The Pen y Pass car park and surrounding roads were full of visitors's vehicles. Photo: Snowdonia NPA

The Pen y Pass car park and surrounding roads were full of visitors's vehicles. Photo: Snowdonia NPA

National park bosses in Snowdonia may have to close trails and car parks if the public fails to heed government advice to curtail travel.

Snowdonia National Park Authority said the area had its busiest ever visitor day on Saturday, despite the coronavirus crisis.

The authority’s chief executive said crowding on mountain summits made it impossible to maintain the recommended social distancing and called on the UK and Welsh Governments to issue clearer advice on what constitutes essential travel.

An authority spokesperson said: “Only 24 hours after the Prime Minister issued tighter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Snowdonia national park experienced its busiest ever visitor day in living memory yesterday.

“The national park authority in now calling on the government to institute clearer guidance and measures in order to ensure that the spread of the virus is slowed. Based on the unprecedented scenes in Snowdonia yesterday we fear that the current guidance is not explicit enough for people to protect themselves and others.”

Emyr Williams, chief executive of the Snowdonia National Park Authority said: “On Friday night the Prime Minister announced new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

“This included ordering the closure of all pubs, cafes and hotels. In the 24 hrs following this announcement there have been unprecedented scenes in Snowdonia. We have experienced the busiest visitor day in living memory. The area has been overwhelmed with visitors. More worrying still is the significant crowding on the mountain summits and trails making it impossible to maintain effective social distancing.”

The authority spokesperson said: “We are calling on the Prime Minister and First Minister of Wales to provide stronger measures on unnecessary travel and social distancing, to ensure that we do not see a repeat of yesterday’s scenes across Snowdonia.

“Specific guidance is needed on what ‘necessary travel’ actually entails. We also call on all visitor and holiday owners to heed government advice and avoid all but essential travel, and to stay at home to stay safe.

“If no further steps are taken we will need to take drastic measures to protect the communities and health services in north Wales, such as shutting down car parks and trails.

“Snowdonia is not the only area experiencing this problem; other visitor destinations across the world have also been overwhelmed. Yesterday, the Australian government were forced to close Bondi Beach following major overcrowding.”

Vehicles line the road at Pen y Gwryd. Photo: Snowdonia NPA

Vehicles line the road at Pen y Gwryd. Photo: Snowdonia NPA

The spokesperson said local businesses reliant on tourism in Snowdonia have been leading the way in making brave decisions over the past few days despite the economic impact it will have on them. “Major attractions have closed their gates, small activity providers are cancelling their organised events and guided trips.

“Local restaurants and pubs are turning their focus to helping their local communities by supplying and delivering meals to the elderly and those in self-isolation. The communities and businesses within the national park are pulling together to help one another, and we need our visitors to do the same.

“This major influx to Snowdonia and north Wales in general has caused major concerns locally, with people worried about increased pressure on the NHS, rescue services, food supplies and visitor infrastructure, which is already under pressure due the pandemic.

“In these challenging times the Snowdonia National Park Authority will focus all its effort, energy and resource in the coming days and weeks on looking after the communities and businesses in and around the national park.

“We will be pleased to welcome visitors back to this beautiful part of the country once the situation has improved.”

Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team appealed to hillgoers to keep their activities within their capabilities, after its members had to go to the aid of a fallen climber on the Snowdon massif on Saturday.

A group of four people had travelled to the area from Surrey, to climb the main wall in Gyrn Lâs.

The lead climber fell 20m before placing any gear and landed hard in a niche below the belay.

He was reported as having back and leg injuries.

A team spokesperson said: “An initial team of six were flown by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopter Rescue 936 as near to the crags as the strong winds would allow and the crew made several trips to pick up additional people and equipment.

“We’d like to thank our colleagues from the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service for their support on the hill today.

“After administering first aid, the climber was loaded into a vacmat and stretcher and lowered off the cliff before being carried to a landing site lower down in the cwm. We wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

Llanberis MRT posted footage of the rescue on Facebook

Team chairman Alun Allcock said: “Our advice remains unchanged: that if you head into the hills of Snowdonia you should have the ability to follow your route and be self-sufficient as much as practicable. This has never been more relevant.

“As a team made up wholly of volunteers with day jobs, some of these in critical occupations, our team members are thinking and making decisions about their own families and personal wellbeing which will undoubtedly impact on our ability to call a team together.

“We remain operational; we will do our very best to offer you assistance, but that help may be slower in arriving and will have to be proportionate to the situation you’re in. We will firstly use our technology to try and solve your predicament but our tactics might be to give advice to remain at your location until sunrise or for you to ask for the assistance of other passing walkers.

“Our governing body, Mountain Rescue England and Wales have issued an updated statement today.

“The advice is that if you are going to go out into the outdoors, you should walk, climb and cycle well within your capabilities so you are less likely to have to call on the services of a mountain rescue team.”

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