Why is Snowdon so popular?

It’s not hard to understand what attracts people to Snowdon (‘Yr Wyddfa’ in Welsh, pronounced ‘uhr-with-va’).

At 1,085m (3,560 feet) high, it is the highest mountain in Wales, and the highest in Britain south of the Scottish border. This status consequently attracts hundreds of thousands of people a year and at times the mountain can be very busy. Its attractiveness and dramatic scenery is an obvious bonus.

In 2017, in a national poll held by Samsung, the view from Snowdon summit was voted ‘The Best View in Britain’ (this had come second in the previous year). In 2018 the Llanberis Path came second in ITV’s ‘Britain’s Favourite Top 100 Walks’.

Also in 2017 the O.S. announced that the 1km grid square with the highest number of tracked walkers going through it was square SH6054, i.e. Snowdon Summit. The Snowdon map (OL17) is the Ordnance Survey’s best-selling paper map year on year.

A lot of people who visit Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) are not hill or mountain walkers per se. For some of these people it’s a case of ticking off an item on their bucket list; for others it’s just a challenge they want to undertake with friends or family, possibly to celebrate something or related to raising money for charity. And for those who are mountain walkers, it offers a challenge and the ultimate in dramatic scenery (though many prefer to choose quieter times to visit, walking in high season on some of Snowdonia’s many other splendid mountains).

Either way, Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) is a quite remarkable mountain, offering the walker stunning scenery.

The view west from the summit

The view east from the summit

Certainly, the mountain is beautifully proportioned, visually exciting, and looks great from almost every angle – even on a flat map!

Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) is rare in that it can be ascended from almost every side; roads circle the massif, and the 6 main paths come from all directions. Furthermore, all these paths are very different, have their various pros and cons, but can also be combined to make circular routes.

The contour graphic below was devised by the Snowdon Partnership, and illustrates clearly the attractive shape of the Snowdon massif and its ridges, and how it can be approached from all directions. (The Snowdon Horseshoe – with Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd – can be seen to the east of the summit, with Crib y Ddysgl ridge to the north, and the South Ridge and Yr Aran to the south. To the west is the North-west Ridge.)

© Snowdon Partnership and S.N.P.A.

The location of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) in North Wales also means that it’s within striking distance of many populated areas in England. (Mind you, it’s not unknown for people to drive up for the day from places as far away as London, just to walk up Snowdon.)

Some people will walk up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) just the once. For others though, Snowdon is a place to be visited again and again, offering the opportunity to try out the different paths, or to combine routes. There are also other routes to walk beyond just the 6 main paths.

Even for those who have been up dozens of times, or even hundreds, no ascent is ever the same twice. The mountain changes with both the seasons and the weather; and on top of that, there’s the people, who make it such a vibrant mountain.

What Country Walking magazine said:

The spring 2023 issue of Country Walking magazine featured a 16-page article on Snowdon, which they called “the perfect mountain”. The following quotes come from that article:

“Massive, varied, spectacular; challenging, charming, unique: a high-point in millions of happy memories and a siren call to the adventurous spirit in all of us. Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa, we salute you. You’re the perfect mountain.”

“Snowdon is unique in the variety of ways it invites you to climb it … Each arm of this gigantic starfish of a mountain offers its own distinct combination of challenge and delight.”

“No mountain has meant more, to more people, in more different ways than this. And that’s wonderful.”

“There are many hills that are good at a few things, [but] few that are good at all of them. None has the consummate crowd-pleasing ability of Snowdon.”

“Some mountains have popular routes. Some offer peace and quiet. Amazingly, Snowdon is able to offer both in the same package – and it’s this infinite variety that helps to make it the perfect mountain.”

“Thrilling routes that non-mountaineers can take on.”

“There’s a fine line between thrilling and terrifying, but that fine line is beautifully drawn on our perfect mountain.”

“It’s a summit’s duty to make you feel on top of the world: Snowdon’s makes you the emperor of all you survey.”

“It’s not bad up here, not bad at all.”

[The Snowdon Horseshoe is] “among the most satisfying mountaineering walks in, well, the world.”

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