25th May, 2017
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.
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!
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Distance: 25.20 miles (40.55 km)
Total ascent: 2,983m
Steepest Gradient: 64% (1 in 2)
Time: 4:19 – 15 hours (Trail running);
12 – 24 hours (Walking)
SummitsSnowdon (Yr Wyddfa) 1085 m
Garnedd Ugain 1065 m
Elidir Fawr 924 m
Y Garn 947 m
Glyder Fawr 1001 m
Glyder Fach 994 m
Pen yr Ole Wen 978 m
Carnedd Dafydd 1044 m
Yr Elen 962 m
Carnedd Llewelyn 1064 m
Foel Grach 976 m
Carnedd Gwenllian (Garnedd Uchaf) 926 m
Foel-fras 942 m
Crib Goch 923 m
Additional InformationStart Snowdon (Yr Wydffa), SH609544; Finish The carpark near Bont Newdd and Abergwyngregyn, SH675716
Llanberis is the nearest town to the start of the walk. Slightly further away is Capel Curig. It is also possible to finish the walk at Bethesda.
Mainly on paths with some grade 1 scrambling over Crib Goch and Tryfan. There is some boggy ground and some steep asents and descents.
Fit walkers should be able to manage to walk the route in a day during the summer months when the days are long. When the days are shorter, you may prefer to do the route over three days. In winter, the route becomes a much more serious challenge requiring ice-axes, crampons and winter mountaineering ability. This is especially true for the section over Crib Goch.
Weather and Hill Conditions: mwis: Snowdonia – Met Office: Snowdonia
There is a carpark at the Pen y Pass but this fills up quite quickly. The Snowdon Sherpa bus runs from Llanberis to the Pen y Pass. There are also bus services between Bethesda and Capel Curig and from Capel Curig to the Pen y Pass. See http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk for details.
There is an excellent website http://www.welsh3000s.co.uk that gives details on various routes and lots of other useful information. The book The Welsh Three Thousand Foot Challenges: A Guide for Walkers and Hill Runners by Roy Clayton and Ronald Turnbull is a handbook for walkers and runners that gives lots of information about the Welsh 3000s traverse, the Paddy Buckley Round, The Snowdon Horseshoe, Snowdon Ascents and the Welsh 1000 metres race.
Times for doing all the Welsh 3000s in one go were first recorded in 1919 when Eustace Thomas managed them in a time of twenty two and a half hours. Colin Donnelly set the current record in 1988 when he recorded an astonishing time of 4 hours 19 minutes. Angela Carson set a female record time of 5 hours 28 minutes in 1989.
OS Explorer 263 (1:25,000), OS Explorer OL17 (1:25,000), OS Explorer OL18 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Snowdonia (1:40,000), OS Landranger 115 (1:50,000), OS Landranger 114 (1:50,000)
Llanberis has several hotels to stay at such as the Heights Hotel. There is a campsite at Nant Peris and there is camping at Gwern Gof Isaf in Ogwen. There is a Youth Hostel at the Pen y Pass and at Idwal Cottage near Lyn Ogwen.