summit snowdon

Snowdon Part 2: Q&A time about experiencing the mountain.

How big is it?

At 1,085 metres or 3,560 feet, Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England (but not in Britain; that honour goes to Ben Nevis, in Scotland). Snowdon is one of more than 90 summits over 2,000 feet in Snowdonia, and one of 15 peaks exceeding 3,000 feet.

boots Snowdon walking snowdonia walking

How long does it take to walk it?

Well that depends……which path you take, how fit you are and what the weather is doing.  But generally we say between 5 and 7 hours to walk up and down in total. To get a really good idea of the routes up and down and around Snowdon then you really need to check out this website not only does it show all the routes, but has fantastic photography of the mountain, the routes and links to another website called mud and  which details walks all over Snowdonia and even some from Betws-y-Coed.


What’s the weather like on the mountain?

When it’s good, it’s very, very good and when it’s bad, its…….well bad.  The main thing is that it can change quickly so being properly prepared, ie. having checked the forecast that morning and got the correct equipment is all very important. Snowdonia Mountain Rescue are made up of 40-50 volunteers, read their safety guide to ensure you’re not the reason they are called away from their families and friends to rescue you. We display in the hallway the latest weather forecast for Snowdonia from Mountain Weather Information Service, however, it is always worth checking this out yourself the day of your adventure!

What is it made of?

Five hundred million years ago, Snowdon was on the seabed (as evidenced by fragments of shell fossils that have been found on the mountain’s summit). Snowdon is on the northern extent of the ‘Harlech Dome’, which is said to be Snowdonia’s oldest physical feature. Some of the mountain’s distinctive features were produced by volcanic rocks, while many of the nearby valleys were gouged out by glaciers.

lily beetle

What should I look out for?

Snowdon has, in places, climatic conditions that are unique in Britain and allow plants to grow that wouldn’t survive elsewhere.  The Snowdon Lily, a relic from the ice age, is a delicate arctic-alpine plant with white flowers and grass-like leaves, grows high in the mountains of Snowdonia.  Whatever you do though, do not pick it – no you won’t turn into a frog but it is protected by law and may become extinct due to climate change and so a photo is the best way to capture it.

If you are really lucky you may spot the Snowdon Beetle. It is a small, brightly coloured beetle and is know as the Rainbow Leaf Beetle elsewhere in Europe.  It has red, gold, green and blue striped elytra. Apparently the population of the Snowdon Beetle in Snowdonia is very low, only about 1000 adults (how do they know that? Glad I didn’t have to count them!)

snowtrain6  cafe1  cafe2

When does the train run?

The Snowdon Mountain Railway runs from Llanberis and is meant to journey to the summit from the 1st May (weather permitting). Until then the train usually does trips part way up the mountain. You can get single tickets up and then walk down, but single tickets down are only available on standy, first served basis at the destination station of the day (Summit or Clogwyn) and walkers should be aware that there is no guarantee of there being trains with available seats on the mountain at any given time. Therefore, if you walk up, you should bear in mind that you may have to walk down as well.

Is the cafe always open at the top?

No – is the short answer and definitely do not plan your trip to the summit based on the fact you think you can sit down inside, after going to the toilet of course, and have a hot snack and a hot drink as the cafe is only open if the train is running to the summit (how else do supplies and staff get there?).  If you do get the chance to go in the visitor centre and cafe it is well worth it. On a clear day you can see Ireland, England, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Opened in June 2009, a year later than planned due to adverse weather conditions while building, it cost £8 million to complete.

view of Snowdon

How far is Snowdon from Aberconwy House?

Betws-y-Coed is a hub for Snowdonia and for the mountain it is within easy reach.  Taking only 30-40 minutes by car to most of the routes up the mountain.  It is worth noting that as of 2021 The Pen Y Pass Car Park now needs to be booked in advance, but there is a Park and Ride at Nant Peris just down the road, which runs regularly. Of course you can get the S2 Sherpa bus from Betws-y-Coed here is the link to the Gwynedd Council site where the latest timetable can be downloaded.

Want to achieve something? Want to climb a mountain? Now you know the facts and you have the info to hand, what are you waiting for? Come and climb the highest mountain in Wales.

Oh, and come and recover at Aberconwy House of course!

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