Waymarks on Snowdon: a sign of things to come?

Posted by Carey Davies on 23/07/2013
Crib Goch: The SNPA wants to nudge ill-prepared walkers away from routes like this. Photo: Alex Messenger.
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Thirteen stone pillars have recently been erected on Snowdon to direct walkers along popular paths. Have we reached a turning point where waymarking of mountains is now considered acceptable? Or is Snowdon a special case? We investigate the issues.

They barely come to waist height, and the only information on them is a name, a small arrow and a distance in metres.

But the 13 stone pillars recently erected on Snowdon have been enough to unsettle outdoor users in Wales, some of whom fear they could point the way to a more widespread waymarking of Britain’s hills. 

Unlike in continental Europe, where waymarking is often commonplace, Britain has long resisted the idea of introducing signs and direction markers to its mountainous areas. Critics see them variously as an ‘urban’ intrusion on wild places, a dangerous lure for ill-prepared people, a blemish on the landscape, a ‘hand-holding’ measure which erodes the self-reliant ethos needed for mountain travel, and often all of the above.

Huge numbers

But Snowdon is no ordinary mountain. Even without its famous railway and summit café, the 1,085m (3,560ft) Snowdon is still an exceptionally popular hill. More than 360,000 people were estimated to have walked up it in 2012 alone, compared to 100,000 people on Ben Nevis and 225,000 people (plus the odd octopus) on Scafell Pike. And those extra numbers mean more accidents.

The Snowdonia National Park Authority says its decision to put stone pillars at strategic points marking the main paths up the mountain – the Llanberis Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path, Snowdon Ranger Path, Miners Track and the Pyg Track – stemmed from observations made by Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, which is often called to respond to accidents involving ill-prepared, lost or unwary walkers on Snowdon.

In recent years, the team had reported that many of these walkers seemed to be getting into difficulties in similar places, such as the intersection of the Llanberis Path and the Snowdon Ranger Path, and at Bwlch y Moch where a path diverges from the Pyg Track leading to the knife-edge Crib Goch.

The National Park Authority says the pillars will help prevent walkers tackling the wrong routes by mistake.  Llanberis Mountain Rescue team has welcomed the initiative, saying it believes the pillars will succeed in nudging walkers away from potentially perilous route choices. Snowdonia’s MountainSafe Partnership, in which the BMC is closely involved, and the Northern Snowdonia Local Access Forum have also given their assent to the plans.

Thin end of the wedge?

Local BMC activists have debated the signs at length in Area Meetings. The members present at these meetings overwhelmingly voted not to object to the placing of the pillars on Snowdon.

But some remain opposed to them. Simon Panton, BMC member and publisher of the GroundUp series of guidebooks, is one of these. “It’s the thin end of the wedge,” he says.

“Snowdon is still really a special, special environment. Yes, there is a rail line and a café, but the Snowdon Horseshoe, with Crib Goch on one side and Y Liwedd on the other, is still an extremely wild and beautiful place.

“There are two different worlds next to each other on Snowdon – bits of it have been colonised and softened and urbanised. But I really don’t want that colonisation go any further. There are still lots of places you can go on Snowdon that are wild and remote and spectacular, that have that original character. My worry is, what we are going to be talking about in 20 years’ time? Hand rails on Crib Goch? Where does it end?”

Simon added: “I’m sympathetic to the Mountain Rescuers. They have to cope with a lot. But it won’t help to reduce accidents. The more you put things which belong in urban environments on a mountain like that, the more you make people feel as if it’s safe, when it’s never going to be. You’re almost tricking them. It will attract more people, and there will be more and more accidents.”

Self-reliance

To an outsider it might seem remarkable that 13 pieces of recycled rock could be seen as having the power to fundamentally change the character of a mountain. But hill walking in Britain has always been defined by a spirit of self-reliance, an independent ethos that is incompatible with signposts, waymarks or any other guiding feature that takes responsibility away from the individual. Wild places should be left wild, both for people’s common enjoyment and their long-term safety prospects.

