Will Renwick gives his suggested order of events for a two-day link-up of Wales’s 15 mountains over 3000ft
While many people take on the Welsh 3000s as part of a 24-hour challenge, the round can actually be more enjoyable if there’s time to breathe and take in the views. Fit walkers with mountain experience (and a prompt enough start in the morning) will find two days gives plenty of time to top all 15 peaks. Here’s how to go about your own backpack of the round…
Start/Finish: Pen-y-Pass (SH647556) / Llanfairfechan (SH678751)
Maps: OS 1:25,000 Explorer Map OL17 (Snowdon & Conwy Valley) or Harvey’s 1:40,000 Snowdonia North
Transport: Pen-y-Pass can be reached from train stations in North Wales via the Snowdon Sherpa bus system (traveline-cymru.info, 0871 200 2233). YA accomodation is available there also (yha.org.uk, 0845 371 9534). Trains from the finish point at Llanfairfechan serve the rest of the country and often run directly to London (virgintrains.co.uk, 0871 977 4222).
Total Distance: 48km/30miles
Day 1: Those looking to complete the challenge in 24 hours tend to camp on Snowdon for an early morning start. If you have two days and are a fit walker it is possible to start from the foot of Snowdon at Pen-y-Pass and manage to get through both the Snowdon and Glyderau ranges on the first day. You can also camp at the foot of Tryfan and climb it the next morning to complete the Glyderau on the second day instead.
Day 3: After the Glyderau is the final range: the Carneddau. A fit walker can complete this comfortably in a day. Once at the final peak of Foel-fras, a track can be followed down to Llanfairfechan for the train station.
The 15 in order
1. Crib Goch
A good peak to begin with if you’re starting from Pen-y-Pass. This is the hardest mountain of the round. Steep drops are either side and hands are needed for large sections.
2. Carnedd Ugain
This peak between Snowdonia and Crib Goch is barely noticeable thanks to the drama either side, but nonetheless it counts as one of the 3000s
The highest of the lot at 3560ft. To get to the next mountain, Elidir Fawr, a quick route is to head down the Llanberis Path and then cut off right towards Nant Peris. The exit is steep here however, so extra care is required.
4. Elidir Fawr
A long, diagonal slog is needed to reach the summit of this slate-strewn mountain. Inside it hides Dinorwig’s hydroelectric power station.
5. Y Garn
Linking nicely with Elidir Fawr, this is one of the easier summits to reach on the Welsh 3000s route. Approached from Snowdon it appears a gentle grassy peak, but there are steep cliffs on its other side.
6. Glyder Fawr
The larder of the two ‘Glyders’, scree slopes lead up to its plateau covered with rocky outcrops.
7. Glyder Fach
Similar to its brother but perhaps more interesting with its Cantilever Stone and crown of rocks named Castell y Gwynt.
This witch’s hat-shaped hill is known as one of the UK’s finest scrambles thanks to the frost-cracked stones that fill its slopes. Perfectly on top of its summit are the two boulders of Adam and Eve that are clearly visible even from its foot.
9. Pen yr Ole Wen
One of the long slogs of the Welsh 3000s. It’s made easier by setting off from Llyn Ogwen and approaching the summit at a right angle via a scramble.
10. Carnedd Dafydd
The second-highest of the Carneddau range and home to the ferocious Black Ladders which drop sharply from one side.
11. Yr Elen
One of the few mountains in the 3000s that feels off-route. It is accessed via a narrow saddle and offers views back to the rest of the Carneddau and the Black Ladders.
12. Carnedd Llewelyn
The largest of the Carneddau, it’s named after Llewelyn the Great, who once ruled Wales for part of the 13th Century. The previous 3000ft peak, Carnedd Dafydd, takes its name from his son.
13. Foel Grach
One of the less interesting of the peaks in the 3000s though one still with rewarding views. It has an emergency shelter just off its summit.
14. Carnedd Gwenllian
Formerly named Garnedd Uchaf until renamed in 2009 in honour of Llywelyn the Great’s daughter, Gwenllian of Wales. Only visibly as a slight bump, it was omitted from Thomas Firbank’s original listing of the Welsh 3000s.
The last of the 3s, its trig point marking the end. The 3091ft mountain is a good place to spot dotterel on their migration. From here there is still at least another 5km walk to reach a suitable pick-up point. A good option is Llanfairfechan train station which is roughly 7km away.
Images: Ray Wood