Snowdon 1769-1799

References to Snowdon, 1769-1799

Index to all Snowdon pages   Index to all references to Snowdon

The title page of Anon, Letters from Snowdon: descriptive of a tour through the northern counties of Wales containing the antiquities, history, and state of the country: with the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants. (London: 1770), pp. 55-61; (Dublin: 1770), wrongly ascribed to Joseph Cradock. This contains the earliest published description of views from Snowdon.













Summary in chronological order (details below)

1769      Sir James Bucknall Grimston, published 1906
1769      Anon, Letters from Snowdon, published 1770
1770      Anon, Ascent by a man or woman
1770      Richard Gough’s tour of north Wales (to be added)
1771      Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1749-1789) ascent
1771      Luttrell Wynne climbed Snowdon
1773      Dr John Lightfoot (1735-1788) and Joseph Banks (1743-1820) and others
1773      Thomas Pennant’s hopes that Jean André de Luc, (1727-1817) would measure Snowdon
1774      Wyndham’s comments on Snowdon
1774      Dr Samuel Johnson visited Llanberis, but did not climb Snowdon
1774      Rev. Sir John Cullum stayed 3 days at Nantperis, but did not climb Snowdon
1774      Lloyd (probably John Lloyd of Wigfair, 1749-1815) was seen setting out for Snowdon with his theodolite.
1775      An anonymous ascent (including women)
1775      Col. Roy surveyed the height of Snowdon
1776      Thomas Pennant’s second recorded ascent of Snowdon
1776      Reference to Oxford students planning to ascend Snowdon at night
1776      Anonymous description of the ‘savage grandeur’ of Snowdon
1776      Joseph Cradock (1742-1826) climbed Snowdon
1776      Jabez Maud Fisher, an American Quaker arrived at the base too late to climb Snowdon
1778      John Lloyd of Wigfair and Sir George Shuckburgh recorded the height of Snowdon
1778      John Matthews, a surveyor of Wrexham found the inn at Nantperis full, with Shuckburgh’s party
1779      Anonymous Notes of a tour in an interleaved copy of Wyndham’s Tour
1780      Anonymous poem of a failed attempt
1782      John Lloyd sent plants from Snowdon to Sir Joseph Banks
1784      John Byng (later Viscount Torrington), declined to climb Snowdon
1785      Richard Twinning, accompanied Dr Hughes to the summit
1788      Sir Joseph Banks thanked John Lloyd for the plants from Snowdon he had sent
1789      Charles F Greville (1749-1809) planned to ascend Snowdon
1789      Francis Venables Vernon, a sea officer, climbed Snowdon
1790      The artist, John Webber painted Snowdon
1790      William Sotheby published a poem about Snowdon during an earlier tour of Wales
1791      Sir George Shuckburgh was again surveying Snowdon’s height
1791      Wordsworth climbed Snowdon at night, but might not have reached the summit. Described in The Prelude (1850)
1791      Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822) failed to climb Snowdon
1792      The Rev James Plumptre (1771-1832) was in Nantperis, but did not climb Snowdon
1792      Nicholas Owen (Vicar of Melltyrn) described a night-time ascent in his guide book
1793      Miss Lock published a poem about Snowdon in the Gentleman’s Magazine
1794      Joseph Hucks recorded that his companion Samuel Taylor Coleridge climbed Snowdon
1795      the Duke of Somerset climbed to the summit
1795      Arthur Aikin (1773-1854) ascended at night and measured the temperature on the summit
1796      William Williams, (1774-1839) and Rev. James Burgess (1774-1839) on the summit
1796      J.S. Duncan (of the Ashmolean) and his brother? P.B. Duncan on the summit
1796      Mr M accompanied Mrs Griffiths and Miss Bell attempted an ascent.
1796      Arthur Aikin (1773-1854) was accompanied by Charles Kinder and Charles Rochemont
1797      The Rev. Richard Warner climbed Snowdon from Beddgelert
1797      Wigstead did not attempt an ascent of Snowdon and compared the chances of seeing anything from the summit  with purchasing a lottery ticket.
1797      John Henry Manners, (1778-1857, the Fifth Duke of Rutland) failed to reach the summit
1797      a gentleman and his lady, two youths, the guide, and a servant attempted an ascent in a storm
1797      John Evans (1726-1795) of Llwyn-y-groes produced a map of north Wales
1798      William Bingley (1774-1823) stated that he climbed Snowdon seven times
1798      Right Hon. Lord Bulkeley, Lord Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire saw Snowdon as a symbol of unity against possible French invasion
1798      Elizabeth Smith (1776-1806) climbed to the summit at night with only a guide
1798      Two anonymous men published a detailed account of an ascent
1798      Rev John Evans (1768-1812) described the geology of the mountain in detail
1798      Henry Skrine (1755-1803) made three unsuccessful attempts
1798      Joseph Charles Harford and the Rev. J Poole reached the summit
1799      Sir Robert Kerr Porter (1777-1842) reached the summit in thick mist
1799      William Hutton made two attempts on the summit, the second successful
1797      Catherine Hutton admired Snowdon but could not climb it.
Late 18th century advice for touring Snowdonia

For conventions (dates, use of brackets, etc.,) see methodology

Sir James Bucknall Grimston, (later the Third Viscount Grimston, 1749-1809), toured Parts of England and much of Wales with Thomas de Grey in 1769. Grimston kept a very detailed record of his expenditure.
[Sunday] 1 October (From Tan-y-bwlch)
Rode across a most dreary mountainous and rocky country to Snowdon, which name has been given it for this clear reason, because the snow continues much longer upon its summit than it does on the ground below, so much so that we were told that it was not sometimes free from it, even in July. The height of this mountain may be judged of by the times that we were ascending it which was 2¾ hours. It is computed to be between five and six miles from the roadside to the pinnacle, many parts of which are exceedingly difficult of ascent. We at last arrived at this set among the clouds with the most extreme labour, and by reason of the mist met not with that prospect which might have repaid us for our difficulties. It is said that it is possible in a clear day, which seldom happens except in May and June, to see many parts of the Irish coast, Chester, etc. etc. While we were there it was scarcely possible to see ourselves, though somewhat below the prospect opened very agreeably, and we saw much of the country around. This mountain is in the possession of Mr Aston [Assheton] who lets it out at 3d per acre, the whole at £59 per annum as sheep walks. I must quote our guide for this intelligence. {Pont Aberglaslyn}… From thence we returned to Tan-y-Bwlch at ten o’clock at night without having had any refreshment, except milk, since morning.
Guide from Tan-y-Bwlch to Snowdon £0/1/6 (£0.08)
horses from Tan-y-Bwlch to Snowdon £0/10/0 (£0.50)
Guide up the mountain and refreshments £0/3/0 (£0.15)
Grimston, Sir James Bucknall, A Tour in Wales, 1769, Hertfordshire Record Office D/EV/F 15-19).
Report on the manuscripts of the Earl of Gorhambury, Historic Monuments Commission Report, (HMSO, 1906), pp. 242-283.
Thomas de Grey, [tour of England and Wales], Norfolk Record Office, WLS LXX/2 481×6

The Letters from Snowdon, published anonymously, have long been ascribed to Joseph Cradock, (1742-1826), who published An account of some of the most romantic parts of North Wales, (London: 1777), but this is very unlikely. The second edition of Letters from Snowdon (1777), states that the author was already dead.
I had long a desire of visiting the Welsh Alps, the summit of Snowdon. The curate was so much devoted to me, that I did not employ my rhetoric long, before I prevailed upon him to accompany me in the expedition. We set out from our hermitage, in the month of July; we arrived in the evening at a small thatched hut, at the foot of the mountain, near a lake which they call Llyn Cychwhechlyn [Llyn Cwellyn], which I leave you to pronounce as well as you are able. At this hut we found a poor labouring man, with five or six children, the pictures of health and innocence. We had brought provisions with us for our journey, and we regaled ourselves in this situation, the family partaking of our feast, with more satisfaction and glee, than I have ever found at a nobleman’s sumptuous entertainment.

We were determined to amuse ourselves, as well as we could in this dreary situation. For this purpose we sent for a poor blind harper, and procured a number of blooming country girls to divert us with their music and dancing. There is something very plaintive and affecting in the Welsh music, and the manner of their singing symphonious and responsive to the notes of the harp, renders it exceeding melodious. It gave me infinitely more pleasure to hear this rustic concert, than the finest airs of an Italian opera; and to see these rosy rural nymphs direct their mazy steps, without the needless sumptuous apparel of luxury and pride, than all the ladies at St. James’s, in their artificial beauty and attire.

At the dawn of day, we began our journey up the mountain, which seemed to scale the heavens. I cannot give you a better description of it, than is contained in the following lines of Mr. Pope:
So pleased at first the tow’ring Alps we try,
Mount o’er the vales and seem to tread the sky;
Th’ eternal snows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last.
But those attained, we trembled to survey,
The growing labors of the lengthened way;
The increasing prospect tires our wandring eyes,
Hills peep o’er hills and alps o’er alps arise.
We found a great change in the temperature of the atmosphere, as we ascended the mountain. When we had gone half way up, we found the wind rather high, attended with scudding clouds. But when we arrived at the summit, the air was calm and serene, and seemed much more subtle and rarified, less impregnated with vapors, and more agreeable for respiration.
Hid above the clouds,
Tho’ winds and tempests beat their aged feet;
Their peaceful heads, nor storms, nor tempests know,
But scorn the threatning rack that rolls below.
How shall I describe to you the infinitely extensive and variegated prospects we enjoyed from the summit? lakes, mountains, seas, rivers, plains, woods and islands lay before us, in the greatest diversity. We saw distinctly the north of England, the greatest part of Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire, Ireland, the isle of Man and Scotland. I doubt whether so extensive a circular prospect is to be seen in any part of the terraqueous globe.

As our situation was exalted above the globe, so were our ideas. And the nearer we were to the etherial regions, the more our souls seemed to partake of their purity. Our minds like the serene face of the sky, undisturbed with the storms of the passions became equal and composed. We were inspired with sentiments of commiseration and contempt, in contemplating the vain magnificence of human grandeur; and the pursuits of the world, for a few pieces of ore, which nature prudently concealed in the bowels of these mountains.

O my friend, why should we return to the busy haunt of men? why were we doomed to drag an existence in populous cities and the crouded forum! O that it had been our lot to live among these mountains, unenvied and unknown!

Excuse, my friend, these reveries. I shall endeavor to atone for them, by hastening to a conclusion. The sun had now gained its meridian height, and shot forth its noontide rays with unusual fervor. When we began to descend the hill, we perceived a small murky cloud rise out of the sea. The cloud condensed and increased, until the whole atmosphere became inveloped in darkness, and night seemed to have regained her ebon throne. Neither house nor tree was near to afford us protection, but all was one vast continued waste.

In this situation we could only have recourse to the hospitable shelter of the next impending rock. Here we awaited with fear and impatience, till the storm was spent.
Either tropic now,
‘Gan thunder at both ends of heaven the clouds
From many a horrid rift abortive pour’d
Fierce rain with lightning mix’d, water with fire,
In ruin reconcil’d. Dreadful was the rack,
As earth and sky would mingle.
The thunder reverberated from rock to rock, and the whole artillery of heaven seemed to be at once discharged.
Amid Carnarvon’s mountains rages loud
The repercussive roar. With mighty crush
Into the flashing deep, from the rude rocks
Of Penmaenmawr heap’d hideous to the sky,
Tumble the smitten cliffs, and Snowdon’s heap
Dissolving instant, yields his wintry load.

When the storm was appeased, and the face of heaven had reassumed its wonted serenity, we continued our journey. Pleased, though fatigued, with our excursion, we regained our homely dwelling, from whence I have now the happiness of writing to you.
Anon, Letters from Snowdon: descriptive of a tour through the northern counties of Wales containing the antiquities, history, and state of the country: with the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants. (London: 1770), pp. 55-61; (Dublin: 1770)
Letters from Snowdon: descriptive of a tour through the northern counties of Wales. … The second edition. To which is added, an account of the inns and roads, with directions for travellers. (Dublin 1777).

Letter dated 15 Aug 1770, Holyhead, Anglesey, from Richard Gough (1735-1809) to Mrs Elizabeth Gough, (died 1774)
Describes his ascent of Snowdon. First attempt foiled by mist: put up for the night at a cottage, reached summit at 7 a.m. Found stones on which people carve their names, which they also did. Struck by the view and the precipices.
Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Gough Gen. Top. 40 fols. 43-44
Whittemore, Philip, A very British antiquary: Richard Gough, 1735-1809 (2009)
Richard Gough’s tour of Wales is awaiting transcription
Gough visited north Wales in 1770 (Bodleian, Top gen E26) (to be seen)

Very brief entries of a tour of north Wales – this is all he or she wrote about Snowdon:
‘Attempted to get up Snowdon but did not succeed, lay at Caernarfon.’
‘Went up Snowdon but the mist at the top prevented my seeing any prospect. However, the rocks are very fine and some of the stones very curious. Returned in the evening to Caernarfon.’
Llanberis – only an ale house
Anon, Diary from Pitchford Hall in Shropshire. A Tour through Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire, NLW Ottley (Pitchford Hall) Estate 2, ms 374 (XIX/1), D/1

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (1749-1789) toured his estates in 1771
Paid 2/6d to the guide to Snowdon [no more detail]
Hernon, Paul, Sir Watkin’s Tours. Excursions to France, Italy and north Wales, 1768-1771 (2013)
One of his companions was the artist Paul Sandby

Letter from the Hon. Daines Barrington, F. R. S. to William Heberden, M. D. F. R. S. giving an account of some experiments made in North Wales, to ascertain the different quantities of rain, which fell in the same time, at different heights
Philosophical Transactions, Vol. 61, (1771) pp. 294-297
Arrived at Llanberis and prepared for ascent of Snowdon via Beddgelert or Bettws y Coed
comments on views from Snowdon
list of plants on Snowdon
next day, visited hills on the other side of the vale
sketch of Snowdon
Wynne, Luttrell, diaries, formerly in Cornwall Record Office, Truro, PD466, pp. 1-11

Dr John Lightfoot (1735-1788) had accompanied Thomas Pennant on a tour of Scotland in 1772. In 1773 he toured Wales with Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who had just circumnavigated the globe with James Cook.
It appears that Banks had planned a visit to Wales to sort out his late step-uncle George Banks’s estate which he needed to discuss at Edwinsford, Carmarthenshire. He hoped for a ‘philosophic’ party to go with him including Jesse Ramsden, Andre de Luc, Charles Blagden, John Lightfoot, Charles Greville, William Curtis and Paul Sandby.
Carter, Harold B., Sir Joseph Banks: 1743-1820, (1988), p. 121
Lightfoot and Banks may have planned to follow in the footsteps of Ray’s 1662 tour in reverse but missed out mid-Wales including Cader Idris. They travelled around Wales from late June to mid August starting at Bath, along the south coast to Edwinsford in Carmarthenshire (where Banks had relatives); around Pembrokeshire, then up the boarders, via Hereford to Wrexham and west to Llanberis. Lightfoot kept a journal of the tour which recorded almost nothing but the plants they found and their locations.
They met Mr Holcombe, a Pembrokeshire clergyman and botanist, who was a correspondent of John Cullum and of Lightfoot. A letter from Holcombe to Cullum, 6 June 1775 (Cullum’s letters, vol. 1, no. 128 at Hardwick House, Bury St Edmunds (see Journal of Botany, 1886, p. 22) shows that Holcombe was actively discovering new plants.
They were accompanied in Snowdonia by Rev. Hugh Davies of Beaumaris (author of Welsh Botanology), and Williams
Lightfoot was keen to have a specimen of the Snowdon Lilly (Bulbocodium serotinum [Lloydia alpine] but they were unsuccessful in finding any.
For various reasons the following did not join the party:
Jesse Ramsden (the scientific instrument maker)
Andre deLuc (1727-1817). As will be seen in the letter from Thomas Pennant to Daines Barrington below, Pennant was expecting DeLuc to come to Snowdon to measure its height.
Charles Greville (who had accompanied Paul Sandby, John Warwick Smith and Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn on a tour of north Wales in 1771).  
The surviving copy of an account of the tour, probably by Lightfoot, mentions only Banks, but it seems likely that they were accompanied by Dr Daniel Solander, Charles Blagden and Paul Sandby (the artist). The evidence for this may be found in the following letters partially transcribed below:
Draft of an undated letter from Charles Blagden to Mrs Pritchard Barnwell
Discusses his expedition to climb Mount Snowdon and the views from the summit. Delighted with his travels in Denbighshire.
The Royal Society, GB 117, CB/1/1/195
Letter from Thomas Curtis, Belmont, Bath dated 9 August 1773 to Charles Blagden, Bristol.
Envies Blagden’s going on his expedition to Snowdon with Mr Banks etc, would like to hear particulars of it if Blagden has leisure to write.
The Royal Society, GB 117,  CB/1/3/140
Letter from Thomas Curtis dated c1773 to Charles Blagden, 5 Coney Court, Gray’s Inn, London
Thanks Blagden for his account of Snowdon.
The Royal Society, GB 117, CB/1/3/177
There are copybooks of Blagden’s letters Royal Society CB/2 and at Yale Beinecke Library Osborn fc15, but neither seems to contain any drafts of letters from Blagden to Curtis.
Paul Sandby also travelled with Sir Joseph Banks, the late Dr Solander and Mr Lightfoot upon a tour to the principality …
Monthly Magazine, 1 June 1811, p. 437
Oppe, Paul, [Paul Sandby’s son’s memoir of his father], The Burlington Magazine, vol. 88 [or 80?], (1946), pp. 143-147.
Prints of Sandby’s drawings of places they visited appear in his Views in South Wales (1775) and Views in North Wales (1776), some of which were probably made on other tours.
On the back of a painting of a cottage at Llanberis, Paul Oppé found a note stating that Banks, Lightfoot, the Hon Mr [John] Lloyd and Paul Sandby stayed in the cottage for six days in 1776. It appears that the date was incorrectly transcribed and that it was 1773.
Hughes, Peter, Paul Sandby’s Tour of Wales with Joseph Banks, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 117, no. 868, (1975), pp. 452
Letter from Lightfoot to Banks, 19 June, 1773, Uxbridge
The Duchess of Portland [Lightfoot was her chaplain] {is away, so that I can’t say whether I can} have that singular pleasure (which I ardently wish for) of climbing with you the rocks of Snowdon and Cader Idris.
{Let Mr Ramsden know when you are going and I will arrange whether I can accompany him. If I cannot come, please collect a specimen of Bulbocodium serotinum [Lloydia alpine – the Snowdon Lilly] for me.}
Rev. H. J. Riddelsdell, ‘Lightfoot’s visit to north Wales in 1773’, Journal of Botany, vol. 43, 1905, pp. 290-307 with a few letters from Lightfoot to Banks which refer to the tour.
Neil Chambers, (ed.) Scientific correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765-1820, (2006), vol. 1, p. 48-49
Rauschenberg, Roy, A Letter of Sir Joseph Banks Describing the Life of Daniel Solander. Isis, vol. 55, no. 1, (1964), pp. 62-67. [Solander accompanied Banks to the South Seas (August 1768 – July1771) and to Iceland in 1772, but there is no mention in this obituary about their tour of Wales together.]
2.8.1773 Monday
We ascended to the top of Snowdon and found the following plants {list}. Upon the ledges of the rocks facing the north at Clogwyn y Garnedd near the summit of Snowdon the following {list of plants}. Found {plants} at Ffynin Frech.
5.8.1773 Thursday
Searched Clogwyn du yr Ardhu in company with Mr Williams for the Bulbocodium [The Snowdon Lilly] but in vain, probably it was not at this time in Flower.
Account of tour by John Lightfoot (said to be a transcript by Dr Solander but it might have been by Sigismund Bacstrom – see Carter, Harold B., Sir Joseph Banks: 1743-1820, (1988), p. 121).
‘Journal of a Botanical Excursion in Wales in 1773’ Dept. Botany, British Museum (Natural History), Joseph Banks’ papers.
It was published in full by the Rev. H. J. Riddelsdell, ‘Lightfoot’s visit to north Wales in 1773’, Journal of Botany, vol. 43, 1905, pp. 290-307 with a few letters from Lightfoot to Banks which refer to the tour.
Hughes, Peter, Paul Sandby’s Tour of Wales with Joseph Banks, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 117, no. 868, (1975), pp. 452-455
Jones, Dewi, The Botanists and Guides of Snowdonia, (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 1996), p. 162
Letter from Lightfoot to Banks, 24 August, 1773, Uxbridge
My gratitude will be forever indebted to you for the numberless Pleasures you have treated me with, and the many Advantages I received in your company during our Welch Tour: and yet you still continue to increase the debt by … say I was useful to you. … It was a journey above all others I wished to take … We certainly were most remarkably successful, tho’ we did not find every individual plant we wished; for I believe it may without vanity be said, that few, if any, Botanical Excursions in Great Britain have exceeded our Collection, either in Number or Rarity of Plants or Places.
Rev. H. J. Riddelsdell, ‘Lightfoot’s visit to north Wales in 1773’, Journal of Botany, vol. 43, 1905, pp. 290-307 with a few letters from Lightfoot to Banks which refer to the tour.
Neil Chambers, (ed.) Scientific correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765-1820, (2006), vol. 1, pp. 50-51
Letter from Thomas Pennant, Downing to the Hon. Daines Barrington, 4 July, 1773, forwarded to ?John Lloyd, Gwyder
I am glad to hear that the mountains are to be measured with much accuracy which will settle all our disputes on that I hope. I know de Luc [Jean André de Luc, (1727-1817)] having received civilities from him at Geneva which I shall be glad to return here. If I know their time of being at Snowdon I would try to meet them.
I have had Mr Hugh Davies of Beaumaris with me for a week and like him much.
What is become of Solander?
NLW MS 12440E, f. 64
Jean-André Deluc or de Luc [John Andrew Deluc] (1727-1817) was a Swiss geologist, natural philosopher and meteorologist. He also devised measuring instruments. Deluc dedicated a large part of his activity to perfecting or inventing measuring instruments. He devised a portable barometer for use in geological expeditions.
Geological travels, (London, 1810-1811) 3 vols.: Travels in the north of Europe (vol. 1); Travels in England (vols 2 & 3) [but there are no Welsh places listed in the indexes.]
He was in the team that ascended Mont Buet (3096 m, Alps) for the first recorded time on 20 Sep 1770
For reference to DeLuc see Pennant’s Tour on the Continent, (1765), p. 45