However inobtrusive-seeming, the Snowdon pillars represent something that doesn’t sit well with this view.  The controversy around them stems as much from what they signify, and what they might herald for the future, as what they actually are. 

Tom Hutton, chair of the North Wales area of the BMC, feels as strongly as Simon does about waymarking in mountain areas.  “My personal view of any ‘dumbing down ‘of the hills is that I’m against it,” he says.  “There is a risk that it could become a slippery slope, that it could spread to other mountains in the region.  There is a worry that when people come here, they think ‘right, we’ve done Snowdon now, let’s go up Tryfan’, then in two years time you’re having the same discussion about waymarks there.

Where Tom differs from Simon is his attitude towards Snowdon itself, and the extent to which he thinks the consequences of such massive visitor pressure can really be resisted.

 “Snowdon is the region’s cash cow,” he says. “If you look at some of the pictures of the summit on busy weekends, it looks like a football crowd. In order for signs to spread to other mountains the mindset of people would have to change from ‘I’ve done Snowdon’ to ‘now I’ve done Snowdon I’ll do another mountain.’ That doesn’t exist at the moment. Snowdon really is an exception. Once you’re outside the honeypot areas Snowdonia is really quite a quiet place. Overall I have a reluctant acceptance of the pillars.”

Shifting goalposts?

Tom expresses unease, however, with the way he thinks the scheme has morphed since its inception. “When they first proposed it I think the National Park Authority were talking of putting up about three pillars,” he says. “Then over time it grew and now there are 13. I feel there is a danger that because we were consulted we gave our consent to something that wasn’t what actually appeared. There’s a concern that they keep shifting the goalposts somewhat. I think that makes people more wary of what they’re planning.”

So are the Snowdon waymarks a sign of things to come? If the taboo around waymarking is broken on Snowdon, why not Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis?  Or any other mountain, for that matter?

Simon, for one, feels the number of people willing to represent his stance is dwindling – and he dislikes being characterised as a hoary old ‘traditionalist’ for expressing a view he has always held to be common mountain sense.  He says: “I never thought I’d feel like some sort of grumpy man, but I think it’s important that people like me stand up and say ‘this is wrong,’ because all you’ve got is people saying ‘let’s just go along with it.’

“Our kind of value system is not seen as important any more. I’m made to feel like I hold some sort of extreme view, but I think I’m just normal. It’s the National Park Authority that’s lost the plot. They should be putting money into educating people instead of trying to shepherd them around the hills.”

What do you think? To discuss the Snowdon pillars and issues like it affecting the mountain and crag landscape in North Wales, come along to the BMC Cymru North Wales Area Meeting, to be held next at the RSPB Cafe, South Stack, Holyhead, Anglesey, LL65 1YH on Wednesday 4 September, starting at 8.30pm. Find out more info here.

BMC Area Meetings are a forum for local BMC members, activists and people with an interest in the outdoors and mountain environment generally to come together to discuss and act upon issues in their locality. To find out about BMC Area Meetings in other parts of the country, click here.

  • This article was amended on Thursday July 23. The original version of the article stated that BMC members at local BMC Area Meetings in which the pillars were discussed had a "reluctant acceptance" of the pillars. This was changed to more accurately reflect the views of the members.

This article is part of BMC on Foot, a push to raise awareness of the BMC’s work for hill walkers and its stance on a range of topical issues affecting hill walkers. Please help us by completing our hill walking survey

Want to get into hill walking? The BMC has teamed up with excellent Plas y Brenin centre in Snowdonia to offer a series of Head for the Hills starter courses. A great way to get the skills you need to be confident in the mountains, you get a discount of up to 50% with free transport from Llandudno Railway Station. For more information see here.



