Journey to the Summit
Follow us on our Journey
Journey to the Summit
Soon after you leave the station in Llanberis, your train will begin its climb to the summit of Yr Wyddfa, a journey experienced by some 12 million intrepid travellers since 1896. These ancient Snowdonian mountains, thrust upwards by volcanic forces 450 million years ago, once grew to heights of 10,000 metres. Over eons the wind and rain and successive ice ages have sculpted them to their current form; with Snowdon being the highest peak in England and Wales.
Your Journey Begins
Your journey starts at our station in the lakeside village of Llanberis. Here you can collect your tickets for your journey on our unique Victorian railway which climbs 4.7 miles (7.6 km) to the Summit of Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.
Soon after your train leaves Llanberis station the track crosses the first of two viaducts across the Afon Hwch river, and you will see a wonderful view of the waterfall plunging into the gorge below.
You’ll soon pass by Waterfall station; the building here was originally a cottage residence once occupied by a local family. It was built to allow visitors to use the train to travel to the spectacular waterfall nearby. A short distance from Waterfall station is a bridge over the river which marks the start of the mountain.
The train next passes Hebron Station, named after the nearby Hebron Chapel. In 1833 poor families in this valley joined together and, from the wages they earned working in the local slate quarries and off the land, raised enough money to build themselves a chapel – their spiritual and cultural centre until 1966. It had originally been hoped that agricultural traffic could be carried to and from this station.
The large, ruined farm of Helfa nestles at the bottom of Cwm Brwynog, or Valley of Reeds. No one knows its real history. It might have once been a place for herding sheep or a hunting lodge – hunting wild boar was once common in the area.
As the train climbs higher and emerges from the viaduct, far in the distance Moel Hebog can be seen rising above the village of Beddgelert. It means Hill of the Falcon and is one of the many Snowdonian homes of the Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest animal. To its north is a cave where it is believed that Owain Glyndwr, the leader of the last Welsh rebellion against the English, lies waiting to rise and lead his people once more.
Halfway station is close to the Halfway House Café on the nearby Llanberis Path. Beyond the café rises the black volcanic rock face of Clogwyn du’r Arddu. It was here that the world’s first recorded rock-climb occurred. In 1798 two men climbed the rock face in search of unusual Alpine plants and ferns.
As the train leaves the fertile bowl of the green valley below, it approaches a dramatic, rock-littered landscape unchanged for 10,000 years. Rocky Valley Halt, consists of a narrow platform sheltered by a rocky outcrop to the east. Immediately beyond the platform the line joins the exposed ridge on which it runs for about half a mile (0.8 km).
Clogwyn Station is as high as the trains can go in early spring, when ice or snow prevent trains from reaching the Summit. Located on an exposed ridge, overlooking Llanberis Pass and Clogwyn Du’r Arddu cliffs. Nearby lies a group of huge boulders that once tumbled from cliffs above and are rumoured to be the home of a witch named Canthrig Bwt who would try to catch children climbing on the rocks.
Yr Wyddfa - ‘Grave of the Giant’
Yr Wyddfa is the name of the final peak of Snowdon. In Welsh it means ‘Grave of the Giant’, and it was here that the giant, Rhita Fawr, lived. To ward off the mountain’s bitter winds, he’d cut off the beards of passing men and weave them into a cloak. He tried this on King Arthur, much to Arthur’s annoyance, so he chopped off the giant’s head. The body fell, and legend has it that the villagers covered it with rocks to form the mountain’s peak.
The Summit Station, only 68 feet (21 metres) below the peak itself, has two platforms with direct access to Hafod Eryri, the summit building and visitor centre. From here it is just a few short steps up to the summit and a spectacular view across North Wales.
At the Summit one of the world’s great panoramas is revealed, and you may see the five great kingdoms – Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland – and the kingdom of Heaven.
Around 20% of the Snowdonia National Park is specially protected by UK and European law, which helps to conserve the animals and plants found on Snowdon.
A charming and delicate Alpine flower, the Snowdon lily is known as brwynddail y mynydd, which means ‘rush-leaves of the mountain’.
Snowdonia is home to many Arctic Alpine plants. These include Alpine meadow-grass, tufted saxifrage, Alpine saxifrage, Alpine woodsia and Alpine cinquefoil.
Birds frequently spotted in the area include the peregrine falcon, meadow pipit, wheatear, raven and ring ouzel.
Snowdonia is also the UK’s main population centre for chough, a rare member of the crow family, instantly recognisable to the seasoned bird watcher because of its distinctive vocalisations and red beak.
Mammals living on the mountain include feral goats, otters and polecats. It is also thought that pine martens still live in the area, with sightings reported periodically.
If you do visit Snowdonia, make sure you keep a watchful eye out for the Snowdon beetle – also known as the rainbow leaf beetle. The entire adult population is thought to amount to just 1,000, so if you do get to see one consider yourself very lucky.