“Greedy” councils are driving the poor out of Wales and making some of the top tourist attractions, such as Snowdon places, “only the rich can afford it”. That’s according to a hiker who was outraged at the £40 cost to park his car in the Pen-y-Pass car park at the foot of Snowdon.
The man, who posted a visitor to a Snowdonia National Park forum, contrasted his recent experiences in England and Scotland with those in Wales. He accused ‘greedy’ councils of using Snowdon to bring in money and insisted the peak should be affordable for everyone, following the National Trust’s 1998 appeal to buy 4,000 acres on the mountain, which cost more than £ 4 million in public donations. Long lines formed at the top of Snowdon last weekend in “one of the busiest” weekends on record.
Motorists pay a supplement to stay in Pen-y-Pass, where the cost is £18 for eight hours, £25 for 12 hours and £40 for 24 hours. The disgruntled man said this was a “little exaggeration” and added: “It is a National Park after all and not a private car park.”
The effect was to “push the poor away from the mountain,” said the visitor, who suspects an anti-tourism agenda. “Then the Welsh government wants to charge tourists to enter Wales. Then they will rebuild the Offa’s Dyke and rebuild their castles and fortresses.’
Read more: Queues for Snowdon are described as ‘worse than Alton Towers’ – but some argue it’s good for tourism
His outraged post prompted locals to get involved in the debate, which then evolved into more than just parking fees. There was a fierce reaction from locals who were affected by the arrival of mass tourism in Snowdonia, while others lamented the region’s popularity with second home owners and its subsequent impact on Welsh culture and house prices.
Parking fees at Pen-y-Pass were raised two years ago after the staycation boom sparked a spate of unauthorized and often dangerous parking. As many other people noted, Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) wanted to evict visitors from a honeypot area with limited parking and encourage them to use park-and-ride services instead.
One person said: “It’s not about chasing the poor away, it’s more about pushing people to park away from the mountain and travel in. A meager 30 parking space (sic) can’t handle 700,000 serve visitors per year.”
Another commented: “It’s meant to keep people from thinking they can go to the smallest mountain parking lot in the area and just park on the road and on the roadsides when it’s inevitably full. There is insufficient parking infrastructure. They have to keep people down and pay £3 for the bus.”
But compared to other car parks in the UK, Pen-y-Pass is on the more expensive side. One wrote: “Compare the other two largest mountains in the UK: Ben Nevis visitor center £4 all day, Scafell Pike all day National Trust car park £7. Quite a scam by the Snowdonia park authority.”
The Snowdonia National Park Authority said its primary focus has been to promote a system of sustainable transport for visitors. Pen-y-Pass pre-booking and increased fees were part of a strategy to “relieve the pressure on honeypot sites,” it said.
Illegal parking at the pass has now been “drasically reduced”, according to a spokesperson. They added: “No cases of illegal and irresponsible parking were reported in the period April – November 2021 while the pre-booking system was in effect.”
Using the Sherpa bus service to Pen-y-Pass, to access the PYG and Miners tracks, is a “cheaper and more environmentally friendly way” to access these routes, the spokesman said. Sensors have been placed at the many other car parks around Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) so that visitors can make informed decisions about where to visit.
“The strategies we are putting in place mean that a greater number of people can visit Yr Wyddfa,” the spokesperson said. “People dealing with transport poverty and who may not have vehicles can now reach the iconic mountain.”