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Anonymous User
19/07/2013
Walked up Snowdon in april with my mate .
The last quarter of the way we were in full winter kit and crampons to the top and the first quarter back.some people we passed on the way back only had trainers and track suits and hoodies on,or and a bottle of water they shouldn't be on the hills without propped kit .....thank god for MRT so I think sign posts will just encourage Jo blogs to start walking up a mountain and get into trouble !!!! Rant over.
20/07/2013
"If the taboo around waymarking is broken on Snowdon, why not Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis?"
Snowdon isn't first. This same debate was raging about the navigation cairns on the Ben about 10 years ago. It's always the same arguments for and against, but in the end leads to a reduction in the wilderness experience.
- Jerzy
Anonymous User
20/07/2013
A difficult one this, but signs and markers are no substitute for proper hill awareness and training.

The hard part is reaching the novices as far as training and hill awareness is concerned in the first place. In my local town, there are no advertised courses for novice hill walkers to even consider the basics, even though there is a Hill Walking Club!

Sadly, there will always be those who think they know it all, but no nowt......
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
Why not have signage. It's widespread in europe and as far as I can see it encourages people to come and enjoy the outdoors. Snowdon, Nevis etc are sadly not now true 'wilderness', they are mountains which are almost continually populated. For thoise who wish to test their skills there are still plenty areas of true wilderness, particularly in Scotland, where signs posts and way markers will (hopefully) never reach.
Alex Messenger(staff comment)
23/07/2013
Use these comments to us know what you think. If you register and log in, your comment will appear immediately.

If you're not logged in we will have to moderate the anonymous comment which will take some time.
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
Complaining about waymarkers on a peak with railway station at the top seems a bit pointless.
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
And now we can look forward to the stream of lawsuits against the bodies that waymark the hills from people who from their *own* lack of preparation, skill, equipment and judgement cause themselves and others to be put in danger. Not to mention the increased strain that will be incurred by the rescue services.
I'm all for people getting out and about and enjoying our beautiful countryside, but seeing the increasing numbers of people who have no respect for the mountains and the conditions they might encounter is a worrying trend.
It's all well and good 'dumbing down' the concept of visiting our more inaccessible areas, but just because some seem to think they have some kind of "right" to be there, doesn't actually make it so!
The mountains of this beautiful country can be incredibly benign, and accessible to most reasonably active adults, but they can also be brutally hazardous.
And those conditions can change in the blink of an eye!
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
Advent of GPS was the welcome to Wally World, mandatory insurance is what we now need. A whole new industry for rural economies.
23/07/2013
its how they do it in a lot of US National Parks the, "wilderness experience" is simply lost for most. but with the lines of people its pretty much null and void on popular paths so the inclusion of signs and even pavement actually helps preserve the local environment and those wanting the the lone wild simply have to search a little more and its there.. the bonus's are not always just in people getting lost. In zion they gave you a newsletter upon entering telling you the grade of a hike and equipment needed this was to deter unprepared from a hard walk. but most importantly it has allowed the local wildlife to thrive, as it has minimized the disturbance caused by people
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
First off, I would like to suggest that it is not really a mountain but rather more like a hill in regards to international standards. Secondly you whining over a mountain which has a railway and a cafe at the top of it. Thirdly you think it okay to construct cairn stones in other countries which goes against the ethos of other areas. So a little bit of European way marking is to harm no one. The people who are crying over this are the same people I see walking in boots and gear around the small villages of the British Isles, stopping at the pelican crossing to push the button to cross because they can't work out for themselves that it is okay to cross. If your not happy go climb another hill! A lot of countries don't even have such things as mountain rescue. Its a tourist attraction just like Machu Pichu. But all you Brits don't complain about all the signposting and yet it was the BMC that was behind the campaign back in the 90's and 00's to make all mountain tourist attractions clearly marked. Hypocrisy!
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
@10 - Luke, you beat me to the mark. Very good point and totally agree... The National Parks in the US have signs that are pretty unobtrusive / fit into the environment using natural and local materials (eg signs made of pine in the Rockies) and keep the main bulk of hikers on the tracks (helpful in the snow especially). I feel it actually helps 'separate out' those ready to go 'off-piste', into the backcountry or climbing but in a helpful way... If you're not prepared, you tend to stay on the path. Ok so it's on a whole other scale as the parks are so vast but my experience has been it works well. Not quite sure how that translates to the UK.
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
Mountain snobbery. Who knew.

