/ Watkin Path Hydro-Electric Scheme

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eroica64 - on 04 Jan 2013
Has the Watkin Path (up Snowdon) Hydro Electric Scheme been publicly known about? I saw it on Wednesday, below the shot-up building above the narrows, and a sign said it was for the National Trust and would generate enough electricity to supply all the National Trust's North Wales' mansions. It seems a bit rich for the National Trust, a preserver of things, to spoil the Snowdonian landscape with a dam.

More here: http://ntenvironmentalwork.net
Mike Peacock on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to eroica64: Here's a direct link: http://tinyurl.com/ay9nujn

I didn't know about it, but the banks of the Afon Cwm Llan are hardly pristine are they? There are mine workings and buildings along the banks and a rather massive track. I think I can live with this.
eroica64 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Mike Peacock: Where would you draw the line on new development Mike? What would be unacceptable to you in terms of Watkin Path development? Cheers.
Orgsm on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to eroica64:

There's been hydro electric on the side of Snowdonia for some time. They were even used in a bond movie aerial shot. What's different about this one?
Mike Peacock on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to eroica64: I don't know. I can't make a final decision without pictures but I'm guessing it's going to be quite a small system. The NT (in north Wales at least) seems quite committed to the environment, and this is presumably another step in reducing their carbon footprint.

Anyway, the plot thickens. It seems this isn't a 'new' scheme after all, just a redevelopment of an old one:
http://ntenvironmentalwork.net/2011/04/14/the-channel-tunnel-and-a-hydro-on-snowdon/
Ramblin dave - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to eroica64:
Seems to be (very) low impact - a small weir and an underground pipe, afaict - and basically a non-issue.
eroica64 - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Mike Peacock: That's very interesting. Well, well.
eroica64 - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave: Hmm; but I don't go up the Watkin path to see a small weir; I go up to see wonderful and wild Snowdon with old ruins that are bad enough, and don't want anything new up there at all. It could be worse, I guess, but it just sticks in my craw that the National Trust (!) is spoiling the Watkin Path.
parkovski - on 09 Jan 2013
parkovski - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to eroica64:

Spoiling the natural beauty of a giant path?! Wouldn't it be better to get rid of the path instead?... And surely if you don't like the ruins and old mine workings, you should go somewhere else anyway?! "wild" Snowdon is a fantasy I'm afraid - it's as much a cultural landscape as a natural one.

I'm actually impressed by the level of care they're taking with this scheme. The harsh limitations on abstraction will mean the stream and the waterfalls are not adversely affected, the weir looks minimally intrusive.

It does sound to me a little bit like you've got yourself all worked up to be angry, and now sound a little bit sulky because the reality isn't as terrible as you'd hoped!
Gentleman Antiquarian - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to parkovski:
Absolutely agree with you. As a landscape archaeologist, it makes me chuckle when people go on about how wild and natural Snowdonia is. It's very largely an industrial landscape full of old mines and workings. You only have to look at the results of the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments (Wales) [RCAHMW] project, The Uplands Initiative, to see just how much industrial activity was taking place in Snowdonia (or is that just because mine working are easier to spot than prehistoric cairns..?). Anyway, I think Cwm llan is an excellent place for such a scheme and I applaud the NT for doing it.

Now, if we want Snowdonia to return to something approaching biodiverse natural beauty, how about massively reducing the numbers of grazing animals on the hills? Look at the difference removing grazing animals has made to the plant, insect and animal communities in Cwm Idwal! Much of Snowdonia is overgrazed and supports a very poor ecosystem. Managed grazing, or better still, no grazing would encourage the growth of trees (look at the number of place-names that mention trees where there are none now) and more delicate plants that would, in turn, encourage a wider range of animal, bird and insect species. Personally, I get bored of trudging through monotonous brown, overgrazed heather and tussock grass in British mountains.
IainRUK - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Gentleman Antiquarian:
> (In reply to parkovski)
> Absolutely agree with you. As a landscape archaeologist, it makes me chuckle when people go on about how wild and natural Snowdonia is. It's very largely an industrial landscape full of old mines and workings. You only have to look at the results of the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments (Wales) [RCAHMW] project, The Uplands Initiative, to see just how much industrial activity was taking place in Snowdonia (or is that just because mine working are easier to spot than prehistoric cairns..?). Anyway, I think Cwm llan is an excellent place for such a scheme and I applaud the NT for doing it.
>
> Now, if we want Snowdonia to return to something approaching biodiverse natural beauty, how about massively reducing the numbers of grazing animals on the hills? Look at the difference removing grazing animals has made to the plant, insect and animal communities in Cwm Idwal! Much of Snowdonia is overgrazed and supports a very poor ecosystem. Managed grazing, or better still, no grazing would encourage the growth of trees (look at the number of place-names that mention trees where there are none now) and more delicate plants that would, in turn, encourage a wider range of animal, bird and insect species. Personally, I get bored of trudging through monotonous brown, overgrazed heather and tussock grass in British mountains.

Eh? Sheep numbers are at an all time low..

The area is now grazed far less than before. Us runners know that as lines off the paths are now much slower than before when it was all short cropped grass, but it will take decades to return to pre grazing levels.

Secondly the industrial paraphernalia add to snowdonia's beauty. It's always been a place for nature, animals and people. It's history should be enjoyed not scourned at.

Gentleman Antiquarian - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

I wasn't aware I was scourning (sic) Snowdonia's landscape history. I suspect, given my profession, I appreciate it more than most. The point I was making was that many people probably believe that Snowdonia has always looked like it does today when, in fact, it has only existed in its current form for a few hundred years. Previously, it was far more wooded.

And if sheep numbers are at an all-time low, it reinforces my point about overgrazing.
IainRUK - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to Gentleman Antiquarian: I know.. but you said they should look to reduce sheep numbers..

And I'd say its been far far far longer than a few hundred years..
parkovski - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> And I'd say its been far far far longer than a few hundred years..

I suspect you chaps will end up in a battle of semantics that depends on where you draw the line of "looking like it does now". I like the idea of baiting the older generation of fell runners by telling them they had it easy though!

IainRUK - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to parkovski: Descents like off Glyder Fawr in the Peris.. they used to be short grass.. no long grass and heather...

You are right, its different.

But do we want North Wales like NZ? Tree lines to within just below the summits, confined to paths as its unpenetrable bush.. like at Tremadog.. when the climbers then remove it anyway..

But I think there was a very real understanding by the NPA and NT that sheep numbers were well too high, hence all the fenced off areas for regeneration trials. And subsidies given to farmers to sustain just the right number of sheep.
Gentleman Antiquarian - on 23 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Just found this paper on the vegetation history of Snowdonia based on pollen analysis. Pollen survives well in wet places, so Snowdonia's ideal...

http://www.field-studies-council.org/fieldstudies/documents/vol10.4_276.pdf

The authors reckon oak woodland reached c.600m altitude, though not as closed forest and woodland started to decline in the medieval period but main loses were in the 16th to 18th centuries. There has to have been quite a lot of woodland because Snowdonia had lots of deer that were a crop-eating nuisance until the end of the 18th century when woodland seems to have largely disappeared from the area.

Very interesting!

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