The Welsh 3000s is a classic hiking route in Snowdonia National Park. It connects 15 mountain peaks, each over 3000ft (914m). Although some people push to complete all the peaks within 24 hours, you can just as easily enjoy the Welsh 3000s over a weekend.
In fact, unless you enjoy beasting up hills and across ridgelines, it's much more fun to take it a bit slower. You can appreciate the views and the scrambling edges. Rather than dragging yourself round to collapsing in a panting heap at the final summit, wondering what exactly happened today.
We'll guide you through each of the 15 peaks and a common route to string them all together into one epic hike.
The Welsh 3000s Peaks List
- Foel-fras, 3090ft: The trig point on the summit marks the start (or end) of your Welsh 3000s journey.
- Carnedd Uchaf, 3038ft: Its name means 'highest cairn'. Since it's only a slight bump in the main ridge, it wasn't included in the original peak list. It was recently (controversially) renamed to Carnedd Gwenllian after a Welsh princess, but both names are now on the Ordnance Survey map.
- Foel Grach, 3202ft: Some towns feel like they're on the way to somewhere else and this mountain feels rather the same. Still it has great views and an emergency shelter just off the summit.
- Carnedd Llewelyn, 3490ft: It's not clear exactly who or what the mountain was named after, some consider it to be named after Llewelyn - a ruler of Wales and father of Gwenllian.
- Yr Elen, 3156ft: Off to one side of the main ridge, Yr Elen looks like a bit of a detour.
- Carnedd Dafydd, 3425ft: If you are in on the royalty naming convention, then Dafydd was the brother of Llewelyn the Great (or alternatively the successor of another Llewelyn). Either way, it's bit grander than a hill named after a random bloke called David.
- Pen yr Ole Wen, 3208ft: The most southerly of the Carneddau mountains, Pen yr Ole Wen has a pleasingly pyramidal shape.
- Tryfan, 3011ft: This rocky monster of a hill has some fantastic scramble routes. The North Ridge looks imposing from the bottom but can be done at Grade 1, although it's easy to spice things up by straying off the main route.
- Glyder Fach, 3261ft: Glyder comes from the Welsh 'cludair', meaning heap of stones. You'll understand exactly why when you get up there. Compared to the grassy slopes of the Carneddau, the Glyders are all about rock.
- Glyder Fawr, 3284ft: The bigger of two close peaks, you must cross above mysteriously named Nameless Cwm to reach it. There are great views of Snowdon on a good day.
- Y Garn, 3106ft: A gently sloping mountain, compared to the craggy peaks in all directions and Devil's Kitchen below. It is the tenth highest mountain in Wales.
- Elidir Fawr, 3031ft: The most westerly of the Glyders, Elidir Fawr overlooks Llanberis and the huge quarry system. Hydroelectric power is generated through the mountain, between Marchlyn Mawr reservoir on one side and Llyn Peris on the other.
- Crib Goch, 3028ft: Famous for its narrow, rocky ridgeline overlooking Llyn Llydaw it's a Grade 1 scramble up - but often plagued by high winds and low cloud.
- Garnedd Ugain, 3494ft: You might not even notice this peak. It's got a trig point, but it feels more like where Crib Goch ridge meets Snowdon than anything.
- Snowdon, 3559ft: The highest peak in Wales. What a way to finish!
Completing the Challenge
The Welsh 3000s Challenge is simple. You can complete the list of peaks in any order and over any time frame you like. If you were going to split it into several day hikes, the mountains are obviously split between three ranges: the Carneddau in the north, the Glyderau in the middle and the Snowdon massif in the south.
However, it's most common to string them into a continuous 48 km linear route that starts at Pen y Pass and finishes above Bwlch y Ddeufaen. Handily, in the exact order of peaks we've listed them for you above. The first recorded completion of all the 15 peaks in one continuous route dates back to the early 1900s. If you're doing the 24 hour challenge, then it's only 42 km of that route that's done on the clock. The first ascent and final descent don't count towards your final time, just like in the National Three Peaks Challenge.
Many people do the route from south to north, camping on Snowdon and setting off at sunrise. As romantic as this may sound, it leaves you scrambling down a couple of gnarly edges (Crib Goch and Tryfan). We prefer the uphill scrambling direction - and you can kind of think of the Carneddau as a warm up for the Glyders, which in turn are a warm up for the Snowdon massif.
The Welsh 3000s Route
Going north to south, the Welsh 3000s route starts at the car park at the end of the road at Bwlch y Ddeufaen. It is possible to start from the other side of the valley, near Abergwyngregyn, but the hike to your first 3000ft peak is a little longer. From the car park, head uphill along an old Roman Road. Turn left onto the ridgeline and continue over Drum to the trig point at Foel-Fras, marking your first summit and the start of the Welsh 3000s.
Follow the ridge south ticking off Carnedd Uchaf, Foel Grach and Carnedd Llewelyn in quick succession. Yr Elen is off on a spur to the west, but well worth it for the steep views down over the mountain lake below. Depending on the weather, you can either cut the corner and go off piste, or return to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn to get back onto the main ridgeline heading south.
The ridge narrows into a sharp edge and curves around above impressive crags to the summit of Carnedd Dafydd. Your last peak in the Carneddau is Pen yr Ole Wen, overlooking the Ogwen Valley. Take the route down past the mountain lake of Ffynnon Lloer and its river, which will drop you off directly opposite the nose of Tryfan.
Next up, the Glyders. But not without some significant uphill first. The imposing north face of Tryfan towers above Ogwen Valley - and that's where you're going next. The route is a Grade 1 scramble, but it's easy to make things much harder if you stray off the correct route. Best to go with someone who knows the way if you're unsure.
On the summit of Tryfan are two large pillar-shaped stones known as Adam and Eve. It's tradition to try to jump from one to the other, something best saved for a windless day! Either way, your big ascent isn't over until you reach the summit of Glyder Fach.
Follow the ridgeline across the scree-strewn slopes of Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, with great views of Snowdon to your left (if the weather's feeling nice that day). Once you're down to the base of Y Garn, the going is much easier under foot again.
This ridge walk, all the way along to Elidir Fawr made it onto our list of best hikes in Wales. Your final descent into Nant Peris is long but straightforward. From here, the easiest way to tick off your last three peaks is via the long footpath along the bottom of the valley to Pen y Pass. This is a great option if you're doing it over multiple days, but will turn a long route into an epic if you're pushing for time. Most people spend only a little time on the footpath by the road before cutting right up the side of Crib Goch.
It's possible to cut the corner via some off-piste scrambling and craggy ground, but the path is not very clear, so only attempt if you really know what you're doing. A couple of kilometres up Llanberis Pass, turn right along the river and up towards Llyn Glas. Cross several streams below the lake and head up the nose of the ridge towards Crib Goch. The route is a Grade 1 scramble with lots of exposure - very unpleasant in high winds or bad weather. If all's well, head up onto the knife edge ridge and enjoy the view!
You might not pause at the top of Crib Goch, but continue along the entire ridgeline in one - all the way to Garnedd Ugain's trig point. From here, it's a left turn onto the Llanberis Path alongside the mountain railway to the summit of Snowdon. Give that summit marker a huge hug and catch your breath back! You've made it round the Welsh 3000s. The easiest return route is down the Pyg or Miner's Track to Pen y Pass or along the railway line into Llanberis.