Lets look at the practicalities here- educating every person who decides to walk up Snowdon isn't really possible now is it? Some waymarkers - likely to destroy your enjoyment? No. Not really. Whether they help in terms of mountain rescue will only be seen with time, but I really can't see the harm in trying.
23/07/2013
I am in full agreement with Simon Panton, not only with his stance on the sign posts but on the smearing of anyone with opposing views as a kind of anti progressive heretic.

Amongst the growing hill population there seems to be a reluctance to develop any skills beyond the latest mobile phone app and a growing trend to delegate any personal responsibility for safety to other agencies.

I've seen people on Crib Goch in wellies scratching their heads whilst making phone calls for route advice. I've seen inexperienced 'charity' hill walkers calling MRTs for assistance because they didn't prepare for or realise their mountain challenge was taking place... on a mountain! Of course they also didn't realise that MRTs are charity funded too - their endeavor thus sucking more resource out of one charity that they were raising for another.

Educating people or giving them the means to educate themselves benefits us all. Mountains are dangerous places, that is a large part of their appeal. Trying to wrap our hills in cotton wool perpetuates the illusion of safety, negates personal responsibility, and erodes our beautiful wilderness. Please stop it.
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
I seem to remember, as a youngster (in the 60s & early 70s) having been up Snowdon 17 times by the age of 17 by various routes, that it was tradition to add a stone to the cairns marking the route. Is this not something similar?
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
I'd just like to chime in for the very many frequent and committed countryside users who just don't think this is an issue. It increases accessibility to popular tourist locations to additional users who might otherwise be put off by the stuffy and elitist attitudes of some traditional mountain users.

As others have pointed out, there's some irony in complaining about this on a hill with a railway and a cafe at the top!
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
This is one of the most sensible comments 10) Luke Mansfield if you travel to US or europe signage can take away a 'sense ' of wilderness but those people who work in the environments fixing paths etc and stopping erosion, and the Mountain rescue teams it may direct the less capable to at least a path and less danger....the very capable and adventurous can simply go further and deeper and stop being so up themselves and precious about the 'wilderness' . You can always find an adventure why should the recent converts to the outside world be denied a bit (with some safety built in)
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
I was on Ben Nevis in a blizzard that lasted over 16 hours. We bivvied half way up the north face (i know it sounds retarded), and summited in the morning (still blizzarding). The cornice was massive, visibility poor, the wind was knocking us literally off our feet. Somehow I realised my compass had reversed polarity in the night, probably next to my mobile phone. In a pure haze of white out and white noise, we could just see (sometimes not) the next cairn on the pig track from the other. I'm sure would would have managed otherwise, but I was shattered and so thankful for them. We got down from the summit and below the cloud layer and down to the hostel in just over an hour, straight into the showers and bed. Its not only unprepared tourists that have found such things useful. I have built small rock piles on ridges in the Alps along ridges with non distinct descents.

Of course if there were man height cairns every 100m on every mountain ridge there would be little point in going to the mountains... So find myself torn. Perhaps, we must accept that mountains like Snowdon and Nevis do attract the unprepared tourist, and if it saves a few witless lives, then so be it. There are plenty of better climbs, and more adventurous scrambles and walks for the real explorers still out there.
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
If you start adding direction posts, people may forget about the dangers of mountaineering activities. People should be prepared before they set out by wearing and carrying the correct kit. Also they need to be able to read maps and be able to use a compass. This helps prevents accident not signs !
Anonymous User
23/07/2013
This discussion is all bit tired by now. Those "mountaineers" who go on and on and on about hand rails on Crib Goch should really just go away and sit in a dark room! I heard this 35 years ago when I worked for Snowdonia National Park. There are no plans to put hand rails on Grib Goch and never will be. Mountains should be opened up to as many as possible. Far too long have they been the realm of the wealthy and the elite. The type of people going on the hill has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and now you can see more women, more from ethnic backgrounds and more Welsh speakers on the hill!
Let's face it, what's the difference between a map a guidebook and a signpost? They are all tools to help us find our ways. I've used all three! People will go up Snowdon signposted or not.

