A number of new stone pillars will be appearing on Snowdon in the next few weeks to mark the course of the most-trodden paths. These will be less obtrusive than the alternative, conventional signposts, says the Snowdonia National Park Authority. But will they be a worthwhile addition, or are they indicative of a creeping sanitisation on a mountain that already suffers from its own popularity?
Marker stones are due to be installed on the Llanberis Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path, Snowdon Ranger Path, Watkin Path, Miners Track and the PYG Track.
According to the National Park Authority this unusual step is being taken to encourage walkers to follow the correct footpaths, and to reduce the number of mountain rescue call-outs.
In recent years it has become evident from Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team's reports that walkers tend to get into difficulties in the same places on Snowdon, say the National Park. In 2012 there were 366,000 walkers on Snowdon, and Llanberis Rescue Team attended 176 incidents on the mountain. As a result, and following detailed discussions with Snowdonia's MountainSafe Partnership and with the full support of the Northern Snowdonia Local Access Forum, the Authority has decided to install a few strategically-placed stone pillars. These will be more sustainable and less obtrusive than ordinary signage, they think.
The initial phase of the project will be to set one stone pillar at the foot of each of the six main paths up Snowdon, each with the name of the path etched on its surface. These will be followed by other pillars in key places which have proven to be problematic for walkers in the past.
On the PYG Track mid-route stones will be placed to mark Bwlch y Moch and Crib Goch, to encourage people not to mistakenly stray off-route at these known trouble spots. Another will identify the intersection of Llanberis Path and Snowdon Ranger Path, as walkers often mix up the two routes. A further pillar will be placed on the summit to identify accurately where the Watkin Path begins, and another to identify Bwlch y Saethau, a slightly dodgy spot that can catch out the unwary.
Mair Huws, Head of Wardens and Access at the National Park Authority explained their thinking:
'Obviously, we can't ignore all the incidents that occur on Snowdon. Erecting signs all over Snowdon is not acceptable, therefore placing these stone pillars on the mountain is sustainable, it is a convenient way to keep people informed without being intrusive, and will not affect people's enjoyment of the mountain.'
'By placing them in this way, our hope is to create as little impact on the landscape and the atmosphere of the mountain as possible, encouraging walkers to be safe and responsible at the same time.'
The stone pillars are recycled from local disused buildings and the engraved work is by Cerrig of Pwllheli. Editors: