Snowdon summit cafe reopens as UK’s highest watering hole
Last updated at 12:15 PM on 14th June 2009
The UK’s highest cafe, once dubbed the ‘highest slum in Wales’ by Prince Charles, has reopened after a multi-million pound makeover.
Anyone who fancies a brew with a view can now head to the brand new visitor centre and cafe at the top of Mount Snowdon.
The 3,560ft-high cafe is part of an �8 million overhaul of the centre which sits atop the highest mountain in England and Wales.
Stunning views: The completed visitor centre boasts a glass wall offering a ‘window to the world’
The new, modern building, replaces the original 1935 structure which met with such harsh words from the Prince.
Five years ago the authority decided to commit the equivalent of its entire annual budget into the one project to redevelop the site.
The resulting granite structure, called Hafod Eryri, has been built to withstand the extreme weather conditions for which the mountain is famous, and even has a glass wall offering a ‘window on the world’.
New beginnings: Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan officially opens the Mount Snowdon visitor centre
For walkers who really need an incentive to reach the top, the licensed
cafe can offer a stiff drink to those who need reviving. And for
anyone not willing to trek a mountain for their view the historic steam
train can take them directly to the visitor centre.
The name of the building was chosen from hundreds of entries from members of the public. Eryri means Snowdonia but Hafod which is an old Welsh term for a shepherd’s summer residence on high land has no direct translation.
Room with a view: Visitors enjoy the scenery as they relax in the cafe
The official opening of the building today, which also houses a shop and education centre, comes a year later than planned after high winds, rain and deep snow delayed construction last year.
Tegwyn Williams, site manager for contractors Carillion, said: ‘More than once I’ve thought we’d never get here.
‘We’ve had days when we could not get here.
Train to the top of the world: Those who don’t fancy a trek for their cuppa can catch Snowdon’s historic steam engine to the summit
‘We’ve had to walk down to Rocky Valley (halfway down) at the end of a working day because the train could not get to us and it was scary when the whole train rocked because of the wind.
‘But it’s good to see it finished and it looks good.’
Park chief for the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Aneurin Phillips,
also admitted there had been some ‘quite dark times’ since they started
the project in September 2006, but that the building costs had come in
Tired: The previous mountain visitor centre was built in 1935 and called the ‘highest slum in Wales’ by Prince Charles
He said the project had helped safeguard jobs in the tourist industry, with 60 per cent of the materials and labour coming from Wales.
The steel frame was built in Shotton, the granite walls and floor came from Cwt y Bugail quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the internal walls are lined with Welsh oak.
He added: ‘It was nice to come up here and hear Welsh being spoken and Welsh people working here.’
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I think it is a lovely idea.. it will be nice to get in there and have a nice hot brew after walking up. i went to snowdon a couple of years ago but couldnt make it right to the top as the weather turned.. but i will be going again and this time i will make it to the top for a brew..
– kim, clacton-on-sea essex, uk, 14/6/2009 18:51
i supose we will be paying for this with the price of the cups of tea ,they know you need one after that walk
– michael aldred, manchester, 13/6/2009 17:24
snowdon neath thy feet—-
told di evans———-i shall be taking the train for a high tea——
– arrymak, breath taking birkenhead—, 13/6/2009 09:58
8 Million quid for a cafe, complete waste of money if you ask me.
– Wilson, Carlisle, 12/6/2009 18:28
I have spent a couple of winter visits sheltering from snow storms beside the old slab of concrete (not open in winter). This just look s like an even bigger slab of concrete. They should have got rid of it – and the rail line whilst they were at it. This is just money grubbing!
– Jack, Yorkshire, 12/6/2009 18:27
Lovely job. I remember they didn’t build a refuge area so that people wouldn’t become complacent about ascending in bad weather, but now there isn’t even a shelter over the platform. If this honking great building is going to be there (which I don’t mind) then it should at least have some kind of rudimentary shelter from the elements that people can access 24/7 !
– Chris, Abingdon, 12/6/2009 18:12
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