Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

The Preservation of Mountain Scenery

The Times, 28 April 1908

To The Editor of The Times

Sir,—I read in your issue of April 21 some extracts from the report of the English branch of the League for the Preservation of Swiss Scenery. All nature lovers must applaud the effort to save the Alps from desecration; but to one who has before his eyes the ruin, not merely impending, but in actual course of accomplishment, of our own Welsh mountains, the thought will occur—does not charity, in the preservation of scenery as in other matters, being at home? Why is it that English public opinion, which has fortunately put some check on the ravages of commercialism in the Swiss Alps, has left North Wales to its fate? Already the peak of Snowdon has been disfigured beyond redress by the “Summit Railway” and hotel, and it is now proposed to utilize the huge and unsightly power works, which have been built at the head of Nant Gwynant, for a network of light railways which will further enmesh the doomed mountain in their clutch, and spoil the still beautiful valleys that lie around, as the Pass of Aberglaslyn has already been spoiled.

It is useless to look for local resistance to this vandalism, for one is always met by the assertion, true but irrelevant, that such enterprises “give work”; which, indeed, would equally justify the pulling down of Westminster Abbey to “give work” to the unemployed of London. Nothing but an enlightened public opinion, unmistakably expressed, can now avert the destruction (for such it is) of the noblest of Welsh, perhaps of all British, mountains; and I submit that even the threatened Matterhorn railway does not so urgently claim the attention of the British public as the present spoliation of Snowdon.

The ultimate remedy, in our own country as in Switzerland, is the establishment of national “parks,” or “reservations,” which would give sanctuary at the same time to rare animals and plants. Meantime, it is not possible, even at the eleventh hour, that a society should be formed to rescue the Welsh hills from the speculator and the company promoter?

Yours faithfully,

Henry S. Salt
The Gelli, Capel Curig, North Wales