And there are a few on this discussion thread that actively encourage more people on to the hill and are also making a good living out of it too. Either by selling mountain gear, the guide books that take people into previously wilderness mountain and quarry areas, by providing activities in the mountain or providing the information on the snowdonia activity websites - and long may it last. But these people should be the very last to preach about keeping Snowdon unique!

So, why not make it easier for those who don't know the way to stay safe and enjoy the mountains and take the strain off the mountain rescue teams at the same time?

I could go on about the generations of local people that have walked up Snowdon in wellies, in hob nail boots and even in their Sunday Best and the hill farmers that do it on a daily basis without any mountain awareness, but I won't.

Just enjoy the mountains and be pleased that so many people get pleasure out of them too.
(and if they do put hand rails on Crib Goch - be a devil and don't use them!)






Anonymous User
24/07/2013
I love the top photo of the woman skipping along Crib Goch in shorts, trainers and a tracksuit top without backpack or water bottle. Preparedness is a state of mind. Sure you need the right kit, but It's the contents of your head not the contents of your backpack that'll keep you safe. Many experienced, well equipped people have died or needed rescue due to bad decisions. It appears to me that it's not signposts people are complaining about, it's "other people". It happens in every activity. We all like to feel our sport is "special" and we earned the right to be there and do that, and anyone who hasn't had our training and experience shouldn't be allowed to participate. Rubbish!
Things change; equipment changes, environments change, attitudes change. If you want to feel alone and at the mercy of only your skills and your personal equipment there are many other fine places for you to go and test yourselves. Getting people off their sofa and into the mountains is a fine idea - providing a little help along the way is a good thing. I too hate being in the mountains with masses of [other] tourists, so I don't go to those places. I also hate queuing, so when I go climbing I don't do popular multi-pitch routes at popular times. It's not that hard to use your skills and experience to find the experience you desire, rather than simply close the door on anyone else "getting in"

I remember being taken our walking in the lakes as a teenager and being told to "bring something warm and wear sensible shoes", which for me at the time was a nylon Parker jacket and Doc Martin boots and jeans. I got soaked, didn't take enough to eat or drink, came back freezing cold and with a massive grin on my face. since then (besides upgrading my kit!) I have had over 30 years experience in the mountains but I still learn and still [occasionally!] make mistakes and still come home with a massive grin on my face.

The world is changing and our core skill is our ability to adapt - so adapt, and help others along the way who may be at the beginning of their journey and lack your experience. Otherwise you can don your tweed jacket and point your nailed boots in the direction of the next lonely hill and bugger off!
Anonymous User
24/07/2013
Simon and others should not feel as if they are being 'got at'. I'm sympathetic to their argument, but in the end don't agree with them and feel the stone posts are OK on a mountain such as Snowdon with its railway etc. There's no way that 300,000 people will ever be persuaded to go on mountain navigation courses before going up Snowdon, so we do need to guide people in one way or another.

However, we should not dismiss too lightly the 'it could lead to handrails on Crib Goch' argument. On a recent trip to Dinas Rock in south Wales I found that hand rails had indeed been introduced on one section of path and near one of the waterfalls. So we do need to keep Simon's and others arguments for when it really is worth getting heated up, which I don't think is the case with the main paths on Snowdon.
Anonymous User
24/07/2013
In reply to Post 20) Anonymous User/Ex- Park Employee

I agree with the majority of your points. However I personally feel that there are too many markers. 13?! Where do we need 13 way markers? I can only think of one or two places where placing them would significantly reduce mountain accidents.

