Eryri is a truly ancient land of dramatic mountain ranges, exquisite valleys, sparkling llyns and magnificent wildlife. Its dynamic landscapes are the result of over 500 million years of geological upheaval that has seen mountains of Himalayan stature rise and fall. What remains is one of Britain’s most celebrated mountain regions, which was given national park status in 1951 and named Snowdonia.
Today, Snowdonia also goes by its Welsh name, Eryri (pronounced Eh-ruh-ree), which many believe to have originated from the Latin ‘oriri’, meaning ‘to rise’. This is fitting for a land that’s dominated by tremendous peaks that rise above its wild, sprawling moorland. I’d say it also describes the uplifting experience of hiking its mountains and the sense of elevated consciousness that comes with it.
Snaking through Eryri, from the great Afon Dyfi in the south to the Irish Sea in the north, is the Snowdonia Way long-distance trail. Launched in 2017, the Way is not one, but two distinct routes: the main, low-level route and the challenging Mountain Route.
This Collection follows the Mountain Route’s nine stages, as it traverses many of the finest ranges in the national park over its 122-mile (196 km) course. On its way between the historic towns of Machynlleth and Conwy, it visits many panoramic summits, including iconic giants like Cadair Idris, Glyder Fawr and, of course, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) itself.
It’s a journey that reveals new perspectives of Eryri, from the silent trails in the unfrequented south to the poignant ruins of the mostly abandoned slate industry. Cherish encounters with wildlife, whether it’s mountain ponies in the Carneddau, ravens circling above gnarly ridges or a rare glimpse of a stoat darting between the rocks. The high places are home to some stunning alpine flowers too, such as the rare Snowdon lily.
The Mountain Route is a very challenging yet rewarding undertaking, involving nine strenuous days out on the hills and requiring a good level of hillwalking experience. As it shares many of the same overnight stops as the low-level Snowdonia Way, there’s always the option to alternate between the two, depending on how you’re feeling on any given day. The towns and villages visited along the way are fascinating places and there’s often plenty to do if you fancy a rest day to break things up a bit.
North Wales is notorious for its inclement weather, so warm layers and waterproofs are essential, as is suncream when the sun does decide to show itself. Under winter conditions, much of this route becomes the preserve of equipped and experienced mountaineers only. During the off-season, many of the amenities en route are closed, too, including some transport links. With this in mind, spring through to autumn is the best time to attempt the route.
Every stage ends in a village or town with accommodation options, though these can be scarce, so advance booking is vital. There’s usually somewhere to eat and resupply too, but don’t take it as a given. See the Tour descriptions for precise details.
Getting to the route by public transport is relatively easy. Both Machynlleth and Conwy have train stations, while accessing many of the stages is possible by bus. Otherwise, there are local taxi services you can make use of. If arriving by car, you can get back to Machynlleth from Conwy by taking a train and changing at Shrewsbury.
For the Collection following the main, low-level Snowdonia Way, see: komoot.com/collection/2350242
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Last updated: August 23, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The first stage of the Mountain Route explores the unfrequented Tarren Hills via the Dyfi Forest, taking you to Tarren Hendre, Snowdonia’s most southerly 2,000-foot summit. Solitude is almost guaranteed and, on a good day, you are rewarded with excellent views towards Cadair Idris and south into Mid…
Cadair Idris is southern Snowdonia’s greatest mountain. It’s a sprawling and complex massif, rich in both legend and spectacular scenery. This second stage of the Mountain Route is a superb traverse of the mountain, taking you across Penygadair, its main summit, and then east to the secondary summits…
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This is a long and remote journey across the moorland heart of the Harlech Dome, a region of Eryri that was home to mountains of Himalayan stature during the Devonian era, 400 million years ago. Expect incredible views of the Mawddach Estuary from the New Precipice Walk and from the summit of Y Garn…
After the long, moorland march of the previous stage, the fourth stage is much shorter, taking you to Penrhyndeudraeth, which represents the gateway to Northern Snowdonia. However, you’re not done with the Rhinogydd yet, as the bristling Moel Ysgyfarnogod’s summit awaits your hiking boots as the stage…
This long stage is all about the Moelwynion, a superb range of peaks, craggy spurs and llyns that see only a fraction of the footfall of the likes of Cadair Idris, Snowdon and the Glyderau. Yet their charms are considerable and include a rich slate mining heritage, hugely absorbing hiking and ‘the Matterhorn…
The highest mountain in Wales awaits on this stage, a glorious journey to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). Starting from the mountain’s quieter – not to mention lower – south side, there’s plenty of elevation gain to contend with. However, the scenery and relative solitude you’ll discover may surprise…
This stage may be short in terms of distance, but it makes up for it with a fair amount of elevation gain. Moel Siabod (pronounced Sha-bod), the great northern outlier of the Moelwynion, is the obvious highlight, particularly if you get it on a clear day. Many believe this to be the finest perch for…
It would be easy to assume that the ascent of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) would be the most impressive day on the Snowdonia Way Mountain Route, yet this stage is arguably even more spectacular.
A traverse of the main spine of the Glyderau is a hillwalking route that has few equals on these shores. Staying high…
This challenging final stage heads across the wild Carneddau, a sprawling, rolling mountain range encompassing the largest concentration of high ground in the UK south of Scotland. Often cited as Wales’ answer to the Cairngorms, its vastness, character and often challenging conditions makes this a magnificent…
Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield
Hiking Collection by Country Walking Magazine
Bike Touring Collection by Fontane.RAD Tour
Bike Touring Collection by Pfälzer Bergland