Henry Penruddocke Wyndham published his popular account of a tour of Wales anonymously in 1775 and subsequently under his name. He did not manage to reach the summit of Snowdon.
I was informed by the landlord [of an inn at the base of Penmaenmawr], that he had lately attended an English gentleman, to the summits of Penmaen Mawr, and of Snowdon, in order to take their elevation. The perpendicular height of the first is 1400 feet, and of the latter, something about 1300 yards above the sea level. It may appear extraordinary, that I have as yet taken no notice of the mountains of Plinlimmon or Snowdon; when it must have been seen, that I was at the feet of both: – but in truth, the atmosphere was so constantly obscured, whether from the nature of the mountainous country, or from the general cloudiness of the season, that their upper parts were always hidden from our view. … During our abode amid those superb mountains, neither sun nor stars appeared to our sight for several days; and, wrapped up in an impenetrable mist, we were perpetually enveloped with a twilight obscurity. Our situation was like a scene of enchantment, impressing a superstitious ecstasy on our senses, while we contemplated the sublime operations of nature around us.
Anon, [Henry Penruddocke Wyndham (1736-1819)], A Gentleman’s Tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, made in the months of June and July, 1774, (London, 1775), pp. 152-154
Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke. A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774 and in the months of June, July and August, 1777, (1794)
Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke. A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774. A new edition. To which is added, an account of a journey into Wales, by George Lord Lyttelton. (London, 1781) [no mention of the above]

It has been suggested that Dr Samuel Johnson ascended Snowdon, but this was not the case. The confusion occurs because in 1798 the landlord of the inn at Beddgelert considered himself superior to others because he had conducted ‘The Great Doctor to its highest summit’ who turned out to be the Dean of Christchurch, not Dr Samuel Johnson.  (Cliff, of Worcester], The Cambrian directory, or, cursory sketches of the Welsh territories. (Salisbury, 1800), p. 104)
On 26th August, 1774 Dr Samuel Johnson, aged 65 and Mrs Thrale (Mrs Piozzi) travelled from Caernarfon to Llanberis and visited Dolbadarn Castle: ‘On the side of Snowdon are the remains of a large fort, to which we climbed with great labour. I was breathless and harassed.’  If he found the climb to the castle too arduous, it is likely that he would have got no further up Snowdon than Crwnant. Neither he nor Mrs Thrale described the view of Snowdon, if it was visible.
A Diary of a Journey into North Wales, in the Year 1774, (ed. R. Duppa (1816) (1841?)
Piozzi, Hester, [Mrs Thrale] Journal of a Tour in Wales with Dr Johnson,
Bristow, Adrian, Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale’s Tour in North Wales, 1774 (Wrexham, 1995)
Owen, Meurig, A Grand Tour of North Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2003
Broadey, A.M., Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale, (London, 1910), 155-219

Letter from Rev. Sir John Cullum, Hardwick House, near Bury St Edmunds, 25 Oct. 1774
I had not the good fortune to happen on the Bulbocodium serot. When I paid a visit to Snowdon this summer. … I had the pleasure of residing three days in the Palace of John Close [the inn keeper at Nant Peris], with whom, I believe you are not unacquainted. … I found the Solen Vagina near Abergely in Flintshire
Neil Chambers, (ed.) Scientific correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765-1820, (2006), vol. 1, p. 62

my guide demanded of me half a Guinea for conducting me up Snowdon, and half a crown for every other day’s attendance besides his Victuals, and his Horse Hire.
[Cullum visited John Morgan, a cleric of Llanberis and a herbalist, who had a small library including Culpeper’s Complete Herbal (1653)]
Journal of a Tour by Rev Sir John Cullum through Several Counties of England and Part of North Wales (3 volumes), Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk Record Office, E2/44/2.1-2.3, p. 191

Letter dated 7 September 1774 from Daines Barrington, Dolgelly to Charles Blagden, Grays Inn, London
In a postcript mentions that he saw Lloyd at Caernarfon setting out with his theodolite to measure the height of Snowdon.
The Royal Society, GB 117, CB/1/1/201
Lloyd was probably John Lloyd of Wigfair (1749-1815),  who accompanied Sir George Shuckburgh up Snowdon in 1778 to measure its height. There are letters between John Lloyd and Dained Barrington below.

This might have been written by Elizabeth Cust who married Philip Yorke of Erddig (1743-1804). The author wrote ‘Our party consists of Miss P Myddleton, my sister, Mr ?P.  Yorke and myself’ and there is also mention of the Fitzhughs?
The evening being very fine I grew very impatient to fix upon the manner and time to ascend Snowdon. I was desirous to set out at twelve o’clock at night but it determined to take the more prudent way and not go till eight in the morning [.] before we could get our guide and horses ready it was half past nine it was exceeding fine morning and we set off in high spirits. The finest way to ascend Snowdon is down by the Lake of Llanberis … but we were told it was so much more difficult and a longer way to walk that we were advised to give it up and go by Betws Garmon … The road is very pleasant and romantic …
We arrived at Moorfedon? [Bryn Fedw] (The Shepherd’s House) a little before Twelve. This is at the foot of the hill. Set off at half-past twelve, left our horses at the first pinfold … the way soon became very rocky the path winding about … in parts we crossed shere [sic] rock for several yards together and many loose stones which hurt my feet so much, every step ???? ???? The steepness very great [,] sometimes we had the comfort to have some grass [.] it was a very laborious undertaking and the minute I got to the hill was I think as happy as when [some words crossed out]. It was the most glorious day I ever spent and as my old friend Mr Lloyd of Tyddan Sais? said? in the mind I’m now in [,] should I ever have the happiness to come again to Caernarfon and the weather very fine, I should certainly attempt it again. It was the ???? ????? ???? The Scene was grand and sublime beyond imagination [.] The distant scene vast country which  surrounded Wilsons view of Snowdon in Westerly.
As I have described the [sic] so I ought ?? pleasure but it is I think beyond the art of pen and pencil I can only say.
Anon, NLW MS 9279A, ff. 19-21

Letter from Daines Barrington to John Lloyd of Wigfair, (1749-1815), dated Caernarfon 22.8.[1775]
I have made enquiries with regard to Col. Roy and can pick up no other particulars but that he left this place last week after having been at the top of Snowdon and sprained his leg.
NLW MS 12416D, Letter 43,

Letter from Daines Barrington to John Lloyd of Wigfair, (1749-1815), dated Beckett 20.9.1775
I have just received a letter from Dr Blagden who informs me that Col. Roy supposes Snowdon to be 3568 feet above the high-water mark … at Caernarfon. Which is 152 feet lower than the height given to the Mountain in the Phil Transactions. His Barometrical and Trigonometrical observations agreed very well having made the same equation for heat as he did last year in Scotland.
NLW MS 12416D, Letter 36,

William Roy carried out experiments to determine accurate methods of calculating the height of Mountains using a barometer.
I shall annex to this paper, a plan of the triangles and details of the operations for obtaining the height of Snowdon; because that mountain, at the same time that it is the highest I have measured, is, from its situation, more likely to be visited, and to have experiments repeated upon it, than the remote hills of the north.
It was partly with the view of obtaining [maximum and minimum temperatures for which the scale operated?] that I went in July 1775, to Snowdon. On this expedition Captain Calderwood accompanied me, and lend [sic] me his assistance in the operations for determining the geometrical height of that remarkable mountain. At that particular period, the weather proved unfavourable for obtaining hot barometrical observations; but in other respects, they were very satisfactory, as being in general consistent among themselves, and agreeing sufficiently near with those of the preceeding year in Scotland; at the same time they were made on a height … greater than any other hitherto measured, with equal care, in Britain. During the summer of 1776, Dr Lind obtained some more hot observations on Arthur’s seat. [presumably Edinburgh, not Cader Idris].
References to inaccurate readings at Snowdon
Roy, William, Experiments and observations made in Britain, in order to obtain a rule for measuring heights with the barometer. By Colonel William Roy, F.R.S. in order to obtain a rule for measuring heights with the barometer.
Read at the Royal Society, 12th and 19th June and 6th and 13th November 1777 (London, MDCCLXXVIII. [1778])
Includes Plan of the triangles made use of for obtaining geographical distance and altitude of Snowdon and Moel Eilio, with respect to the sea at Caernarvon, August 1775 basire sculpt., Scale [1:48,000]. 1″ = 4,000 feet on scale bar. London 1777
Extracted from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 67, for the year 1777, part 2, (1778), pp. 653-788

Thomas Pennant’s second recorded ascent of Snowdon took place on 15th August 1776.  This and his 1752 ascent were recorded together in his The Journey to Snowdon, (1781) and have sometimes, wrongly, thought to have been the description of only one ascent.
Pennant is sometimes described as the father of Welsh tourists, he published several much-quoted works on north Wales but he was different to most of his followers in that he knew the countryside and its owners well, and often went off the main roads onto tracks which few of his readers followed and he was accompanied by John Lloyd, a Welsh-speaking friend. His published works are packed full of facts on local and family history and as a result are rather dry. He, like some other antiquaries, wasted few words on descriptions of landscapes. He described his ascent of Glyder Fawr accurately and in some detail.
‘This book contains a journey from my own house to the summit of Snowdon, and takes in almost the whole of our Alpine tract. (p. 1, ‘Advertisement’)
{The route to Snowdon}
… after refreshing myself with a night’s rest at Mr. Close’s, agent to the mines in Llanberris, early in the morning begin our ascent to the highest peak of Snowdon, under the guidance of Hugh Shone, whom I beg leave to recommend as a most able conductor. Keep upon the side of the lake for a considerable way; then turn to the left, and see, not far from the road, Caunant Mawr, a noble cataract, precipitating over two vast rocks into two most horrible chasms. Near this place were found several beads; some of glass, and one of jet …
Ascend, above Cwm Brwynog, a very deep bottom, fertile in Gwair y Rhosydd, which is composed chiefly of different kinds of rushes, … intermixed with few kinds of grass.
In the course of our ascent, saw on the left, above the Cwm, Moel y Cynhorion, or The Hill of Council. Pass through Bwlch y Maes-cwm, and skirt the side of Snowdon, till we reach Bwlch y Cwm Brwynog, where the ascent becomes very difficult, by reason of its vast steepness. People here usually quit their horses. We began a toilsome march, clambering among the rocks. On the left were the precipices over Cwm Brwynog, with Llyn du’r Arddu at their foot. On our right were those over the small lakes Llyn Glâs, Llyn y-Nadroedd, and Llyn Coch. The last is the highest on this side of the mountain; and on whose margins, we were told, that, in fairy days, those diminutive gentry kept their revels. This space between precipice and precipice, forms a short, and no very agreeable isthmus, till we reached a verdant expanse, which gave us some respite, before we labored up another series of broken crags: after these, is a second smooth tract, which reaches almost to the summit, which, by way of pre-eminence, is styled Y Wyddfa, or The Conspicuous. It rises almost to a point, or, at best, there is but room for a circular wall of loose stones, within which travellers usually take their repast.
The mountain from hence seems propped by four vast buttresses; between which are four deep Cwms, or hollows: each, excepting one, had one or more lakes, lodged in its distant bottom. The nearest was Ffynnon Lâs, or The Green Well, lying immediately below us. One of the company had the curiosity to descend a very bad way to a jutting rock, that impended over the monstrous precipice; and he seemed like Mercury ready to take his flight from the summit of Atlas. The waters of Ffynnon Lâs, from this height, appeared black and unfathomable, and the edges quite green. From thence is a succession of bottoms, surrounded by the most lofty and rugged hills, the greatest part of whose sides are quite mural, and form the most magnificent amphitheatre in nature. The Wyddfa is on one side; Crib y Distill, with its serrated tops, on another; Crib Coch, a ridge of fiery redness, appears beneath the preceding; and opposite to it is the boundary called the Lliwedd. Another very singular support to this mountain is Y Clawdd Coch, rising into a sharp ridge, so narrow, as not to afford breadth even for a path.
The view from this exalted situation is unbounded. In a former tour [note: August 25th, Old Style) [see above, 1752]
On this day [note: August 15th, New Style], the sky was obscured very soon after I got up. A vast mist enveloped the whole circuit of the mountain. The prospect down was horrible. It gave an idea of numbers of abysses, concealed by a thick smoke, furiously circulating around us. Very often a gust of wind formed an opening in the clouds, which gave a fine and distinct vista of lake and valley. Sometimes they opened only in one place; at others, in many at once, exhibiting a most strange and perplexing sight of water, fields, rocks, or chasms, in fifty different places. They then closed at once, and left us involved in darkness: in a small space, they would separate again, and fly in wild eddies round the middle of the mountains, and expose, in parts, both tops and bases clear to our view. We descended from this various scene with great reluctance; but before we reached our horses, a thunder storm overtook us. Its rolling among the mountains was inexpressibly awful: the rain uncommonly heavy. We re-mounted our horses, and gained the bottom with great hazard. The little rills, which on our ascent trickled along the gullies on the sides of the mountain, were now swelled into torrents; and we and our steeds passed with the utmost risque of being swept away by these sudden waters. At length we arrived safe, yet sufficiently wet and weary, to our former quarters.
It is very rare that the traveller gets a proper day to ascend the hill; for it often appears clear, but by the evident attraction of the clouds by this lofty mountain, it becomes suddenly and unexpectedly enveloped in mist, when the clouds have just before appeared very remote, and at great heights. At times, I have observed them lower to half their height, and notwithstanding they had been dispersed to the right and to the left, yet they have met from both sides, and united to involve the summit in one great obscurity. …
The reports of the height of this noted hill have been very differently given. A Mr. Caswell, who was employed by Mr. Adams, in 1682, in a survey of Wales, measured it by instruments made by the directions of Mr. Flamstead; and asserts its height to have been twelve hundred and forty yards [3720 ft.]: but for the honor of our mountain I am sorry to say, that I must give greater credit to the experiments made of late years, which have sunk it to one thousand one hundred and eighty-nine [1189] yards and one foot, [3568 ft.] reckoning from the quay at Caernarvon to the highest peak.
{Geology, Natural History and history of ownership as a Royal forest.}
I shall take my leave of Snowdonia, with some remarks on the name, and the weather. The first is a literal translation of the antient appellation, Creigie’r Eira, The Snowy Mountains, from the frequency of snow upon them. …
Some have supposed it to be taken from Creigiau’r Eryri, or The Eagle Rocks; but that bird appears very seldom among them. The other circumstance is constant: not that it is to be imagined that they are covered with snow in some part or other the whole year, as has been idly fabled; there being frequently whole weeks, even in winter, in which they are totally free.
The earliest appearance of snow, is commonly between the middle of October, and the beginning of November: the falls which happen then, are usually washed away with the rains, and the hills remain clear till Christmas. Between that time and the end of January, the greatest falls happen; which are succeeded by others, about the latter end of April, or beginning of May, which remain in certain places till the middle of June, in which month it has been seen of the depth of some feet. It has even happened, that the greatest fall has been in April, or beginning of May; and that never fails happening, when the preceding winter has had the smallest falls. But the fable of Giraldus, concerning the continuance of snow the whole year, is totally to be exploded.
Pennant, Thomas, The Journey to Snowdon, (1781), vol. 2, pp. 159-171.
Other editions with some corrections were published in 1783 and 1784.
An edition of the complete works was published by his son: Tours in Wales, vol. 2, (1810), pp. 332-346.
John Rhys’ published an edition of all three Tours of Wales in 1883 with additional notes including his identification and spelling of places mentioned in the text.
Tours in Wales by Thomas Pennant, Esq; With Notes, Preface, and Copious Index by the Editor, John Rhys, M.A. Professor of Celtic in The University of Oxford, vol. 2, pp. 323-337
A Welsh edition was published at about the same time:
Hynafiaethau Cymreig : teithiau yn Nghymru, sef cyfieithiad o’r “Tours in Wales.” (Caernarfon : H. Humphreys, [1883?])
There is a two-page discussion relating to both Pennant’s ascents in R. Paul Evans, ‘Thomas Pennant’s Writings on North Wales’, MA thesis, University of Wales, Swansea, 1985
Much of Pennant’s accounts of his ascents were published in the following:
Anon, A Short Account of Caernarvon, and Bedd-Kill-Hart, of Beddgelert, Etc., (Carnarvon: T Roberts, 1806);
Anon, The Cambrian Tourist, Guide and Companion (c. 1825), pp. 53-55

Some Gentlemen (Oxonians) came to inn where I was being on a tour thro’ Wales. We supped together and about 11 o’clock they set off for Snowdon in order to be on the top of the mountain before the sun rose. For my part, I was satisfied with seeing the eclipse of the moon which shed her ???????? light through the chinks of old Edward’s castle and gave a wonderful solemnity to the scene.
Anon, [A Liverpool merchant?], Tour in the Summer 1776, through Wales, NLW MS2862A, f. 27r

Snowdon. I will not attempt to describe this scene of savage grandeur, in all its wild variety of rock, and waterfall, or large lakes and vast mountains. To do justice to the description would require the bold imagination of Milton, or the pencil of Salvator Rosa. I may venture to say that the country about Snowdon seems to have been designed as the proper citadel, and by nature as the last retreat of savage Freedom and that God, in “the almighty power of his wrath” had raised up these mountains, to awe an offending world, by the stupendousness of his works.
[He didn’t climb Snowdon because of mist.]
Anon, Tour of north Wales in the form of four letters written from Caernarfon, 1776, NLW MS 16351C, pp. 50-51, letter 3 from Denbigh 25.9.1776

I passed my evening at a very good inn at Carnarvon, and having procured an intelligent Guide returned early next morning through Bettws to the foot Snowdon. Having left my horses at a small hut, and hired a mountaineer to carry some cordials and provisions, with a spiked stick, but imprudently without nails in my shoes, about ten o’clock I began to ascend the mountain. – The two first miles were rather boggy and disagreeable, but when the prospect opened, I soon forgot all difficulties; – in the course of the two last I passed by six precipices, which I believe were very formidable, but as I was near the brink, and the wind very high, I did not venture to examine too narrowly. On the summit, which is a plain about six yards in circumference the air was perfectly mild and serene, and I could with pleasure contemplate the amazing map that was unfolded to my view. – From hence may be distinctly seen, Wicklow Hills in Ireland, the Isle of Man, Cumberland, Lancashire, Cheshire, Shropshire, and part of Scotland; – all the counties of North Wales, the Isle of Anglesey; – rivers, plains, wood rocks, and mountains, six and twenty lakes, and two seas; – it is doubted whether there is another circular prospect so extensive in any part of the terraqueous globe. – Who could take such a Survey, without perceiving his Spirits elevated in some proportion to the Height? – Who could behold so bountiful a Display of Nature without Wonder and Ecstacy? – Who but must feel even a Degree of Pride from having gained an eminence, from which he could with ease overlook the Nest of the Eagle, and the Nest of the Hawk? But as the level walks of Life are best suited to the generality of Mankind, it became necessary to consider that this was no spot where I could properly make any lasting Abode, and that the Return would be attended with a least as much difficulty as the Ascent.
{He failed to find the Glyder, described in Gibson’s edition of Camden.}
Pass of Aberglaslyn – the last approach to the mansion of Pluto through the regions of Despair
Cradock, Joseph, (1742-1826), An account of some of the most romantic parts of North Wales, (London : 1777), pp. 52-56
This description of Snowdon was reprinted in:
Anon, A Collection of Welch Tours; or, a Display of the beauties of Wales; selected principally from celebrated histories and popular tours, with occasional remarks. (1797), pp. 30-33
Carr, John, The Stranger in Ireland or, a Tour in the Southern and Western Parts of that Country, in the Year 1805. (1806), pp. 15-16, which was copied by Stringer, Thomas, Irish Extracts … The European Magazine, and London Review, Volume 70, November, 1816, pp. 393-394

