Snowdon / Eryri IPA

Location: South east of Bangor, Wales. The A5 from Bangor to Betws-y-Coed runs through it.

Grid Reference: SH 681 598

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Snowdon IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of floating water-plantain
  • One of the UK’s most important populations of killarney fern
  • One of the UK’s most important populations of eyebright
  • The species richness of freshwater algae in standing surface waters
  • The species richness of freshwater algae in bogs
  • The species richness of lichens on inland cliffs, rock pavements and outcrops
  • The species richness of lichens on screes
  • The species richness of vascular plants on inland rock
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Nutrient poor lakes with sparse vegetation;
    Rivers with abundant Water Crowfoots;
    Calcareous rocks with crack & fissure vegetation;
    Ungrazed upland cliff ledges on calcareous rocks;
    Nutrient poor lakes with sparse vegetation;
    Acidic alpine grassland;
    Acid rocks with crack & fissure vegetation;
    Acidic montane scree
  • At 3560 feet, the summit of Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales, its Welsh name ‘Eryri’ meaning ‘the place of the eagles’. At its top, the highest nature reserve in Wales, amongst the jagged cliffs, hardy arctic-alpine plants which have evolved to cope with extreme conditions may be found. The calcareous rocky slopes of Snowdon are the only place in the UK where the Snowdon Lily occurs. It was discovered here in the late 17th century and the populations in Snowdonia are hundreds of miles away from the other places where this beautiful plant occurs, like the Alps.

    In the surrounding landscape, to the north and west of this high-point, the other 13 summits over 3000 feet form a stunning upland landscape of plateau, cliffs, and screes, bisected by wooded river valleys and lakes. Heaths, alpine cliff and scree habitats predominate, and a unique suite of rare arctic alpine higher and lower plants are present. These include alpine meadow-grass, tufted saxifrage, alpine saxifrage, alpine saw-wort, alpine woodsia and alpine cinquefoil. Mosses and liverworts thrive here as a result of the relative humidity, and in the extensive areas of igneous rock scree, bryophytes and lichens, with associated species such as fir clubmoss , scorched rustwort and cornicularia narmoerica may be found. As well as its rivers and valley lakes, the area also has a considerable number of small mountain lakes scattered through the uplands. There are large populations of the rare floating water-plantain, which occurs in standing water and has very specific requirements. The area is also home to endemic eyebrights.

    Image: Snowdon © Michael McDonough under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0