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 Spoliation of Snowdon

The Times, July 14, 1911

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES

Sir,—At a time when all eyes are turned to Snowdonia, owing to the Royal visit, will you allow me to revert to a subject which I have previously raised in your columns—viz., the need of protecting the Welsh mountains, if we wish them to retain the true character of mountains, against the inroads of the speculator and the company promoter? It is a somewhat strange fact that, while there is an English branch of the League for the Preservation of Swiss Scenery, no organized attempt is made to preserve our own mountain scenery, not from desecration merely, but from destruction.

Take, for example, the case of the river Glaslyn, which flows from the heart of Snowdon through Cwm Dyli and Nant Gwynant, till it finds its way by the Pass of Aberglaslyn to the sea. The Royal party will doubtless be invited to admire the "power works," erected a few years ago at the head of Nant Gwynant, and other signs of enterprise; but from the nature-lover’s point of view there is a different tale to tell. The once shapely peak of Snowdon has been blunted into a formless cone by the Summit Hotel, which, by the way, has lately added to its premises a battlemented wall built of red brick; both Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw, two tarns of flawless natural beauty, have long been befouled with copper mines; and more recently the glorious waterfall, through which the stream dashed headlong from Cwm Dyli to Nant Gwynant, has been replaced by a line of hideous metal pipes, by which the whole hillside is scarred. As for the far-famed Pass of Aberglaslyn, defaced as it is by railway works and tunnellings remorselessly begun and then temporarily abandoned, its state can only be described as one of stagnant devastation.

Yet all this mountain scenery, which has been foolishly sacrificed for private purposes, might have been a public possession of inestimable value had it been tended as it deserved; and much yet remains in Snowdonia that may be saved for the enjoyment and refreshment of future generations if the apathy of public feeling and of the Welsh people can be dispelled. As I have before pointed out, the ultimate remedy for the vandalism which threatens our mountains and other wild places lies in the formation of national parks or "sanctuaries," which would give protection at the same time to rare animals, birds, and plants. If the present occasion could be utiized to that end, if we could see the installation not only of a Prince of Wales, but of a better sense of the majesty of the noble mountain which Welshmen once regarded as sacred, and if this feeling could take form in the establishment of a sanctuary round Snowdon, it is no exaggeration to say that a great public loss would be averted and a national treasure retained, which, once squandered, can never in any circumstances be restored.

Yours faithfully,

Henry S. Salt
53, Chancery Lane, W.C.