18.7.1776 5th day [Thursday]
We have now a dark, gloomy and dismal road in a melancholy Valley … to a little village [Beddgelert?]
{10 miles to Caernarfon}, [Beddgelert to Caernarfon is 13 standard miles]
{Passed Snowdon – too late to climb it.}
Fisher, Jabez Maud, An American Quaker in the British Isles : the travel journals of Jabez Maud Fisher, 1775-1779, edited by Kenneth Morgan (1992)

24th July
Letter from John Lloyd, at the Temple, London, to his mother.
I must be at Chester on the 3rd August to meet Sir George Shuckburgh but I propose coming to Hafodûnos for one night before in order to prepare for our Snowdon Expedition, for the season is so far advanced, that I fear we run the risk of bad weather, I therefore think we shall not stay at Hafodûnos more than two nights before we set out for Snowdon but Sr G. S. returns with me. I wish if you can send to Hugh Shone to come over, you would, with Llanberis Horse to carry our instruments. I should be glad Davy & Dobbin were taken up & shod.
NLW ms 12423, (Wigfair 23), letters from John Lloyd, Wigfair, (1749-1815), no. 18

Sighting made with a theodolite from various stations including Snowdon 1778-1791. It seems very likely that this was compiled by John Lloyd (1749-1815), Wigfair, and Sir George Shuckburgh when they surveyed Snowdon and other summits in August, 1778. Other records are dated 1791 (when Shuckburgh was again measuring the height of Snowdon) and 1793.
Theodolite readings; books at Wigfair, etc.,
A notebook containing the results of readings made with a theodolite from various points in North Wales including Clogwyn y Garnedd, Carn Cwn [sic] Gafr, the tower of the cathedral church at St. Asaph, Moelfra Ucha and Moelfodiar, 1778-1793; measurements, from stage to stage, of the distances between Mold and Denbigh (by six different routes), Mold and Chester, Denbigh and Northop, Denbigh and St. Asaph (by two different routes), St. Asaph and Rudland, Rhydland and Vorryd, Denbigh Cross and Tal y Cafn (by two different routes), Denbigh Cross and Conway, and Wrexham and Ruthyn; a list of ‘the Stations and the Principal objects made use of in the prosecution of the Survey of North Wales and a part of the adjoining Counties’; and a ‘Catalog of Books at Wickwer’ containing the titles, etc., of forty-one works published between 1480 and 1639
Station Snowdon on Clogwyn y Garnedd with the Theodolite, & Sir George Shuckburg’s Equatorial. His Angles marked G. S.,
Angles to various points including Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, (17 in all)
The first is Carn Cwn Gafr 0000’
from Carn Cwn Gafr to Snowdon Peak 0000
and many other readings
Theodolite from Moelfra Ucha in degrees, minutes and seconds
another page
Theodolite from Moel???????
another page
a list of the Stations and the Principal objects made use of in the prosecution of the Survey of North Wales and a part of the adjoining Counties’ [no date]
Places in Cards, Mer, Caern, Denbs, Anglesey, Flints, Cheshire
Includes Plinlimmon Cader Idris, Snowdon,
and Signal staffs at Abergelly, Holyhead, Llandonna,
NLW MS 12461A

J.M., [John Matthews] a surveyor of Wrexham, Chester and later of Aberystwyth, toured Wales on horseback with a friend named Totly or Jolly, beginning at Chester on 14th July, (the only date in the journal) following a route sketched out by Mr Pennant [presumably Thomas Pennant]. Towards the end of the tour they stayed with Mr Panton at Plasgwyn on Anglesey for nearly a week. They made attempts to ascend Snowdon, the first possibly directly from Nantperis – which, if Matthews had written in more detail, might have been the earliest recorded rock-climb in Snowdonia. The account was written in a notebook and was addressed to an un-named friend.

We travelled to this place [Nantperis] our track lying in the midst of of the most tremendous mountains, the rocks of which hung over the road, as if threatening destruction to presumptious mortal. Being got to Nantberris [Nantperis] which is immediately situated at the foot of SNOWDON, we enquired  immediately for the house of Mr John Close, miner, to whom we were particularly recommended and were much disappointed at finding his Houses pre-engaged by two gentlemen who were come to ascertain the altitude of Snowdon. These two persons were Sir George Shuckburgh [Sir George Augustus William Shuckburgh-Evelyn, 6th Baronet (1751-1804), English politician, mathematician and astronomer] and Mr J Lloyd of Auerdy? Y wnis.

[This might have been a local guide, but he did use the title ‘Mr’ and a surveying book from the Wigfair collection, (where John Lloyd, 1749 – 1815) lived, NLW MS 12461A, includes many surveying records dated 1778]

They informed us they had ascertained its altitude the morning before, and assured us from the most accurate observation as well as the most exact calculation, they computed its Altitude at 3,500 feet. Taking this level from the sea.

Thus disappointed in meeting with the comfortable accommodation we had flattered ourselves with, we we [sic] were forced to put up with the accommodations the public house afforded, and soon procured a guide to conduct us up Snowdon as they are always ready upon the spot. We had the greatest encouragement to our expedition as Sir George Shuckburgh informed us, the Barometer had risen considerably. About eight o’clock we lay down having ordered our servants, by the direction of the Guide, to call us at one [in the morning].

They did so, the morning appeared perfectly calm and serene, the clouds high, and altogether seemed to bespeak a favourable morning for our expedition. We accordingly set out in high spirits anticipating our satisfaction, to ascend the first eminence which is 1100 feet and its being nearly perpendicular, rendered it extremely harassing; we climbed from Rock to Rock – in danger of slipping every moment, we however at last surmounted this first difficulty and to our great disappointment were informed, it would be impactable and ???? next to madness, to attempt, proceeding any further. Snowdon being quite obscured, and cloud clapt, and the greatest fog I ever beheld hanging half way at least, down the summit. I never, I can assure you, My Dr [dear] Friend, felt so sensible a mortification in being obliged to relinquish an undertaking in which I had promised myself the highest pleasure and satisfaction. Having descended with no less difficulty and you may conceive in not half so good spirits (as this was our chief object), we ordered our horses, and about eight o’clock, got to Caernarfon.

Could just see Snowdon from Plasgwyn {where they stayed a week, and they decided to make a second attempt to climb Snowdon}. ‘This made us leave Mr Panton’s much sooner than we intended.’

{went to Bettws y Coed and left at 2 am with a guide and horses, and reached the summit between 4 and 5 am and had magnificent views.}

J.M., [John Matthews]  ‘Tour through N. Wales in the Year 1778’, Central Library, Cardiff, MS 1.549, pp. 26-28, 47-49


This is one of several accounts of tours which were written on blank pages bound between the printed pages of Wyndham’s tour of 1774

From Caernarfon we took advantage of the fine morning to set off for Snowdon. We mounted our horses early and a Goat track of a road … brought us … to the little village of Llanberis. … Leaving our horses at Llanberis we took a guide and climbed the mountain [Snowdon] … The first Ascent (the perpendicular height of which cannot be less, I think, than 10 or 12000 feet), is almost perpendicularly steep, up rocks horrible to look at, and to a stranger would appear next to impossible to climb; indeed our guide told us that many people came there, and went up, some a quarter, some half of the way, and deterred either through fear or fatigue from perusing their journey, returned: but having had pretty good practice at climbing since I had been in Wales I persisted in the attempt and in about one hour, not without much labour and difficulty, gained the top of the precipice. We now had got over the worst part of the journey, the rest being a more gradual ascent, the some of it extremely steep and all green Turf till we arrived very near the Top, when climbing a few more rocks, in another hour we attained the very summit of the peak. But how shall I describe the wonderous view now before our eyes! I want words to relate the many horrid precipices we passed by in our ascent, and now saw on every side, dark, craggy, fearful, deep, and of every form that the most capricious fancy can imagine; the black and deep pools in every hollow of the Mountains beneath, sources of little rivers below; the vast extent of sight, to the North and West unbounded; and the heaps of mountains, under our feet, and to the South and East; thrown as it were by the undistinguishing hand of chaos in unform’d Masses one upon the other – However, in plain words, being very fortunate in a good Day for the purpose, a North wind having brushed the sky free from clouds, notwithstanding the Horizon was thick and hazy, particularly to the westward, we looked all over the vale of Caernarfon and flat isle of Anglesey; saw to the south Caer Idris [Cader Idris] Mountain beyond Dolgellau, and had it been very clear we were told St David’s head, the western extremity of Pembrokeshire, was visible; to the North-West, the high coast of Ireland; the Isle of Man very plain; and high mountains to the North which must be in Cumberland, or in Scotland, for Scotland is certainly sometimes to be discovered from hence. … But we could not stay long here, it was so extremely cold, and that is not to be wondered at, from its great height, and here the snow lies very long, even after the beginning of summer but we passed a spring on our way down the water of which is said to be heavier than common water and never freezes in the coldest winter, but is then warm: it was now very cold, and had no particular taste … Our descent was much quicker, tho down the precipice much more dangerous, than the ascent, and one hour brought us again safe down to the bottom.

Anon, Notes of a tour in an interleaved copy of Wyndham’s Tour, 1774, NLW MS6747 B, opp. pp. 153-155 [dated from an itinerary at the end]

1780 (about)
A poem about a plan to climb Snowdon which was prevented by bad weather

To Snowdon thence we took our destin’d way
Dark grew the day with clouds, & drizly rain –
When at the mountain’s foot a cot we saw,
And Ent’ring shelter craved, the dwelling rude,
And rude the tenants – on their feet – I ween,
No ?hogen – oaten cake they brought & ale
And turf ill-scented smok’d upon the hearth
In vain we hoped serener skies, in vain
Wish’d to decry from Snowdon’s lofty brow
The wide-spread sea beneath, & varied land.
This was the scene to crown our Cambrian tour
In purpos’d Hope – but oft man’s hopes are dews
Before the blazing sun of Providence …
Anon, An Epistle to E Winnington Esq., when at Rome describing a journey of two days into North Wales in a commonplace book of poetry, NLW add ms. 277, p. 140

1782, 30th Jone
Letter from John Lloyd, Wickiver [Wigfair] to Sir Joseph Banks,
… I am just returned from Snowden, I have sent a Box by the Shrewsbury Coach which will arrive at the Golden X. on Tuesday Even: or Wednesday Morn: it contains {various plants} … I searched very narrowly for Bulbocoduim, in the Place I found it before, but in vain, tho’ I really think I saw a good deal in bloom, thro’ my telescope, upon a rock above the old place, but I could not get up it , as I was quite alone neither could I go to Llanberis for help as I was obliged to return to Hafodunos that night. … There is a new Turnpike road made from Salop, thro’ Llanrwst to Conwy and a coach goes thro three times a week {so I can send more plants if you need them}. I found two very pretty Insects of the Lady Coccinella Tribe I believe, upon the summit of Crib ŷ Ddescil but unfortunately I fell down and my box rolled down the Precipice, so that I never shall see it again.
Neil Chambers, (ed.)Scientific correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765-1820 (London, 2006), Vol. 1, pp. 335-336

The rather fussy John Byng had unexplained reasons for not ascending Snowdon, so stayed in bed until 10 am while his companion made the effort.
‘Mr P. had gone, some hours before, to mount Snowdon Hill; to which practices (for former reasons) I had declined accompanying. His old guide Robin Edwards went with him, being as equal to that business as any other man and doing it for a fourth part of what a Caernarfon guide demanded. … Mr P came back at 3 o’clock after having scaled the summit of Snowdon and he will hereafter have the satisfaction of saying he was there, but not that he could see anything at the top but his guide; so rare is it to have a clear view from such amazing heights.
Byng, John, (later Viscount Torrington), A Tour to North Wales, Cardiff Central Library, MS 3.235, (2 volumes), f. 4
Andrews, C Bruyn, (Editor). The Torrington diaries: Containing the tours through England and Wales of the Hon. John Byng between the years 1781 and 1794, (1934-1938), vol. I, p. 164

Richard Twinning, accompanied by Dr Hughes toured north Wales with the declared intention that ‘Snowdon is our grand object.’
[Carnarvon] As soon as we had breakfasted we went on horseback to Llanberis Lake; it lies at the foot of Snowdon. Mr. Hughes, a clergyman, who lives at Carnarvon, accompanied us. The approach to mountains is almost always fine; the approach to such mountains as Snowdon is specially so. We got into a curious boat, and were rowed by a more curious boatman to the end of the lake. At the end of this lake is a second, and upon a projecting hill, which parts them, are the ruins of an old castle. This is the view of Snowdon which Wilson has taken, and it is sublime indeed. More wild scenery I have never beheld. We saw goats in abundance, and we exchanged a mutual stare. [returned to Caernarfon]

[next day] … we proceeded upon hired horses under the guidance of a valet de place, or, in plain English, a Welsh guide, towards Snowdon. We travelled about eight or nine miles upon the Beddgelert road. It was not new to me, but it was still entertaining; and we had the satisfaction of seeing, as we approached the monster, that his head was unencumbered with clouds. At the lake [Cwellyn] we dismissed our horses and our Carnarvon guide, sending them on to wait for us at Beddgelert, and with a new Snowdon guide we began the formidable ascent. It was a hot day, but I am, you know, patient of heat. We made frequent pauses in order to catch both breath and prospects, and at each pause we were sure of an addition to our prospects. Anglesea and the promontory of the Great Orme’s Head by degrees opened themselves to our view, till at length we saw every part of them. Our sea prospect became more and more extensive; and those mountains in the neighbourhood of Snowdon, and which appeared, when we were in the plain, as formidable rivals to it, were now become, to use the prophetic phrase of our guide, ‘mere beehives.’ Snowdon is rich in lakes. They are of different sizes, different forms, and of different heights. Some extend, like rivers in the valley, and some appear above half-way up the mountain. At one time I saw eight of them. Near the summit is a spring; more pure water cannot surely be found. It was as clear as crystal and as cold as ice; and, notwithstanding the cautions which had often been urged to me in the world beneath, I ventured to fall prostrate and to take a refreshing draught. The genius of the mountain protected me. This spring is not above ten minutes’ walk from the summit; but e’er we had performed half this journey we saw a small cloud rising as it were out of the sea. It was in itself a noble sight. It increased in size and came moving majestically towards us; but it evidently portended the exclusion of all other objects. Nor was it long before it arrived, bringing with it to us, who had so lately been in a state of dissoluble heat, the chill of December. We put on our great-coats and sheltered ourselves, as well as we could, behind some stones which were piled up on the very summit of the mountain. This cloud did not, like that one which overtook me at Plinlimmon, drench me with its waters, but it was rather like iced smoke. Sometimes it completely excluded every object; at others it let in upon us for a few moments the lakes and the valley which surrounds the mountain. We waited about half-an-hour; but as the clouds were evidently disposed to collect more abundantly, rather than to disperse, we gave up the point. We had contrived to be amused and merry, but it was impossible not to be bitter cold. That we might see as much of Snowdon as possible we had stipulated with our guide that he should take us down on the Beddgelert side. He had, indeed, told us that it was not a very good way; but he got us upon the very ridge of the mountain, with a most horrid precipice on each side, before he told us that he had not been that way these forty years. The least slip, the least failure of the unequal ground on which we trod, must have been fatal. All beneath was perdition. Hughes, who followed me, exclaimed, as we were in the midst of the Pass, that he could plainly perceive by the hunch on my back that I was thinking of my wife and children. I believe he was right. Hughes, who is mountain-bred, declared that it was like walking upon the edge of an upright pewter plate. The rest of the descent, though often steep and jarring to the frame, was not perilous. We found, however, that we had undertaken a much longer walk than we were aware of, and that Beddgelert was a long way even from the bottom of the mountain. It was in vain to retract, and so we e’en accinged ourselves to the labour; and after a mountainous walk of six hours we arrived, with appetites which were far less satisfied than our limbs, at the humble inn of Beddgelert.

Twinning, Richard, (ed), Selections from papers of the Twining family : a sequel to ‘The recreations and studies of a country clergyman of the 18th century’, the Rev. Thomas Twining, sometime Rector of St. Mary’s, Colchester (1887), pp. 114, 124-126

Letter from Sir Joseph Banks to John Lloyd [Wigfair], Soho Square, 24 May, 1788
I received from you a box of Plants of Snowdon most admirably collected and preserved …
I think you were wrong in Leaving the Plants of Anthericum serotinum other botanists will Most Certainly take them for the matter of the species being Extinguished I have no fear of it many are the parts of that hill I have no [doubt] where it grows tho you do not know of it.
A Gentleman passed me in Oxford this week in his post chaise going to Snowdon for the sole purpose of Gathering plants and alone he will most surely have them all if a guide can be found who knows them so take your leave of what you have left.
NLW MS 12415C, letter 16
Neil Chambers, (ed.) Scientific correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765-1820 (London, 2006), Vol. 3, pp. 399-300

Charles F Greville (1749-1809) wrote to John Lloyd of Hafod Unos declaring his intention to climb both Snowdon and Cader Idris, but no more details about his ascent of Snowdon are known.
We came into Wales by Oswestry, Llangollen, went to Bala and back to Denbigh, Holywell, Anglesey through Conwy … I expect much pleasure tomorrow on Snowdon and I proceed as fast as I can to Cadair Idris and Aberystwyth and Pembroke.
Letter to John Lloyd of Hafod Unos (and Wigfair), Denbigh from C. F. Greville, Carnarvon, 1789, NLW MS 12419D (Wigfair 19), letter 12
Presumably the father of Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville (1794-1865) the English diarist.

1789 / 1790
I returned towards Snowden, and from its summit beheld an extensive Prospect bounded to the westward by the mountains of Wicklow and Wexford, rising from the horizon, 80 miles distant, across the Irish channel. The island of Anglesea appears almost underneath, and seems by its low situation silently to pay homage to the height of Snowdon, where formerly the armies of the Welsh princes often encamped, and with the spirit of the natives, contributed by its advantageous situation to protract that conquest, which the superiour numbers of the English with difficulty effecated. The top of Snowden is covered with snow in the middle of July and when the wind blows from the eastward, sweeps Anglesea with a keen cutting breeze.
Vernon, Francis Venables, Voyages and travels of a sea officer (1792), p. 285

1790, 26-28 November
Letter from John Lloyd, Wigfair, Denbigh, to Sir Joseph Banks,
My friend Griffiths, has spent some time this autumn at Llanberis, and traversed every part with Brewer’s Journal in his hand. He has found every plant mentioned by the old botanist in the very places of their habitat as described by them, and consequently has recovered the names of places that had been changed since their time or entirely lost of forgot. … The Bulbocodium blossomed in Griffith’s Garden last month … he found it at Trigoylchon (Trig-y-fylchan) as well as in two other places.
Neil Chambers, (ed.) Scientific correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765-1820 (London, 2006), Vol. 4, pp. 19-20
Extracts from the Literary and Scientific Correspondence of Richard Richardson M.D., F.R.S. of Bierly, Yorkshire, edited by Dawson Turner, (1835), p. vi, note

‘                          Thus ardent I behold
Thee, Snowdon: King of Cambrian mountains, hail!
Tremendous Snowdon! while I gradual climb
Thy craggy heights, though intermingled clouds,
Various of watery grey, and sable hue,
Obscure the uncertain prospect, from thy brow
His wildest views the mountain-genius flings;
Now high and swift flits the thin rack along,
Skirted with rainbow dyes; now deep below,
While the fierce sun strikes the illumined top,
Slow sails the gloomy storm, and all beneath,
By vaporous exhalation hid, lies lost
In darkness; save at once where drifted mists,
Cut by strong gusts of eddying winds, expose
The transitory scenes.—Here broken cliffs
Caught at long intervals; anon a sea
Of liquid light, dark woods, and cities gay,
With gleaming spires, brown moors, and verdant vales,
In swift succession rush upon the sight.
Sudden on either side, the gathered clouds,
As by a sudden touch of magic, wide
Recede, and the fair face of heaven and earth
Appears. Amid the vast horizon’s stretch,
In restless gaze the eye of wonder darts
O’er the expanse; mountains on mountains piled,
And winding bays and promontories huge;
Lakes and meandering rivers, from their source
Traced to the distant ocean; scattered isles,
Dark rising from the watery waste, and seas
Dividing kingdoms, and Ierne crowned
By Wicklow’s lofty range. Thou, who aspirest
To imitate the soft aerial hue
That shades the living scenes of chaste Lorraine,
Here, when the breath of Autumn blows along
The blue serene, gaze on the harmonious glow
Wide spread around, when not a cloud disturbs
The mellow light, that with a golden tint
Gleams through the grey veil of thin haze, diffused
In trembling undulation o’er the scenes
Sotheby, W., Poems: consisting of a tour through parts of North and South Wales, sonnets, odes, and an epistle to a friend on physiognomy. By W. Sotheby, Esq, (Bath : printed by R. Cruttwell, and sold by R. Faulder, New Bond-Street, London; and T. Baker, Southampton, MDCCXC. [1790]), pp. 125-126

John Webber, artist, toured Wales with William Day, a geologist.

