IT had been many years since I last climbed Yr Wyddfa, Snowdon back then, the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085 metres. Towards the end of last summer, I returned with my eldest daughter and spent an enjoyable afternoon conquering the mountain. A first occasion for her and her second Welsh mountain summit.

Our route of ascent was via the Llwybr Miner’s Track on the eastern flank. There had been many changes since I was last there. Among them were new parking arrangements, a fully renovated summit café (where you can even buy a beer and post a letter), and the presence of mountain goats.

While I had seen goats in the area before, this was the highest I had seen them in the mountains. Perhaps they had previously been hidden by the mist that often swirls around these summits. North Wales’ feral goats are a primitive species, thought to have escaped from domestication or been intentionally introduced 10,000 years ago, at around the time of the ice age. The goats’ ancestors would have roamed south-west Asia and eastern Europe.

While taking a rest on the mountainside, my daughter and I watched in awe as the goats fed upon the steepest of slopes in a precarious position. With their diet consisting largely of grasses and sedges it makes you wonder why they risk these exposed locations.

A few days later, we set out from Llanberis to explore the disused Dinorwic slate quarry. An otherworldly place that rock climbers escape to when it is wet in the mountains. The mountain goats are bolder here. We watch as a herd wander nonchalantly down the road in their matted woollen coats, ignoring the no entry signs and barriers that bar the way to the Dinorwig hydro power station. We observe more goats at close quarters through an old gate. It is not long before they are up on the wall at head height to reach leaves on the trees (pictured). There diet is different down here. We speculate as to how one goat had lost a horn.

Benefiting from warmer winters, the population of mountain goats in Eryri National Park doubled to 500 in a five-year period. Sadly, this led to a controversial cull. For many they belong here, but they are seen to pose a risk to traffic, reduce grazing opportunities for sheep, eat the saplings planted as we try to replace the woodland we cut down, and have a taste for garden plants. Their agility can get them into trouble too. I read that one recently fell through the skylight of an outbuilding. I wonder if that is how the goat lost a horn.