The Welsh 3000s Trail runningWalking

by GeoffRadcliffe Oct/2011
This route has been read 37,259 times

A good challenge for any fit walker which also is one of the best walks in Snowdownia. The route ascends all the peaks over 3000 feet starting with Snowdon (Yr Wydffa) and finishing with Foel Fras in the Carneddau.

Tryfan West Face from Pen yr Ole Wen, 171 kb
Tryfan West Face from Pen yr Ole Wen

After spending a very cold and miserable night by the cafe at the top of Snowdon, it was with a sense of relief that at 4am I made my way to the trig point at the top of Yr Wyddfa and the start of the challenge.

The very first part of the route is easy, even in the dark and the mist, and I quickly made my way to the trig point on Garnedd Ugain. The next part along the Crib Goch ridge was trickier. When I got to the pinnacles the visibility was still only a few metres which led to much time wasting. In the mist, I also made the mistake of following the ridge down eastwards towards the Pen y Pass. However, I quickly realised my mistake and headed back up to the ridge to where it curved northwards. Once on the North ridge, I made better progress as it seemed relatively straightforward.

It was only when I left the North ridge of Crib Goch and started to descend into Cwm Glas Bach that I escaped the mist and emerged into bright sunshine. I managed to go wrong at this point and it was with some relief that I reached Ynys Ettws and dropped off my bivy gear. I changed my clothes and spent much too long over breakfast before setting off for Nant Peris along the road. At this point, I was able to pick up the pace and make up for some lost time.

The long slog up Elidir Fawr didn’t feel too bad and I made good progress to Y Garn where I met another walker. This was the first walker I had seen since starting out. After a quick chat, I made my way down to Llyn Y Cwn and tried to find the best path up the steep scree to a large plateau of splintered rocks. From here, I could see the blocks that mark the summit of Glyder Fawr to the left of the main path.

I decided to include the scramble over Castell y Gwynt just in case it ever got included as one of the peaks. The route over this looks menacing and awkward so I folded up my poles and began scrambling. Luckily, it was a lot easier than it looked to reach the summit. The way on was a little more awkward but not too difficult and I was soon back on a good path and heading for the next objective.

The summit of Glyder Fach felt awkward and the best approach didn’t seem obvious. After some scrambling, I crawled on to the summit slab to touch the summit and then slithered back down. After pausing to get pictures of the famous Cantilever rock, I started on the descent of the gully next to Bristly Ridge. This was loose and steep scree that needed care. There were a variety of alternatives and choosing the best way down needed a lot of concentration. The shoulder of Bwlch Tryfan provided a welcome rest spot and a chance to try and spot the best way up Tryfan. The peak straight ahead is the Far South Peak and is not the next objective. Instead, I scrambled up to the left of this trying to find the easiest way up the rocks. The summit blocks of Adam and Eve only came into view when I was within a couple of hundred feet from them. A large crowd of walkers were sat just below the summit blocks enjoying the view in the sunshine.

I spent a few moments on the summit of Tryfan before descending by its West Gully. This was steep but straightforward and soon led to a series of stone steps that took me most of the way down to the road. A few minutes walk along the road and I was at Ogwen Cottage and a lunch stop.

The ascent of Pen Yr Ole Wen was steep but reasonably straightforward (a large part of it has stone steps). Eventually, I reached a large cairn but this was not the true summit. The actual summit was several hundred metres further on to the north east.

The way on to Carnedd Dafydd was much easier going on a good path and after crossing its summit I made my way down and followed the path as it hugged the edge of the top of the Black Ladders, a large, dark steep and impressive cliff.

Ahead, lay Carnedd Llewelyn which looked uninteresting from my current viewpoint. Instead of continuing towards it, I took the vague path that contours around the hillside leftwards towards Yr Elen. The path is hard to follow and I lost it at times but I eventually reached the col above Cwm Caseg and a good path that led westwards to the small pile of stones that marked the summit of Yr Elen. The views from here are amazing. From this vantage point I could see Anglesey, the distant Elidir Fawr, and the next objectives that were Carnedd Llewelyn, Garnedd Uchaf and Foel Grach.

After returning to the col above Cwm Caseg, I followed a good path upwards to the summit shelter on Carnedd Llewelyn. This is the highest peak of the Carneddau and I spent another few minutes admiring the views towards the Snowdon range before setting off north eastwards for Foel Grach. The summit of this is rocky and hidden beneath its north side is a refuge shelter. Leaving the shelter behind, I continued to the rocky outcrop of Garnedd Uchaf which lies to the west of the main path. The actual summit required a bit of clambering to gain the highest point.