The Rev James Plumptre (1771-1832) visited Wales in 1792, 1797, 1799
The inn keeper at Llanberis [Nant Peris] said that ‘he had had Great Folks lodge with him. Sir Joseph Banks and Sir George Shuckborough had occupied this apartment. With the latter he had been up Snowdon the year before to boil water, to measure the height of it, and determined it to be [blank]. Pennant makes if 1189 yards and 1 foot above the level of the sea.
A Journal: of a Tour Through Part of North Wales in the Year 1792
Cambridge University Library, Add MSS, 5804
A Journal: of a Tour Through Part of North Wales in the Year 1792, Part 2
Cambridge University Library, Add MSS, 5802
Ousby, Ian, James Plumptre’s Britain, The Journals of a Tourist in the 1790s
(London, 1992), pp. 41-43
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1830), the naturalist who had accompanied Captain Cook on his voyage to round the world, was then President of the Royal Society. The mathematician Sir George Shuckbrugh-Evelyn (1751-1804) was author of Observations Made in Savoy … (1777). In giving the height of Snowdon as 3568 feet, Pennant’s Tour in Wales (2, Part 2: 165-6) noted that recent experiments using barometric pressure and the boiling point of water produced lower estimates than earlier calculations using trigonometry.
Ian Ousby, James Plumptre’s Britain: the journals of a tourist in the 1790s (1992), p. 226 note 10

William Wordsworth climbed Snowdon at night with a local guide and his former college friend, Robert Jones of Plas-yn-Llan near Rhuthun with whom he had been staying for several weeks. He met Thomas Pennant during his stay in Wales and may well have read Pennant’s accounts of his ascents of Snowdon, one of which was at night. (The Journey to Snowdon, 1781). One wonders whether Wordsworth knew of the local tradition, reported by Pennant, A Tour in Wales, 1770, vol. 2, p. 168 that a person who spent a night on Snowdon would wake a poet (Later versions of the story suggest that the sleeper might alternatively awake mad). This was formerly thought to have occurred in 1793.
He included a description of this ascent in Descriptive Sketches (1793, dedicated to Robert Jones) and The Prelude (written 1798, revised 1799 and 1805 but not published until 1850) which anticipated the change in the language used to describe landscape, from the sublime to the romantic.
The Prelude describes some real pedestrian journeys, starting in a town, travelling through the countryside, and concluding with his ascent of Snowdon. It is also metaphorical, representing his journey through life.
He took one of the most difficult routes, at night
In one of those excursions (may they ne’er
Fade from remembrance!) through the Northern tracts
Of Cambria ranging with a youthful friend,
I left Bethgelert’s huts at couching-time,
And westward took my way, to see the sun
Rise, from the top of Snowdon. To the door
Of a rude cottage at the mountain’s base
We came, and roused the shepherd who attends
The adventurous stranger’s steps, a trusty guide;
Then, cheered by short refreshment, sallied forth.
The Prelude, or The Growth of a Poet’s Mind, Book XIII, (1850), 1-73
He also wrote about the ascent in Descriptive Sketches, 1793 but transposed them into an alpine setting (see Thompson, Carl, The Suffering Traveller and the Romantic Imagination (Oxford, 2007), p. 191
“In one of those excursions, travelling then …”
The Prelude in English Poets Series (ed. J. C. Maxwell, Penguin,1972) which includes a parallel versions of 1805-6 and 1850
The Prelude, The four Texts (1798, 1799, 1805, 1850), Penguin Classics Series, Edited by Jonathan Wordsworth, (1995), pp. 510-515 ( Book 13 / 14)
Wordsworth, Christopher, Memoirs of William Wordsworth: Vol. 1, (1851), pp. 70-72
Lloyd, D Myrddin, Wordsworth and Wales, National Library of Wales Journal, VI, 338-350
Wright, H.G., Wordsworth and Wales, The Welsh Outlook, April and May, (1924)
Hayden, Donald E., Wordsworth’s travels in Wales and Ireland, (Tulsa, Oklahoma : University of Tulsa, 1985)

Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822) was Cambridge University Librarian 1817-1822.
Bethgelet [Beddgelert]
to the foot of SNOWDON.
Its venerable summit was hid in the clouds, or, as the common people there say, its night-cap was on. We were greatly in hopes it would unveil its majestic top during the time we staid here, but all our wishes were frustrated, and like many others, we were forced to behold him in his night-cap. As we approached this mountain, the sight of it had not the effect we expected. For my part, of several neighbouring mountains, I should have selected many before this, if I had been left to guess which was Snowdon. The truth is, there are particular points of view from which Snowdon appears to great advantage; but if you are very near him, or in a disadvantageous situation for viewing him, he by no means wears the majestic deportment of the king of mountains.

As I had not the good fortune to enjoy the prospect from his summit, I shall copy the description of it from an author, perfectly unknown to me, but one that I believe to be a faithful and judicious writer, since he is the same that I find quoted by the authors of the old tour through Great Britain, who were, when they visited Snowdon, in the same predicament with myself. [He quotes in full Joseph Cradock’s description of Snowdon from An account of some of the most romantic parts of North Wales, (London: 1777), pp. 52-56]

Clarke, Edward Daniel, A Tour through the South of England, Wales and Part of Ireland, made during the Summer of 1791 (London: Minerva Press. 1793), pp. 285-289

The Rev James Plumptre (1771-1832) visited Wales in 1792, 1797, 1799
Llanberis [Nantperis] Sketch of the exterior of the ‘Hotel’ {Description of the interior}
The inn keeper was from Yorkshire. He said that ‘he had had Great Folks lodge with him. Sir Joseph Banks and Sir George Shuckborough had occupied this apartment. With the latter he had been up Snowdon the year before to boil water, to measure the height of it, and determined it to be [blank]. Pennant makes if 1189 yards and 1 foot above the level of the sea.
{The landlord had arranged to have a guide ready for the next morning to ascend Snowdon, to leave at 2 am and be up by sunrise, but the weather was bad so they did not go.}
A Journal: of a Tour Through Part of North Wales in the Year 1792
Cambridge University Library, Add MSS, 5804
A Journal: of a Tour Through Part of North Wales in the Year 1792, Part 2
Cambridge University Library, Add MSS, 5802
Ousby, Ian, James Plumptre’s Britain, The Journals of a Tourist in the 1790s (London, 1992), pp. 41-43

Nicholas Owen (Vicar of Melltyrn) described a night-time ascent in his guide book
The English name Snowdon signifies literally, the Hill of Snow, from snow and down. Eryri, the Welch name, is derived from Mynydd Eryrod, the Hill of Eagles. This is the most noted eminence in the whole region of the Welsh hills, and may with propriety be styled the British Alps. The top, by way of pre-eminence, is termed y Wyddfa; that is, the conspicuous: for from this height the visible horizon cannot be less than a thousand miles.

The summit is a plain of about six yards in circumference; and from hence may be seen part of Ireland, of Scotland, and of England, Cumberland, Lancashire, Cheshire, and all north Wales, the Irish and British seas, and lakes innumerable. Such a bountiful display of nature at once astonishes and charms the beholder. Tancred Robinson (c.1658-1748) makes the height 1200 yards; but Mr Pennant, perhaps nearer the truth, sets it at 1189 yards.  … To ascend Snowdon is no easy exercise; it required some resolution and activity to clamber rocks, and skip over bogs; yet persons on horseback have been known to reach the summit with a degree of safety. It is astonishing to behold with what agility the mountain horses move along steep ridges, or tread the stony surface. All pleasures are attended with fatigue. Once, in ascending this king of hills, I found myself uncommonly weary at the end of the journey: having put on boots for warmth, they not only retarded expedition, but rendered the footing less firm and secure. The night is usually chosen to begin the ascension, in order to be at the apex at sun rising, which is a prospect uncommonly magnificent, if the morning be clear. I left  Caernarfon at five P.M. and arrived leisurely at the base of the mountain a little before eight, in the month of August. The azure now promised no fair weather, it being hazy, and the wind high. However, from this hopeless circumstance I learned some operations of nature, which I should have missed had the sky appeared without a cloud. Quellyn [Cwellyn] lake exhibited a surface boisterous to a degree that I had never observed before in fresh water; like a tempestuous sea, the billows foamed and roared. The wind rushing along the interstices of the mountains, and being pent from expanding, exerted itself in an incredible degree of fury. Here one had no occasion
“to invoke the winds,
To break the toils, where strangles vapours lie.”
Storms frequently prevail in the defiles of mountains; the wind rushing between them through a narrow channel, at once increases in speed and density. I rested the beginning of the night at a small farmhouse among the rocks: to begin to ascend it was too soon. At twelve P.M. I eagerly proceeded with a guide, and arrived at the top, without any material occurrence of observation, about three in the morning. The dawn of day now appeared, and there was something very awful and impressing in the situation. Nature looked tremendous and frowning; and the atmosphere was every moment putting on a different aspect: at one instant the sky was clear, the next overcast with clouds: now a misty rain, then fair weather. The transition was uncommonly quick and perceptible, until the sun became visible in the horizon. Never shall I forget the horror and the pleasure I then felt. He appeared to come forth from the ocean in fiery redness, and like a giant to run his course. A pure azure, for a few minutes, now displayed itself with refulgent beauty. The clouds were forming fast underneath, and the wind being brisk soon carried them over head: with such rapidity were they impelled from the great chasm of Llanberis, that they seemed to rise like smoke out of a great furnace. Now and then the beams or rays of the sun darted from between the clouds like lightening, flashing upon the adverse rocks. The multitude of lakes in these mountains, and the humidity of the soil, bring on these phenomena. When the sum had ascended some degrees, the sky brightened; but the exhaled vapours appeared visible. And sometimes are so through the course of the day. About a third part of the way up the mountain is a remarkable spring. Of great coldness in summer, and in winter it emits a steam. I observe no birds in this region, except the red kite, and a little brown bird, sparrow-like and the cormorant. Goats are not unfrequent on some of the most inaccessible cliffs; and sheep on all easy acclivities. Though you are here within an hour’s ride of an hospitable and social people, yet the ideas of waste and solitude unavoidably prevail. The elevation of your footing is so unusual to the mind, that while you survey the amazing prospect with astonishment and admiration, you tremble at the contemplation of the slippery situation you are in. Anglesey displays or unfolds itself to your like a map; and you can plainly discern its winding, crooks, and bays. Man’s power is diminished, and even debased in his own eyes, at the grandeur and greatness of the scenes before him. The sides of Snowdon, and of almost all these mountains, were formerly deeply fringed with wood; as is evident from the remains of oak trees, hazel, and the ash, which are found in turberies and bottoms. It was King Edward that ordered all the woods in Wales to be cut down; as without this precaution, the country could never have been conquered, for these were their refuge and retreat in any warlike disasters.
Owen, Nicholas, (Vicar of Melltyrn) Caernarvonshire. A sketch of its history, antiquities, mountains, and productions. Intended as a pocket companion to those who make the tour of that county. (London, 1792), pp. 65-73
Republished in Anon, A Collection of Tours in Wales; or, a Display of the beauties of Wales; selected principally from celebrated histories and popular tours, with occasional remarks. (1799), pp. 273-279

A poem, written by a Miss Lock was published several times where it was signed JCW. A slightly different version was transcribed by a tourist.
[The genius of Snowdon ruled sublime and unmoved over the ‘feeble rage of fierce conflicts.’]
Yr Wyddfa
Snowdon. I wish not thou should’st stand array’d
In the full blaze of Summer’s gaudy morn;
In gloominesss they grandeur is displaye’d
And congregated clouds they brow adorn.
The Genius, thron’d on this aërial seat,
While fierce conflicting elements engage,
Hears the loud thunders burst beneath his feet,
And scowls defiance on their feeble rage.

Snowdon, on thee with savage pleasure fraught,
While Fancy rul’d, with wonder have I gaz’d;
Travers’d they dangers in excursive thought,
And Shrunk from terrors I myself have rais’d;

Striving in vain to heights like thine to rise,
Tho’ fix’d on earth, aspiring to the skies.
Miss Lock, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 63, (April, 1793), p. 357
Anon, Chester Chronicle, 2 June, 1797
Bingley, (1804), pp. 228-229
The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, Etc, (1827), p. 91 [signed JCW]

A slightly longer version was transcribed by a tourist:
Snowdon, I wish not thou should’st stand array’d
In the bright blaze of summer’s gaudy morn;
Midst gloominess thy grandeur it display’d,
And congregated clouds thy brows adorn.

Thy Genius, throned on his aerial teat,
While fierce conflicting elements engage,
Hears the loud thunders burst beneath his feet,
And frowns defiance on their feeble rage.

Snowdon! on thee, with savage pleasure fraught,
Whilst fancy ruled, with wonder have I gazed;
Traversed thy vastness in excursive thought,
Or shrunk front dangers I myself had raised.

How oft Idea, on thy craggy steep,
Has strove in vain, like thee, in height to rise;
While, combating misfortune, still I weep.
And chain’d to earth, would yet attempt the skies.
J.C. W.
Transcribed in Bruce, William Joseph, A Peregrination through part of the Counties of Somerset, Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire with a portion of South Wales and a tour round north Wales as performed in the Autumn of the Year 1810, to which is subjoined a brief History of the Principality of Wales … and a tour [of part of England] during the summer of 1809, NLW MS 19405C (Formerly G. V. Roberts MS.), pp. 183

Joseph Hucks toured Wales in the company of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Brooke and Thomas Berdmore, all former Cambridge students. They set off before mid-night, got lost, had to rouse a farmer to show them the way to the guide’s house, where they were persuaded not to ascend at night, but left to do so at 4 the next morning in the hope of finding flowers rather than seeing views. Hucks, who wrote the letters, did not attempt the ascent owing to a bad cold, so we do not have a detailed account of the ascent and descent.

As this is the usual place from which travellers make the ascent of Snowdon we determined to do the same, and … set off at eleven in the evening though it was quite dark and a very rainy and stormy night; however, there was a probability that it would be fine in the morning and the hope was sufficient to make us undergo a few inconveniences; but in attempting to find the guide’s house, which was five miles from our inn, and situated quite out of the road, at the foot of the mountain, we became completely bewildered: in this perplexity we were directed by the glimmering of a light to an habitation, which with extreme difficulty and danger, we contrived to reach. It was a small hut, and its inhabitants, if we may judge from the impenetrable silence that reigned within it, were all asleep. It was some time before we could prevail upon them to open the door, and answer to our entreaties for a proper direction; at length an elderly man appeared, to whom we endeavoured to make know our grievances; but alas! he only spoke his native language, and did not understand a word that we said: However, by frequently repeating the guide’s name “Ellis Griffith” [of Bron y Fedw Uchaf – but see Perrin, note, p. 161 for identification], and pointing to Snowdon, at the same time giving him a glimpse of a shilling, we with much difficulty made him comprehend us; and putting himself at our head, he became our conductor. In about half an hour we found ourselves at the door of another small cottage: our guide vociferated Welsh for some minutes, till we were admitted by a good looking lad of about 17 years of age, who was the person we had been searching for: he remonstrated against our ascending that night, with many weighty reasons, to which we easily assented; but to think of returning to our inn would be madness: we therefore called a council of war, and it was agreed that we should at all events stay where we were, until morning: when if it should be tolerably fair, we should ascend. Thus determined, we disposed of ourselves in the following manner; I barricaded myself in a chair, so that I could not fall out; two more reposed themselves on the benches on each side of the fire, and the forth took up his “lodgings on the cold ground”. With an earthen platter turned up-side down for his pillow. As for my part, I was not disposed to sleep, but took up the rush-light, which had been placed for security on the ground; and to pass away the leaden hours of time, poured over an old Welsh dictionary (which was the only think like a book I could find), till I was scarcely able to see. … {contemplations about their curious situation.}

Without doors nought but the “pelting of the pityless storm” was heard, and the loud roar of the mountain torrents: … {contemplations on the cottagers indifference to the storm.)

At  four in the morning I thought it prudent to awaken the whole party which I affected with some difficulty; we then sallied from our habitation, and made our observations upon the weather, which gave us no encouragement to proceed; however, they determined to venture upon their aerial excursion, more from the hope of finding the plants, for which this mountain is remarkable, than of seeing anything when at the top: at their persuasion, added to my own inclination, I declined the enterprise, as my cold had considerably increased during the night, and went back to the inn, where I impatiently expected their return, which did not happen till four in the afternoon. It turned out, as might have been foreseen, a fruitless and fatiguing expedition; for when arrived at the top, they could see nothing but the impenetrable clouds, that almost constantly envelope these huge mountains.

Hucks, Joseph, (1772-1800) A Pedestrian Tour through north Wales in a series of letters [1794], (London, 1795), letter dated Tan-y-Bwlch, 24th July, 1794, pp. 95-101

Reprint of Huck’s tour including Coleridge’s letters, edited by Alun R Jones and William Tydeman, (UWP, 1979), p. 17

Engaged ‘men and horses to conduct us to the summit of Snowdon’
Left at 11.30 pm and arrived at the top at 2.50 am. ‘on the summit … is a circular wall of loose stones, about four feet in diameter.’
{it was misty but they saw Anglesey}. Arrived at the inn at 6.30
‘Our guide, though intelligent, could not speak English and we were obliged to make use of an interpreter … in ascending we discovered a blue quivering light, very near us, but did not venture to approach it from the appearance of its being in the centre of a bog.
To Caernarfon, arrived at noon
Michell, J.H., The Tour of the Duke of Somerset, and the Rev. J. H. Michell, Through Parts of England, Wales, and Scotland, in the Year 1795, (1845), p. 27

Arthur Aikin (1773-1854) climbed to the summit of Snowdon on the 5th July, 1795 when he recorded taking the temperature at the top.
On the morning of July 5, 1795, just after sunrise, I observed the thermometer at 34̊; and at one in the afternoon this day it stood at 48, while in the vale of Beddgelert, at seven in the morning, it was as high as 62.
Aikin, Arthur, (1773-1854), Journal of a Tour through North Wales and a part of Shropshire with observations of Mineralogy and other branches of natural History [1796], (London, 1797), p. 99

Arthur Aikin published a more detailed account of his 11 day walking tour of north Wales in The Monthly Magazine and British Register. They climbed Snowdon at night but were disappointed by a cloudy dawn.
With some difficulty we procured a few oat cakes and butter, and three eggs, the whole stock of the village and with these … we were able to wait … the arrival of a supply of provisions … from Caernarfon. In the meantime we strolled into the churchyard, and there found the village council assembled in the porch to distribute the rewards for destroying foxes. Llanberis church is about quarter of a mile distant from the first ascent of Snowdon; and the sky being perfectly clear, we resolved to scale the summit of the mountain. Upon enquiry, we found the best time to make the attempt, was about four hours before dawn, so as to reach the top in time to see the sun rise. We accordingly hired a guide, and having made the other necessary preparations, sallied forth about half an hour before midnight. The moon was a little past the full, and shone with unusual splendour, silvering over the tops of the mountains, while their bases were in deep shadow, and the valley was occupied by the mist from the lake. As we passed through the village, and by a solitary farm house, we caused a general alarm among the dogs; and their barking set in motion the sheep in the neighbouring fields; so that by the time we reached the foot of the mountain, every swell of the wind was loaded with the tinkling of sheep bells and the barking of dogs: we continued to mount, the voices became fainter and more confused, and when we reached the height of, perhaps, two thousand feet, were heard no more. Here we stopped a short time to rest, and sitting down on fragments of rock, enjoyed, at leisure, the scene before us. The tops of most of the near mountains were distinctly visible, but on some, the clouds were resting which, by the light of the moon, might easily be mistaken for snow. The vale of Llanberis, at our feet, was seemingly changed into a wide river, reflecting in one place the moon beams, through a break in the mountains; the sky was of a deep pure blue; and nothing disturbed the still repose of the scene, except a casual breeze, sweeping along the side of the hill, and gradually sinking into silence. We sat for sometime speechless, each one absorbed in his own contemplations, till the voice of our guide admonished us to proceed: we obeyed the summons, and, after climbing three hours and a half, reached the summit. We had now nothing to do but to wait nearly one hour for the sun: the moon grew paler and paler, and the prospect less interesting; our shoes wer wet through, and we began to suffer much from the cold, a thermometer, which we took with us, being sunk to 34 degrees. [Fahrenheit]
The east became very much clouded, a haze having crept over the sea: the sun rose shrouded in impenetrable clouds, and the only part of the distant prospect which was visible, was the Isle of Anglesey, extended beneath us like a map, and the bay of Cardigan. Hunger and cold made us rather impatient; and a few minutes after sun rise, we began to descend the opposite side of the mountain towards Beddgelert. After a very fatiguing march, for we found it much worse to descend than to mount, we arrived about 9 in the morning. …
Snowdon is … 3600 feet above the Quay in Caernarfon. {brief description of its topography}
The area of the summit is not above five or six yards square, protected by a rude breastwork of loose stones, the crevices of which are adorned by the faxifraga stellaris, which is the only vegetable that braves the rigours of so lofty an exposure. We were too much fatigued to botanise during our descent, yet we could not avoid remarking and admiring the beautiful pteris crispa, which spring luxuriantly out of the rocks, about half-way up the mountain.
A., A., [Arthur Aikin] ‘Pedestrian Tour in North Wales; Monthly Magazine and British Register, vol. 1, (London, February 1796), pp. 107; 191-192

William Williams, (1774-1839) and Rev. James Burgess (1774-1839)
From Beddgelert we visited Snowdon beginning our ascent from the house of Ellis Griffith, one of the Snowdon guides. While here the day which had been lowering and rainy suddenly brightened up. From the appearance of the morning judging it an unfit day to ascend we  had called at the guide’s to engage him for the next day. Availing ourselves however of this lucky change in the weather, we determined by the advice of our conductor immediately to explore the mountain altho’ we had already walked 14 miles and were unprovided with provisions for this arduous undertaking. At first for a considerable way the acclivity is somewhat steep and firm; it then becomes gentle morass till you reach the foot of the principle hill. From this place, which is about half way the path is very uneven lying sometimes over loose stones made slippery by their mossy coats, sometimes over very deep turf, till winding pleasantly near the edge of the eastern precipice, it conducts you to the peak of this celebrated mountain; 4½ miles from the guide’s house.

