A long traverse that links the 14 highest peaks in Wales. 3 mountain ranges over 36 miles and around 4,000 metres of ascent, it is traditionally done in a straight through 24 hour period. It can also be split over two or three days with stops in the valleys between ranges.
There are main railway stations at Bangor and Betws Y Coed, both with bus links to Llanberis. In the summer, the bus stops at Pen Y Pass, your start or finish point. There is a car park at Pen Y Pass but it is small and fills up quickly. The 'Sherpa' bus runs regularly from Llanberis up the pass, with an open top double decker from April to the end of summer.
Ideally though, you could use a good Samaritan with a car to drop you off at Aber.
The route can be done in either direction, with advantages each way..
You start at the highest summit.
The faster times are achieved in this direction.
You finish down grassy tracks, easier on tired feet!
You can incorporate Tryfan North ridge and Bristly Ridge, two excellent scrambles if going in this direction.
Route finding is easier on Snowdon if you are finishing in the dark.
You finish physically as well as metaphorically, on a high!
I’ll give the route description Southwards as that‘s the way I‘ve done it. (look out for my trip report, if I ever manage to write it!).
The 14 peaks in the order you ascend them
Foel Fras 942m
Foel Grach 974m
Carnedd Llewellyn 1064m
Yr Elen 961m
Carnedd Dafydd 1044m
Pen Yr Ole Wen 979m
Glyder Fach 994m
Glyder Fawr 999m
Elidir Fawr 942m
Crib Goch 921m
Crib Y Ddysgl 1065m
Yr Wyddfa 1085m
The village of Aber is just off the A55 main road that runs along the North coast of Wales. Follow the road south out of the village and as the road turns left over a stream, follow the forestry path signposted ‘Waterfalls‘.
As you leave the forested area, you can see the falls ahead of you. Keep on the path as you pass the falls and as you follow the watercourse into the steep sided valley, you will see the ridge ahead of you. Foel Fras is your first summit.
Follow the path in a south westerly direction, taking in the peak of Garnedd Uchaf on your way to Foel Grach. Route finding is easy on the well defined path. Just keep heading for the next ‘higher bit’ until you reach Carnedd Llewelyn.
From the summit of Carnedd L, you will need to come off the main ridge to take in the outlying summit of Yr Elen. As you drop into the bwlch between the 2 summits, you can drop your pack before climbing back up toward Yr Elen, as you will be retracing your steps to this point. Keep the steep drop to your right until you reach the summit at the end of the spur.
After retrieving your pack, contour back to the main ridge between Carnedd L and Carnedd Dafydd. You will be able to find water on this slope.
Follow the ridge south westerly again, then keep the steep drop off to Ysgolion Duon on your right as you follow the obvious path to the summit of Carnedd D.
Head off SW again along the path to Pen Yr Ole Wen. From the summit, head west taking the path down steep slopes and rock steps. When you reach the stream called Afon Lloer, take the path that initially follows the stream south until you reach the A5 main road.
The route takes the skyline running bottom right to left. The standing stones of Adam and Eve can be seen on the 2nd summit from left.
A short walk alongside the A5 toward the lake will bring you to the path at Milestone Buttress. Take the path up the steepening rocky steps and as you come onto the North face of Tryfan, take the scrambling route up over the face, avoiding or incorporating the difficulties to suit your taste! The scramble is given 3* in most guidebooks and you can easily follow the polished holds that are testament to it’s popularity. At the lower end of the scale, it is within the capability of any experienced or adventurous walker and needs no special skills (unless it’s the winter, which is an altogether different prospect!).
Over the north summit, follow a line through the boulders to the standing stones of Adam and Eve at the summit. First time visitors are encouraged to stand on one and take the short leap to the other. Stand on one five foot high monolith, then jump the three feet or so to the other. Both are flat topped and its like jumping from the top of a television onto a washing machine. This may sound easy, but there is a drop of several hundred feet to the side of you!
Head over the far south peak and drop down to the bwlch. Follow a dry stone wall until it meets the rock buttress. From the lowest point of the crag go about 30 feet to the right and up a small gully. If you’re in the right place, you will see some more dry stone walling at the back of the gully. Go left here into Sinister Gully. Scramble up until it steepens, then move onto the left wall.
Great pinnacle Gap as seen from the North
Continue until the ridge narrows and ends in a small pinnacle. Drop down into Great Pinnacle Gap and climb a short wall to the right of the Great Pinnacle. Squeeze through the gap between another pinnacle and the main ridge and then follow easier ground to the top. Head off south west and join the main ascent path. Off to the left of this path you will see the Cantilever stone, usually with someone sitting or standing on it for their photo. Keep along the path until you reach the pile of boulders at the summit of Glyder Fach.
Head west passing through ‘Castell Y Gwynt’ (Castle of the winds) an easy scramble through it’s pinnacles and peaks. Follow the well worn path with the steep drop to Cwm Cneifion to your right. The path moves away from the edge and up to the jumbled summit blocks of Glyder Fawr.
The path continues west before dropping down scree to the north and the small lake of Llyn y Cwn. From the pass head north up the broad slope of Y Garn until you reach the steep drop down to Cwm Clyd. Bear left and keeping the edge on your right, head up to the summit.
Looking back from Castell Y Gwynt to the summit of Glyder Fach.
Keep heading north and contour below the summit of Foel-goch. Again you will reach a steep drop toward the main valley. Turn left and again contour around to the west until you reach the rocky steps of Elidir Fawr. Follow the path along the ridge and over the summit. Heading south west, you will drop down the grassy flank of the mountain. Then head south west to reach the stream that runs along the valley of Cwm Dudodyn below you. A path follows the stream to the south west and will bring you through dry stone walls and sheep pens until you reach the A4086 main road at the village of Nant Peris.
Head south east along the road passing the post office and pub. When you reach a farm called Ynys Ettws, turn south into Cwm Glas Mawr and head up toward Llyn Glas. Head past the waterfalls and take the steep ridge that forms the left bank of the bowl you are in. This is the North ridge of Crib Goch. The main ridge heads west along a knife edge and pinnacled crest. Another 3* scramble without much in the way of difficulties. The exposure however, is immense! The ridge ends with a few pinnacles and then drops down scree into the bwlch. The path soon reaches rock again, and a 2* scramble up Crib Y Ddysgyl brings you to the true summit named Garnedd Ugain.
Follow the path south west until it drops down to the railway line. A well worn path takes you to the summit of Yr Wyddfa, (The Tomb) supposedly the resting place of King Arthur.
Backtrack to where you first met the railway line. A stone marker shows the top of the path that descends steeply to the west. Follow the path to the valley floor. When it splits, take the right fork and follow the path to the shores of Glaslyn. Onwards to the shores of Llyn Llydaw, crossing the causeway and on to the finish point at the car park at Pen y Pass.
Just your usual kit for a long walk, no technical equipment is needed for the scrambles.
You should bring water purification tablets if you are going to top up from streams that are lower down the mountains.
Discrete bivis are acceptable and there is a very inexpensive camp site in Llanberis pass. The finish point has a Youth Hostel.
Ordnance Survey 'Outdoor Leisure' Map 17 covers nearly all the route at 1:25,000 scale. It is now possible to 'custom build' maps from the Ord Survey, via the internet. You can also order interactive CD Roms that are compatible with GPS and show 3D overviews of your route.
External LinksOrdnance Survey mapping products
Click here for rail information
Click here for info on an excellent bunkhouse just outside Llanberis
View of the Snowdon Range from the Glyderau