The Mountains of Snowdonia
Snowdonia is a popular region for the study of geology. As you walk
through its valleys and up the ridges you'll see the result of the ice
age everywhere. The Snowdon and Glyder massifs are classic examples of
ice-age sculpting with a series of high hanging valleys (cwms) on their
north east sides separated by sharp ridges.
In the high lime-rich cwms are found many rare plants such as holly
fern, arctic, purple and tufted saxifrages and the rare Snowdon Lily. But
most of the mountains and moorland are covered by acid soils supporting
rough grasses and heather. Look out for clubmosses, insectivorous plants
such as sundew and butterwort and the frequently seen little yellow tormentil,
blue heath milkwort and bog orchids. Pictures
of Snowdonia's flora and fauna
Golden Eagles vanished some 300 years ago but you may very well see
buzzards and peregrines. You'll almost definitely spot ravens (listen out
for their "Cronk Cronk" and wheatears (spotted by their skimming flight
and white rumps) and perhaps choughs and ring ouzles (a sort of blackbird
with a white collar)
Farming, Forestry and Tourism
These are the region's major industries. Farms in the mountains are
small and their owners keep hardy Welsh Mountain sheep that roam the hill
pastures in the summer and are brought down the slopes for winter. They
usually only have one lamb because of the sparse grazing - except the one
in Snowdon car park which lives on sandwiches!.
Quarries & Mines
You'll see evidence of slate quarrying all around you. The industry
was at its peak in 1900 when the Dinorwig Quarry in Llanberis employed
3,000 men. If you're interested have a look around the slate quarry museum
in Llanberis. The largest working quarry in Europe still in operation the
other side of the mountain in Bethesda.
The area's also riddled with copper and lead mines which you should
spot as you walk the forests around Betws y Coed. Metal has been extracted
from around here since before Roman times.
You'll also see plenty of chapels in the villages of Snowdonia. The
history of the area is irrevocably linked to the Methodist Revival movement.
In both industrial and agricultural communities the chapel was the centre
of religious, social and educational life - all of course conducted in
the Welsh language.