From the centre of a small space marked out by a circular wall of loose stones, about eighteen inches high, and nearly occupying the summit, the day continuing beautifully serene, we had a most extensive view. Ireland, the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man, Scotland; Lancashire; …

Snowdon, like Cader Idris is supported by a number of vast mountains … One the east, a truly tremendous precipice is formed, which, but for the shivered fragments, giving at its bottom a gentle slope, appears an immence perpendicular wall. Large lakes bounded by hills rising in amphitheatric order; forked and projecting precipices; rocks, naked or tinged with mosses of various hues; luxuriant lawns, covered with browsing cattle complete the enchanting scene.

Notwithstanding the rapturous delight we enjoyed from the top of this far famed mountain we must notice a disappointment we felt, after the first extacies were over. We had been told that from the peak of Snowdon, on account of its vast height, the country round appeared an extensive plane [sic]. But the fact is the contiguous hills are themselves so high that they intercept the view of the near objects, and ‘tis only over their tops the distant views can be obtained; in more than one point, they actually interrupt the eye.

Snowdon takes its name from the snow with which it is covered the greater part of the year; and by the latest and most accurate experiment is found to be 3568 feet high. It terminates in two sharp points very nearly of equal altitude, the higher, however, is termed the peak.

On descending we tasted the excellent water of a clear and gentle spring which rises on the side of the hill about 200 yards from the summit. Here, as on Cader Idris, we felt the want of brandy to fortify us against the chilling colds of the mountain; diluted with this water it would have proved a grateful cordial. We took, however, in the hollow of our hands copious libations from this refreshing spring – the only nourishment we could obtain till we reached Caernarfon which stands above seven miles from the base of the mountain.
Williams, William, (1774-1839) and Burgess, James, Rev (1774-1839)
A version of this by J. B. jnr. and W. W. is in A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales in 1796; [More information in the copies in Dorset]
This transcription from: ‘The Journal of my grandfather, William Williams with the Rev James Burgess in Wales, in 1796’. NLW MS 23253 C, f. 63-67. Despite this title, it appears that the journal in the National Library is Burgess’s.
Sykes, E.R., A Walking Tour in Wales in 1796, Proc. Dorset Nat. Hist. Arch. Soc., LXIV (1943), pp. 84-91, which combines information from both.

1796 ?
J.S. Duncan was guided to the summit by William Lloyd
Saturday 11 ascend Snowdon, Lloyd guide, Clerk of parish
[Most of the journal records a tour of 1804 but this comes from a short itinerary pasted into the volume and refers to another journey: the 6th June fell on a Monday in 1791, 1796, 1808, 1836. In the second set of journals (NLW MS16715A of 1813, Duncan mentions climbing in the Snowdon area 15 years earlier which may be an estimate for 17 years before – i.e. 1796]
Diary of J.S. Duncan (of the Ashmolean) and his brother? P.B. Duncan
Tour Through Wales from Oxford, 1804, NLW MS 16714A, f. 1

Mr M accompanied Mrs Griffiths and Miss Bell attempted an ascent. This is the earliest known account of women’s attempts to climb Snowdon (but it was unsuccessful).
11.8.1796 Thursday
We arrived at a little cottage at the foot of Snowdon where the guide [Ellis Griffiths] lives who conducts travellers to the summit. The name of this place is Bronyveddo [sic  Bron y Fedw, near Bettws Garmon]; beneath it lies Llyn-Gwethlan [Llyn Cwyllyn] famous for its char.

We now ascended a hill not very steep of about a mile and half, till we came to the side of a small lake, from whence Snowdon properly so called begins to rise. We had the mortification to find the top of the mountain completely covered with clouds which seemed rather inclined to thicken and descend lower; we marched on however, in hopes it might clear up; the wind increased to a violent gale and as we advanced higher made it almost impossible to stand. After clambering about half a mile with frequent rests under the shelter if the rocks we all were of the opinion that the wind was too violent to venture any further. The guide assured us that we were past the most difficult part of the enterprise but did not suppose that if we were to reach the Wyddfa that we should enjoy any prospect at all.

For the honour of female resolution it must be recorded that the ladies advanced some yards further than the gentlemen thought proper to do. But the whole company were unanimous that the attempt in calm weather would be not very difficult or dangerous. From the place we got up to, the prospect of the surrounding hills and lakes was very good; Ireland and the Isle of Man appeared like clouds at a great distance. The descent was rather alarming. At one place where a precipice overhangs the vale of Llanberis, it was with difficulty we prevented Johns?? from showing us the nearest way down.

[additional note] The ladies often lost their legs; handkerchiefs flew about among the rocks and our guide skipped like a goat to the very edge of the precipice to recover them. One fair lady had her hat and nightcap (which they had the precaution to tie close to their heads) entirely blown off and her hair streamed like a “meteor to the troubled air” [Thomas Gray, The Bard, i. 2]. Many other ludicrous accidents happened in the storm too tedious to mention. [end of note]

By the aid of shrub (not what grew on the mountain for there was not even sprigs of heath) but the shrub we carried with us in a bottle, we descended the steep and made our repast on the provision we had brought from Caernarfon, by the peat fire of the friendly cottage of our guide Ellis Griffith.

[additional note] This man told us he paid £28 per ann. for his farm; kept about 19 little cows, and lived almost entirely on the produce of the dairy as their beverage was nothing but milk or whey. His demesne was pretty extensive reaching from Llyn Gwethlan [Llyn Cwellyn] to the Wyddfa, that is about three miles and a half long by one mile broad. The family consisted of a man and his wife a son and 2 daughters; one of whom, being handsome was most industriously kept out of sight. [end of note]
Anon [Mr M? of Belmont, in or near Hereford], NLW Mss 9352A, [f. 18v]
Jones, Dewi, The Botanists and Guides of Snowdonia, (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 1996), p. 67

Arthur Aikin (1773-1854) was accompanied by Charles Kinder and Charles Rochemont on his second recorded ascent of Snowdon. It was undertaken ‘partly for amusement, but principally as a supplement to the mineralogical studies of the author.’ The entry is dated 7th August, 1796, a Sunday.
The day appearing favourable, we set out this morning to ascend Snowdon; it being Sunday we were unable to procure a guide, but, well apprized of the fickleness of the weather, we did not choose to let slip the favourable opportunity which now offered for our expedition. About five miles from Beddgelert, near the second lake on the road to Caernarvon, we quitted the highway, and began to ascend the mountain by an easy though circuitous road; we sound no difficulty except what arose from the heat of the day, and the boggy texture of the lower region of Snowdon. A vast number of black cattle and sheep find pasturage on the sides of this and the adjoining mountains, …

In proportion as we continued to ascend, the surrounding hills appeared of less and less consequence in the landscape, and the distant horizon opened upon us with great splendour. The Isle of Anglesey appeared full in view, separated from the main land by the narrow strait of the Menai, but we were disappointed by observing the clouds thicken around the lofty summits of the adjoining mountains. In ascending still higher the prospect became more and more obscured, and after a while we plunged into a body of clouds that were resting around the summit, and entirely obscured every object only a few yards distant. We had still a great height to ascend, but found no difficulty, the rise being sufficiently gradual, and the rude heaps of rough stones affording a very firm and secure footing. When we had reached the very top of the mountain not a single object could be discovered through the thick mist. The wind was high, and the cold so piercing, as to make us take shelter behind a huge projecting cliff, where we waited a full hour in hopes that the prospect would brighten upon us – but in vain. Just above our heads was spread a light thin misty cloud, which was every now and then penetrated by the sunbeams; and sometimes a violent gust would sweep it away altogether, and discover beneath our feet a confused scene of cliffs, valleys, and lakes, and then another thick cloud would again bury everything in impenetrable obscurity. We at length found that it would be in vain to wait longer, and began to descend about an hour after we had reached the summit. … The mass of rock that goes under the name of Snowdon, is composed of various cliffs of different heights, rising one above the other; and even the peak itself of Snowdon scarcely out-rivals several of the more lofty summits that surround it on all sides; the altitude of the highest point of the mountain is about 3600 feet from the highwater mark on Caernarvon quay. The derivation of the name is evident, and it has been said, though erroneously, that snow is to be found all the year round in the hollows near the top of the mountain: the first snow that appears on it is usually about the beginning of November, and it is seldom entirely melted till the first or second week in June. Even in the middle of summer, however, the temperature of the summit of Snowdon is very low. On the morning of July 5, 1795, just after sunrise, I observed the thermometer at 34̊ ; and at one in the afternoon this day it stood at 48, while in the vale of Beddgelert, at seven in the morning, it was as high as 62. [see above]
{The geology and Natural history}
Aikin, Arthur, (1773-1854), Journal of a Tour through North Wales and a part of Shropshire with observations of Mineralogy and other branches of natural History [1796], (London, 1797), Chapter IX. Snowdon. 7.8.1796, pp. 94-100

Catherine Hutton, (whose father, William Hutton, published a description of an ascent in 1799), suffered from vertigo so did not attempt an ascent and was rather cynical about those who did.
My dear Brother
We left Caernarvon last Wednesday; and left it with the pleasing conviction, that the climate is not always so inhospitable as we found it at first. Settled fair weather is settled there also, but stormy weather falls there with tenfold vengeance. Multitudes of people go to see Snowdon but it is the lot of only a few to say that they have seen it: many climbing it have been overtaken by torrents of rain and gusts of wind, that have obliged them to creep on their hands and knees, or to cling to the rocks or the guide, to prevent their being swept down the precipices. I believe that the imperfect accounts given of Snowdon are, first, that few can see it when they get there; and, secondly, that those few think of nothing but how they shall get down.
Hutton, Catherine, LETTER XII, Chester; Oct 7, 1797, The Monthly Magazine and British Register, Vol. 42, (November, 1816), pt. 2, pp. 323-325
Elsewhere she wrote:
You know I do not hope to climb mountains; for high places are as much forbidden to me now as they were to the chidren of Israel of old. I look at those which form a chain near this place with awe, almost with reverence. There is a fatality attends my designs on the mountains, and such is the impression they have made on my mind, that I sometimes think I should not dare to look at them, if I were there.
This is from a letter dated Caernarfon, Sept 13th 1797, NLW ms 19079, p. 53

The Rev. Richard Warner climbed Snowdon from Beddgelert.
Dear Sir, Caernarvon, Aug. 21st.
One great object of our expedition was, you know, to traverse Snowdon and its dependencies; to visit the summit of the highest mountain in the three kingdoms. We were therefore much disappointed on being informed this morning by the guide, who lives at the village inn during the summer in the capacity of waiter, that the day was unfavourable for our attempt, the head of the mountain being involved in impenetrable mist. It was vain to lament what could not be remedied; we therefore determined to make the best of a misfortune, and spend the day in visiting some other magnificent scenery, which would have been incompatible with our expedition to the top of Snowdon. We accordingly agreed with the guide, William Lloyd, an intelligent man, to accompany us a few miles, and quitted our quarters about nine o’clock {and went to Dinas Emris.}

The summit of Snowdon, towering above us to the north, had hitherto been involved in a fleecy cloud, which hung around it in the manner of a curtain, undulating with the wind. This now appeared to be drawn up higher than it had yet been; and to rest like a crown on the very point of the mountain. Our guide having attentively regarded it for some time, gave it as his opinion that we should have an opportunity of prosecuting our original plan, the misty mantle being likely to melt away altogether before the sun, which was now approaching towards his meridian. He observed, however, at the same time, that should we determine to visit the top of Snowdon, we should find the ascent from the point where we stood to be much more steep and disagreeable than the regular road would have been from the inn at which we had slept; that, notwithstanding, it was a practicable way, and had been trodden by some travellers before us. We instantly resolved on attempting the ascent, and having, by his advice, swallowed a draught of milk at a neighbouring cottage [Llan farm], and replenished our ” leathern bottles” with some of the same beverage, we began the toilsome undertaking.

The first stage of our journey was up a rugged steep, by the side of a mountain torrent, which, falling from ledge to ledge, stunned us with its unceasing noise. The principal branch of the Arran, little inferior to his mighty neighbour, heaved his unwieldly bulk into the clouds on the right hand, under which a frightful hollow, called Cwm-Llan, spread its hideous profundity, stretching a mile and half in length, and nearly as much in breadth, a precipice of Snowdon forming one of its black perpendicular sides.

While we contemplated this scene with marks of astonishment and dread, the guide related an anecdote to us, which was no bad satire upon the impressions of alarm that C and myself felt in this aerial situation. {Told the story of a local farmer, William Griffiths of Llan Farm, who crossed the mountain regularly, to market with a pony.}

After two hours of very severe labour we gained the summit of Snowdon, [note: The ancient name of Snowdon was Eryrr’i, or Eagle, from its stupendous crags being occasionally visited by that bird. Its highest pen is called Wyddfa, or the conspicuous. The origin of the English appellation is obvious; the sharp air of the mountain occasioning the snow to lie a long time on its summit, frequently till the middle of June. Such was the information of our guide but, on Consulting Mr. Pennant, I find he gives the ancient name differently, Creigie’r Eira, the snowy mountains.—Snowdonia, 171]

(a sharp narrow crag of rock, not more than two yards over) and stood 3568 feet above the level of Caernarvon quay. Our toil, however, seemed at first to be but ill repaid; a crown of clouds still covered the top, and we remained involved in a mist that produced the most intense cold.

We now produced our bottles of milk, which we found very grateful and refreshing, but regretted at the same time that we had not some stronger cordial. Our guide, indeed, soon reconciled us to the absence of any powerful liquors [alcohol], by assuring us they were more productive of danger than comfort; as a very small quantity of them in these etherial regions was sufficient to intoxicate. He mentioned his having nearly fallen from one of the precipices himself, in consequence of drinking a glass of brandy; and that during the preceding summer, one of a party of London gentlemen had been so affected by the same quantity, taken on the summit of Snowdon, that he actually got a severe tumble, which, though not fatal, produced some painful bruises. I mention this circumstance as a caution to you, should you visit these aerial heights. The guides, in general, make a point of recommending a quantity of spirits to be carried up, as an antidote against the effects of a raw and chilly atmosphere, but in reality, not so much with a view to comfort the traveller, as to indulge that propensity, in themselves for strong liquors, so common amongst the lower orders of people. A bottle of milk and water, however, with a small portion of brandy in it, will be found to be much more refreshing and agreeable, than undiluted spirits, and not likely to be attended with the unpleasant effects that an incautious use of them may produce. In this truly hyperborean climate we waited half an hour, at the instigation of our guide, who assured us the cloud would shortly leave the head of the mountain;

“Vix ea fatus erat, quum circumfusa repente
“Scindit se nubes, et in ‘sethera pergat apertum.”

The mist gradually sailed away, and left us to contemplate for a few minutes, a wide, unbounded prospect, diversified with mountains, and vallies, cities, lakes, and oceans. It was not, however, dissimilar to the view from Cader Idris, except that the Wicklow rocks, the bold opposing cliffs of Ireland, were more distinctly seen, and the little Isle of Man made a more conspicuous figure. We were not long indulged with this free, uninterrupted gaze; the cloud again came rolling on from the ocean, and once more infolded us in its chilly embrace. The covering soon became thicker and darker than hitherto, and our guide warned us to descend with all expedition, lest we should be involved in a storm amid these exposed unsheltered regions. We accordingly proceeded through the gloom, following the steps of our conductor, who walked immediately before us, as we literally could not see the distance of a dozen feet. The situation was new to us, and brought to our recollection, the noble passage with which a prophecy of Joel magnificently opens: “A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains;” it produced however, an effect that was very sublime. Occasional gusts of wind, which now roared around us, swept away for a moment, the pitchy cloud that involved particular spots of the mountain, and discovered immediately below us, huge rocks, abrupt precipices, and profound hollows, exciting emotions of astonishment and awe in the mind, which the eye, darting down an immense descent of vacuity and horror, conveyed to it under the dreadful image of inevitable destruction. At the conclusion of another hour we congratulated each other on having reached the bottom of this noble mountain, after seeing it in all its beauty, and all its sublimity, and gathering from its sides some fine specimens of calcareous spar, pyritag, and mountain crystal. Our guide now left us, and we proceeded towards Dolbadern Castle, which, with the lake Llanberris, came within the intended scheme of our day’s observations. {But they got lost and required the guidance of a bare-footed 12 year old girl to Llanberis.}
Warner, Richard, A Walk Through Wales, in August 1797, (1798), pp. 121-130

Wigstead did not attempt an ascent of Snowdon and compared the chances of seeing anything from the summit with purchasing a lottery ticket.
Llanberris Lake, at the base of Snowdon, ten miles from hence [Caernarfon], is worthy of notice. The road is particularly remarkable, for being strewed with huge masses of stone, which appear to be the interior wreck of some vast mountain. At the near verge of this water, we procured by signs (for English is not understood here) a flat-bottomed sort of dung barge, in which a couple of stout legitimate sons of Cambria undertook to paddle us down to Snowdons foot. The pinnacle of this sublime mountain, called in the vicinity the cap, was fortunately free from the generally collected clouds, and we had an uninterrupted prospect of all the beauties of the scenery. A very shattered remnant of a castle, called Dolbaddem, is now standing; and, in the distance, appears as a small knoll or lump, scarcely to be discriminated in the vast expanse. The people here are really almost in a state of simple nature. The value of money is scarcely known: they pay the rent of their premises in cattle generally, which they breed on their land. Flesh is scarce ever tasted by them; and, except when visitors leave behind remnants of wine, ale, &c. milk is the principal beverage that passes their lips. They are remarkably observant of any decorations worn by ladies, such as beads, laces, and feathers, Snowdon itself is a principal object in the traveller’s pursuit; at the hotel at Caernarvon, information how to attain its summit is to be obtained. The mists and fogs are here so prevalent, that it is a ort of lottery, however with 100 blanks to a prize, whether the very great fatigue attendant on climbing its brow affords the smallest gratification in ultimatum. When the prospect is unobstructed, it is the most wonderful map imagination can form: the elements in the distance seem mingling with each other; and earth, air, and water, unite in one general mass.
Quithlin lake [Llyn Cwellyn] on the road from Caernarvon to Snowdon is a large sheet of water, about a mile in length, but not particularly remarkable for any picturesque beauty. Near here the ascent to Snowdon begins.
Wigstead, H., Remarks on a Tour to North and South Wales in the year 1797, with plates from Rowlandson, Edward Pugh, Howitt etc (aquatinted by I Hill), (London, 1800), pp. 31-34

John Henry Manners, (1778-1857, the Fifth Duke of Rutland) toured Wales in the company of Rev Mr King and Rev Mr Hayes, but bad weather prevented them from attempting an ascent of Snowdon.
8.9.1797 Saturday
On consulting [the guide] respecting the possibility of our performing [the ascent of Snowdon], he informed us, that he believed the mountain was perfectly clear but that the wind was so high as to render it dangerous … on account of the precipices which it would be necessary to pass. Besides this … we should find it very uncomfortable from the extreme coldness of the atmosphere in those lofty regions, and also that the weather was so very stormy, that although one moment its summit might be clear, yet in another it would perhaps be so thick, that nothing would be visible. … we at last determined to proceed, without attempting an ascent
{possible views}
It is a mistaken notion, that it is right to go up at twelve o’clock at night, in order to see the sunrise in the morning. This … is generally productive of nothing but disappointment and fatigue.
According to General Roy, Snowdon is 3555 feet above the level of Caernarfon Quay
Llyn Cwellyn
Where the wind was so high, as to plough this lake into foaming waves.
Manners, John Henry, Journal of a Tour through North and South Wales, the Isle of man etc, etc. [Sept] 1797. (London, 1805), pp. 226-229

