A 70-year-old man who’d told friends as they walked on Snowdon: “This is one of the best things I have ever done”, lost his footing and plunged to his death on the 3,560ft peak, an inquest heard.

A conclusion of accidental death was recorded at Caernarfon by North West Wales senior coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones on Roy Whitby, a retired production line worker, of Coalville, Leicestershire. He died last September.

The coroner said Mr Whitby’s party had been descending the highest mountain in England and Wales on the Pyg track and decided to move to the Miners track. But the pensioner lost his footing, fell backwards and went some distance down the mountain, hitting rocks.

“This sadly highlights what has been said in this court several times, there’s no such thing as a safe mountain,” Mr Pritchard Jones remarked.

He said: ”I have several incidents, almost identical, every year. I have been, at times, pressured to recommend there be safety features put on Snowdon. But I have resisted that because part of the fun of being on mountains is to be exposed to the elements and enjoy the view. Things like concrete steps and guard rails would ruin the experience.”

The coroner said :”Mr Whitby appears to have been having a really good time. Unfortunately he went rather close to the edge and there he lost his footing and fell backwards. He fell some distance.”

Gwyn Roberts of Llanberis mountain rescue team, whose volunteers were called out with a coastguard helicopter, said : ”It’s the nature of mountains that sadly accidents do happen. It seems to have been brought about by perhaps a navigational error.” It appeared the walkers had deviated into a “rough” area.

Ian Booth told the coroner the six-strong party had reached the summit and visited the café before starting their descent. Mr Whitby had commented about how he was enjoying the trek. They turned off the Pyg track and Mr Whitby passed him when he fell. There was a large drop.

“It all happened as quick as a flash,” Mr Booth recalled. He made his way to Mr Whitby but nearly fell, too. Mr Whitby had been unconscious.

His head injury “wasn’t survivable,” the coroner added.