Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), is the highest mountain in Wales and the third most prominent peak in the British Isles. It is Great Britain's highest mountain south of the Scottish Highlands, and has been described as "probably the busiest mountain in Britain. It is located in Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri), in Gwynedd. The summit is known as Yr Wyddfa (Welsh for "the tumulus) and lies at an altitude of above sea level. In terms of 'absolute height' it is the same height as Table Mountain in South Africa. As the highest peak in Wales, Snowdon is one of three mountains climbed as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge. The English name Snowdon comes from the Saxon "Snow Dun," meaning "snow hill," although the amount of snow on Snowdon in winter has been decreasing recently, having dropped by more than 55% since 1994.
Snowdon has six ridges: these are steep and rocky to the north and east, shallower and grassy, but more remote to the south and west. There are many cwms formed by glaciation in the ice age, some filled with tarns (meltwater lakes). Subsidiary summits include Garnedd Ugain (1,065 m), the knife-edge summit of Crib Goch (923 m), Y Lliwedd (898 m) and Yr Aran (747 m).
Snowdon offers some of the most extensive views in the British Isles; on exceptionally clear days, Ireland, (the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), Scotland, England, and the Isle of Man (as well as Wales) are all visible, as well as 24 counties, 29 lakes and 17 islands. It is also possible to view the newly built Beetham Tower in Manchester and mountains of the Peak District & South Pennines that surround the city from here. The view between Snowdon and Merrick (southern Scotland) is the longest theoretical line of sight in the British Isles at . In practice atmospheric conditions make such sightings extremely rare. The mountain itself, may also be viewed on take off and approach to both Manchester Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport on very clear days.
The southernmost of the paths leading from Pen-y-Pass leads up Y Lliwedd, to the south of Llyn Llydaw, and from there over Bwlch Ciliau (Welsh: variously pass of corners/nooks or pass of retreat), where the Snowdon Ranger paths joins with it, to Snowdon itself. Shortly before the summit, this path merges with the Rhyd Ddu path. This is one half of the Snowdon Horseshoe, together with the Crib Goch route (see below). It includes a sharp ridge and requires some experience of scrambling and a head for heights.
Regarding the name of the Pyg Track, the web site of the Snowdonia National Park Authority states:
"No one is certain how the Pyg Track came by its name; possibly from Bwlch y Moch (Pigs' Pass) over which it passes. (It is sometimes spelt Pig Track). "Pyg" in Welsh also means 'pitch' and may refer to the dull black pitchy appearance of the path in one location; or it may have been the route used to carry pitch up to the copper mines. A third possibility is that it was named after the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel nearby, by the early climbers who stayed there."
The Crib Goch route forks off upwards to the right from the Pyg route at Bwlch y Moch, whilst the Pyg route itself carries straight on, initially dropping down slightly onto a flatter section of path before the ascent towards the zig-zags. Some less experienced walkers have been known to get confused at this point, later finding themselves out of their depth on Crib Goch.
The Rhyd Ddu path leads from the village of Rhyd Ddu to the west of Snowdon, gently up on to Llechog, a broad ridge to leading west from the summit of Snowdon. This is one of the easier routes up Snowdon. It is also possible to walk from Rhyd Ddu to Bwlch Cwm Llan, between Yr Aran and Snowdon and from there, either down to Nantgwynant, or along Allt Maenderyn, along the top of the Clogwyn Du cliff face to meet the Rhyd Ddu path going to the summit. All walkers tread carefully at the last or so because of a steep slope with scree. This is the path, but it is potentially dangerous.
The Llanberis Path leads from Llanberis, approximately along the course of the Snowdon Mountain Railway. This is one of the longer routes up, although as the slope is mostly comparatively shallow, it is considered one of the easiest. It is also the path followed during the annual Snowdon Race (Ras Yr Wyddfa). The first part of the path also leads to the well-known climbing cliff Clogwyn Du'r Arddu. Refreshments are available in a small café next to the path, about half-way up the mountain.
Until the opening of the new Summit Building in summer 2008, the train will terminate at Clogwyn, weather permitting.
Poor weather, however, has hampered construction progress, and in July 2008 the National Park issued a statement saying: "At present it is impossible to confirm a completion date or to name a day when a formal opening can take place." The BBC News reported that it is unlikely the visitor centre will be open to the public this year.
The old building displayed a slate plaque with the following couplet: "Grwydryn, aros ennyd; ystyra ryfeddol waith Duw a'th daith fer ar y ddaear hon." ("Wanderer, wait a moment; consider God's wondrous work and your short journey on this earth.") The Welsh National Poet, Gwyn Thomas, has composed a new couplet for the new building — to be displayed at its entrance and on the windows — and this will read "Copa'r Wyddfa : yr ydych chwi yma, yn nes at y nefoedd." ("The summit of Snowdon: you are here, nearer to Heaven.")
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