<p>Snowdonia National Park, Wales </p>

Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Snowdonia overtourism causes damage to national park as visitors urged to ‘respect the mountain’

Walkers are often inexperienced and unprepared, say locals

Lucy Thackray
Monday 23 August 2021 10:25
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A surge in the number of walkers on Wales’s Mount Snowdon has caused increased queues, litter and erosion damage, say local advocates and charities.

Some 700,000 visitors are said to have tackled Snowdon in the last year - up 40 per cent from 500,000 in 2018 - and the effects are already showing.

“Litter, footpath erosion, wild camping, traffic, parking - in a sense, none of these are new, but they’ve all acquired a really sharp edge in the last 18 months,” said John Harold, director of local conservation group the Snowdonia Society.

Harold described a “perfect storm” of more people taking holidays within the UK, and an increased number of inexperienced and unprepared walkers not knowing mountaineering etiquette.

There have been concerns about pandemic-related overtourism in Snowdonia National Park since July, amid reports of 45-minute queues to the summit, reports the BBC.

This year has been “the worst I remember it” for crowds and litter, said regular Snowdon hiker Elfed Williams, who reported seeing people queuing for three quarters of an hour for a summit selfie.

On top of the surge in crowds, Williams described newcomers to mountain walking arriving inappropriately dressed, with some attempting the nine-mile, 1,085m climb in flip flops.

"They’re not mountaineers or trekkers really, they’re the people who I think usually go to Spain or whatever for their holiday so they can’t go now with Covid of course, so they’ve decided to stay in the UK and come to Wales,” he speculated.

“I’ve seen a few - you won’t believe this - with flip-flops and things. And you give them advice and they don’t want to know either. I don’t say anything anymore, there’s no point.

“You get the helicopter out and mountain rescue out - someone might be in real difficulty somewhere else, fallen off or something, and the helicopter is going to rescue someone whose just worn their flip-flops.”

His message to travellers keen to visit the national park is: “Come, by all means, but please respect the mountain.”

John Harold agrees, saying that local campaigners had invested in targeted adverts urging visitors to be prepared, but more needed to be done to get the message across.

“When [people] are making their plans to come to Snowdonia, they need very simple, clear messaging to help them make the right choices,” he said.

“You can’t enjoy it if you are not well prepared or equipped, that’s when things go wrong.”

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