After returning to the main path, I followed the easy incline to the final peak of the route. I hurried this section to try and improve my time and it was with a sense of achievement that I reached the trig point at Foel Fras. From here I could enjoy the tremendous views of the North Wales coast. After a few photos of Llandudno and the headland of the Great Orme, I started on the final section to reach the road to Bont Newdd and Abergwyngregyn where, hopefully, there would be a car to take me back to civilisation.

At first, the path was good but after reaching a col, I began to follow a very faint path north westwards that descended steeply to the Llyn Anafon reservoir. The path down was hard to follow and was very boggy. After the reservoir a very good track continued for over three miles down the valley to a car park where my support was waiting with a cold beer from a portable fridge. The sun was still shining!

Fetching Map

Detailed description

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SH6106754342 The traditional way of doing the Welsh 3000s is starting at Snowdon and finishing at Foel Fras. Some walkers may prefer to start with Crib Goch or do the route in reverse. There are many variations. The route described is one of the shortest and least boggy ways of doing all the peaks, but there are some steep bits!

Make your way to the summit of Snowdon by either the Pyg Track or Miners Track. Snowdon is the first peak and where the challenge starts. To get an early start, you may choose to bivouac on the summit near the cafe but this can be a fairly dismal experience.

Touch the trig point on the summit of Snowdon, make a note of the time and set off in a north-westerly direction. Follow the good track down beside the railway to the pointed stone obelisk where the Pyg track meets the ridge. Follow the broad path that ascends to the north-east until the trig point at the summit of Garnedd Ugain is reached.

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SH6116355129 From the trig point, descend steeply and scramble along the ridge in an easterly direction. The first major obstacles to be reached are known as the Crib Goch Pinnacles. Climb straight over the first pinnacle and descend the other side with care along a narrow rock shelf to the safety of a gully. This section is very exposed! Alternatively go around to the right of the pinnacle before climbing over it. Climb up the gully and ascend the second pinnacle up its left hand side. After another 200 metres you should reach a small pile of stones that mark the true summit of Crib Goch.

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SH6250555158 Continue north-eastward along the knife-edged ridge enjoying the views. The right-hand side of the ridge for this section is much less exposed than the other side. The bold may choose to walk along the very top of the ridge, but mere mortals will prefer to scramble just below the ridge using its top as a hand rail. Eventually you should reach Crib Goch's north summit where an obvious continuation descends towards the Pen y Pass, however you need to follow the ridge as it curves around to the north. As the ridge comes to an end, descend the pinkish screes in a north-westerly direction via an indistinct path. Set your compass to 312 degrees and follow this bearing to a steep descent down a little gully (SH 61992 56084). Follow the faint path, at first to the west and then to the north west, to another short descent (SH 61800 56200). Continue descending in a northerly direction to cross a stream. Follow a path besides the stream going downwards (north-easterly) to a good track over a bridge at Blaen-y-nant. Finding the best way down from the north ridge of Crib Goch is not easy and this is one section that you may wish to recce first (but in reverse) from Blaen-y-nant. If doing the route over three days, you could end the first day here or at Nant Peris.

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SH6235656965 From Blaen-y-nant follow the road for 2.2 km to Nant Peris passing the Vaynol pub. Turn right along a walled lane by a chapel towards the Ty Isaf campsite. Go past the campsite entrance and follow the public footpath (sign) along the lane. Go over a ladder style and continue along the lane. The route now passes through a metal gate on the right and heads up the hillside in a northerly direction to reach a footbridge at SH 60849 59569. Cross the bridge and follow the track upwards through often boggy ground. Continue upwards heading for the summit of Elidir Fawr, which is to the north and marked by a cairn and a stone shelter. The views from the summit are tremendous and Anglesey can clearly be seen unless it is misty.

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SH6128161282 From the summit of Elidir Fawr, head north-eastwards along a good path. The path eventually curves round to the south and heads towards Y Garn. Continue southwards rather than following the path up to left which goes up Foel Goch. The summit of Y Garn has a wind shelter and has one of the finest views in Wales.

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SH6317359535 From Y Garn continue in a south-easterly direction to a lake (Lyn y Cwn) where you can refill your water bottle. Go round to the left of the lake and start your ascent up the steep screes towards Glyder Fawr. At the top of the scree you will reach a barren plateau that contains lots of rock features. Glyder Fawr is the highest of these rock features and lies slightly to the left of the main path.