The following was included as a note in G. J. Freeman’s account of his ascent of Snowdon:
Talking of terror, I remember having heard a story of an ascent on Snowdon made from Caernarfon in the year 1797, which was attended with more than usual circumstances of danger and disaster. The party, which consisted of a gentleman and his lady, two youths, the guide, and a servant, were improvidently late, not arriving at the guide’s house till the afternoon. It was full summer, and the day very serene. They reached the top under the happiest circumstances; when suddenly, or at least little observed by them, clouds gathered on all sides, and they were visited by such a tempest of wind, rain, thunder and lightning, as not only destroyed all pleasure present and in anticipation, but lasted so long and became so terrifically violent, as to threaten their existence. They began, of course, to hasten down, but the elements pursued, and a premature obscurity involved them. Every tiny water-course, which they had not noticed in ascending, was now become a formidable torrent, and floods poured in every direction with furious velocity. The distress of the lady, and her difficulty of proceeding, may be better imagined than described. She was a woman of fortitude and resolution, but these needful qualities were overwhelmed soon by terrors that surrounded her. One of the youths, her son, had gone on before the storm was at its crisis to meet the horses, and her fears for his safety were excessive. She became insensible, and was carried down the mountain, her bonnet long since blown away, and her long hair, disengaged from its bands, and saturated with wet, wound by the wind about her neck in such intricate mazes, that it could not afterwards be disentangled without the utmost difficulty. In the meantime they who were able to observe the storm and the appearances of nature, were singularly impressed with the amazing fury of the one, and the sublimity of the other! For there were intervals, when even gleams of sunshine burst through the tempestuous clouds, and rendered them more awful. They witnessed two phenomena. The first was the passing of the electric fluid from cloud to cloud below the level on which they stood, and a consequent discharge of rain from those clouds. Another, and more extraordinary, was presented during their descent. The morassy level which they had to pass over on this side of the mountain was studded as it were by a thousand glow-worms, which on examination proved to be the phosphorescent roots of rushes. The exhibition of phosphoric light is not unusual in the decay of both animal and vegetable matter; but the effect in the present case can be produced but in few situations, and is still more rarely attended by circumstances so calculated to heighten the effect. The party, after infinite difficulty, toil, and hazard, reached the guide’s home about midnight, with the most lively sentiments of gratitude to Providence for their preservation during a period, in which the terrors and the mercies of God had been brought before them in quick succession . It is a circumstance worth recording, that the lady’s bonnet was found long afterwards by a shepherd in a defile of the mountain, who supposed it to have belonged to some one who had perished! Let me add also, that she yet retains a relic of this memorable expedition in a pocket-handkerchief, almost the only thing that was not torn by thé wind, on a corner of which had been written by her husband with indelible ink, her name, the day of the month and year, and these words—“In memory of female perseverance and juvenile courage.
Freeman, George John, Sketches in Wales; or, A diary of three walking excursions in that principality, in the years 1823, 1824, 1825 (1826), p. 196
William Hutton summarised this story:
Two gentlemen and a lady, in September, 1797, began to climb this famous mountain. The sun shone, the day was windy, and the clouds low. In rising, they were obliged to hold by each other for fear of being blown away, and were as wet with the rain as if dipt in the sea. In this dreadful state they reached the top. The lady, elated with success, though she could see nothing, pulled off her hat and cap, and huzzaed for joy. Returning, the wind took them both away. The guide told me he found the hat a year after, by a pool in the great chasm, and wore it himself. The amazonian lady, no doubt, was the leader of the party, and designed, like some others of her own sex, to govern ours. The lofty Snowdon, however, reduced the more lofty spirit of the female adventurer. She fell into fits, her life was despaired of, and she was brought in a chaise the next morning to Caernarvon at four, in a state of distress which excited pity.
Hutton, W., Remarks upon North Wales: being the Result of Sixteen Tours Through that part of the Principality (Birmingham, 1803), pp. 157-158; another edition, 1815,

1797 MAP
John Evans (1726-1795) of Llwyn-y-groes near Llanymynech (Montgomery-Shropshire border). He corresponded with Pennant and Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, both of whom subscribed to his map which was first published in 1795, in 9 sheets 3 ¼ inches to 10 miles [is this the larger or smaller scale?], engraved by Robert Baugh. A reduced version, of 16 small sheets, was published by his son Dr John Evans in 1797.
The maps showed roads, houses of the gentry but few of the industrial sites. It is weak on its depiction of mountains showing the summit but not the tracks up Snowdon, and not all of the lakes.
Also drew Pistyll Rhaeadr [1796?] showing lots of tourists.
William Bingley, Rev. John Evans (both 1798) and Arthur Aiken used it (the latter lunched with Dr Evans and bought a copy in July 1796).
Williams, Derek, John Evans’ Map of North Wales 1797. Ystrad Alun, Journal of the Mold and District Civic Society, no 11, (2010), pp. 3-14

In response to a request from Edward Lhwyd for information on local history and natural history, known as Parochial Queries, Thomas Evans, vicar of Llanberis (1680-1723), reported on the weather in the parish for 1797-1798.
Evans offered his home in Llanberis to Richard Richardson and possibly to Edward Lhwyd when they were in Snowdonia and accompanied them on their researches.

Bingley, William, (1774-1823)
In 1798 Bingley spent three months rambling around Wales and published an account of his tour in 1800. He spent another four months in north Wales in 1801 and published the results of both tours in 1804. The 1804 edition was republished in 1814 with some very slight changes, and Bingley’s son published an up-dated edition in 1839 which include details of only two of the four routes to Snowdon which his father had described.
Ascents of Snowdon
In his first edition, Bingley stated that he climbed Snowdon seven times and preceded his final ascent with the comment ‘As I had, upon coming it Wales, made a determination, to ascend Snowdon by all the tracks that are usually pointed out to travellers, I, for the last time, undertook the task, along with a party of four others, from Beddgelert’. (1800, vol. 1, pp. 239, 375).
However, he recorded only four in detail, one from Dolbadarn, one from Llanberis [via Gorphysfa?], and two from the Caernarfon to Beddgelert road, approaching from different ends.
Some of Bingley’s descriptions of ascents of Snowdon were reproduced in other tourist literature.
Differences between the (four) editions
There is no evidence that he ascended Snowdon again during his second tour in 1801 and as a result, the descriptions of the ascents of Snowdon 1804 and 1814 editions are very similar to the 1800 edition with some paraphrasing in places, but they do include some additional material, including poetry, for example, an untitled poem by Miss Lock:
‘Snowdon, I wish not thou should’st stand array’d’ (pp. 228-229)
There are some sentences in the 1800 edition which were excluded from the subsequent editions, for example:
Round this, [the summit of Snowdon] a circular wall has been built by some well-disposed person, probably some one of the shepherds, who send their flocks in these mountains, which is found of the greatest use to travellers, to sit upon and enjoy the grand prospects around. (1st Ascent, vol. 1, p. 221)
The 1800 edition includes long extracts from Leland’s and Pennant’s description of Snowdon (pp. 222-228) which are not in the subsequent editions.
The Rev. Peter Bailey/Bayley Williams, rector of Llanrug and Llanberis and author of The tourist’s guide through the county of Caernarvon: (1821), acted a guide on Bingley’s first ascent from Dolbadarn. Their ascent of the Eastern Terrace of Clogwyn du’r Arddu in which they used their hands as well as feet, is considered to be the earliest recorded attempt at a rock climb in Snowdonia. In his last ascent of Snowdon from Beddgelert, Bingley and his party were accompanied by William Lloyd, the Beddgelert village schoolmaster. There is no evidence that John Morton had established himself at the Snowdon Ranger, on the Beddgelert to Caernarfon road, before 1805.
The four routes to the summit of Snowdon which Bingley described are:

1 From Dolbadarn
Suggested route: Dolbadarn, Ceunant Mawr, Cwm Brwynog, pass Clogwyn du’r Arddu a quarter of a mile on the right, Llechwedd y Re, Yr Wyddfa but ‘in my first journey’ Bingley and The Rev. Mr Williams deviated from this slightly to search for plants at Clogwyn du’r Arddu.
The 1800 edition includes a brief description of the summit which is not in the 1804 edition, but it doesn’t include a list of places visible from the summit which he included in the 1804 edition along with a description of the Snowdon Copper Mine.
(1800), vol. 1, chapter 9, pp. 216-242; (1804), vol. 1, chapter 14, pp. 247-258; (1814), chapter 14, pp. 163-173; (1839), chapter 11, pp. 126-130

2 From Llanberis
Llanberis, Ffynnon Frech, Bwlch Glas, yr Wyddfa
[Llanberis, Gorphysfa, Miner’s track to Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn according to Kirk, p. 95]
(1800), vol. 1, chapter 10, pp. 243-247; (1804), vol. 1, chapter 15, pp. 259-261; (1814), chapter 15, pp. 174-176

3 From Llyn Cwellyn (climbed the day after no. 2)
Passed Bettws [Garmon], (on the Caernarfon to Beddgelert road), and turned left ‘after a little way’ to Bwlch Cwm Brwynog and Llyn Ffynnon y Gwas. He did not state that he actually reached the summit, but in the 1804 edition (p. 263) he added a long account of the fine weather which suddenly became stormy for half an hour, which he did not include in his 1800 edition.
(1800), vol. 1, chapter 10, pp. 247-248; (1804), vol. 1, chapter 15, pp. 262-265; (1814), chapter 15, pp. 176-179

4 From Beddgelert to the Summit of Snowdon.
At the commencement of his account of this ascent, Bingley wrote: ‘I, for the last time, undertook the task [of climbing Snowdon] by all the tracks pointed out to travellers, along with a party of four others [including a lady] from Beddgelert, William Lloyd, the village schoolmaster, performing the office of guide.’ He continued:
‘… commencing our mountain journey by turning to the right, from the Caernarvon road, at the distance of about two miles and a half from the village. We left the horse at a cottage, about half way up, from whence taking a bottle of milk to mix with some rum’. They reached Clawdd coch, where he wrote: ‘if a person held a large stone in each hand, and let them both fall at once, each might roll above a quarter of a mile, and thus, when they stopped, they might be more than half a mile asunder.’ Bingley’s novel description of this unique attribute of Clawdd Coch was repeated by many subsequent tourists. The cloud on the summit cleared ‘and left us at full liberty to admire the numerous beauties in this vast expansive scene.’ They descended via Clawdd Coch, Cwm Llan, Gwynant and passed Llyn y Dinas, and Dinas Emrys on the road to Beddgelert.
(1800), vol. 1, chapter 16, pp. 375-282; (1804), vol. 1, chapter 19, pp. 384-388; (1814), chapter 19, pp. 261-265; (1839), chapter 12, pp. 141-143

Ascending other peaks
Chapter 16 of the 1804 edition describes excursions from Caernarfon to the summits of the Glyders and Trifan.
Comments often repeated by subsequent tourists:

From the first (but not always subsequent) editions, Bingley:

  • noted that the height of Snowdon was 1190 yards (1800), vol. 1, p. 221; (1804), vol. 1, p. 250; (1814), p. 166
  • dismissed the suggestion that Snowdon was always covered with snow; (1800), vol. 1, p. 231; (1804), vol. 1, p. 253; (1814), p. 168
  • stated the Snowdon was so frequently enveloped in clouds that few people had clear views from it; (1800), vol. 1, p. 232; (1804), vol. 1, p. 251; (1814), p. 167
  • noted that it was generally believed that the sun could be seen rising from the sea but he did not confirm or reject this. (1800), vol. 1, p. 232 [not in subsequent editions]
  • said he knew of few people who had seen the sunrise from the summit; (1800, vol. 1, p. 233) [not in subsequent editions]
  • suggests that although hob-nailed shoes and a stick would be useful, they are not essential for a healthy person but a guide and provisions are essential; (1800), vol. 1, p. 234); (1804), vol. 1, p. 258; (1814), p. 172
  • repeats the proverb that ‘Whoever sleeps on Snowdon will awake either a poet or a madman’. (1800), vol. 1, p. 234 [not in subsequent editions.]
  • examined the suggestion by Warner that any alcohol consumed on Snowdon would cause intoxication and found that Warner’s guide had not said this; (1800), vol. 1, p. 236; [not in subsequent editions.]
  • suggested that Warner’s story of the Welsh farmer who crossed the mountains rather than walk around them was likely to be exaggerated; (1800), vol. 1, p. 240; [not in subsequent editions.]
  • suggested that Mr Assheton Smith should build an inn near Dolbadarn Castle and that the road from Caernarfon should be improved (1800, vol. 1, pp. 241-242) [not in subsequent editions.]

Bingley provided advice on that to take and wear which was quoted and sometimes disputed by other tourists:

Welsh tourists have been much in the habit of overrating the difficulties that are to be encountered in the journey to the summit of this mountain. To provide against these, one of them recommends a strong stick with a spike at the end, as a thing absolutely necessary; another advises that the soles of the shoes be set round with large nails; and a third inveighs against attempting so hazardous and so difficult an undertaking in boots.— I can only say, that to have nails in the shoes, and to take a stick in one’s hand, may both be useful in their way; but if a person is in good health and spirits, he will find that he can do very well without either. I should recommend to the traveller to allow himself sufficient time, to be upon the journey by five or six o’clock in the morning, when the sun has not yet attained much power, and when the air is cool and refreshing. The chief thing required is a little labour, and this, by going gently along, will be rendered very easy. There is also another advantage in having plenty of time; by stopping frequently to rest himself, he will be enabled to enjoy the different distant prospects as they rise above the mountains, and to observe how the objects around him gradually change their appearance as he rises higher and higher.

There were three editions of Bingley’s work.
1: based on a tour of 1798, published in 1800 in two volumes
Bingley, William, A tour round North Wales, performed during the summer of 1798: containing not only the description and local history of the country; but also a sketch of the history of the Welsh bards: an essay on the language; observations on the manners and customs; and the habitats of above 400 of the more rare native plants: intended as a guide to future tourists. (London, 1800)

2: Bingley returned to Caernarfon, Merioneth and Anglesey in June-September, 1801 and incorporated comments on the second tour in a new edition in 1804 in two volumes which was published as one volume in 1814.
Bingley, William, A Tour round North Wales including its Scenery, Antiquities, Customs and some Sketches of its Natural History; Delineated from two Excursions through all the interesting Parts of the Country, during the summers of 1798 and 1801, 2 vols.: London, 1804)
Bingley, William, North Wales, delineated from two excursions through all the interesting parts of that highly beautiful and romantic country, and intended as a guide to future tourists.  (London, 1814)

3: His son converted the 2nd edition from a personal account into an up-to-date guide book, published in 1839.
Excursions in North Wales including Aberystwith and the Devil’s Bridge, intended as a guide to Tourists by the late Rev W Bingley. Third edition with corrections and additions made during Excursions in the year 1838 by his son W.R. Bingley B.A. of Trinity College, Oxford, with a … map by J. and C. Walker (London, 1839)

Additions to the 1839 editions
Much of the personal detail was left out of this up-dated edition but it referred to the Royal Victoria Hotel (completed 1832) and the heap of stones on the summit with a plank of wood in it, erected by the Royal engineers in 1827.

Right Hon. Lord Bulkeley, Lord Lieutennant of Caernarvonshire, in a speech addressed to the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders, of the said county, held on the 16th ult. and published in compliance with the request of the meeting.  [This is part of a long speech.]
If, in days of yore, our valiant ancestors, the Ancient Britons, poured in irresistible torrents from their mountains and fastnesses, against those whom they considered their invaders or oppresors, how much more ought we of this day to plant the flag of union on the top of old Snowdon, and rally round it in defence of all the endearments of society and friendship; in defence of all the comforts of domestic life; in defence of our government, our King and our country; and particularly in defence of our holy religion, which not only supports us in this world, but gives us the assurance of a future and endless state of happiness.
Chester Chronicle, 8 June, 1798
Löffler, Marion, Welsh Responses to the French Revolution, Press and Public Discourse (Cardiff, 2012), p. 21

1798, 12th July
Elizabeth Smith (1776-1806) was an English translator, linguist, and Biblical scholar. She had lived with her parents at Piercefield near Chepstow between 1785 and 1793 and was described as ‘Piercefield’s pious, soul illumined maid’ by Arthur St. John in his poem ‘The Weft of the Wye: Descriptive of the Scenery of that River’ (1826). She wrote to her friend Miss Hunt. This is the earliest known record of a successful ascent of Snowdon by a woman.
I find myself so idle, and my travels so much more tedious in the recital than in the performance, that if I go on giving you a particular account I shall never finish. I will therefore tell you therefore of our adventures as briefly as possible. Quitting the Castle, we took a most delightful walk beside the river on which it stands, to observe the outside of the building, which, as beauty is but comparative, I being of the sect of the Conwayites, do not admire. We returned to the Inn; – I suppose you are aware that we means my Mother, Mrs George Smith, and I, who set out together from Conway at nine the same morning; – well; we returned to the Inn, and eat an enormous supper. You know travellers always tell you how much they eat, but I in compassion will spare you the description of every dish, and how much was paid for it, because I have forgotten both; however this supper is not mentioned in vain, for indeed it was not eaten in vain. As soon as we had accomplished it, we set off (about eleven at night) for the foot of Snowdon, and travelled eight miles thro’ a fine mountainous country by moon-light. Before one we arrived at a little hut where the guide lives, and after having him called up, and loaded with a basket of bread and milk, and a tin box for specimens, we began our march at a quarter past one. The clouds were gathering over the mountains, and threatening us with either darkness or rain. We however escaped both, and were only amused with every variety they could give the landscape, by hiding or half obscuring the moon, and by blotting out, now one mountain, and now another, from our view; till about two o’clock, when the dawn began to appear, they covered the moon, and we saw her no more. We proceeded by a very easy ascent over boggy ground till half-past two, when coming suddenly to the top of the first range of hills, and meeting with a violent wind which blew from the quarter where the sun was to rise, (for we ascended the mountain on the south-west side,) Mrs. G. Smith was frightened, and seeing a very steep ascent before her, said she would sit down and wait for our return. My Mother said she would stay with her, and I proposed our all going back together; but my Mother very kindly insisted on my proceeding. We therefore divided provisions, the ladies returned to the hut from which we had set out, and I went on with the guide, who could not speak a word of English. We steered our course more towards the south, and toiled up several mountains, in some parts covered with loose stones, which had fallen from the broken summits, but in general overgrown with different sorts of moss, and a kind of short grass, mixed with immense quantities of the Gallium pusillum. I picked up a few other plants, but on the whole was disappointed in the botanical way, as I found very little that I had not before met with on the mountains in this neighbourhood; however, this is not the time of the year for mountain curiosities. I went on as fast as I could, without stopping, except now and then for a moment to look down on the mountains under my feet, as clouds passed over them, thinking each summit t saw before me was the last, and unable to gain any information from the guide to satisfy my impatience; for I wished to be at the top before sunrise and pink clouds began to appear over the steep I was climbing. I also knew that the Ladies would be very impatient for my return, nor was I without anxiety on their account, as I was not sure that they would find their way back to the hut. These ideas occupied my mind all the way up, and if that deceitful but comforting lady—Hope, had not continually presented to me the range of hills I was ascending as the last step in ambition’s ladder, I am not sure that, with all my eagerness to get to the top, I should not have turned back. I was debating this point very earnestly with myself, in ascending an almost perpendicular green slope, when on a sudden I saw at my feet an immense chasm, all in darkness, and of a depth I cannot guess, certainly not less than an hundred feet; I should suppose much more. It answers in some respects to the idea I have formed of the crater of a volcano, but evidently is not that, as there is no mark of fire, the rock being composed, as it is in general throughout this country, of a sort of slate.

