Vincent Lowe Photography - Wales index
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For walkers and climbers who live in the north and midlands of England, 'Wales' more often than not means the Snowdonia National Park, in North Wales.  Extending over 2,171 sq km (840 sq mi), the park consists mainly of several ranges of ancient mountains, formed by volcanic activity and eroded during the Ice Ages.  The highest is Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m/3,560 ft), one of the five peaks of the Snowdon Massif (or Mount Snowdon) and the highest peak south of the Scottish border.  Its name means “the tomb”, referring to the legend that a giant is buried under it.  There are over 50 peaks exceeding 2000 feet and the park also includes forests, lakes, open moors, and some sea-coast. The sparse vegetation of the mountains includes two rare flowers, the Snowdon Lily and the yellow Welsh Poppy, which are unique to the region; the native birds of Snowdonia include ravens, cormorants, kestrels, and peregrine falcons. Polecats and pine martens inhabit some of its forests.

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The Park is steeped in history and legend.  The early Celts established their settlements on the higher ground for security, and traded in copper, tin, zinc, lead and iron, all of which were found in the area.  The Romans built their own roads during the long occupation of Britain, then came successive waves of Nordic, Saxon, and Norman invaders.  Snowdonia was the location of the last armed resistance by the Welsh against English invasions, during the 13th century, and it is still a stronghold of the Welsh language and culture. In the 19th century it became a centre for slate-quarrying, which still continues both within the national park and in the district of Blaenau Ffestiniog, which is entirely surrounded by the park but is excluded from it. Since the 1920s commercial forestry has been a major activity. The park also contains a hydroelectric power station at Ffestiniog and a nuclear power station, no longer in use, at Trawsfynydd.


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