Snowdon – Gwynedd, Wales - Atlas Obscura


The highest peak in Wales is said to be the final resting place of a giant killed by King Arthur. 


The highest point in Wales at 3,560 feet tall, Snowdon is home to an outstanding view on clear days, Britain’s only rack-and-pinion railway, multiple Arthurian legends, and a gift shop that is almost two centuries old.

The centerpiece of Snowdonia National Park in northern Wales, Snowdon attracts over 300,000 visitors to its summit each year. Visitors can simply ride the Snowdon Mountain Railway from Llanberis Station for 4 miles or hike one of seven main routes, with Llanberis Path considered the easiest, yet also longest, trail at over 4.5 miles long. The most difficult walking route (which demands regular use of hands, is the Crib Goch arette (a fantastic experience).

Rock climbers also flock to the mountain’s rough cliffs, which were used by Edmund Hillary and his crew to train for their climb that would take them up Mount Everest.

On the summit is the new visitors’ center, Hafod Eryri, opened in 2009 and containing a café and gift shop. A building has been on the summit since 1820, with even a small community of huts around it. A multi-purpose building was built there in 1934. This building would fall into disrepair, with even Prince Charles commenting that it was “the highest slum in Wales.” Hafod Eryri would replace it years later.

Snowdon’s name in Welsh, Yr Wyddfa, means “the tumulus” and according to legend, a giant named Rhitta Gawr was buried there after he was killed by King Arthur. The knight Bedivere is salso aid to have thrown Excalibur into one of the lakes on the mountain’s slopes.

Visitors can tell tales of their own from the mountain on a clear day, when the view can reach all the way to the Isle of Man.

Know Before You Go

While on a clear day the views are great, fog is very common. Unless ascending via the railway, even if following a track such as the Miner's Path, ensure you have a map and compass (and know how to use them). There is also a mail box located within the cafe/restaurant at the top that will postmark your cards and letters.

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