Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 16:35 UK

It's tough, and cold, at the top

By Wena Alun Owen, on Snowdon
BBC News

Poor weather on Snowdon
Hats, coats and gloves are the order of the day - even in July

Mud and portable cabins to rival Glastonbury - or perhaps more suitably, the Royal Welsh Show - are perched on top of Snowdon.

The cabins provide shelter for the 80-strong crew at Britain's tallest building site on Wales' highest peak.

And while no-one expected that building the new £8.35m visitors' centre would be easy, Mother Nature has been in a particularly rotten mood recently.

Snow, sub-zero temperatures, howling wind and rain have become the norm.

It has emerged that the weather has been so atrocious that the construction company can no longer say when the centre, Hafod Eryri, will be ready.

According to Aneurin Phillips, chief executive of Snowdonia National Park Authority, the construction workers "deserved a medal".

The site under mist and snow in Snowdonia

Well, talking about the hardships is one thing: actually experiencing them is another altogether.

Even the fact that we caught the 9am train (and not the 7am, as the workers do) did not alter the fact that the weather was damp and miserable even before the ascent at Llanberis.

The mist on the way up revealed only sheep.

Clerk of works Tegwyn Williams said they were the worst conditions he had worked in during 48 years in the construction industry.

Family tradition

"On the worst day here, it was minus 14 and if your eyes watered the tears froze on our face," he said.

Despite the hardship, he's proud of the work being done and the fact that he is carrying on the family tradition. His father Richard worked on the old Snowdon café and had to travel up to work on Monday and stayed on site all week.

Due to the mist and rain, it was difficult even to see where the 80 men on site were actually working. But even a quick glance revealed incredible attention to detail in a building whose main room measures 18m x 9m (59ft x 29ft).

Snowdon train
The Snowdon train emerges from the heavy July mist
Inside the building it was easier to imagine the finished product. This is a step into a welcoming porch area with plenty of toilet facilities on either side, as everyone kept saying. Then through a glass door into the main area.

A large café counter is being fitted along part of the far wall. Designers have constructed the building to be part of the visitor experience.

There are tiles on the floor explaining the origin of the mountain's name, wildlife and tactile wood lines the walls.

Windows along the hall of one side currently look out on scaffolding and mist.

But on a clear day, I'm assured visitors will be able to see all the way to Ireland.

"This is something to be proud of," said Mr Phillips.

"It will be a very unusual building."


SEE ALSO
Weather delays Snowdon cafe again
18 Jul 08 |  North West Wales
Snowdon visitors' centre is named
13 Dec 06 |  North West Wales
Winds delay Snowdon cafe schedule
02 Aug 07 |  North West Wales

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