Saturday, 18 May 2013

Snowdon - safe and tidy

Helen where Pyg meets Miners
It’s a big old mountain to be in charge of with 400,000 walkers a year. Last year 187 of these had an accident and 8 or 9 were fatal. Helen Pye is the new warden, previously a warden in the Brecon Beacons, with mountain safety as her top priority. I joined her on patrol above Pen y Pass.

Fatalities tend to be participants in extreme activities, well planned and equipped but unfortunate to have an accident. Non-fatalities tend to be annoyingly avoidable, down to lack of planning or provisions and inappropriate clothing. 

As we walked she chatted to people we passed, many of whom were sensibly equipped, but some were ludicrous.  A woman with sunglasses on immaculate hair was indeed wearing boots, but knee-high with four inch heels! Her partner was in all the right gear; would this relationship survive?

Another woman in short shorts and T shirt was wearing a pair of plimsolls. When asked how she found them in terms of support she explained that she’d only worn them to come down but had gone up bare foot. 

A grateful walker hurrying down the mountain handed back the laminated A4 map Helen had given him earlier that day; yes, many people walk the mountains without a map, let alone a compass.

At Bwlch y Moch air-freighted bays of stone were ready for building a dry stone wall to steer all but the intentional away from Crib Goch.  Later and from way below on the Miners Track I watched through binoculars as three walkers crawled over the scary Crib.  

Helen’s other priorities include footpath maintenance and litter. The paths that I was on were in good shape, thanks in large part to Snowdonia Society volunteer workdays, but every now and again a boulder needed pulling out of a drain. The litter situation also seemed under control but Helen explained the wardens tried to keep these main paths as clear as possible, human herd instinct means we are less likely to litter a clean path.

As we walked we stuffed bits of rubbish into our rucksacks and near the end picked up a carrier bag of empty cans and bottles, neatly tied at the handles and stuffed into a drain. ‘Probably Three Peakers’ was the verdict. The sign in the toilets at Pen y Pass reflects their reputation as some of the worst offenders.  Snowdon is typically the last of the peaks attracting the worst of behaviour - TAKE IT HOME!


  1. Many years ago I admit, but my led group met a Brownie Pack in full uniform - including Brown Owl in skirt and blouse and court shoes - near the summit having walked from Llanberis. Our party leader gave them a gentle lecture as the weather was closing in. Expect organised groups from this and other respectable organisations are better now.

  2. We see this sort of thing all the time up Snowdon and are always amazed at the way some people are attired with no bag as if they're going on a leisurely walk to their local park. Fortunately most do get away with it - litter drives me mad - I just don't get it - and I'm like you picking it up and stuffing it into my rucksack.