Eryri is the name by which it has been known to the Welsh down the centuries – the place of eagles – and though there are none to be found here today the wild grandeur of the mountains has its own compensations.
There is bird life a-plenty. Watch out for dotterel on the high tops of the Carneddau in early summer, and peregrine falcons which nest on many of the crags, stooping to take a rock-dove with percussive force, the feathers drifting earthwards as the falcon, prey in its talons, sheers away. Curlews chorus the moorland. Spectacularly horned wild goats and the fox in its red splendour stand sentinel on the hill-ridges. A stoat in ermine threading its way across winter scree is unforgettable. Mountain flora is a rich area of study. Go to Clogwyn Du’r Arddu on the north flank of Yr Wyddfa and all along the foot of the magnificent crags in the spring months you will find purple and starry saxifrage, rose-root, alpine chickweed, moss campion and our delicate rarity the Snowdon Lily. The cliffs encircling Cwm Idwal – a National Nature Reserve – are also a prime site for arctic-alpines, as well as being one of the classic venues for the study of geology and geomorphology. It was here that Charles Darwin first realized the sculpting agency of glaciation throughout this landscape, the legacy of which is the shapeliest, most beautiful and atmospheric region of rocky peaks and deep, ice-scoured valleys in the British Isles.
Jim Perrin, writer
© Prif Lun / Main image: © Graham Eaton - eatonnature.co.uk. Lluniau bach / Small images: Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon; Lliwedd © Simon Panton
Cwm Idwal, a National Nature Reserve in the Snowdonia mountains is a fantastic introduction to glacial geology. A well-marked route takes you into the heather-clad upland world of the raven, with arctic alpine plants, fast-flowing streams frequented by dipper, and the sheer scale and grandeur of its icescraped amphitheatre.
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