Anyone who has made it to the top of Snowdon, either by foot or by the Snowdon mountain train, will know about the existence of the Snowdon Summit Cafe. The original cafe was designed by the architect who designed Portmeirion: Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis. The cafe was built in 1935, with modifications made in the 1960s. Described by Prince Charles as
the highest slum in Wales
to some its demolition in 2006 must have come as a relief.
Reincarnation of the Summit Cafe
The cafe and visitor centre, called “Hafod Eryri”, has been reincarnated at a cost of £8.4 million. The new design has come from Ray Hole Architects, who specialise in buildings for the leisure and recreation industry. First Minister of Wales, Mr Rhodri Morgan, who opened the new visitors centre on Snowdon today proclaimed that it
“does justice to that proud and very ancient mountain.”
Being the highest mountain in Wales and having access by train, the summit of Snowdon is popular destination for tourists, walkers and climbers. Over half a million people go to the top of Snowdon every year.
Mountains Are Dangerous Places!
The weather conditions at the summit of Snowdon can become treacherous indeed, with 150 mph winds and temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade. The average rainfall is 5 m. Snow and ice conditions during the winter make ice axes and crampons essential: it is not uncommon for ill equipped walkers to fall to their death.
Squadron leader Spike Wright, the officer commanding Sea Flight 22 Squadron, is responsible for rescuing people who get into difficulty in and around Snowdonia. He told the BBC that
those hoping to visit the mountain and new centre should be prepared for the mountain’s dangers.
What do You Think of the Cafe and Visitor Centre?
The story of the rebuilding of the Snowdon Summit Cafe can be found on the Snowdon Summit Blog. There are also photographs during demolition, rebuilding and of the completed visitor centre.
Is the new design fitting for the ancient mountain or does it still look like slum? It reminds me of an airport terminal. What do you think? Click on the “comments” link below and let us know!
Not everyone is a fan of the new design. Professional Mountaineering Instructor and Climbing Coach, Mark Reeves thinks the new design is an eyesore and that
even award winning architects are shit at designing summit cafe/stations on the Snowdon.
Who needs a cafe at the top of a mountain anyway? All you need is some coffee, water, food and a camping stove to cook your own meal and make a brew! Don’t forget to take some matches or a lighter!