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Exploring Wales on foot from top to bottom — O Fon i Fynwy

David

Exploring Wales on foot from top to bottom — O Fon i Fynwy

Hiking Collection by Kit P

25-56

days

3-6 h

/ day

367 mi

47,000 ft

47,050 ft

One of the UK’s most incredible long-distance adventures, O Fon i Fynwy is an epic trail that leads you from Wales’ far north western point to its far south eastern. On this 365-mile (587 km) hike, you’re led through two national parks, between towering mountains, past serene lakes, down to beautiful beaches and through whispering woodlands. Villages, historic railways, viaducts, castles and Iron Age forts punctuate the route, blending cultural history with the country’s famous landscapes.

O Fon i Fynwy links multiple other named routes together, forging the connections that enable this huge route to exist. You begin on Anglesey, a windswept and stunning island littered with ancient relics and empty beaches. Crossing the iconic Menai Bridge, it’s not long before you head into Snowdonia National Park, home to Wales’ highest and most breathtaking mountains. The trail doesn’t send you to summits, although you can easily make detours if you wish. Instead, it uses mid-level paths on the western edge to lead you through this fantastic mountain landscape.

You reach the coast at Barmouth and visit pretty Dolgellau before winding southwards around the bulk of Cadair Idris and hiking through the blissful, rolling landscapes of the Cambrian Mountains to reach the Brecon Beacons National Park. From here, you traverse the entire park, entering in the north west and exiting in the south east after having taken in the grandeur of Pen y Fan and her impressive neighbours.

The adventure finishes with a flourish – its final stages leading you through the tranquil, vibrant beauty of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and meandering alongside the River Wye. Chepstow marks your finish point, on the banks of the Wye with a crumbling castle as your backdrop.

The entire route is a significant undertaking but you can easily break it up into smaller sections to suit the time you have available. I’ve broken the route into stages that almost always finish in a town or village where you can find food and accommodation or, failing that, a bus to take you to some. Planning ahead will be beneficial, as the trail spends most of its time in very rural areas.

All parts of the route are best hiked in the warmer months when you can take advantage of sunnier, longer days. That said, if you want to walk short sections, then you can hike throughout the year. In winter, Wales can experience significant snow and any exposed regions such as the national parks can become treacherous for anyone without the requisite experience. No matter when you hike, bring your waterproofs and sturdy boots: the going is rugged and the rain clouds indiscriminate.

You can reach Holyhead by train as well as Chepstow at the end. Wales has a considerable network of railway lines although as they must stick mostly to valleys, the routes can be fairly circuitous. Buses are a good way of getting around as well, but always check the timetable, because they’re not always numerous.

Hiking the O Fon i Fynwy is the kind of adventure that offers outstanding views and peaceful scenes wherever you are. Friendly villages, delicious local recipes and gear shops in the smallest of places add even more enjoyment.

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O Fon i Fynwy

358 mi

45,250 ft

45,250 ft

Last updated: June 26, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Holyhead to Borthwen — O Fon i Fynwy

    Difficult
    05:21
    13.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first stage of this epic route begins in Holyhead, a thriving port town on Anglesey’s Holy Island. You can stock up on supplies easily here, before following the coast path above the stunning, craggy shore to cross the embankment and reach Anglesey itself. The trail continues to hug the coast, taking

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:24
    12.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    625 ft
    625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage hugs the coastline which is just as well, because it’s hard to think of a more beautiful location. As you walk, on your right side are rolling fields, farms and craggy hills, and on your left side is a succession of exquisite bays, rocky outcrops and stunning headlands.

    

    You finish in Cemaes

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:28
    8.06 mi
    2.3 mph
    475 ft
    450 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You continue your exploration of Anglesey’s craggy coastline, hiking above the crashing waves and through areas with ancient remnants. Hell’s Mouth and Porth Wen are particularly impressive bays with their rocky beaches and jagged cliffs. In the last section, you hike alongside the edge of Bull’s Bay

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:25
    12.4 mi
    2.3 mph
    900 ft
    950 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With a couple of short but steep hills and the kind of views you want to write postcards about, this stage carries on along Anglesey’s coast. At the end of the first quarter, there’s a short detour to Point Lynas Lighthouse – well worth the extra effort. Later, the estuary of Traeth Dulas is quite a

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:13
    12.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    800 ft
    550 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is filled with the wonders of nature from its huge Castell Mawr Rock and vast bays to its abundance of birdlife. You follow the coastline southwards, reaching Benllech Beach and the stunning Red Wharf Bay just in time for elevenses. Between the two rises Castell Mawr, an abrupt limestone rock

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:11
    12.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    625 ft
    825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This is the final stage on Anglesey and the island certainly offers you a magnificent goodbye. You first walk west to discover the gorgeous remains of Penmon Priory, a 6th century monastery. After, you head south along the coast to the utterly fantastic Beaumaris Castle. Dating back to the 13th century