Nor does the mountain appear to have been thrown down, but the pit to have sunk in; which must probably have been occasioned by subterranean waters, as there is water at the bottom of the pit, and the mountain is full of springs. You think you are now at the top, but you are mistaken. I am standing indeed at the top of the abyss, but with a high rocky peak rising on each side of me, and descending very near perpendicularly into the lake at the bottom. I have taken a rough sketch of one of these peaks, with the lake in the deepest shadow; I am turning over my paper, (which the wind renders very difficult,) in order to draw another; – I look up, and see the upper part illuminated by a beautiful rose-coloured light, while the opposite part still casts a dark shade over its base, and conceals the sun itself from my view. If I were ready to jump into the pit with delight at first seeing it, my ecstasy was now still greater. The guide seemed quite delighted to see me so much pleased, and took care in descending to lead me to the edge of every precipice, which he had not done in going up. I however presently recollected that I was in a great hurry to get back, and set off along the brink of the cavity for the highest peak, where I arrived at a quarter past four, and saw a view, of which it is impossible to form an idea from description. For many miles around it was composed of tops of mountains, of all the various forms that can be imagined; some appeared swimming in an ocean of vapour; on others the clouds lay like a cap of snow, appearing as soft as down. They were all far below Snowdon, and I was enjoying the finest blue sky, and the purest air I ever breathed. The whole prospect was bounded by the sea, except to the east and south-east, and the greatest part of’ the land in those points was blotted out by clouds. The sun, however, rose so far towards the north-east as to be still hanging over the sea. I took a sketch of a small part of the mountains, with some of the little lakes which appear at their feet; sat down, for the first time, on a circle of stones which is built on the top of the hill, and made great havock in the bread and milk, in which accomplishment the guide equalled, if not surpassed me; and at half-past four, almost frozen, I began to descend. My anxiety about my friends increased as I came near the spot where I had left them; I made all possible haste, and found them safe in the hut at ten minutes past six. It certainly would have been pleasanter to have had more time, and someone to enjoy the expedition with me, but I am delighted that I have been, and would not for anything give up the recollection of the sublime scene. We got into the carriage immediately, and went four miles further to breakfast at a little village, from whence we walked to the Devil’s-Bridge, [Pont Aberglaslyn] which is fine almost beyond imagination; returned to Caernarvon to dinner, walked about there in the evening, and went to bed after thirty-nine hours of almost constant exercise. After this I think you will not take the trouble to enquire after my health; it must be tolerably good. I intended writing a very short letter, but recollecting you would perhaps like some news from Snowdon, I have been led on till I fear your patience is exhausted, though I have suppressed at least half of what I wish to say.
Bowdler, Henrietta Maria, (editor), Fragments in Prose and Verse: by a Young Lady, with Some Account of her Life and Character, (1808); vol. 1, (1809), pp. 102-108; (new edition, 1810), (new edition, 1811), (new edition, 1818), pp. 129
In the 1809 edition, p. 111 is the following:
Miss Hunt had sent the letter containing the description of Snowdon to our mutual friend Mrs De Luc.
According to Joseph Johnson, Clever Girls of Our Time: And how They Became Famous Women; (1865), p. 35, Mrs de Luc was the wife of the Geologist.
An extract of Elizabeth Smith’s description of Caernarfon Castle with comments and reference to her account of her ascent of Snowdon was published in The North Wales Gazette, 3rd December 1812 and in The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality, 24th January 1863.
According to Frances Scrope his guide up Snowdon in 1817 was Richard Edwards ‘who also took Mr George Smith and his accomplished daughter.’ (Scrope, Frances,? (1794-1858), ‘Journal of an excursion into North Wales, 1817, North Yorkshire Record Office, ZPY5/18/5/3, pp. 27). There is no evidence that George Smith climbed Snowdon in 1798. George Smith and his family lived at Piercefield near Chepstow until he was declared bankrupt. There is no record of his ascent of Snowdon with his daughter with Richard Edwards as guide, but it is possible that Elizabeth made a second ascent with him.
Elizabeth Selwyn also recorded that in 1819 ‘We were attended by the same guide, who formerly accompanied Miss Elizabeth Smith, in her ascent to the top of this celebrated mountain; his name is Richard Edwards.’
(Selwyn, Elizabeth, Mrs, Journal of Excursions through the most interesting parts of England, Wales and Scotland, during the Summers and Autumns of 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822 and 1823, (London, 1824), pp. 32-33)

Anon. This is not a guide book, but an account of a tour of Wales by two anonymous men in 1798.
We engaged the Miner, as our Conductor over the mountain, who entertained us much with displaying, in strong colours, the tricks and impositions of his brother guides, and more particularly of the methodistical Landlord of our Inn, who is generally employed on these occasions. His pride too is not a little elevated, by having conducted The Great Doctor to its highest summit; this seemingly ridiculous phrase for some time puzzled us; but we have since found out, that our guide was talking of no less a man, than the present respectable and learned Dean of Christchurch, who ascended this mountain last year. Though our guide was pompous, and rather too partial to the marvellous, yet I strenuously recommend him to all tourists. [note:] Evan Thomas, works in the copper-works at Aber-Glaslyn, and lives at a place called Dous Coreb, about a mile and an half beyond Beddgelert. [end of note]
[Presumably near Llyn Cwellyn].
At half past twelve [a.m.], we started from our Inn, determined to see the sunrise from its highest summit. The night was now very dark, and we could just discover, that the top of Snowdon was entirely enveloped in a thick, impenetrable mist: this unpropitious omen staggered our resolutions; and we for some time hesitated respecting our farther progress; but our guide assuring us, that his comfortable cottage was not far distant, we again plucked up resolution; and quitting the highway about two miles on the Caernarvon road, we turned to the right, through a boggy unpleasant land, and in danger of losing our shoes every step we took. This soon brought us to the comfortable cot, the filth and dirtiness of which can better be imagined than described; a worm-eaten bed, two small stools, and a table fixed to the wall, composed the whole of his furniture, two fighting cocks were perched on a beam, which Thomas seemed to pride himself in the posession of; the smoke of the fire ascended through a small hole in the roof of this comfortable mansion, the door of which did not appear proof against the ” churlish chiding of the winter “blast.”

Such, indeed, was the situation of this Cambrian mountaineer; and though, in our own opinion, misery, poverty, and dirt personified, seemed to be the real inhabitants of this cottage, yet there was something prepossessing in his character; for frequently, with the greatest vehemence imaginable, and in the true stile of an anchorite, he declared, that “though he boasted not riches, yet he boasted of independence; and though he possessed not wealth, yet he possessed the home of happiness, an honest breast.”

The morning appearing to wear a more favourable aspect, we again sallied forth; the bogs, however, still rendered it extremely unpleasant. But this inconvenience was only temporary: we soon came to a part of the mountain, entirely composed of loose stones, and fragments of rock, which, by affording a very treacherous footing, you are liable to perpetual falls. The mountain now became much steeper, the path less rocky, and our mountaineer, the higher we proceeded, more induced to exhibit feats of his agility, by occasionally running down a short precipice, and then, by a loud shout or vociferation, shewing us the obedience of the deep, who instantaneously shocked round him, at the sound of his voice: it is singular, the caution implanted in this animal, by instinct, for the mutual protection of each other; from the liberty they enjoy, they seldom congregate in one flock, but are generally discovered grazing in parties from six to a dozen, one of which is regularly appointed centinel, to watch the motions of their inveterate enemies (foxes and birds of prey), which infest this mountain. A wider expanse of the hemisphere disclosed itself, and every object below us gradually diminished, as we ascended. The freshness of the mountain whetted our appetites; and our conductor, with very little persuasion, soon influenced us to open our little basket of provisions. The sun, the “rich-hair’d youth of morn,” was just peeping from its bed; and having refreshed ourselves, with eager impatience we again climbed the rugged precipice, for we had still a considerable height to ascend. We now descended several steep declivities, by a narrow path, not more than three yards wide, with a dreadful perpendicular on each side, [Clawdd Coch?] the sight of which almost turned us giddy. As we were passing this hazardous path, a thick mist enveloped us, and an impenetrable abyss appeared on both sides; the effect, indeed, can scarcely be conceived; our footing to us, puisne mountaineers, seemed very insecure; and a total destruction would have been the consequence of one false step. The air grew intensely cold, and by our guide’s recommendation, we a second time produced our pistol of rum, diluted with milk; but this cordial must be used with caution, as a very small quantity of strong liquor affects the head, owing to the rarefication of the air. On our reaching the summit, all our difficulties were forgotten, and our imaginary complaints overborne with exclamations of wonder, surprise, and admiration. The light thin misty cloud, which had for some time enveloped us, as if by enchantment, suddenly dispersed; the whole ocean appeared illuminated by a fiery substance, and all the subject hills below us, for they resembled mole-hills, were gradually tinged by the rich glow of the sun; whose orb, becoming at length distinctly visible, displayed the whole island of Anglesea so distinctly, that we descried, as in map, its flat and uncultivated plains, bounded by the rich and inexhaustible Paris Mountains, in the vicinity of Holyhead. The point on which we were standing, did not exceed a square of five yards, and we sickened almost at the sight of the steep precipices which environed us; round it is a small parapet, formed by the customary tribute of all strangers, who visit this summit, and to which we likewise contributed, by placing a large stone on its top: this parapet, indeed, sheltered us from the chilly cold, and protected us from the piercing wind, which this height must naturally be exposed to.

We remained in this situation for a considerable time, and endeavoured, without success, to enumerate the several lakes, forest, woods, and counties, which were exposed to us in one view; but, lost and confounded with the innumerable objects worthy of admiration, and regardless of the chilling cold, we took a distinct survey of the Isle of Man, together with a faint prospect of the highlands in Ireland, which appeared just visibly skirting the distant horizon; but another object soon engrossed all our attention;
“The wide, the unbounded prospects lay before us;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it:”
For we unexpectedly observed long billows of vapour tossing about, half way down the mountain, totally excluding the country below, and occasionally dispersing, and partially revealing, its features, while above, the azure expanse of the heavens remained unobscured by the thinnest mist. This, however, was of no long continuance: a thick cloud presently wet us through; and the point on which we were standing could alone be distinguished. As there appeared little or no chance of the clouds dispersing, we soon commenced our descent.—Respecting this Alpine excursion, suffice it to say, that though our expectations were raised exceedingly high, it infinitely surpassed all conception, and baffled all description; for no colour of language can paint the grandeur of the rising sun, observed from this eminence, or describe the lakes, woods, and forests, which are extended before you; for description, though it enumerates their names, yet it cannot draw the elegance of outline, cannot give the effect of precipices, or delineate the minute features, which reward the actual observer, at every new choice of his position, and by changing their colour and form in his gradual ascent, till at last every object dwindles into atoms: in short, this interesting excursion, which comprehends every thing that is awful, grand, and sublime, producing the most pleasing sensations, has left traces in the memory, which the imagination will ever hold dear.

Various have been the conjectures on the definition of this mountain; some authors affirm, that the Welch name of Snowdon signifies the Eagle’s Rocks, deducing it from the number of those birds that formerly haunted these rocks; but the most simple conjecture seems to be, that this name alludes to the frequency of the snow on the highest peaks. This mountainous tract was formerly celebrated for its fertility and woods; and Leland affirms, that all Crigereri was forest. It now yields no corn; and its produce consists in cattle and black sheep, with large flocks of goats. “Its height (says Pennant) has been variously reported. Mr. Caswell, who was employed by Mr. Adams, in a survey of Wales, 1682, measured it by instruments, made by the direction of Mr. Flamstead, and asserts it to have been one thousand two hundred and forty [2240 yards]. Mr. Lluyd [Lhwyd] says, its perpendicular height is about one thousand three hundred yards above the sea level; but later experiments have ascertained it at one thousand one hundred and eighty-nine yards, reckoning from the quay at Caernarvon, to the highest peak.”

The ascent is computed three miles; the extremity, or summit, three quarters of a mile perpendicular. By the inhabitants of the country it is called Moel-y-Wydva, i.e. The Conspicuous Hill; and sometimes Krag Eyreri; and in the old English maps it is always spelt Snawdon. The lakes in this tract amount to a considerable number, and abound with trout, eels, gwyniadd, and some of them well-stored with char. The most noted peaks of this mountain are distinguished by the names Moely-Wydva, y-Glyder, Karmedh Dhavidh, and Karmedh Llewelyn.—These hills are, in a manner, heaped on one another, near the summit; and we only climbed one rock, to see three or four more; between each is a cwm, or valley, generally with a lake. We made particular enquiries concerning y-Glyder-Bach, and found that the description of it is by no means exaggerated. Several columnar stones, of enormous size, formed into the most fantastical shapes, and lying in several directions, with many of their tops crowned with stones, placed horizontally on them. One we obferved rocked with the slightest touch. In the fissures of the rock, cubic pyrita, are not uncommonly found; the saxifraga nivaiis, and the species called by Linnæus athereal, in great abundance.

The first two miles of our descent, we by no means found difficult, but wishing to take a minute survey of the picturesque pass of Llanberris, we changed the route generally prescribed to strangers, and descended a rugged and almost perpendicular path, in opposition to the proposals of our guide, who strenuously endeavoured to dissuade us from the attempt, alleging the difficulty of the steep, and relating a melancholy story of a gentleman, who many years back had broken his leg. [Accident] This had no effect. We determined to proceed; and the vale of Llanberris amply rewarded us for the trouble. It is bounded by the steep precipices of Snowdon, and two large lakes, communicating by a river. It was formerly a large forest, but the woods are now entirely cut down. We here dismissed our Cambrian mountaineer, and easily found our way to Dolbadern (pronounced Dolbatbern) Castle. [Then to Caernarfon.]

[Cliff, of Worcester], The Cambrian directory, or, cursory sketches of the Welsh territories. (Salisbury, 1800), pp. 104-113; 3rd Edition, 1802, pp. 104-112
Same as The Cambrian Tourist or Post-Chaise Companion through Wales, (5th edition, 1814), pp. 122-132; (8th edition, 1834), pp. 170-184

We were in the midst of Snowdonia, a range of mountains from Conwy to the sea at Aberdaron, in a direction nearly from N. E. to N. W.; and unlike other mountains, they are pile upon pile, or groups of cliffs as they gradually ascend from each extremity to the centre. Snowdon, the common escarpment, or declivity, fronts the Menai and ranges in a parallel line with it. The escarpment of particular mountains generally depends on the inclination of the stratra. The Principal are Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, Trefaen, Moel Siabod, the 2 Glyders, the 2 Llyders, Moel Llyfni, and Moel Mynydd Nant; all emulous to support their superior and father Snowdon; yet his proud peaks of Crib y distyll and Y Wyddfa, appear scarcely to outrival some of the summits which surround them. Carnedd Llewelyn ranges next, and Moel Siabod the third in eminence to Snowdon. The rocks which compose the higher part of the chain are principally porphyry, granite, and granitel of Kirwan; the secondary rocks are chiefly horne blende, schiller spar, toad-stone, rowley rag, whinstone, schistose mica, schistose clay, mixtures of quartz, field spar and mica, and argillaceous schistus in all it’s varieties. On the W. side are many basaltic columns, on a bed of horn-stone or chertz; and large coarse crystals, cubic pyrities, and various mineral bodies, are frequently found in the fissures. [note: In the poem of Caernarvon Bay,” Mr. Lloyd says, that “the uncommon Snowdonia (so denominated, like the Armenian Niphates and the Tartarian lmaus from it’s snowy summits) consists of such a variety of minerals substance, as to render it impossible to give them a distinctive character, as they begin so high as the Calcareous, and descend so low in the system as the softest Argile. The prevailing strata, however, whereof the highest summits, from the Conwy to Snowdon, are composed, consists of petro Silex, Grey Granite, Slate, Shattery, Schistus, intermixed with rich veins of metallic substances, and Quartz span of the latter, Llanberis mine produces a remarkable kind, being of a bright ruby. The intelligent mineralogist will of course, be highly delighted by a ramble over these romantic hills; but, however imperative their charms may be, it is hoped, he will not overlook those of the less aspiring but not less decerving [sic] ANGLESEA. The amazing diversity of substances which that British wonder and king of mines called Parys Mountain produces, will highly gratify his mind: but let not his thirst for knowledge be therewith satiated, for every mile along the coast or through the interior of this extraordinary island will amply reward his labour by an almost infinite variety of specimens.”] In the Schistose rocks are several slate quarries; very considerable ones near Dolbadarn: some in Llanddeioiolen: some in Llanberis; a few in Llan Michael; and very large ones at Kilgwyr; the products of all which are brought to Caernarvon, and thence shipped. Those of the late lord Penryn are at Dolawen; and there is a quarry of the Novaculite of Kirwan, varieties of 2d and 3d of that species. near Cwm ldwal, where great quantities of hones are cut, and annually sent to London and Dublin. Leaving the 2 Lyders, which form the E. boundary of Nant Peris, the road lies through a dingle, called Caunant yr Esgar, up a considerable ascent of loose stones, which render the footing difficult; yet this is the easiest and most eligible pass to the sons of Snowdon. Here is the small lake of Llyn y Cwm, famous, according to Giraldus for abounding with trout, perch, and eel, all of which were monocular; at present there are no fish in the lake, probably owing to a communication with some mineral strata being opened by an earthquake about the year 1764, which happened during a violent thunder storm. This is certain, that arsenic and cupreous particles are abundantly diffused in it’s waters. Here are Subularia aquatica, lsoetes lacustris Lobelia dortmana; and at a little distance the Rubus saxatilis, Juncus triglumis, Hieracium alpinum, Solidago virgaurea and Plantago maritiuia. Passing by Rhiw, the celebrated Glyder Fawr is presented. The prospect is singularly fine from the top of the Glyder: Snowdon, with his biforked head, is seen thence to advantage.
Evans, John, Rev., (1768-1812), A tour through part of North Wales, in the year 1798, and at other times: principally undertaken with a view to botanical researches in that Alpine country: interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, manufactures, customs, history, and antiquities. (London, 1800)
2nd edition, (London, 1802)
3rd edition, Letters Written During a Tour Through North Wales in the year 1798, and at other times; containing views of the history, antiquities, and customs of That Part of the Principality, and Interspersed with Observations on Its Scenery, Agriculture, Botany, … (London, 1804)
Reproduced in:
Jones, Richard, An accurate account and description of Dolgelley and Carnarvon, the lofty mountains of Cader Idris and Snowdon, and other romantic sceneries in the counties of Merioneth and Caernarvon, with the principal inns, roads, &c. also an itinerary of roads, &c. [1820]

Henry Skrine (1755-1803) visited Snowdonia at least three times, [in about 1789 and 1795??] each in bad weather and he never reached the summit of Snowdon.
Our grand object now was to explore the wonders of the Snowdonia, that immense pile of mountains, which encircle the mighty lord of this vast domain; but the incessant storms peculiar to this unequal district, and attended with strong gusts of wind, in great part frustrated the enterprize. In vain have I at two different seasons attempted to visit the lake of Llanberis, and on that side to take the most advantageous view of Snowdon, but each time have I been baffled by the severity of the climate, which pursued me with unremitting adversity. We were obliged therefore to content ourselves with the direct pass by Beddgelert, and entering the great defile of the mountains, took our farewell of all the beautiful objects which had so long attracted our attention on the coast of Caernarvonshire, together with the sunshine which had enlivened them.

The great cataract of Ys-Gwyrfa soon displayed itself before us, and we passed in silent amazement under the vast mountains of Moel-Elean, Castel-Cedwin, and Mynydd Fawr, the latter of which rose immediately from the great pool of the Cwellwyn lake, near the end of which the valley opened, and Y Wyddfa, the lofty peak of Snowdon, appeared high in view above its subordinate summits. It was in vain again that we tried on this quarter to climb the side of this British atlas; a misty sky and a tempestuous day continued to resist our efforts; and obliged us, after a fruitless wandering about his rocky base, to take shelter in a miserable hovel at Beddgelert.
Skrine, Henry, Two successive tours throughout the whole of Wales, so as to form a comprehensive view of the picturesque beauty, the peculiar manners, and the fine remains of antiquity, in that interesting part of the British island. (1798) (2nd edition 1812).

