The highest mountain in Wales, after which the surrounding area, Snowdonia, is named. Snowdon stands 1085m (3560ft) above sea level at its peak, taller than any mountain in England. The Welsh name for Snowdon is Yr Wyddfa, "The Tomb."
Snowdon is part of the Harlech Dome, a mostly eroded volcanic layer of rock from which Cadair Idris, to the south, is also formed. The peak itself is a pyramidal peak formed by erosion from several corries during the last ice age. This results in a fairly steep sided mountain with sharp edges and rocky outcrops. Despite this, Snowdon is a very easy mountain to climb, there is route along one ridge so gentle that a railway was built in 1896 to take passengers from Llanberis, some 7 kilometres away and about 1000 metres lower, up to the summit.
The railway has allowed easy access to the summit and subsequently a cafe has been constructed there, featuring Britain's highest post box, from where you could send a postcard to prove that you were there. Due to the presence of these "facilities" the top of Snowdon can get a bit busy in the height of summer, which taints the satisfaction of completing the climb. For a more rewarding climb try another mountain, like Tryfan - you won't find anyone up there who hasn't scrambled up there under their own power. One of the best points about Snowdon is that there are so many different routes up, ranging from a gentle stroll to full-on rock climbing affairs. The Snowdon Horseshoe route is particularly hairy (although no special equipment is needed), the route takes you along the sharp edge of knife-like cliffs.
The more popular routes are very busy and to stop further erosion of the ground, the paths have been surfaced. This makes the routes seem a little restrictive, but it is done well, using the local materials to minimise the visual impact.
The views from the top are spectacular with a clear line of sight down on to the many lakes in Snowdonia and through the valleys to the nearby coastline. The surrounding countryside is rugged heathland mostly, grazed by hill sheep.
I spent a night sleeping on Snowdon, in a tent pitched by Glaslyn, a lake at about 750m. It was great. We sat and watched as the mountain slowly emptied of all the day trippers and silence fell upon the place. It felt like we were the only ones up there, we probably were... until someone started night manoeuvres with a massive helicopter some 100m from the tent.
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