From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Llanberis and Llanberis Pass

53°07'09.4"N 4°07'23.6"W
SH 5800460117

  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Llanberis and Llanberis Pass is a village at the foot of Snowdon, located on the southern bank of the lake Llyn Padarn, Gwynedd.

The village sits in a long narrow valley with two large lakes, north west of Mt. Snowdon. The earliest know settlement in the area is a hillfort, known as Dinas Ty Du, overlooking Llanberis it dates back to the Ironage.

Roman remains have been found in the area, connected with scale slate mining, they are thought to be associated with Segontium, a large fort on the outskirts of modern day Caernarfon.

The ruins of Dolbadarn Castle, stand above the village. It was built in the 13th century by Llywelyn the Great and is a grade I listed building. In 1284, Dolbadarn was taken by Edward I of England, who removed some of its timbers to build his new castle at Caernarfon. Dolbadarn was used as a manor house for some years, before falling into ruin. In the 18th and 19th century it was a popular destination for painters interested in Sublime and Picturesque landscapes. It is now owned by Cadw and managed as a tourist attraction, and is protected as a grade I listed building.

In the sixth century, Saint Peris built a religious retreat at the southern end of Llyn Peris and Saint Padarn established his church on the banks of Llyn Padarn.

In 1787, small scale slate mining began at Dinorwic, between Dinorwig and Llanberis. The outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars and high transportation costs meant the mines enjoyed only limited success. A second attempt was launched in 1809, and the development of a horse-powered tramway to the port at Dinorwic help transportation of the mined product. Vivian Quarry opened in the 1870’s, they used black powder and more tramways had to be built due to the increased production. The large scale industrial mining greatly contributed to the growth of the population from around 700 in the first half of the nineteenth century to over 3000 by the end of it. The mine closed in 1969.

Today the village is a common starting point for ascents of Snowdon because the Llanberis Path begins in the village. Even though it is the longest route, it is the least strenuous route to the summit and largely follows the line of the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

A massive hydroelectric power station is built inside the mountain close by, amidst miles of tunnels carrying roads and water. The main turbine and generator chamber is said to be the largest underground chamber ever excavated by man. A bus tour of the power station starts from the 'Dragon in the Mountain' exhibition in Llanberis.

The Welsh Slate Museum holds one of the largest water wheels built by Victorian industrialists. The De Winton company of Caernarfon built the 15.4 metre diameter wheel, in 1870. It was powered by water piped down from the slopes of Snowdon in cast iron pipes to drive the machinery that produced roof slates. It remained in operation until 1925, when a smaller, more efficient model substituted it.

Running for just over 5 miles from Llanberis to Pen-y-Pass the Llanberis Pass provides some fine Mountain scenery. There are numerous walks along the pass but car parking is limited. It lies between the mountain massifs of Snowdon and the Glyderau and the valley is narrow, straight and steep-sided, with rocky crags and boulders on either side of the road. The British 1953 Mount Everest expedition also trained in the area, and were based at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel at the eastern end of the pass.