Intro, Names & Meanings

Welcome to Snowdon

Croeso i’r Wyddfa

Snowdon  (Yr Wyddfa)

Welcome to Snowdon, or ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (pronounced ‘uhr-with-va’) as we call it in Welsh; it’s a name that’s being increasingly used (in fact the National Park Authority are slowly moving to only using this name, where possible).

The name ‘Snowdon’ comes from the Old English/Saxon words ‘Snow Dun’, meaning ‘Snow Hill’. This appeared in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1095, spelt as ‘Snawdun’ (also as ‘Snawdune’). Because ‘hill’ is in the meaning, it is incorrect to say ‘Mount Snowdon’.

An early reference to the Welsh name ‘Yr Wyddfa’ appeared as ‘Wedduavaur’ (Wyddfa Fawr – the ‘large tumulus’ or ‘burial mound’, though gwyddfa also means ‘a conspicuous place’, and may be an earlier meaning) in a charter drawn up by Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) in 1198.  The burial mount referred to was that of Rhita Gawr, a legendary giant who marched against kings and their armies, taking their beards as trophies of his victory; these he fashioned into a cap and cloak for himself. It was King Arthur who reputedly ultimately defeated and killed him.

Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) attracts nearly 600,000 walkers a year (plus 140,000 travelling up by train) and is consequently one of the busiest mountains in the world.

If you want to know more about the history of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and how it has changed over the years, see our ‘History of Snowdon’ page.

Snowdonia  (Eryri)

Snowdon lies within the Snowdonia National Park.  The Welsh name for Snowdonia is ‘Eryri’ (pronounced ‘e-ruh-ree’), and its use is documented back in the 9th century.  Again, the National Park Authority are slowly moving to only using this name, where possible.

Academics now agree that ‘Eryri’ means ‘highlands’ (not ‘place of eagles’ as many used to say – and still do). ‘Eryri’ derives from the word eryr, meaning ‘ridge, rise, upland region or highland’; this word is related to the Latin word oriri (‘to rise’) and its plural form is eryri‘Eryri’  therefore does not come from either eryr (eagle) or eira (snow), although somewhat similar, for the plural form of eryr is eryrod or eryron, not ‘eryri’.

The park was established in 1951 and covers 827 square miles (2,140 km2). Nearly all the land in Snowdonia is privately owned, and this includes Snowdon itself.

Snowdonia (as with all National Parks) has a clearly defined list of ‘special qualities’ which set out what makes the area special and unique. The first one refers to the “diverse, high quality landscapes and seascapes within a small geographic area, ranging from coast to rolling uplands, to rugged mountains for which Snowdonia is famed.”

In 2019 Snowdonia was named the most beautiful National Park in Europe.

The summit of Snowdon offers views over much of Snowdonia.

Although Snowdonia is for many a mountain playground, it’s also a place where some 26,000 people live. Many of these work in the park, and well over half of them speak Welsh.

The Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) is the primary public body responsible for the National Park and it has a statutory function:

  • To protect and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
  • To promote opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy the special qualities of the National Parks.

This website has one simple aim:  to make your visit to Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) as trouble-free, successful and enjoyable as possible.

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