Responsible tourism in Snowdonia

Travel right in Snowdonia

Snowdonia is always going to be an outdoorsy holiday and, although itís boring and a bit school trip vibe, precautions always need to be taken with regards to safety in the mountains and on the water. Rescue services always say that so many accidents are preventable. So take care of yourself as well your environment when embarking on your Snowdonia holiday.

Safety in Snowdonia

It is all common sense, but if you are honest with yourself, how common are these in your normal holiday preparations? If you are hiking, biking or on the water, it is always best to tell someone where you are heading. It may sound obvious, but it is amazing how many people do not bring maps or a compass, or are unsure how to use them. And wear the proper foot wear. So many accidents are caused by bad shoes. Bring a basic safety kit with you if you are in the mountains, which should include a fold up foil shelter. Warmth and water are key. A whistle, torch and first aid kit can save a life. If you are on the water, wear buoyancy aids, and make sure they are properly fastened, especially on children who can slip out of them more easily.

And always check the Met Office website for a detailed weather forecast before you set out and if you are in the mountains, or indeed on the water, turn back if the weather turns bad. The mountains and water will be there tomorrow. Just make sure that you are too.

Mountain rescue on Snowdon

What you can do
Remember that the Snowdonia Mountain Rescue Service is run by volunteers and not a nationally subsidized emergency service. So only call them if it really is an emergency. The same goes for the local lifeboat service. These are brilliant charities to support if you can, and you can check out their websites to make a pre or post holiday donation. It is all very much appreciated.

Take a quick glance at the National Park's safety videos, one for summer and one for winter. Watch them with your children too, as they are often good at reminding adults about taking precautions. And check out the superb website MountainSafe, run by a team of Snowdonia savvies for up to date tips and weather warnings.

Dogs are not always Snowdonia's best friend

It is a privilege to have access to so much land in this magnificent part of the world. But dogs can be a big issue. For example, cattle can react dramatically to dogs, especially when there are calves around. And this is even when the dogs are on a leash. If cattle do pursue, release your dog and concentrate on your own safety first.

The law is that you must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July, and at all times near farm animals.

Be wary of ground nesting birds and other wildlife as this Park is protected with good reason. There is also a temptation not to clear up dog mess when you are in rural areas. However, remember that other people may walk where you have walked so, if in doubt, take it away with you. And never leave the plastic bag sitting on the side of a path.


Responsible tourism tips

Travel better in Snowdonia

  • Snowdonia is bursting with farmland and so if you are self-catering do resist the urge to pack up the car with food. Time your visit with a farmersí market, or check with your accommodation where their nearest local producers can be found. Research in advance with this excellent Farm Shop website.
  • Donít overlook the quarries in Snowdonia. They may not be picture postcard and wonít feature on tourist board home pages but they have an industrial beauty the likes of which we see in derelict power stations, transport museums, or canal systems. The villages surrounding these quarries are often left off the tourist map, and yet talk to any of them and you will find out just how proud of their quarrying heritage they are.
  • Over 95% of visitors come to the Park by car. Public transport is not perfect, but it is possible. The best mainline stations are Bangor or Llandudno. Check out the Conwy Valley line which will take you down the line into Snowdonia National Park. The Cambrian Lines also link with Porthmadog. For more detailed journey planners, check out the invaluable Traveline Cymru website. And to get around the various Snowdon trails, the Sherpa Bus is great although not so easy outside the peak seasons.
trainIfer Gwyn, Principal Policy Officer at Snowdonia National Park:

"The railway lines are like a silver thread running through the natural trails and with 95% of people coming here by car, we would love to see more people using the facilities that we have. Natural and man-made."
  • Mount Snowdon is charity central and, if you are coming for an event, consider extending your stay for a couple of days and spreading your money locally, not just funneling it all into a non-local charity. If every charity walker/runner spent one more night in a b&b and bought one more dinner locally, it would create a hugely positive impact for residents, food producers, publicansÖthe list goes on. 
  • Mount Snowdon obviously gets lots of attention, but also lots of visitors. August it the busiest month with the Llanberis Path the most popular. Although the Park Authority maintains trails brilliantly, it is worth spreading the load to other peaks too
  • Accessibility can be an issue in the mountains, but Snowdonia is tackling these issues providing accessible trails, which you can read about here. It is also spreading the word among local businesses with its impressive Snowdonia for All movement. Check out, for example, the guided walks for the blind, run by Eyri Walking Club. 
  • Donít even think about bringing your jet ski to Snowdonia. They are not allowed in the National Park but kayaks and canoes are welcome, as long as you stick to the Waterside Code, downloadable from Canoe Wales
  • Mountain bikers are advised to stick to Snowdoniaís superbly managed mountain bike trails. Many will drift off piste, of course, and consequently a voluntary agreement exists on Snowdon's bridleways not to cycle on them between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from 1st May - 30th September. 
  • There is a lot of talk about keeping the mountain trails clean, and rightly so. But the waters here are protected too, with very fragile ecosystems that are habitats for many of our wilderness wonders, such as otters and rare fish. So, clear up all your rubbish, donít throw fruit peel or stones in the water and, if you are bathing, wear eco friendly sun creams and other products. We like the campaign run by the people living around Lyn Padarn lake in Llanberis called Loving Our Lake, which recently fought to have its beloved waters designated as official Bathing Water. They have a great blog and a strong community feel.
  • You will see few plastic bags flying or floating around the National Park following the compulsory 5p charge on plastic bags in 2009 throughout Wales. So bring your reusable bags with you.
  • Although it is vital to keep hydrated, plastic water bottles are a no no so please remember to bring refillable ones. Or treat yourself to a new one from one of the many outdoor shops here. If you are going on long hikes, it is worth investing in a water bag or backpack, with a tube attached for easy access.
  • Although camping should be confined to authorized sites, if you do want to go wild camping you must get permission from the landowner, when possible, stay out of sight of houses and roads, do not light fires and of course, leave absolutely no trace of your visit.
  • Check out conservation charity, Snowdonia Society and all they do in the region.

Snowdonia National Park Authority:
"As most of the land suitable for wild camping is not owned by the Snowdonia National Park Authority, we are not therefore in a position to directly permit wild camping. We advise everyone who wishes to go wild camping to have landowners' consent."
Photo credits: [Helicopter: David McDermott] [Cow: Ben Salter] [Train: © Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales] [Wild camping: Ted and Jen]
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Hefin Owen]
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