The "Welsh 3,000s" is one of the most famous mountaineering tours in Great Britain. It covers three mountain ranges and a total of 15 peaks, all located in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. All of the summits, the so-called "15 peaks", are over 3,000 feet high. And while this may seem like a relatively easy feat for Alpine hikers, most of the valleys separating the peaks are only a few meters above sea level.
To complete the Welsh 3,000s challenge, you'll have to hike a total distance 35 miles (57 kilometers) and conquer over 10,500 feet (3,300 meters) of elevation gain. Your effort will be swiftly rewarded, however, as you'll enjoy some spectacular views while you go. And even though the total hike is relatively short, the three different mountain ranges you'll cross will deliver noticeably different challenges thanks to their noticeably different characters—so get ready for a real adventure.
The Welsh 3000s is traditionally tackled within 24 hours. So that you can make the most of your visit, however, we've divided the full route into 3 day-stages. To complete the full hike, you'll still need to be in peak physical condition, possess Alpine experience and hike with extreme sure-footedness.
For less ambitious hikers who want to enjoy the scenery without any time pressure, we have also put together four fantastic day-hikes that will reveal to you the fantastic mountain world of Snowdonia National Park. All you have to do is choose your favorite hike and get outside.
The National Park is easily accessible by train or long-distance bus from Liverpool, Manchester or Cardiff. Within the park, in addition to the Sherpa busses that provide drop-off/pick-up services to and from numerous trailheads, there are also various narrow-gauge railways that rattle through the valleys on the former tracks of the mines and slate quarries.
Incidentally, the record for the Welsh 3,000s is 4 hours (!) and 19 minutes. Scotsman Colin Donnelly ran the route in this record time was back in in 1988. While that's one mighty feat we have incredible respect for, we doubt that he'd have had the time to enjoy the best thing about this mountaineering Tour: The view.
The first stage brings you to the highest summit in Wales. Different to the traditional Welsh 3000s route, your hike starts in Pen-y-Pass, a small village between the Snowdon Massif and the Glyder group. For the first mile, you follow the Pyg Trail up to Snowdon before turning right to ascend Crib Goch. The trail is fairly well defined to start out with but starts to get loose when you reach the rocky terrain. There are no trail markings, so you have to pick your own route to the summit. Just beware: The ridge is known for being as sharp as a knife and there are no cables or holds to grab on to. There are also several parts of this ascent that will require you to scramble.
After reaching the summit of Crib Goch, follow the ridge to your second summit, Garnedd Ugain. Once there, you will soon hit the Llanberis path. This path is fairly easy and it’ll take you to the summit of Snowdon.
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and the highest mountain in Great Britain south of Scotland. Today, it is your third summit of the Welsh 3000s. From Snowdon, you’ll follow the signposted path along the railway line down to Llanberis.
Stage 2 leads you up into the Glyderau Group. On this stage, you will ascend five of the Welsh 3000s — five mountains whose rocky summits and steep cliffs are considered some the most beautiful in Wales.
Leaving Llanberis, you’ll walk along Lake Llyn Peris until you arrive in the small village of Nant Peris. From here, you’ll start your ascent to the first summit, the Elidir Fawr. From there, it’s a relatively easy hike to the summits of Y Garn, Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach. While you walk along the ridge on your way to Y Garn, the surrounding other peaks are connected by a grassy high plateau.
Bear in mind, during the descent from Glyder Fach and the ascent to Tryfan, scrambling will be necessary. This stage is very steep and partly exposed, so take your time and get safely to the summit.
After reaching Tryfan's summit, hike along the south ridge back. This route is considered the less demanding from Tryfan. Once you’re back down, walk along Lake Llyn Bochlwyd and down to Ogwen Valley until you reach the car park and arrive at your accommodation for the night: YHA Idwal youth hostel.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Your third stage starts at the youth hostel at the western shore of the lake Llyn Ogwen. Compared to the first and second stage, this hike is much easier. The distance is still quite demanding, however, so if you’re tired, consider skipping the first mile or so by taking a ride up to the Glan Dena Hut. From here, a steep trail leads up to the ridge of the Carneddau mountain range. The first summit you’ll reach is Pen Yr Ole Wen, followed by the last five summits of the Welsh 3000s.
