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4.4 out of 5 stars16
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 16 April 2013
This is a good, informative book, but I found it heavy going. The prose is dense.
The writer grew up in Manchester, and not in Wales, but has adopted Welsh culture and language. He writes knowledgeably about the mountain. As someone else wrote below, it's not for anyone who wants a quick introduction to the Snowdon area. Also,
I just don't get why he has to include Welsh poems with no translations, when it's an English language book, for heaven's sake. It's very interesting to see the poems but also to know what they mean if you don't speak Welsh.
Worth reading if you are really interested in mountain literature.
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on 25 November 2012
Everyone of course knows it's in Wales or do they? As the first book about the mountain in ninety years, I think the author wanted to emphasise its roots in the local landscape, history, folklore and community as opposed to viewing it in isolation. Having taken a swipe at the `colonialists', the record has now been set straight.

There's nothing glossy about the book which boasts not a single illustration, not even a map. Going against the adage of pictures painting thousands of words Jim Perrin says you can convey so much more in writing than in pictures, mixes of description, history, hopes, fears and so on. The writer can direct the reader more specifically, creating a mental picture, forcing thought and contemplation as opposed to a quick flick through.

That sounded plausible but I also liked what the publisher (Dylan Williams of Gomer) said at the book launch. Not only was Jim's manuscript seven years late it was more than double the target wordcount. In parallel with the words, photos by Ray Wood had been commissioned and delivered but, with 65,000 words that were too good to be cut, there simply wasn't the room for them.

It's a very learned book, with many of those words being quotations from older texts or footnotes, and a `select bibliography' stretching to seven pages, but it's also very personal. Even the man who drove his Vauxhall Frontera to the summit (twice) gets a mention. This is followed by an admission of the author's `hoodlum' motorbike rides to reach the best climbing cliffs in time for an after work climb .... `It ill becomes old men like me, whose pasts will scarcely bear the weight of scrutiny, to grow sanctimonious'.
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on 16 October 2013
Firstly, this is not a 'guidebook' to Snowdon, but there are plenty of those already. I would describe it as a book for people who already know and love the mountain (and it is about Snowdon, not Snowdonia) and either want to enhance their knowledge of it or to reminisce about days spent walking, climbing or just observing the mountain. I've been on the summit more than 400 times, and have read quite a lot about area but I still learnt a lot from this book and found it very readable - hence my heading: I really do think this is Jim Perrins best book up to now. Yes, of course it contains some references in Welsh - possibly because Welsh is an indigenous, living language used by many of the people who live and work around the mountain, and I appreciate the fact that the author has acknowledged the importance of the environment on the language and people in North Wales, and that he cites Ioan Bowen Rees as an inspiration in this respect.
I really recommend this book - but not if you're one of the crowd of "Three Peaks" charity bumblers who frequently infest the mountain in the Summer months - it might slow you down and make you wonder about your environmental impact on the mountain.
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on 4 October 2014
Thoroughly authoritative, witty, irreverent. Vintage Perrin. A tad heavy in places...l am a Saes after all! Mike Perrin is a wordsmith, so have a dictionary handy! Good read particularly if you know and love the mountain.
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on 5 February 2013
This book is quite 'heavy' by that I mean it is filled with an abundance of facts and history, as you would expect from the title. I found myself having to re-read many sections just to get the welsh pronunciations correct in my head. I found the footnotes to be excessive and intrusive which detracted from the reading flow.
There are no pictures in this book. I feel a few pictures would help readers who have been on the mountain relate parts of the text visually to where they have been. All in all a very factual book but a rather tedious read.
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on 30 March 2013
There have been sufficient books published on the subject of Snowdon to form a small mountain of their own. Most detailing the obvious; what it looks like, how to get up and get down, where to start, when to stop, full information to assist in the mountain conquest. Thankfully this volume does not add to that cannon.

This is the story of a Welsh Mountain, a biography, but whilst Snowdon undoubtedly has celebrity status this isn't a shallow celebrity biography. It is an affectionate multifaceted portrait of place by a writer who clearly knows it intimately. Perrin has produced a detailed and readable account that will guide the intelligent traveller and perceptive visitor towards a rounded appreciation of this most magnificent of mountains. It provides a valuable addition to our knowledge of an oft-beleaguered mountain.

There are numerous footnotes in this book, which are to be welcomed. They offer signposts to deeper layers whilst detracting nothing from the narrative and in conjunction with an appropriate annotated bibliography mark Snowdon as the definitive volume on the subject and certainly the most readable.

I urge those who 'know' Snowdon to read this book and marvel at their ignorance; those who aspire to know Snowdon to make it the cornerstone of their library.
For anyone else remotely interested in the wild, the chapter Lie of the Land exemplifying the joy of wandering freely in the outdoors will amply repay the cover price.
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on 26 July 2014
Knowledgeable, idiosyncratic and lyrical. A splendid book
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on 15 January 2013
The author, Jim Perrin, grew up within the spell of this magnificent peak, the highest in ancient Eryry, and also in the whole of Britain south of the Scottish Highlands. I grew up sixty miles away, but came to walk across it many times in my youth. Jim stands us in the one-time estuary of Afon Glaslyn, before the drainage schemes of the late eighteenth century 'the mountains' mirror', and presents to us the beauty and symmetry of its 'architecture', its summit a wonderful pyramid against the northern sky behind it, especially when covered in snow and lit by the sun. Supporting the peak are the four great buttress ridges where he leads our imagination on so many great rock climbs.

But this is much more than a climber's book; it is about a mountain wreathed in mystery, surrounded by legends, peopled by ancient people, and the old Welsh language still spoken by sixty percent of the surrounding countryside. He is sceptical of the young English 'pioneers' who arrogantly claimed the 'first rock climbs' in the early twentieth century, guided as they were by local shepherds who, with their ancestors, had been the real pioneer cragsmen of the mountain. Jim also takes us through the important botanical history of this now isolated post-glacial landscape, as well as outlining its fascinating geological past. The long imprint of human habitation and endeavour, ancient and modern, is outlined very well, up to the coming of the modern tourist and holiday climber.

The book is a biography of the mountain, and also the biography of one person's life-time relationship with it. It asks for careful reading, and I found an OS map useful in following the author's journeys. He also attacks, for me as a Scot living in Wales, the damage done to local toponomies by the early OS surveyors, often distorting or mis-spelling place names, not having any basic Welsh, or Gaelic either in my own case. This is also part of the mountain's modern history, and in some cases Jim Perrin cites the older renderings of these ancient names. Footnotes expand upon salient points, but are not essential to the reader. It has been criticised for lack of photographs, which was not a problem for myself as I know the landscape, but ideally Snowdon should be visited, carefully and discretely, and having done that illustrations become superfluous. The book is nicely bound and well presented, worth a place on your bookshelf if you are a lover of the British hills.
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on 4 October 2014
My partner enjoyed this
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on 27 July 2014
disappointing to me. too much geology and not enough about legends. He disparages the existence of king arthur, and some of the great gods of climbing. Too little on climbing in snowdonia, which was the forcing house of all advances in british mountaineering. Very enjoyable when he gets into his stride and bitches at all and sundry. He has a massive chip on his shoulder about the english upper classes and the mountianeering establishment in general
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