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SH6432657922 From Glyder Fawr, follow the path eastwards heading directly for the spiky and intimidating rocks of Castell y Gwynt (Castle of the Winds). These can be avoided by going around to the right of them, but it is much better to scramble over them and this is much easier than it looks (grade 1). After reaching the other side of these rocks, the pile of huge boulders that mark the summit of Glyder Fach can be clearly seen ahead. Follow a rocky path heading straight for them. The ascent of these boulders can be problematic. Perhaps the easiest way is to go around to the right of them and then scramble upwards to finish up a small slab.
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SH6572958261 After slithering back down from the summit of Glyder Fach follow the path past the famous Cantilever rock (a balanced slab of rock that looks very precarious and is the scene of many photographs). From here head north-eastwards towards an obvious descent (don't take the right hand path that leads eastwards). The descent beside Bristly Ridge is steep and loose and requires care. At the bottom of the scree slope cross a ladder style and head towards Bwlch Tryfan - this is the col below Tryfan. The summit ahead is the South peak and this can be avoided by going around to its left (the true summit of Tryfan cannot be seen from here). Scramble upwards trying to find the easiest way up (grade 1) until the col behind the south peak is reached and the summit blocks of the true summit can be seen. Head straight for these blocks (known as Adam and Eve). The daring may choose to jump between the summit blocks but this may prove to be a foolish way to end your walk.

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SH6649059353 From the summit go northwards to reach a col below Tryfan's north peak and take a path that leads steeply downwards to the left (westwards). After scrambling down a gully, a set of stone steps can be seen going heading off to the north-west. Follow these to their end and continue along a path that leads down to the A5 at a point about halfway along Llyn Ogwen. Follow the A5 westwards to Ogwen Cottage. There are toilets here and a small shop where you can get food and water. If doing the route over three days, you could end the second day here.

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SH6501860351 From Ogwen Cottage continue along the A5 (westwards) and just after the bridge go through a gap stile in the wall on the righthand side. Go slightly left and then upwards to meet a series of stone steps. which are followed until their end. Continue up the hillside over some scree and blocks until the summit plateau is reached. Head rightwards (north-east) to reach the actual summit of Pen yr Ole Wen where there is a stone shelter.

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SH6567761913 From Pen yr Ole Wen the path descends north-westwards to meet the ridge that leads to Carnedd Dafydd.

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SH6636463019 From Carnedd Dafydd continue along a path that follows the ridge keeping just to the right of the steep drop above the Black Ladders cliff. Where the path reaches the slopes of Carnedd Llewelyn and starts to ascend its southern flank, take a faint path to the left which contours round to the north-west. This path is very vague in parts but if you maintain the same height, you should reach a good path on a ridge that joins Yr Elen with Carnedd Llewellyn. Follow the path north-westwards to the small pile of stones that mark the summit of Yr Elen.

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SH6739965105 From Yr Elen retrace your steps along the ridge and then continue along the path upwards towards Carnedd Llewelyn. After reaching the summit plateau head towards a large stone shelter and a pile of stones that marks the summit.

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SH6844264341 From Carnedd Llewelyn follow a cairned path heading northwards at first, and then north-eastwards to the loose pile of rocks that mark Foel Grach.

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SH6895965874 From Foel Grach descend steeply (north-eastwards) past a small refuge shelter and follow a path heading northwards and then turning slightly to the north-west where the rocks of Garnedd Uchaf can be seen straight ahead. The main path goes to the right of these rocks, but continue heading straight towards them and clamber over them to locate the highest point.

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SH6877966870 From Garnedd Uchaf head north-eastwards to reach a good path that goes to the left of a wall. Follow the path until the trig point that marks the summit of Foel Fras summit can be seen. Leave the path and head over to the trig point and spend a while admiring the views over towards the Great Orme near Llandudno. This is the final peak of the Welsh 3000s and you will have walked 21.4 miles from Snowdon to get here. However before you can relax, there are several more miles of walking to do.

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SH6973768146 From Foel Fras, walk north-westwards along a broad ridge gradually descending to a col. Take a very faint path to the left that leads downwards to a clearly visible reservoir (Llyn Anafon). The path is hard to follow and descends through some fairly boggy ground. If you lose the path, head towards the righthand side of the reservoir. When you reach the reservoir head towards a very good track. Follow the track for another 3 miles. A third of a mile after the track swings to the north a path leads down to the left to reach a gate at the end of a road and a small carpark. Hoepfully, you will have arranged for someone with transport to meet you here. If not, it is another 1.8 miles to Abergwyngregyn.

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This route has been read 37,259 times