Olympic torch: Bonington takes flame to Snowdon summit

Sir Chris Bonington carried the torch to the mountain's summit

Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington took the Olympic torch to the summit of Snowdon on day 11 of the relay, which went from Beaumaris to Chester.

The flame travelled in a lantern on the Snowdon Mountain Railway before Sir Chris took the torch to the top.

The flame also crossed the Menai Strait and travelled on a lifeboat while it ended the day being carried on horseback into Chester Racecourse.

The relay had moved back to England from Wales as it entered the city.

Sir Chris, 77, began his climbing career on Snowdon 61 years ago. It is the highest mountain in Wales but a sizeable crowd had gathered around the trig point at the summit, 1,085m (3,650 feet) above sea level, to watch him hold the flame aloft.

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And although he has spent many hours climbing it over the years, travelling on the narrow gauge, rack and pinion railway, which was constructed in the 1890s, ensured the occasion was a still a notable first for him.

"The honour of carrying this torch, and joining other torchbearers around the United Kingdom, the whole thing is wonderful," he said.

"I find it quite emotional as this is to do with so much of my climbing heritage. I started my climbing here 61 years ago. This is huge and I'm very, very proud."

On leaving Snowdon, the relay went on to visit another of north Wales' great sites, the Great Orme limestone headland on the Creuddyn Peninsula in Llandudno - and travelled by cable car.

The torch was greeted by 3,000 cheering schoolchildren at Parc Eirias in nearby Colwyn Bay.

RNLI lifeboat The torch travelled for 15 minutes by lifeboat along the Menai Strait, accompanied by a flotilla of boats

The day began at Beaumaris Castle, with the first torchbearer Lorna Price handing it to rugby player Elen Evans who carried the torch on a lifeboat for a 15-minute trip across the Menai Strait.

After the flame's journey on RNLI Annette Mary Liddington it left the Isle of Anglesey along Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge - which was the first of its kind in the world when it was completed in 1826.

Later in the day in Saltney, the last town in Wales to host the relay on the day, the flame was carried by Team GB gymnast Beth Tweddle and on leaving the town, it was escorted by actors playing Roman soldiers, who joined the convoy at the Old Dee Bridge to welcome it to Chester.

The torch arrived in Chester after finishing its tour of Wales

The escort is a tribute to the heritage of the city, which was founded as Deva Victrix in the year 79 by the Romans, who stayed until the 5th Century.

"Gladiators" stood at the Amphitheatre to greet the torch as it entered the city streets, and Canon Jane Brooke from Chester Cathedral was due to meet torchbearers at its West Door.

Jockey Jason Maguire rode the day's final leg and made his entrance into Chester's Roodee Racecourse on 2011 Chester Cup winner Overturn to signal the end of Tuesday's 79-mile journey, with the flame having been passed on by 125 torchbearers.

The evening celebration at Chester was due to include performances from rock band Kids In Glass Houses and dance act Twist & Pulse, while world champion and Olympic rowing and cycling medallist Rebecca Romero was also welcomed on stage.

Other torchbearers on Tuesday included 16-year-old Alex Staniforth, who is the youngest person to complete the Three Peaks Challenge solo, and Ian Powell, a 26-year-old wheelchair sports coach.

And in Hawarden, the flame was carried by Vladimir Tolstoy, the great-great-grandson of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.

A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame on its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey around the UK to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on 27 July.

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