There are officially 15 peaks over 3000ft (914m) in Snowdonia, they are known as the Welsh 3000s, and because of their relatively close proximity to each other, it is possible to walk them all in one day (albeit a long one.) The total distance of the walk is around 28 miles depending on which route you take, this is roughly peak to peak. Remember you still have to get to the first peak to begin, and once you have reached the last, you still have to get down. Which can make the whole walk nearer to 35 miles. Some routes are shorter but harder, some routes are longer and easier. The total elevation gained, again depending on which route, is around 14,000ft. I recommend that it is only attempted if you are very fit with a good experience of mountain walking.
There is the Welsh 3000s Challenge and to do this you need to walk all the peaks in one day without the use of any other form of transport. Some people see it as a personal challenge while others do the hike for charity. The current record for the challenge stands at 4 hrs 19 mins, set in 1988 by a Scot, Colin Donnelly. The women’s record stands at 5 hrs 28 mins set in 1989 by Angela Carson (Donnelly’s’ wife). There are lots of other records which have been set e.g. doing it three times in one day. Please take a look at the records and history about the challenge. The video below is of Colin doing the challenge (notice how he is running down Crib Goch, people usually scramble on their hands and knees) Colin Donnelly – Welsh 3000ers record from Calum Muskett on Vimeo.
HOW HARD IS IT
It’s not easy. You should only attempt it if you are fit and have good mountain experience. You don’t need to be a fell runner, most people choose to walk it. It is very rocky in certain areas and if the weather closes in, navigation can be a problem, especially on the more remote parts where the footpaths are not as pronounced. Great care must be taken, especially on the likes of Crib Goch, where there has been a number a fatalities over the years. One way to make it slightly less demanding is to spend the night before on top of the peak you want to start from. Either Snowdon or Foel Fras, this saves you having to get up to the first peak to start your walk, but it also means you carrying extra gear.
Before attempting it in one go, I recommend splitting it up into three sections, and do those on different days to start with. Splitting them up into the three sections – Snowdon, Gylderau and Carneddau, will give you a good insight into what you will need to do to be able to do it in a day. It will help you to plot your routes, so when you do attempt it you will have a much better understanding of what is involved. Most people start the challenge on Snowdon itself and then finish at Foel Fras, this enables them to get the hardest part of the walk done first, while they are still fresh. Although once you get to Foel Fras you have about a 5 mile walk to get back to civilisation. Starting at Foel Fras is an option as when you finish at Snowdon it’s closer to get back to your car or a lift you have arranged, although you are leaving one of the hardest parts of the walk till last, when you will be already exhausted from the previous 20 miles or so.
SNOWDON – The first or last peak. Height – 3560ft (1085m). The highest peak south of Scotland. Grid Reference – SH609543
GARNEDD UGAIN or (CRIB Y DDYSGL) – Height – 3495ft (1065m). Where Merlin the wizard was said to have hidden the golden throne of Britain. Second highest peak in Wales. GR – SH610551
CRIB COCH – Height -3027ft (923m). Take care. Crib Goch is a knife edge with steep drops either side. GR – SH624551
ELIDIR FAWR – Height – 3029ft (923m). The first of the 5 peaks in this section. GR – SH612613
Y GARN – Height – 3107ft (947m). 10th highest peak in Wales. A great place to stop for a minute and admire the views. GR – SH630595
GLYDER FAWR – Height – 3284ft (1001m). The summit is very rocky, making progress slow. GR – SH642579
GLYDER FACH – Height – 3261ft (994m). This is where you will find the famous cantilever stone, a great place for a quick photo. GR – SH656583
TRYFAN – Height – 3010ft (918m). One of the most popular mountains in Snowdonia (just about makes it into the Welsh 3000s). Try the jump from Adam to Eve. GR – SH664593
PEN YR OLE WEN – Height – 3209ft (978m). 7th highest mountain in Wales and the same height as Scafell Pike in England. GR – SH655619
CARNEDD DAFYDD – Height – 3425ft (1044m). Named after Dafydd ap Gruffudd, the brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. GR – SH662630
CARNEDD LLEWELYN – Height – 3491ft (1064). Named after Llywelyn ap Gruffudd the last independent Prince of Wales. GR – SH683644
YR ELEN – Height – 3156ft (962m). Average annual temperature of only 4ºC, and the 9th highest mountain in Wales. GR – SH673651
FOEL GRACH – Height _ 3205ft (977m). There is a shelter near the summit, so you can get out of the weather. GR – SH689659
GARNEDD UCHAF – Height – 3038ft (926m). Not really a mountain by itself. More of a bump on top of a ridge. GR – SH687669
FOEL FRAS – Height – 3091ft (942m) Again, the first or last peak. GR – SH696681
Its best to try and do it around the middle of June, when the days are longer. On the longest day sunrise is usually about 5am and sunset about 10pm. Although it is light you can start before sunrise as it is usually light enough between 4am and 5am, depending on cloud cover etc. If you have stayed on the mountain the night before you can set off as soon as you feel its light enough, this would give you a good 2 or 3 hours start than if you had to begin by climbing the first peak. If you have decided against staying on the mountain. Be at your car park while its still dark, so you can set off as early as possible.
Its always a good idea to have a bit of a support group who can meet you at certain points on your way. This will enable you to be able to carry less in the first place and to drop off any overnight camping gear that you may have used. There are two good places along the route where you can meet your support group, one is in the small village a Nant Peris, (grid ref. SH607582) this is between the Snowdon section and the Gylderau section. The next good place would be in the public car park on the A5 at Llyn Ogwen, near the foot of Tryfan, (grid ref. SH648604) this is between the Gylderau section and the Carneddau section. The support group can supply you with more water and food, so that you don’t have to carry enough for the whole trip in your rucksack. They may also have a change of clothes for you if the weather is not to good, and take any rubbish or anything that you don’t need off you, to lighten your load. Once you leave the car park and set off up Pen Yr Ole Wen, you are on the last leg of your journey, but this is also the longest and most remote. Make sure you have enough supplies to see you through to the end.