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:35
    12.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,450 ft
    700 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage leads you a little back from the coast as it prepares to head through inland Wales. You hike first to Porth Penrhyn to see its colourful fishing boats before heading south to the River Ogwen and across peaceful farmland. Hiking east, you gain considerable height and are treated to expansive

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:14
    11.2 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,500 ft
    1,850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Away from the coast and into the hills, this stage has more elevation gain than the previous hikes but there’s nothing too challenging here. Instead, you begin by enjoying the fantastic waterfalls of Aber Falls before heading uphill to trace the path of a Roman Road. Ancient stone circles, tumuli and

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:31
    9.73 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage takes a definitive step into some of Wales’ most extraordinary landscapes. You leave the Vale of Conwy by a steep trail to gain height that you keep all the way until the end.

    

    Once up, you hike to Llyn Eigiau Reservoir and take a relatively easy trail between Moel Eilio and Pen Llithrig y

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:43
    12.0 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,650 ft
    2,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage has plenty of ups and downs as you make your way around mountains and through valleys to the base of Snowdon, Wales’ highest peak. You start by hiking up from Capel Curig and descending into the next valley to Afon Lledr at Dolwyddelan, a good place for lunch. You head west using the river

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:57
    10.2 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,700 ft
    1,500 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Heading through the heart of Snowdonia, this stage has a little bit of everything. Historic sights like the copper mines, exquisite valleys and lakes, and mountain climbs with their resplendent views.

    

    You begin on the shore of Llyn Gwynant and follow this pretty valley westwards. The first and most challenging

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:25
    7.64 mi
    2.2 mph
    575 ft
    1,050 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    One of the shorter stages in this Collection, you begin fairly high and, aside from a couple of ascents, spend most of the hike descending. You begin in the village of Croesor and take a quiet road southwards, heading uphill to reach Llyn Hafod-y-llyn reservoir. You then head downhill through vibrant

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:24
    11.4 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,750 ft
    1,625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a beautiful stage that leads you along the western edge of the Rhinogs, a group of mountains that lie north–south. There’s a reasonable amount of ascent, with some steep sections. The hills here are exposed, and for every foot you ascend, your view gets better and better. Enjoy the sprawling

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:35
    13.2 mi
    2.0 mph
    2,400 ft
    2,600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a challenging stage with considerable elevation gain as well as distance. Due to the remoteness of the hike, I’ve made it fairly long so you can end in the wonderful seaside town of Barmouth. It’s worth the effort.

    

    You begin by crossing the Afon Cwmnantcol and ascending to the ridge between Moelfre

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:52
    10.1 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,750 ft
    1,200 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    You begin in Barmouth at sea level and, over the course of this hike, ascend to the foothills of the Cadair Idris range. You can expect some tough climbs, particularly in the first half, but there’s nothing technical and the trail up from Arthog is particularly pretty.

    

    Cregennan Lakes make for a lovely

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:28
    8.82 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,550 ft
    2,025 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a stage of two halves. The first involves significant, steady ascent as you hike up to the pass between Carnedd Lwyd and Cyfrwy on Cadair Idris’ westernmost arm. The views are spectacular, and utterly worth the effort it takes to reach them. From the pass, it’s downhill until the stage’s halfway

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:12
    8.59 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,575 ft
    1,675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Starting in one valley and finishing in another, this stage sees you ascending for the first half and descending for the second. You spend much of this walk in the company of trees, hiking through the delightfully wooded landscape and finding waterfalls and rock ridges hidden as you go.

    

    You finish in

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    07:57
    17.3 mi
    2.2 mph
    2,300 ft
    1,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is the longest stage on the route, necessitated by its particularly remote location. The initial section is uphill and after that, the way is undulating through valleys, along the edges of hills, past woodlands and alongside the shore of Nant-y-Moch reservoir. There are no villages en route so it

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:52
    12.5 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,875 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Waterfalls, woodlands and rivers, this is a stunning stage that follows sections of the River Rheidol and the River Ystwyth as they meander westwards. You set off from Ponterwyd and hike south gaining height above the Rheidol before descending to its banks and crossing over, walking to Devil’s Bridge

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:11
    9.08 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,175 ft
    1,150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After a couple of tough stages, this one sees some hills but is fairly short, allowing you to really take your time and enjoy the beautiful landscapes. You ascend immediately from Pont-rhyd-y-groes and you’re rewarded with views before joining the road for a short way before hiking along several footpaths

    by Kit P

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    34
  • Distance
    367 mi
  • Duration
    170:34 h
  • Elevation
    47,000 ft47,050 ft

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Exploring Wales on foot from top to bottom — O Fon i Fynwy

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