the world who want to challenge themselves and raise money for charity. The Three Peaks Challenge involves participants scaling the 3 highest mountains of England, Scotland and Wales in quick succession. But what do you know about the three peaks that are the focal points of this gruelling challenge? In a series of articles called "Best of British", I want to explore these beautiful, yet refreshingly accessible, British mountains. Second on the menu - Mount Snowdon!
Mount Snowdon is the tallest mountain in Wales and the second tallest in the UK. Its elevation is a canny 1,085 meters (3,560 feet) above sea level, and it is the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.
To the Top
It is the busiest mountain in the United Kingdom with 350,000 people climbing it each year. If you want the pleasure of experiencing the stunning views of the Snowdonia National Park from the top of Mount Snowdon without having to actually climb it, you can take the pretty steam train to the top. If you really want to have your cake and eat it you can take the train three quarters of the way up and walk the rest. For more information on the train to the top of Mount Snowdon see the train service's official website snowdonrailway.co.uk. If, however, you feel like a REAL challenge, the annual Snowdon Race takes place there every year, and the record winning time is less than 40 minutes from the start to the summit!
The first building known to be built on the summit of Snowdon was constructed in 1838 to sell refreshments, and was even granted a licence to sell alcohol in 1845! When the Snowdon Mountain Railway was opened in 1896, accommodation for travellers and a shop were added near the summit.
Mount Snowdon isn't the only big kid on the block. The Snowdonian National Park has 15 mountains over 3000 feet high. The park itself covers an area of 2,130 square kilometers (823 square miles) or 213,000 hectares (860 acres). It was established as a national park in 1951 and each year it welcomes around 6 million visitors. Snowdonia’s importance in the conservation of wildlife should not be underestimated. Almost 20% of its total area is protected by law for this purpose. Rare mammals in the park include feral goat, otters and polecats.
Rock 'n' Rolling Hills
The rocks that form Snowdon were produced by volcanoes in the Ordovician period (485-443 million years ago!). The name Snowdon is from the Old English for "snow hill", due to the fact that it is often covered in snow.
The Stuff of Legends
The mountain has long been associated with Arthurian legend. In Welsh folklore, the summit of Snowdon is said to be the tomb of a giant called Rhitta Gawr. Rhitta Gawr is said to have worn a cloak made of men's beards, and was killed by King Arthur himself after trying to get his hands on the mythical monarch's facial hair! The ridge between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd, is where Arthur himself is said to have died. According to another legend, King Arthur had Bedivere throw his sword Excalibur into Glaslyn (a lake on the eastern side of Mount Snowdon), where his body was later placed in a boat to be carried away to the enchanted land of Avalon! Arthur's men are said to have retreated after the battle of Camlann to a cave on the slopes of Y Lliwedd (a mountain connected to Mount Snowdon), where they are said to remain in occultation until they are needed! The powerful Sorcerer Merlin is supposed to have hidden the golden throne of Britain among the cliffs north of Crib y Ddysgl (the second highest peak in Wales, approximately one kilometre north of the summit of Mount Snowdon) when the Saxons invaded. The nearby Llyn Coch lake is said to be a good place to spot fairies!
Legend of Rock
Mount Snowdon is associated with more modern legends too. The mountain was used by Sir Edmund Hillary while training for his 1953 ascent of Mount Everest.
For more information on the Three Peaks Challenge check out the official Three Peaks Challenge website www.threepeakschallenge.uk
Bonus: Inspirational Quotes Posters
The Snowdonian National Park hosts some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK. It has inspired countless artists, poets and writers. With our inspirational quotes posters we too hope to inspire people to be creative and adventurous. Check out our Inspirational Quotes Collection and let us know what you think!