The mountain peak of Moel Seabod rises up in the northwest corner of Wales, an area favored for its beautiful scenery by painters such as Joseph Mallord William Turner. A tourist guide of the early 1860s described this view looking up the valley as "one of the sweetest pictures on which the eye can rest." At this "beauty spot," as scenic views are called in Great Britain, the character of the valley changes from a lush, green pastoral landscape to rocky wilderness. Roger Fenton had this specific destination in mind when he set out to make the photograph. The railroad had recently begun to run only a few miles from the site, so Fenton conceivably could have used it to transport himself and his traveling darkroom, which was essential for the photographic processes used in the mid-1800s.
Landscape photographs such as this one established Fenton's reputation as a photographer and were consistently successfully exhibited by him. One reviewer exulted that Fenton "seems to be to photography what Turner was to painting–our greatest landscape photographer." Fenton was especially praised for his command of aerial perspective, the ability to convey the effect of distance on the flat plane of the photograph.