Snowdon is becoming a place ‘only the rich can afford’

A heated debate has erupted online amid claims that the ‘poor’ are being driven out of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) by sky-high parking prices. Tickets costing up to £40 have angered a walker who thinks the mountain has become a place ‘only the rich can afford’.

The claims have provoked a violent reaction from local populations affected by the arrival of mass tourism in Snowdonia (Eryri). Others lamented the area’s popularity with second home owners and the resulting impact on Welsh culture and property prices.

Posting on a Snowdonia National Park forum, a visitor compared his recent experiences in England and Scotland with those in Wales. He accused ‘greedy’ councils of using Snowdon to raise money and insisted the peak should be affordable for all following the National Trust’s appeal in 1998 to buy 4,000 acres on the mountain, which has raised over £4 million in public donations.

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He was particularly furious to discover that motorists had to pay a premium to stay in the Pen-y-Pass car park. Charges of £18 for eight hours, £25 for 12 hours and £40 for 24 hours were “a bit of a stretch”, he said, adding: “After all, this is a national park and not a car park private.”

The effect was to “push the poor away from the mountain”, said the visitor, who suspects an anti-tourism agenda. “Then the Welsh government wants to charge tourists to come to Wales. They will then rebuild Offa’s Dyke and rebuild their castles and forts.

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Pen-y-Pass parking gives hikers a head start on the mountain – they can either pre-book expensive parking spaces or take a cheap Sherpa bus to the parking lot

Parking fees at Pen-y-Pass were increased two years ago after the staycation boom sparked a wave of illegal and often dangerous parking. As many others have pointed out, the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) wanted to steer visitors away from a honeypot area with limited parking and encourage them to use park-o- buses instead.

These now extend throughout the region and are even linked to Bangor, Caernarfon and Porthmadog. The tactic appears to have worked: last year, ATM transactions at the Pen-y-Pass car park fell by a third, and SNPA says Snowdon is now more accessible than ever for people in “transport poverty”. “.

One person said, “It’s not about pushing the poor away, it’s more about pushing people to park away from the mountain and travel there. A meager parking lot with 30 spaces (sic) cannot serve 700,000 visitors a year. .

Another commented: ‘It’s to stop people thinking they can drive to the smallest mountain car park in the area and just park on the road and the sides when it’s inevitably full. There are not enough parking facilities. They have to keep people in the valley and pay £3 for the bus.

Buy not everyone bought this argument. Another walker said parking fees at other UK national parks were often much cheaper and designed to encourage visitors. He said: ‘Compare the other two biggest mountains in the UK: Ben Nevis Visitor Center £4 all day, National Trust Scafell Pike car park all day £7. Quite a rip off from the Snowdonia park authority.

High parking charges were not unique to Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), a local person pointed out. “When we go to any English city we get ripped off by outrageous parking charges,” she said. “You expect everything to be free so you can leave your trash on your Wyddfa and move our tongue?”

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She added: “70 years of Cenedlaethol Eryri Park has seen the language go from 90% speakers to 50%. It wasn’t tourism itself that caused it, but what followed: thousands of second home buyers or movers from English towns.

“The end result is the death of our culture. To accompany UNESCO World Heritage status, we need legislation from the Welsh Government to protect the Eryri language by criminalizing secondary ownership and making the language compulsory in all aspects of life in the region.

On the issue of second homes, an English visitor suggested that the Welsh government may have been caught sleeping at the wheel. But he also suggested that a certain English arrogance was responsible for attitudes in Wales.

He said: “Personally I love Wales but because of a few elites in England, in my opinion it seems like a lot of Welsh people are very bitter towards the English. All the signs say croeso but seem far from the.”

Snowdon has become one of Europe's most popular mountains, with queues of walkers waiting patiently at the top.  You just see them in this picture, standing like bristles on a paintbrush
Snowdon has become one of Europe’s most popular mountains, with queues of walkers waiting patiently at the top. You just see them in this picture, standing like bristles on a paintbrush

Not so welcome was a local who lamented the noise from the motorbikes of visitors who arrive in Snowdonia “by the thousands” every weekend. “Motorcyclists go out of their way to keep their engines running in our town centers and do very little to fund and support the local economy,” he said.

Parking revenue from Snowdon and elsewhere supports maintenance work in the national park. Some think this is a “paltry sum” compared to the huge sums spent to make the area attractive to visitors who react by “trashing” the place.

A local person, who bears the full cost of parking at Pen-y-Pass, said the cash was essential. “Otherwise, how are we supposed to fund the repairs and maintenance of the trails, and the custodians who have to remove all the litter, human excrement, dog poop and cigarette butts deposited on the mountain daily, all year round?

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What the national park said

The Snowdonia National Park Authority said its main aim was to promote a sustainable transport system for visitors. The pre-booking at Pen-y-Pass and the higher fees were part of a strategy to “ease the pressure on honeypot sites”, he said.

Illegal parking at the pass has now “significantly decreased”, a spokesperson said. They added: ‘No cases of illegal and irresponsible parking were reported during the period from April to November 2021 while the pre-booking system was in place.

Using the Sherpa bus service to Pen-y-Pass, to access the PYG and Miners tracks, is a “cheaper and environmentally friendly way” to access these routes, the spokesperson said. Sensors have been placed in the many other car parks around Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) so visitors can make informed decisions about where to visit.

The system also allows them to have a back-up plan if their intended parking lot is full. For a complete guide to Snowdon parking and bus services, click here.

“The strategies we are putting in place mean more people can visit Yr Wyddfa, the spokesperson said. “People facing transportation poverty and perhaps without a vehicle can now reach the iconic mountain.”

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