Markers on Snowdon is just a way for the National Park Authority to pay cheap lip service to their responsibility to promote mountain safety whilst severely cutting the number of experienced staff on the ground. You never see a Warden at Pen y Pass or Ogwen these days. It is not only the guidebook writers and the outdoor retailers who “sell the dream” it is the Welsh Government and the National Park Authority as well. They're both too busy keeping rich landowners happy whilst ignoring the thriving mountain tourist industry.
25/07/2013
Great article and comments!
Hopefully yes we have reached a turning point both regarding the measured response in the case of Yr Wyddfa and what precedent is set for the future.

The first is quite possibly a non-issue of mountain snobbery; the claims of the "urban intrusion", further "colonisation", "tricking [of] people" and "[causing] more accidents" that Simon Panton is quoted on are clearly contrary to the National Park Authority's researched and advised stance. Lest it be overlooked, the decision to waymark stemmed from observations made by Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team and frankly it's the wardens that watch over Yr Wyddfa by job description. And yes, they educate too.

For those seeking non-'colonised' mountain terrain and want to embark on a journey of self-reliance in North Wales point them in the direction of the Rhinogs preferably on a claggy day.

As for the future, Rob Johnson may well have known http://rob-johnson.blogspot.co.at/2011/04/exciting-new-via-ferrata-on-snowdon.html

Yours, a British mountaineer undeterred from my responsibilities by appropriate guidance in the hills be they engraved pieces of recycled rock, cairns or finger stones (preferably)

P.S. Worth a read + photos... http://www.snowdonia-active.com/news.asp?newsid=843

P.P.S pragmatics vs ideals... the 'value system' of old I perhaps fail to understand when it is attempted (as mentioned above a few times) to apply it quite ironically to a honeypot already complete with railway, café and significantly engineered paths.
Anonymous User
25/07/2013
I think one thing we must remember here is that Snowdon is a honey pot, some probably 95% of the people going to its summit are money spending visitors and tourists that keep many, including myself employed. I fully accept that signage is not good on the mountains, that said we all need to accept that the majority of people going to its summit have never before stepped on a mountain, never mind have the skills to navigate, these people come to summit and will probably never go on another remote mountain. I do somewhat disagree with the elitist flavour that some people have viewed this matter. I fully symphathise with the Rescue Team but can also say that many of the incidents they get are accidents that are waiting to happen, and are actually people needing to seek advice that maybe these pillars will provide. The SNP Wardens at Pen y Pass used to be full of local knowledge, getting more than a grunt from them was really difficult, that was if they could be bothered to actually look up at you from their hidy hole. The wardens are hardly ever at Pen y Pass these days and if they are they have very, very little local knowledge! So the SNP could certainely pull its socks up there.
I know that Llanberis MRT, SNP, Mountain Safe, etc are all trying there very best with education of tourists on the mountains but many of these people just do not want to listen, let alone be educated, and for sure you are not going to stop them going out, and yes the pieces still have to be picked up when things go wrong by the MRT because despite what some veiws are they cannot be just left there. So we can all jump up and down and say this is wrong and not how it should be and sit blindly in the corner like the grumpy old man, or we can actually look at the route cause (pardon the pun) and proactively do something about it? These problem people on Snowdon will not stop coming, the annual numbers of visitors are rising, the number of accidents rise with that so why not a few signs if it will really help. I really do think Snowdon is a special case, the other mountains around with exception to maybe Tryfan have nowhere near the number of incidents, and if you want to find those special remote places on Snowdon then we all know where they are and they wont have a sign pointing to them. There is a problem everyone, no use pretending it will just go away.
Anonymous User
25/07/2013
Just a few responses to some of the points made here. Firstly I’m heartened to see that both on here and (particularly) on facebook there is a significant number of people who are sympathetic to my view (okay, nowhere near a majority but significant nonetheless).

