Snowdonia Wales is a region and part of north west Wales. Snowdonia used to refer to a general area within the county of Gwynedd (formerly Caernarfonshire) and centred on the Snowdon mountain itself, one of the traditional Seven Wonders of Wales. Nowadays the general name of the Snowdonia mountain area refers to the wider area of north west Wales.
Within Snowdonia lies the Snowdonia National Park stretching from the counties of Meirionnydd in the south to parts of Conwy and Gwynedd in the north. The towns of and villages of, for example, Bala, Barmouth, Beddgelert, Betws y Coed and Harlech, for example are within the national Park but the wider Snowdonia region also includes the towns of Cricieth, Porthmadog, Abersoch, Caernarfon, Pwllheli and Bangor.
Snowdonia boasts an historic mountain railway, namely the Snowdonia Mountain Railway that was built and completed during the period 1894 to 1896. Based in Llanberis, its route climbs to the summit of Wales's highest mountain, Snowdon at 1,085 metres or 3,560 feet above sea level, making Snowdon the highest mountain in England, Ireland and Wales. Snowdon is the tallest of fifteen peaks over 3,000 feet in Wales feet and is also the wettest place in Wales with over 180 inches of rain per year. The Snowdonia weather needs to be taken seriously and respected.
From the summit, there is one of the finest panorama views in Britain, where on a clear day the views stretch as far as Ireland, Scotland and parts of England. You can see the Wicklow Mountains near Dublin, the Preseli Mountains (or hills?) in Pembrokeshire, the Isle of Man and the Lake District in north west England.
Snowdonia includes many other mountain ranges other than Snowdon itself. These mountains include Cadair Idris in the south to the Glyders, Carneddau, Moelwyn and Snowdon itself in the north of the region. Snowdon itself is part of the Three Peeks Challenge, namely the climbing of the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales, often within 24 hours.
The National Park covers an area within north west Wales of some 823 square miles, or 2,130 square Kilometres. The landscape is diverse combining spectacular, soaring mountains peaks with agricultural land and tourist attractions. It has a population of some 26,000. As well as being the largest National Park in Wales, it was also the first national park in Wales. Snowdonia has many record breaking features – it has the highest mountain in England and Wales, the largest natural lake in Wales, as well as a wealth of picturesque villages like Bala, Betws y Coed, Beddgelert, Dinas Mawddwy, Harlech and many others.
Snowdonia includes 90 mountain peaks and mountain ranges other than Snowdon itself. These mountains stretch from Cadair Idris in the south to the Glyders, Carneddau, Moelwyn and Snowdon itself in the north of the region.
Following the completion of the railway in 1896, visitors have been travelling to Llanberis, to experience this unique rail journey to the Summit of the highest mountain in Wales and England. The railway is a narrow-gauge rack and pinion tourist mountain railway that climbs over 2900 feet and travels for 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from Llanberis to just below the summit of Snowdon. It is the only public rack and pinion railway in the UK and after more than 100 years of operation it remains a popular tourist attraction carrying over 100,000 passengers annually.
The railway operates during the period from March to November each year, sometimes in the harshest weather conditions. At the summit lies the highest visitor centre in the UK, namely Hafod Eryri. The new visitor centre was completed in 2009 and has over half a million visitors a year.
Snowdon the mountain is Yr Wyddfa in Welsh whereas the Snowdonia mountainous region is Eryri. Eryri is now thought to have derived either from the name Eagles or from the Latin Oriri meaning highlands. It is thought that the name Snowdon derives from Old English word for "snow hill". The Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa means "the tumulus" or "the barrow", which may refer to the cairn thrown over the legendary giant Rhitta Gawr after his defeat by King Arthur.
According to the last Census in 2011, more than 26,000 people live within the park with 58.6% of the population Welsh speakers.
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