Joseph Charles Harford and the Rev. J Poole had already climbed in the Lake District and the Alps. They ascended Snowdon on the Snowdon Ranger route.
17.7.1798 [sic] Tuesday
to Bettws [y Coed] a little beyond which is the guide’s house which for want of a direction post we passed … Griffith the guide encouraged us with hopes at having a clear view from
the top though it was covered with clouds. … as soon as our conductor put on his shoes and stockings and best coat we began the path from his house.
{description of route and views}
{arrived at the top – good views, strong wind}
Refers to Wilson’s view from Llanberis Lake
A party of Oxford men whom we had seen at Caernarfon informed us that they had {attempted the ascent but it was covered in mist}.
An excellent road soon brought us to a very comfortable country inn [in Beddgelert]
Harford, Joseph Charles, & Poole, J. Rev., ‘Tour in north Wales by the Rev I Poole AM and Chas Joseph Harford, FAS, 1798’ Bangor, UCNW, 31, p. 66-70                       

Sir Robert Kerr Porter (1777-1842) seems to have been unable to write as fast as he was thinking and as a result, some of his sentences don’t make sense, but his description of the landscape is better than most.
Left this place [Beddgelert] at 7 in order to ascend the huge and gigantic creative? mass of earth called Snowdon whose height above the sea is well known to my friend Sir? Thomas. [or is this Mr Thomas] After a walk of 4 miles we met with a Mr Goodwin of Llanwrst who was to ascend with us and two of his miners as guides. Our march commenced about 10 and after a most fatiguing and difficult tramp we at last arrived at its summit enveloped in a dark thick mist. One side of this vast mountain is perpendicular for near half a mile at whose foot are two bright green lakes; the other has a descent somewhat gradual though still extremely steep and terrific as the surface is here and there broken by huge masses of rock of an enormous magnitude. on this declivity are also two lakes perfectly black which by the stillness of their waters and the deep reflection admitted of the mountain, adds considerably to the grandeur and effect of the whole. The track of country in this direction is certainly fine yet nothing to the opposite. Several pools between the hills are discernible and over all the sea. The day not being one of those very favourable for long observance into distance, my account cannot be particular. The effect on the other side was beyond all human conception sublime. By degrees the vapour rolled away in many places, leaving the clouds in the hollow tops of the hills beneath, which rose off like volumes from Etna. The indistinct observance of the particular forms, gave wonderful breadth and dreamy like appearance to this already too unlike anything but an effect common to mortal faculties; as there seemed a sort of supernatural film, glazed over the distant landscape, which was so ingeniously stirred up with the clouds that by degrees earth and air became the same, and seems as though the two elements were going to change places. the subject is too awfully grand to admit either of humbug nonsense of human ability in describing, therefore will now descend with all possible care and expedition. At the foot of this rugged length, stands a small hovel or human sty, where we in consort with the civil Mr Goodwin contrived to eat eggs, bacon, and black bread?, our moisture was milk and water, our attendant was skin and bones, aged and civil, she looked as if the world afforded her not the common occurrences of existence; yet she possessed 1000 pounds and a large fat family. Llanquethlyn [Llyn Cwellyn] is the name of this place, and near is a lake of respectable expanse which produces char.
To Caernarfon
[He returned to Llanberis and attempted to describe the views from the Llanberis pass.]
Porter, Robert Kerr, Sir (1777-1842), Journal of a Tour in North Wales etc., NLW MS  12651A, p. 61-66

Catherine Hutton again accompanied her father, William, on a long stay in north Wales, making trips to various places which both recorded, but Catherine did not always accompany him, despite his age. In 1799 he was 76, yet was still fit enough to ascend Snowdon but she made no mention of this achievement in the published version of her letters to her brother.
The base of Snowdon comes down to Cwellin Pool, and the usual ascent is a little beyond. Not a cloud was in the atmosphere. I saw Snowdon in perfection: every atom of his vast surface was visible, and I looked at him as if I would get acquainted with every atom. But he is a giant among other giants: had I been on his summit, he would have had no competitor; but, from below, I should not have discovered that it was Snowdon. This mountain fills the whole space between the lake of Cwellin and the upper lake of Llanberis, and shoots beyond them both.
Hutton, Catherine, letter XV, Bala; Sept 16, 1799, The Monthly Magazine and British Register, Vol. 45, (1818), pt. 1, pp. 397-399

William Hutton was an unusual tourist in many ways. He was 76 when he climbed Snowdon; he was a vegetarian and was one of the few English tourists who had attempted to learn some Welsh. He was accompanied on this tour by his daughter, Catherine (see above), but she did not attempt the ascent of Snowdon.
I was a total stranger to the task assigned. I might as well have attempted a miracle [without a guide]
1st Sept 1799
I set off [from Caernarfon] with an intention of walking to the Lakes of Llanberris, five miles; boating over them, five more; walking round the foot of Snowdon, keeping the mountain on the right, sleeping at Beddkelart, and mounting up, if the next morning was suitable.
Upon enquiry, when I had passed the great Lake, I found but one man who could speak English, and he would have five shillings to conduct me to Beddkelart, which he said was fifteen miles. But considering that I had set out late in the day, had lost two hours waiting for a boat … it drawing apace towards evening, and that night prospects were of little avail, I altered my plan, and agreed to give a man who could not speak English, half a crown to conduct me over the mountains into the road at the great Lake Qwethlin [Quellin] from whence I knew my way home. …
The next day, September 2, walking in the Isle of Anglesea, I had a view of its summit most of the way; and on the third, strolling over another part of the Island, had the same view, with the addition of a cloud of beautiful white foam pent in the interstices of the mountains, while all above was bare.
Being led on the fourth to the Kilgwyn Mountain, the Slate Quarries, and Lakes of Nant Nanlle, I, for the first time, gained a sight of this prince of mountains from bottom to top, distant five or six miles.
September the 6th, I ordered my horses at seven, and reached the guide’s house, by the cascade, at the foot of Snowdon, by nine. He, my servant, and I, immediately began to ascend. The sun was not hid one moment during the whole day. I asked, “What “distance to the top?” “Nearly four miles.” I thought if I could divide the road into distinct parts, I should be the better able to guess at the distance.
I ascended about a mile, rather boggy, but easy to rise. Some of the land would make good pasture ground, at a small expence. I then crossed a fence, and was led half a mile, rising less, but more boggy. Next, a swamp about four hundred yards, which is the only level spot in the whole walk. I had now gone about a mile and three quarters, in a strait line, at the expence of one hour. A prodigious chasm in the mountain was on the right all the way, and the summit in view, which seemed at so small a distance, that a man might almost reach it with the cast of a stone. At the bottom of this chasm were three pools of considerable magnitude.
I now suddenly turn to the right, and keep a line in the form of a bow, with a quick rise for two miles, equal, on the average, to the rise of a moderate flight of stairs. The whole of this road is rough, but not equally so, with loose slates, large stones, and pointed rocks.
No path, neither did the guide seem to wish one, lest the road should be found by others.
Walking required that attention to the feet which prevented me from viewing an object without standing still. Though there was a gentle wind, yet the heat of the sun, reflecting from a vast inclined plain, elevated perhaps forty degrees, overcame me, the blood was in a ferment, a sickness and giddiness ensued, and I was obliged to recline perhaps twenty times. Neither did I find much relief, for I might be said to lie upon a burning mountain. I deposited myself under a small rock, the shade of which, with drawing up the limbs, covered me, and I found refreshment.
The mountain is replete with beautiful stones, of various colours, and fine texture, which I think would take a polish perhaps equal to those of the Peak; others resemble spar, with incrustations. I believe, too, there are singular herbs, but I am not skilled in botany.
Had my friend, Dr. Withering, been there, he would have entertained me, as he did July 2, 1786, upon Sutton Coldfield, with their names and virtues.
Travelling a little more than a mile in this fourth or last division, I came to the Green Well, so called from the verdure of its borders caused by the stream, which my guide said, “ran the same round the whole year.” The passage must be rapid in so steep a descent. The flow of water would fill a tube about the size of a man’s arm. The water is exceedingly clear, cold, and well tasted. Here we opened our provisions, and tapped our brandy.
Within half a mile of the top the way became extremely steep and rugged. Here another chasm opens on the left, or opposite side of the mountain, perhaps three times as large as that mentioned above, horrid in the extreme, and here the traveller complains of the narrow and dangerous road, in which, if he misses a step, destruction follows. But he is not bound to venture upon the precipice; the road is safe, and he may everywhere make choice of his step, for a space of half a mile in width, except within a few yards of the summit, and even there it cannot be less than twelve or fourteen feet wide.
In ascending, if a man falls, it must be upon his hands, which I did several times; if, in descending, upon his back, or rather, his right side, which I did once.
I now reached the summit, which is level, a circle of eight feet diameter, surrounded by a wall two feet high and one thick, composed of loose slate stones, the produce of the mountain; one of them, near falling, I adjusted. Here I put on my great coat, which the guide had carried, and I had carried his stick, which proved a useful stay.
We sat down in this elevated ring to consume the remainder of our store, for the guide had brought water from the well. My design was, to stay at least one hour, but I found it too cold to be borne, therefore did not stay more than a quarter.
The guide, I thought, inadequate to his office. He made no observations, nor spoke but when spoken to, and then I could barely understand his English. He ought to have been master of the prospect, and, like a shewman, pointed out the various objects.
Such a day, though clear, is not the best for a comprehensive view, because the air, replete with sun beams, hinders vision; the best is, when the light clouds are high, and the sun is hid. – My situation was wonderful and indescribable. Here a man may fairly say, “He is got above the world.” The mountain is said to be 1189 yards high.
Objects seemed diminished to the sight, four parts in five. The adjacent mountains seemed reduced
The noble Lake Quethlyn [Cwellyn], at the foot of Snowdon, a mile and a quarter long, and three quarters broad, appeared but little larger than a duck pool. The two Traeths, Mawr, and Bach, where, two years before, I was lost, appeared under my eye, and excited surprise that I could be lost in so diminutive a place.
I saw the whole of the road between the Lakes of Llanberris and that of Quethlyn, which I had walked five days before, and knew was five miles, but now did not appear to be half an hour’s stretch. As Snowdon extends to both, the diameter of its base must be about the above measure.
The distance between the Lakes of Nant Nanlle and Snowdon, viewed two days before, appeared twice as far as now, viewed from Snowdon to the Lakes. Thus elevation reduces space.
A stone I had passed, in climbing the mountain, perhaps twenty feet high, and ten thick, was reduced to the size of a block that a man might seemingly lift. Not an habitation, tree, or bush of any kind, appeared in these desolate regions. All was wild and rude nature.
Below, the heads of four rivers appeared to issue from the mountain. On the north, the fountain which feeds the Lakes of Llanberris, five miles long, becomes the river Seiont, and ends in the sea at Caernarvon. On the south, another, which supplies the Lake Quethlyn, becomes the river Gwyrfai, and meets the sea three miles south of Caernarvon. A third, on the south-east side of the mountain, becomes the Colwyn; and north-east, the Glaslyn, which, uniting with the last at Beddkelart, terminate at Traeth Mawr.
My situation was a compound of wonder, grandeur, and terror. A stationary white cloud on the north horizon, prevented me from seeing Cumberland, Westmoreland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. A line of sea appeared from the north, stretching behind Anglesey, and far to the south, to the extent of perhaps two or three hundred miles; and on the back ground, I saw four of the Irish mountains. The most beautiful part of the prospect was Anglesey. It appeared almost under my feet, though twelve miles off, yet, so plain that a man might be induced to think he saw every inclosure, and so minute, that if one person owned the whole it would not be a vast estate.
Four mountains, Cryb y Dystyl, Cryb Coch, Llwddy yr Arran, and Clewdd Coch, which Pennant calls the Sons of Snowdon, and I confess they are sons of a monstrous size, though much inferior to their father, stand as buttresses, and seem to aid their ancient parent. We should almost think, at a glance, he stands in need of their support, from the decay of his strength by the two amazing chasms in his sides. He and his sons unite in a friendly stile, as every family ought, and are abstracted from others; for round them appears a foss, and round that foss a circular range of mountains, as if, like faithful subjects, to guard the royal family. The diameter of this foss, I apprehend, is about eight miles; it is bounded by the Cader, Mynyth Vawr, the two Llyders, the two Glyders, &c. forming a circumference of more than thirty miles.
I was seriously told, and it was believed by the teller, “That a man, standing in this elevated circle, might drop a stone out of each hand, which, in one minute, would be seven miles asunder.” The truth is, one would fall down the great chasm, but the other would be impeded by the stones before it could arrive at the lesser; or, if it was possible to arrive at the bottom, the distance does not seem more than a mile.
The guide told me, “He had led his horse up to the circle.” This I believe possible,for a Welch keffel will climb almost as well as his master.
A clergyman remarked, “That a man rode his horse to the top, and round the wall, on the outside.” I took particular notice of this journey, which must have been nine yards, six of which a madman might ride, but on the other three, I could not conceive there was room for the foot.
[Here he summarised the story of the woman who lost her hat and mind in a storm in 1797, see above.]
The extreme cold, after the intense heat, being more than I could sustain, induced me to quit this elevated station in the time mentioned, which was done with regret, haying, as from Pisgah, been indulged with only one short sight, long wished for, but to be seen no more.
Making no doubt but I should descend with greater facility, I again entered the burning heat of the reflecting sun, which often obliged me to recline, nor was I much relieved, being deprived of shade.
I soon perceived that going down was more dangerous than going up, for the short dry herbage glazed the soles of my shoes into a polish, which, from the extreme steep, made it difficult to command my feet. Neither did the smooth soles suit the stones, and a man had better meet ten falls in rising than one in descending.
Arriving at the well, we relished the plain water, our bottle being empty. Time, and hard labour brought me down the great steep of two miles, when, entering the swamp, and the powerful heat of the sun ceasing, I reached the hut of the guide with more energy.
I had been from nine to twelve in ascending this grand eminence; and from twelve to three in returning—six hours of the severest labour in my whole life; and, perhaps, I am the only man that ever took a wanton trip to the summit of Snowdon at the age of seventy six.
Hutton, W., Remarks upon North Wales: being the Result of Sixteen Tours Through that part of the Principality (Birmingham, 1803), pp. 142-159; another edition, 1815,
Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. LXIX (1799) pp. 846-850; [continued from p. 1084 of 1797] Caernarvon, Carneddau etc; pp. 925-928, (Snowdon), ‘to be continued’ [but it never was continued in the Gentleman’s Magazine].

Late 18th cent [This has been (incorrectly) dated elsewhere to 1735]
‘Observations in a tour to Snowdon by [Anthony] Champion Esq.’
Manuscript copies in a notebook from the Thomas Pennant collection of both of Lord Lyttelton’s letters of 1755 and a document entitled Ancient religious customs in North Wales collected by Dr Wm Wynne, Tower, [near Mold], once in the possession of the Bishop of St Asaph [Dr John Wynne was Bishop of St Asaph] which is thought to date to about 1735. The volume also contains ‘Observations made during a tour to Snowdon by [Anthony] Champion Esq.’ (undated).
There is nothing to date these Observations. The use of ‘ye’ suggests an earlier rather than a later 18th century date but it is almost certainly a late 18th century copy in more than one hand. The reference to Mr Closs (the keeper of the inn at Llanberis village, now known as Nantberis) suggests a late 18th century date.
There is another, undated, copy of this itinerary in the Wigfair manuscripts, NLW MS 12460B.
This in the form of detailed advice and instructions on the route to take from Llanrwst to Bangor and around Snowdon. It includes Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd, the Llanberis pass and Beddgelert and some of Snowdonia but does not describe an ascent of Snowdon.
The spelling of the original has been retained for the first occurrence of each place name only.
From Llanrwst to Bangor
Llyn Idwal
From Bangor to Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd David by Llanlechid about 4 hours ride … {Refers to Lhwyd or Ray in Camden}
John Thomas, who lives between Llanleched and Llandegny is the best guide for these parts. The landlord of ye Eagles [inn] at Bangor recommended another who is very ignorant.
{Reference to Powell’s notes on Giraldus}
{They talk much of the flowers in these mountains in the month of June}
When you go to Llanberris [Llanberis] take a boat at old Margarted’s [sic] of Penllyn at the bottom of Dolbadarn Lake. It is very well worth while to go up the vale of Llanberis two or three mile above the village. Mr Close [Closs] will give you any intelligence that you can desire about Snowdon. About a mile about his house is a great Gash [spring] of water under ye craggy foot of Glyder which is said to be perennial and is only inferior to Holywell
Precipices of Glyder c [sic – shorthand for ‘with’ or ‘&’?] the rocks which have fallen from them are very extraordinary particularly the great fragment called the Cromlech which is worth measuring you may easily go up Glyder from Llanberis there is something very particular mentioned in Lhwyd’s Addition to Camden concerning the broken Rocks on ye summit of Glyder.
The rocks of Snowdon mentioned in Camden as affording best entertainment to botanists Clogwyn ŷ Garnedd is the steep precipice immediately under the highest pike of Wydhva [Wyddfa]. Crîb ŷ distilh or as they called it to me Trim Crib ŷ distilh which signifies the dropping roof is the precipice opposite to this under the lower summit of Wyddfa. In the Hollow between them is a greenish pool called Fannon [sic] Llâs or the green fountain which is the highest source of ye stream that discharges itself at Pont Aber Llâs Llyn.
Y Grib goch [Crib Coch] i.e. the red comb is the high sharp ridge of ragged and indented rock of a reddish hue which overlooks the vale of Llanberis towards the upper end. Clogwyn dü yn ardhuy are the precipices under the lower summit of Snowdon which front you as you go up from Llanberis by Cwm Brionion
The best way up Snowdon is by Dolbadarn from whence you may ride very near the summit. If you go up from Bethkelart [Beddgelert] you must walk great part of the way. … There is a very grand view of Snowdon in its most broken aspect from the mountain call’d Lledan …
… Perhaps it may be as well to reverse the first route and go from Bangor to Llanrwst but I do not think you will find at Bangor anybody that knows that part of the mountain so well as Williams of the Eagles at Llanrwn [Llanrwst].
From Caernarfon to Snowdon … [no details about Snowdon]
Romantic views descending a steep [sic] covered with wood to Beddgelert. No remains of the abbey a fit retreat for sincere devotees: the seat of gloom and melancholy.
Champion, Thomas, Observations in a Tour to Snowdon, NLW ms. 2576 (Pennant 56)

Another manuscript version is almost the same as the above.
[Items from Wigfair, near St Asaph, including a considerable amount of correspondence to and from John Lloyd (1749-1815), ‘The Philosopher’ friend of Sir Joseph Banks and others.
Notes on routes [not transcribed in full]
Notes describing a proposed route from Llanrwst to Bangor, with suggestions as to various points of interest, such as Carnedh Llewellin, Carnedh David, Llanberis, the vale of Llanberis, and the summit of Snowdon, which could be visited in the Snowdon area. Also outlined is a proposed route from Abergavenny through Lan y hangel, Lantony, Capel y fine, the Hay, and Bealt to Raeadr. These notes appear to have been compiled for the benefit of a friend or acquaintance who intended travelling in these areas.
[It mentions many place names]
from Llanrwst to Bangor
To Trevereu
Down to Llyn Cravenant
Cross over the steep mountain
You leave Capel Keirig [Capel Cerig] on the left and go to Tal y brach where live the Abrams who will give you by means of your interpreter good intelligence of those parts.
Llan Lligwy a tenement … said to be the highest habitation in Wales.
Llyn Ogwen
Llyn Idwal
Nant Ffracon
[slightly different hand]
From Bangor to Carnedh Llewellen and Carnedh David by Llanlechid about 4 hours ride.
John? Thomas who lives between Llanlechid and Llandeguy is the best guide for these parts. The landlord of the Eagles [inn] at Bangor recommends another who is very ignorant.
When you go to Llanberris [Llanberis] take a boat at old Margaret’s [sic] of Penllyn at the bottom of Dolbadarn Lake. It is very well worth while to go up the vale of Llanberis two or three mile above the village. Mr Close [Closs] will give you any intelligence that you can desire about Snowdon. About a mile about his house is a great Gash [spring] of water under ye craggy foot of Glyder which is said to be perennial and is only inferior to Holywell
The impending Precipices of Glyder & the rocks which have fallen from them are very extraordinary particularly the great fragment called the Cromlech which is worth measuring. You may easily go up Glyder from Llanberis there is something very particular mentioned in Lhwyd’s Addition to Camden concerning the broken Rocks on ye summit of Glyder.
The rocks of Snowdon mentioned in Camden as affording best entertainment to botanists Clogwyn ŷ Garnedd is the steep precipice immediately under the highest pike of Wydhva [Wyddfa]. Crîb y distilh or as they called it to me Trim Trîm ŷ distilh which signifies the dropping roof is the precipice opposite to this under the lower summit of Wyddfa. In the Hollow between them is a greenish pool called Fannon [sic] Llâs or the green fountain which is the highest source of the stream that discharges itself at Pont Aber Llâs Llyn.
Y Grîb gôch [Crib Coch] i.e. the red comb is the high sharp ridge of ragged and indented rock of a reddish hue which overlooks the vale of Llanberis towards the upper end. Clogwyn dü yn ardhuy are the precipices under the lower summit of Snowdon which front you as you go up from Llanberis by Cwm Brionion.
The best way up Snowdon is by Dolbadarn from whence you may ride very near the summit. If you go up from Bethkelart [Beddgelert] you must walk great part of the way. … There is a very grand view of Snowdon in its most broken aspect from the mountain call’d Lledan …
The rocks and cataracts on the Cunval are extremely romantic and so are the banks of the Draryd from the Pony y pandy by Pengaera … I did not go to Llyn Conway. 2 Where is Dinas Emrys.
From Abergavenny to the Hay by Lan y hangel, Lantony and Capel y fine, … the Hay, and Bealt to Raeadr….
… Perhaps it may be as well to reverse the first route and go from Bangor to Llanrwst but I do not think you will find at Bangor anybody that knows that part of the mountain so well as Williams of the Eagles at Llanrwst. You may go round from Beddgelert to Llanberis going up over Ilavog? valley and so down into the vale of Llanberis over Bwlch y quithel (the Irishman’s hill? Between Snowdon and Glyder About 3 hours ride. I recommend to you strongly when you have time and fair weather to clamber about Glyder. I do not recollect anything else but what I imagine you are better acquainted with than myself. From Llanberis ????? ????? ????? 21 miles and there is one prospect from the heights of the Deleva which is I think as grand a mountain shape as any the county affords.
NLW MS 12460B (Wigfair ms 13 / 20)