I can see for miles and miles

The summit of Yr Wyddfa is, of course, a great viewpoint, in all directions.  It has long been said that from here it’s possible to see a total of 24 counties, 29 lakes and 17 islands, but this is questionable.

However, the brass toposcope on the summit pillar details exactly 100 locations which can be seen – mostly other peaks – but few people have the luxury of being able to spend large amounts of time pursuing this, combined with ideal visibilty (usually when the wind brings clear Arctic air from the north).

Of the locations mentioned, Mount Leinster (in the Blackstairs Mountains in Ireland) is the furthest, at 188 miles away, with the Wicklow Mountains (also in Ireland) being 100 miles away. Slieve Donard, in Northern Ireland, is 108 miles away. The Lake District is 100 miles away, Penmaen Dewi (St. David’s Head in Pembrokeshire) is 96 miles away, Kinder Scout (in the Peak District) is 94 miles away, and the Isle of Man is 84 miles away.

What’s not mentioned, though, is Merrick, the highest peak in Scotland’s Southern Uplands. Although no reliable records exist of it having been seen or photographed from the summit, this is the longest theoretical line of sight from Yr Wyddfa, at 144 miles (232 km), a figure calculated from geography and geometry. To be honest, it would probably be easier the other way round, i.e. to see Yr Wyddfa from Merrick, because of the partial blocking effect of Lamachan Hill, just south of the Merrick. However, whichever way, this line of sight crosses some 100 miles of sea, and humid air makes for poorer visibility.

The summit toposcope

The following is detail from the summit toposcope, working clockwise round from the north. (Distances are in miles.)

GOGLEDD / NORTH
ELIDIR FAWR 4
CARNEDD UGAIN ½
MOEL WNION 10
FOEL GOCH 4
DROSGL 9                                          Y GARN (GLYDERAU) 3
ARDAL Y LLYNNOEDD / LAKE DISTRICT 100
CARNEDD DAFYDD 6
CARNEDD LLYWELYN 8
GLYDER FAWR 3
FAIR SNAPE FELL 84                   PEN YR HELGI DU 8
GLYDER FACH 4
PENDLE HILL 92                            PEN LLITHRIG Y WRACH 8
CREIGIAU GLEISION 9              CRIB GOCH 1
WINTER HILL 75                            Y FOEL GOCH 5
BLACKSTONE EDGE 93
CAPEL CURIG 7                               LLYNNAU MYMBYR 6
PENYCLODDIAU 33
KINDER SCOUT 94                        MOEL ARTHUR 34
MOEL FAMAU 35                            GORSEDD BRÂN 23
MOEL SIABOD 6                              LLYN LLYDAW 1
DWYRAIN / EAST
CYRN Y BRAIN 37
MYNYDD LLANTYSILIO 36
LLANGOLLEN 39                              COED GWYDIR 10
GALLT Y WENALLT 2
CARNEDD Y FILIAST 17
CADAIR BERWYN 32
MOEL PENAMNEN 8
ARENIG FACH 15
Y LLIWEDD 1
ARENIG FAWR 17
LLYN EDNO 4
MOEL LLYFNANT 17
ARAN FAWDDWY 25                     LLYN YR ADAR 5
RHOBELL FAWR 21                         LLYN LLAGI 4
MOELWYN MAWR 7
MOELWYN BACH 7                         CNICHT 5
MOEL OFFRWM 23
Y GARN (Y RHINOGYDD) 20
CADAIR IDRIS 26                              MOEL YSGYFARNOGOD 13
RHINOG FAWR 16
CRAIG Y LLYN 27
BRYN MAWR 65                                 MOELFRE 18
DE / SOUTH
CASTELL HARLECH 14
MORFA HARLECH 14                      YR ARAN 2
MOEL DDU 7
MOEL Y GEST 10
BWLCH MAIN ½                                  MOEL HEBOG 5
PENMAEN DEWI 96
MOEL YR OGOF 5
YNYSOEDD TUDWAL 24              MOEL LEFN 5
YNYS ENLLI 36                                     MYNYDD RHIW 28
CARN FADRYN 24                             LLYN Y GADAIR 3
MYNYDD CARNGUWCH 16           CWM SILYN 6
YR EIFL 16
Y GARN (NANTLLE) 4
MOUNT LEINSTER (EIRE) 118       LLYN Y DYWARCHEN 3
CROGHAN MOUNTAIN (EIRE) 96             LLYN (NANTLLE) UCHAF 6
MYNYDDOEDD WICKLOW / WICKLOW MOUNTAINS (EIRE) 100
GORLLEWIN / WEST
MYNYDD MAWR 4                            LLYN CWELLYN 3
MORFA DINLLE 11
YNYS LLANDDWYN 14
FOEL GRON 3     FOEL GOCH 2½     LLYN FFYNNON Y GWAS 1½
MOEL EILIO 4
MYNYDD TŴR 30                               CASTELL CAERNARFON 10
MOEL Y CYNGHORION 2
SLIEVE DONARD, MOURNE (G.I./N.I.)  108
Y GARN (YNYS MÔN) 29
LLANBERIS & LLYN PADARN 4
BANGOR 11
YNYS MANAW / ISLE OF MAN 84
SNAEFELL 84
ELIDIR FACH 4

The brass plate also states that the pillar was rebuilt in 2000, though Bangor University scores no points for the misspelling of SNOWDOWNIA.

Although the plate carries the words “ORDNANCE SURVEY TRIANGULATION STATION” in the centre, this summit location was downgraded in the 1930s (due to concerns of interference and refraction caused by the new summit building and the other remaining buildings) in favour of nearby Carnedd Ugain, where a new triangulation pillar was built; Yr Wyddfa now is strictly only a ‘third order’ trig pillar, and a theodolite cannot anyway be satisfactorily fixed onto the traditional ‘spider’ grooves because there are no locking hooks between them. The flush bracket on the side of the pillar, showing number 10684, was transferred from the former pillar.

(See also the page on Snowdon’s summit.)


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