I have very rarely missed a BMC Cymru meeting since the late 90s, but I did miss the September 2012 meeting when a ‘vote’ occurred. I have read the minutes (and spoken to people present at the meeting) and they refer specifically to a vote on the dwarf wall at the summit (not mentioned in this article for some reason). There is no specific mention of the 13 waymarkers or the large wall feature that has been built at Bwlch y Moch (the latter also not mentioned in this article). It is disingenuous to claim that ‘members have voted overwhelmingly’ for something when the final plan was not revealed. And why doesn’t the article mention the Bwlch y Moch wall, or indeed the summit wall.

The BMC article was changed on Tuesday from:

"Local BMC activists have debated the signs at length in Area Meetings. The view of most members could be described as ‘reluctant acceptance’, not liking the idea of signs in principle but prepared to tolerate the Snowdon pillars as a localised measure to help bring down accidents."

To:

"Local BMC activists have debated the signs at length in Area Meetings. The members present at these meetings overwhelmingly voted not to object to the placing of the pillars on Snowdon."

I feel the original statement is more truthful. I don’t recall anybody displaying anything but reluctance on the occasions when changes to Snowdon were discussed. The second statement implies that there has been strong support for the waymarkers, walls etc. My feeling at the time when this was brought up was that the SNPA were unlikely to listen to a view contrary to their own, and I know others felt the same – reluctant acceptance seemed the only option.

Paul Sivyer’s point about people like me (and I suppose Tom) making a good living out of guidebooks is a cheap shot. I’ve known you a long time Paul, but I’ve certainly never discussed money with you. The truth is I can only afford to work part time on guidebook production – trust me it’s no way to get rich!

And there is a huge difference between sign posts and guidebooks (or maps). All the books I have worked on have been underpinned by a desire to educate and spread best practice, be it from a safety point of view, ethics or access and conservation. That you don’t credit that is unfair, especially when you know first hand the efforts I have made in this regard in the slate quarries.

And to those who welcome/accept the new developments – where do you draw the line. That’s a genuine question – what exactly is acceptable to you?

Simon Panton
Anonymous User
25/07/2013
And to those who assert that this has no chance of spreading to other mountains – you might like to know that the Ogwen MRT did recently request a waymarker high up on Tryfan. And you do have to wonder what the knock on effect will be for the Ogwen team when people turn up in the Ogwen valley (having followed signposts up Snowdon the previous day) only to find that there are no sign posts telling them where to go and no heavily engineered paths leading to the summits.

I believe the waymarkers may also prove to be counter productive as they convince inexperienced/ill equipped walkers to head into places that they might not otherwise go. The signposts give off a message that the mountain is not dangerous – when in places it most certainly is. I will be amazed if the accident figures go down – only time will tell I suppose. Nobody yet knows the positive or negative outcome of these developments.

And finally, for balance I think the writer should have sought out a pro waymarker person and extracted a few quotes from them. When Carey rang me up and asked me for my opinion I assumed he would be talking to a broad spectrum of interested people.

