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Hafod Eryri, which was officially opened by First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, in June 2009, is the name of the new, architect-designed visitor centre located near the summit of Yr Wyddfa or Mount Snowdon in the mountain range of Snowdonia, Gwynedd, North Wales.

Hafod Eryri

Snowdonia is, of course, one of three National Parks in Wales; the other two being Brecon Beacons National Park and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

"Eryri" is the Welsh name for Snowdonia and stems from "eagles' lair", since eryr is Welsh word for eagle, a very common bird in these rugged mountains in the past, but no longer present here.

"Hafod" " is Welsh for a "summer place" or "summer residence".

Many a Welsh farm is called "hafod" because that farm [often a hill farm] would have provided summer grazing for animals, and the farmer would probably have moved there to live and look after his livestock over the summer months.

So "Hafod Eryri" is a very apt name for this superb visitor centre near the summit of Wales' highest mountain, Yr Wyddfa [in Welsh] or Snowdon.

"The summer place of Eryri" is an excellent description, bearing in mind how many visitors will frequent it during the summer.

view from Snowdon

Of course, Snowdon is the highest mountain in both England and Wales.

Hafod Eryri is a uniquely designed structure built of granite with large views from the "window on the world" wall of glass which makes up the front of the visitor centre.

It acts as a terminus for the Snowdon Mountain Railway providing refreshment facilities, essential toilets and a fascinating factual interpretation of the mountain, its history and the various ways to enjoy it. Much of the interpretation is built into the visitor centre structure.

Lines of poetry from the former National Poet of Wales, Gwyn Thomas, are also built into the fabric of the building which, at last, provides a suitable modern, stylish architect-designed building as the highest building in Wales and England.

Visitors can enjoy the ultimate "high tea" at Hafod Eryri!!

This is available in the centre's Snowdon Summit Cafe or "Caffi Copa'r Wyddfa", which can either be reached on foot by climbing Snowdon, or by travelling in a much more leisurely fashion on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

Hafod Eryri cost £8.3 million to build and was funded by Snowdonia National Park Authority; the Welsh Assembly Government; Visit Wales; Objective 1 European funding; Snowdon Mountain Railway Company and by public appeal.

It has to be really strongly built to cope with extreme weather, in the most exposed location in England and Wales.

There can be 200 inches of rain here in a year , and with winds blowing at over 150 mph ......much of it comes down horizontally!!!

Temperatures, including wind chill, can fall to minus 20 Centigrade!!

The wonderfully attractive granite walls, roof and floors are built from stone from Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd and Portugal. Much of the stone was cut on site on Snowdon, by stonemasons due to the curvature of the stone. The walls curve and lean.

The building has a steel frame, first erected in Shotton steelworks in North Wales, to iron out any problems, and then re-built on site on the upper flanks of Snowdon, after being carried there on the mountain railway.

The internal walls of Hafod Eryri are lined with Welsh Oak .

If wind speeds are over 42mph at Clogwyn, the mountain railway cannot proceed, so the workmen building the centre walked to the summit on many a day.

Many work-days were also lost due to inclement weather.

A time capsule has been laid in the floor containing contents brought by children from Llanberis and Beddgelert schools in Snowdonia.

After Hafod Eryri opened in June 2009, 1000 visitors a day travelled up on the Snowdon Mountain Railway to view it on the 2.5 hour return train journey.

Snowdon Mountain Railway marketing manager, Jonathan Tyler, said that demand was unprecedented and they could not cope with the numbers, so booking was essential.

SMR have been running trains to the top of Snowdon since 1896. They charge £23 for adults and £16 for children.

It seems a nice business, that is forever on the up, even if it does have a mountain to climb!!!!

Even when the service is going downhill, it is making money!! Can't be bad!!