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New service will help climbers and protect rare mountain plants

Natural Resources Wales and the British Mountaineering Council are launching a new service for winter climbers to provide live information on ground and air temperatures to help them plan their visits more effectively.

The Welsh Winter Conditions Information Service is a pilot project that will provide live detailed information about conditions in Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia.

Cwm Idwal is renowned for its rare plants and flowers, such as the Snowdon Lily, which grow on the cliff faces. It was designated the first National Nature Reserve in Wales in 1954, partly in recognition for the importance of these rare species.

This remote sensing station will generate live data and record not only the air temperature but also the temperature of the turf at 5cm and the ground at 15 and 30 cm,

This information is then sent by radio signal to an internet feed at Ogwen, the new visitor centre and will appear live on the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) Regional Access Database.

Climbers will then be able to use this information to gauge if conditions are really suitable for winter climbing in the Cwm. This will help avoid the situation where people may make the long drive or effort to get to Cwm Idwal and possibly then be tempted to attempt routes which are not in condition, potentially causing damage to the vegetation.

Elfyn Jones of the British Mountaineering Council said:

“Cwm Idwal has some of the best cliffs for winter climbing in Wales but also supports rare and vulnerable mountain plants which can be easily damaged by climbers if they aren’t properly frozen or protected by a good cover of snow or ice.”

Joe Roberts of Natural Resources Wales said:

“With approximately 125,000 visitors to the Cwm annually it is a hugely popular area for sports and recreation, bringing in visitors to boost the local economy. Fortunately, most winter climbers are now very aware of the need to minimise the impact of their activity on sensitive and fragile habitats and this service will enable them to make better decisions in the future.”

In order to deliver the project Natural Resources Wales worked in partnership with the National Trust, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the BMC.

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