‘A wall too far for a road too narrow’
FOR centuries visitors have admired views of Llyn Cwellyn, an Ice Age lake near Snowdon that has been celebrated by artists and writers from JM William Turner to George Borrow.
Like other lakes in Snowdonia, Llyn Cwellyn is open for all to see. It is most accessible at its northern end where it is abutted by a road, leaving a half-mile long strip of lakeside land that is too narrow to cultivate.
Now, however, a row has erupted over a new wall being built alongside the road.
At almost 6ft high, the slate wall is being erected right on the edge of the narrow A4085, fuelling concerns for road safety as well as loss of lake access.
The structure was commissioned by tech millionaire Lawrence Jones, who hopes to promote local tourism by creating a boutique hotel at Castell Cidwm, the property he owns next to Llyn Cwellyn.
Among the wall’s detractors is Dafydd Jones, chairman of Eryri Ramblers, who said it was not just inappropriate, it was a danger to road users.
“It is a monstrosity, a blot on the landscape,” he said.
“I’ve lived in this area all my life and it is a beautiful part of the world that draws visitors from all over.
“Many like to visit the lake but now won’t be able to reach its banks to observe the beautiful views.
“The wall is being built from slate and while I support the use of local materials, it is out of keeping with the area – all other walls in the valley are built from stone.
“Moreover, the wall is being built too close to the Tarmac, enclosing the road on both sides. Walkers and cyclists won’t be able to dodge the traffic, raising serious questions about road safety.”
Critics have also highlighted the alleged damage being done to lakeside habitats while the wall is being built.
The north eastern side of Llyn Cwellyn is a Special Area of Conservation and opponents fear the work is compromising the shore’s unspoilt and semi wild nature.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has issued an environmental permit for the work. This has a number of clauses, including a ban on cutting trees in the bird nesting season.
Huw Jones, an NRW team leader, said he was unaware of any permit compliance issues at Llyn Cwellyn.
He added: “This area is important for the wildlife that lives here, for fishing, recreation and the tourist economy in an area which local people value.
“We will work with the developer to ensure that the right permissions and construction methods are in place to protect the environment while this work is carried out.”
However it is the highways issue that has most alarmed some living in the valley.
Originally built for horseback traffic, the A4085 narrows in some sections alongside the lake, and concerns have been expressed about drivers of large vehicles trying to pass each other, as well as blind spots for other road users.
One walker, who ask not to be named, said it may pose a threat to users of the nearby Snowdon Ranger youth hostel, where parking capacity was recently increased to 24 spaces.
He said: “For pedestrians or cyclists, there will be no strip of grass to escape an oncoming vehicle – just a high wall and no sanctuary.”
Snowdonia Society and Betws Garmon Community Council are monitoring the situation, while Gwynedd Council is keeping a watching brief.
A spokesman for the latter said: “We are aware of the matter and the landowner’s intention to extend the wall beyond the bends approaching the youth hostel on the A4085.
“Officers from the council’s Transportation Service have discussed the proposed route of the wall with the landowner to ensure it does not restrict the width of the highway as it approaches these bends.
“We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the wall does not impact on the safety of road users.”