Snowdonia designated a National Park
Snowdonia may have had to wait until the middle of the 20th Century to have been granted national park status, but its popularity dates back to the Neolithic period. Now, for a bit of perspective, that means that this area of outstanding beauty was occupied since the fourth millennium BC. And this charmed pocket of North-West Wales seems largely unchanged from those less enlightened times. There’s considerably more footfall nowadays, and driving a sharpened hunk of flint into the nearest mammal is frowned upon. Over 6 million people visit the area per annum. 26,000 call it home. Mount Snowdon is one of the most popular climbs in Britain, its slopes are a magnet for visitors clad in Goretex jackets, heeled in walking boots.
Snowdonia is a big chunk of land, 838 square miles. In Welsh, it is known as Eryri, and around 60 per cent of the population here speak the native tongue. Though nobody is too sure what Eryri translates to in English, opinion is divided between it meaning highlands, or eagle. What’s more certain is that Snowdon, at 3,560 feet above sea level, is the tallest mountain in Wales, and it takes its name from the Saxon ‘snow dun’, which translates as snow hill.
What may surprise some is that over two-thirds (69.9 per cent) of the park is privately owned. The rest of the land is shared by the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and the Snowdonia National Park Authority, which manages the area. Comprising of a number of disparate authorities, both regional and national, the National Park Authority operates out of Penrhyndeudraeth.
With its enduring popularity, the decision to make Snowdonia Britain’s third national park has offered a certain guarantee of its survival. Like any area of outstanding natural beauty it needs the power of legislation to both promote and protect it. Many of Snowdonia’s most picturesque and ecologically important areas are extremely sensitive; the sand dunes of the Llŷn Peninsula are particularly vulnerable, and the whole of Snowdonia’s coastline is a designated Special Area of Conservation.
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