When you've reached Pen Yr Ole Wen, you’ve already conquered most of the elevation gain for this hike. From here, follow the ridgeline to Carnedd Llewelyn and take the path to Yr Elen. If the weather isn’t playing nicely, it may be better to skip this summit as the wind can get a little rough up on the ridge.
After the last summit, Garnedd Uchaf, the trail will take you back down into the valley. If you’re too tired to hike the remainder of the way to Abergwyngregyn, you can call a taxi from Lunns Cabs under 01248 353535 once you arrive at the car park.
This stage will take you on a beautiful and fairly quiet hike to Snowdon’s summit. The hike starts and ends at the bus stop in front of Nant Gwynant car park, which can be reached by the Snowdon Sherpa bus service. This route up to Snowdon is considered one of the toughest ascents, as the elevation gain is quite intense, especially considering you start almost at sea level.
From the trailhead, take the signposted Watkin Path up to the summit. The path starts quite evenly but quickly get steeper and steeper as you ascend. Halfway up, the landscape becomes incredibly rocky and the final stage of the ascent will have you hiking through scree.
When descending along the Miners' track, take care not to accidentally switch to Pyg Track, which will bring you down a different route. Once you’re on it, the Miners’ Path will lead you past the beautiful lakes of Glaslyn Llyn Llydaw. Once you’re back down and in the village of Pen-Y-Pass, you can decide to hop on a bus right away or to walk the way back to your start at Nant Gwynant car park.
You can find the bus timetable here: gwynedd.llyw.cymru/en/Residents/Parking-roads-and-travel/Travel-passes/Snowdon-Sherpa.aspx
This hike takes you up into the quiet valley Cwm Bychan and reveals to you the industrial heritage of North Wales.
Your hike starts in the tiny village of Beddgelert, which can be reached by steam train, a special service run by the Welsh Highland Railways. Once you’re underway, you’ll follow the path along the river Afon Glaslyn until you reach Pont Aberglaslyn. At this point, the path will lead you up into the quiet and scenic valley, Cwm Bychan, and you’ll see both beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and signs of old industrial mining left over from years gone by.
Before you descend down to lake Llyn Dinas, you’ll have a panoramic view of the entirety of the Snowdon mountain range.
Once you start your descent, you’ll follow the trail back in the valley until you reach the old Sygun copper mine. Today, you’ll find a museum and a cafe inside, and you can even go on an interesting tour of the tunnels. After your visit, you can follow the trail back to your starting point.
The beautiful glacial valley Cwm Idwal, with it's green meadows, dark lakes and vast slopes, is one of the most beautiful places in Snowdonia. This stage starts at the bus stop in front of the Llyn Ogwen car park. From here, you’ll follow the path through the distinctive iron gate as you begin your hike up to Llyn Idwal. As you go, you'll see some incredibly beautiful scenery — so be ready to take a photo or two.
From Llyn Idwal, you’ll follow the trail around the lake. Just please bear in mind that as you’re in a nature reserve, it’s important that you stick to the marked trails. Once you reach viewing point at the Devil’s Kitchen, you’ll take the trail back down to Llyn Idwal and over to Llyn Bochlwyd. From here, the trail will bring you back to your starting point at the car park.
The Cadair Idris ridge is one of the most famous mountains in Wales. The ridge, with the steep cliffs and undisturbed lakes on both sides, offers truly extraordinary views over an epic landscape.
To get to the summit, you can choose from one of several trails. This one will take you along the Pony Path, which is considered the safest trail. Your hike starts at the Ty Nant car park, which can also be reached by bus during summer.
The Pony Path leads you over green farmland and through several kissing gates and sties. At this point, however, be mindful of your surroundings as you’re hiking through private property. The trail will then take you up a fairly steep ascent as you quickly leave the greenery behind.
Soon, the path leads through rocky terrain until you reach the first summit of Cyfrwy. Next, you’ll hike along the ridge to Cader Idris, where you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic view of lake Llyn-y-Gader. Take care at this point as this ridge is known as Bwlch y Gwynt, Welsh for ‘The Windy Pass’. When you arrive at the summit of Cadair Idris, you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains, hills and even the Irish Sea.