Simon Panton

PS to Tom Hecht et al – yes I have enjoyed exploring the Rhinogs and various other ‘wild’ corners of Snowdonia. There are very few places in these hills that I haven’t been, yet none of those adventures temper the emotional connection I feel towards Snowdon.
Anonymous User
25/07/2013
the entire country has turned into least common denominator, remove these things..
Anonymous User
27/07/2013
I do not feel this is a dumbing down. When I have walked in continental Europe or via ferrata'd there, I do not feel any less when I scale the peaks. There is a difference between acceptable & unacceptable risk. Environmentally friendly waymarking is acceptable & does not detract from the wilderness.
Anonymous User
06/08/2013
There's a sign at the bottom of Ben Nevis warning folk effectively this is a proper mountain and you need to be properly prepared. At Snowdon now - walk this way ... result?
08/08/2013
I would seem that some clarification is required to correct some misnomers which seem to have arisen over the Snowdon PIllars issue in recent commentary.
I would like to particularly correct the fact that there are only 6 new pillars on the mountain itself in total and not 13!! These are in Bwlch Moch, a small one further up towards Crib Coch, the Watkin path upper and lower slope down to Bwlch Y Saethau to indicate the correct place to turn off - with a smaller one at the bottom of the slope to indicate the route up and to guide people away from the east ridge. The summit itself has a small pillar indicating the correct route for the Watkin descent point. There is also one at the Llanberis/Rhyd Ddu intersection to try to prevent confusion as many people end up either on LLanberis or Rhyd Ddu by mistake and often late at night. However, the remainder are all on the roadsides at the base of all of our principle routes around the mountain ti indicate the start/finish points.
This project had the backing of all the stakeholders concerend including the Local Access Forum, the Authority itself. our Officers an field staff nd the Mountain safe group.
It should be remembered that Snowdon has some 460,000 walkers per year (that is only in one direction) and there are simple too many uneccesary accidents or people getting lost due to simply getting confused in relation to their route. Most are attemtping Snowdon for the first time and like it or not it is incumbent on us as the National Park to manage this as best we can. There is no question of dumbing down the hill as someoine put this but simply a bare fact to prevent confusion and untimately to help save lives.

I note that some of you (anonymous) refer to `Jo Blogs`. Like it or not Jo Blogs is a significant part of the local economy and they also have every right to experience the outdoors as everyone else and they should be shown due respect.

Peter Rutherford - Access Officer SNPA
Anonymous User
10/08/2013
Ive done all of the different routes up snowdon over the years, and it has had been visually scarred all over the place with red roads, rail tracks, 2 cafes and now the idea of putting stone pillars leading to the top, yes MRT spend alot of time rescueing un prepared people from the mountain, but by putting more resources to assist people means more flip flops going up.

Wouldn't using the money to create set times for novice people to go up the mountain, of where they are given safety advice and equipment suggestions by a guide or a trained person. This of course would be optional, but would encourage more awareness of the seriousness of undertaking a mountain.

Surely that would have a more likely effect of reducing incidents requiring the MRT not just on Snowdon but possibly throughout the region.
Anonymous User
14/08/2013
Great idea and one that is widely in place in Europe in the alps and elsewhere.
It may not be suitable for all areas, after all, its great to be out on your own far from the madding crowds under your own steam and navigating for yourself, but Snowdon is so popular and it will help reduce the mistakes people make. The mountain has long been managed as a honey pot to keep the rest of the area clearer of people and focus them on a manageable mountain ... And even with all these signs and paths, Snowdon is still a beautiful mountain and there are myriad places on the nassif to get away from it all still. Even in summer you could get up early and see no one for hours.... Great picture at the top of the page by the way. A great ridge run./ scramble
Anonymous User
12/09/2013
If the summit sometimes looks as though it is populated by a "football crowd", it is difficult to see how a few pieces of extra rock can lead to a "reduction in the wilderness experience"
Anonymous User
25/09/2013
pure snobbery - nothing more
Anonymous User
05/08/2014
I don’t think it’s a bad thing and I certainly don’t think that adding a few signs is going to lead to bigger crowds of unexperienced climbers on the peak. I walked 3 paths up Snowdon over the weekend and I hardly noticed them. I’m a purist and I can navigate so I would never use the signs anyway. The ones I did see were just helpful hints to get people on the right track and keep them at of danger. It really doesn’t spoil the adventure, and I can’t see it happening on other peaks – like the post said it’s for the Snowdon masses. I would understand if they were every 100m or so, but they are just at the crucial points. Plus if they do help people to the summit and the climb sparks a new love for the outdoors, isn’t that a good thing? Maybe a safe route will give them the motivation to learn navigation, to find out more and take a proper interest in the past-time.

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