I went up Snowdon on my own over the May bank holiday and had the mountain to myself. At first it felt incredible to be allowed out and I was excited to have the place to myself, a once in a lifetime opportunity? Then it felt a bit weird somehow, a bit sad.
I was extremely fortunate to be up there with a “pass” from the Snowdonia National Park Authority. For a handful of days over the lockdown period I have been working for them documenting the mountains and the beaches on film. My subjects have included Tryfan, the Glyderau, Cader Idris, Barmouth and Harlech and of course I have passed through the villages in-between.
I have been given a Key Worker letter and I have been glad of the paperwork – I have been stopped and questioned by police on most of the days that I have been out. One of the big things that struck me on my travels was the fear that existed in small communities, home made signs were the norm everywhere I went and I would frequently get people asking me what I was doing there. It felt uncomfortable to be out.
I am currently working on an edit for the SNPA to welcome people back to the Park once it opens for visitors again. They are keen to avoid the problems that have been seen in England with littering, inconsiderate parking, over-crowding and fires from barbecues. Hopefully my small film will help but we can all do our bit to educate visitors.
One in ten people in Wales is employed by the tourism industry and we need people to come back, feel welcome and respect the environment that they are here to enjoy. An article I read today on iNews suggests that the Welsh Government is not looking to ease the 5 mile travel restrictions until at least July and after that they will look at allowing people to visit and use self catering accommodation. For those of us who make our living in the adventure industry this will effectively mean we have lost our summer season as described by this article on the BBC. But the news also brings hope – hope that we can welcome visitors safely from the end of July or early August.
What prompted this post was an email this morning from Oliver at Outside Online. (Outside are an American outdoors magazine). I had forgotten that we had met up in February as he wrote an article on Snowdon. We did some filming and went for a walk and then we said our goodbyes. He sent me the article through today. In his email Oliver apologised if the tone was too despondent. In reply I told him how my experience on Snowdon meant I could associate with it.
Snowdon was beautiful when there was no-one on it but the overall feeling was one of sadness. I realised that actually a quiet mountain isn’t that rare. Almost every time I have headed up Snowdon for sunrise (which I have done many times) I have had the mountain to myself, or at least not seen another soul.
A closed mountain is something different all together. I look forward to seeing people on it again. I have long advocated that mountains are good for us all in so many different ways. It would be great if, when the mountains re-open, we could be good for the mountains too.
I know if you are reading this blog I am writing to the converted but lets park considerately, leave no trace, close gates, avoid spreading the virus by practising good hand hygiene and social distancing, avoid barbecues, take litter home, keep to rights of way, respect the local communities and spend locally. Lets be creative about where we visit too, avoid the hot spots, seek out somewhere new, be flexible if a place is already busy. Snowdonia is a special place. Together, we can keep it that way.
Here is the link to the Outside Online article.
Here is a link to the Countryside Code.
I will post my film when it is ready. Here is a link to my filming business.