'Illegal fires' at Llanberis lagoons beauty spot sparks confrontation

Fresh concerns have emerged about the use of beauty spot car parks as “free campsites” in Gwynedd. A dog walker at Y Glyn in Llanberis, in the shadow of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), photographed multiple examples of illicit fires and BBQs being lit at the site on a warm, sunny day.

When he challenged one visiting family, the resulting confrontation almost came to blows, he claimed. Signs at Y Glyn, known as the '"lagoons", warn against the danger of lighting open fires in the wooded area.

“It was unbelievable,” said the dog walker, who asked not to be named. “So many people there were camping there for the night and were ignoring signs banning the lighting of fires.

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“There were fires lit on the access road and disposable BBQs burning away on picnic tables. Some BBQs were on legs, which is fair enough but still illegal, and when I spoke to their owners, they were very respectful of the countryside. Others were not, however.

“It’s not just the damage caused to the ground, and the ugly scorch marks left behind, it’s the potential danger they cause. Some fires were right next to undergrowth which, when I visited, was very dry.

“At least one fire was lit on the main path down to the lagoons. The danger doesn’t go away when the fires go out.

"What if a swimmer, paddleboarder or young child had been walking barefoot and stepped on the still-hot ashes left behind?” North Wales Live has launched a WhatsApp community group where you can get the latest stories delivered straight to your phone

Matters came to a head when the dog walker confronted a dad about to start a fire. Despite asking the man to think again, the dog walker returned to his car later to see a small fire blazing.

“The dad and his two children were cooking sausages on kebab skewers,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I told him I was ringing the police.”

The dad allegedly threatened him with his skewer. “He put it in my face and I pushed him away,” said the dog walker. “I told him I wasn’t going anywhere until the police had arrived. I was bluffing, I hadn’t called the police.

“Eventually, he backed down and put out the fire. But as it was still hot, and with undergrowth nearby, I fetched some water from the lagoons and poured it on the embers to make sure it was fully extinguished and not a danger.”

Three revamped car parks at Y Glyn, on the banks of Llyn Padarn, have been the focus of local anger in recent weeks. Height barriers are not being operated, to prevent campervans and motorhomes accessing the Parc Pardarn site. Neither have payment machines at a new Arosfan site (aires) gone online yet.

The result has been a free-for-all, residents have claimed. As well as depriving locals of parking space at a valued amenity area, noise, littering and the prospect of fire damage have stoked local concerns.

Cyngor Gwynedd has pledged to re-hire a private security firm to monitor the site, as it has done over the past two summers. Overnight camping is banned in all car parks and laybys in the county and the local authority said its staff have moved on illegal campers from Parc Padarn.

Payment machines at the new Arosfan site for motorhomes are due to be operational machines by “the main holiday period”. The council has said height barriers cannot be lowered at Y Glyn due to motorhomes legitimately parking for the day, and because of the number of vehicles arriving with watercraft and other leisure gear on their roofs.

For many residents, concerns centre not so much on tourism as the behaviour of a significant minority. “It wouldn’t be so bad if they respected the lives of those who live there,” said one woman on social media. Many wild campers agree. “This is the minority spoiling it for those of us that leave no trace,” said a specialist at West Midlands Fire Service.

The dog walker took his photos last weekend. He's expecting more of the same this weekend with the Slateman Triathlon starting in Llanberis. "A lot of people follow this event and they like to park at the lagoons," he said. "It will be rammed - it will be absolute hell." Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

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