What is the Welsh 3000s Challenge?
The Welsh 3000's are a string of 15 connected mountains all over 3000ft (915m). They can be walked in succession, which is attractive to those who don't fancy the driving aspect of the National 3 Peaks. Plus, it's a whole lot better for the environment and allows you to really soak up what Wales has to offer. Spoiler alert: it has a LOT to offer.
This challenge takes in a total distance of 50km and an overall height gain of 4000m. Some try to complete the challenge in under 24 hours, turning it from a tough challenge into an incredibly tough challenge, and we can't promise that it's the most enjoyable way to do it. All too often hiking challenges turn into a frenzied rush of peak bagging and sleep deprivation and you get to the end realising you didn't really take any of it in.
We recommend taking your time with this one and really immersing yourself in what the mountains have to offer. They're pretty special. Plus, who doesn't love to drag a weekend out?
Where are the Welsh 3000's?
The 15 peaks straddle three mountain ranges in Snowdonia National Park: The Snowdon Massif, The Glyderau and The Carneddau. A snaking trail joins all the mountains up, so expect a lot of ups and downs, a lot of varied terrain and some of the best panoramas you've ever seen.
The Welsh 3000's Full Route
You can do the walk either way. Most people tend to start up on Snowdon, having walked up or ascended on the mountain railway the day before and camped there overnight, before making their way north to Foel Fras. Though this sounds delightfully romantic (and if you get a good sunrise, it almost definitely will be) the start of the route in this direction can be tricky.
Starting on Snowdon means starting with a serious downhill scramble down the knife-edge ridge of Crib Goch and the Grade 1 scramble on Tryfan, and some feel more stable (and less vertigo!) scrambling up this bit than down, after they've gained some confidence from the rest of the walk.
As such, we've written a loose route plan for going North to South, and recommend you stay the night somewhere after each mountain range. Completing the challenge over three days will really allow you to soak up all the peaks and enjoy each section without being absolutely cream crackered.
First Peak - Foel-fras, 3090ft:
Beginning at the car park at the end of the road at Bwlch y Ddeufaen, we kick off with the northernmost Welsh 3000 and our first peak. Grassy, rolling and open, it's a great introduction to the hike and North Wales. Time to get those juices flowing!
Carnedd Uchaf, 3038ft:
We'll follow the ridge along and tick off Carnedd Uchaf. Only recently recognised as being one of the Welsh 3000s, this summit feels barely noticeable, bar the views stretching to the Isle of Man on a clear day. Time to get some summit selfies!
Foel Grach, 3202ft
We plough on and dance over Foel Grach in quick succession, the 8th highest summit in Wales featuring an emergency shelter in case things get windy and wild (bad weather and high winds are surprisingly common up here). Time for a snack to celebrate the first three summits. You'll truly feel you're in the middle of nowhere up here.
Carnedd Llewelyn, 3490ft
Continuing on, we eventually get to the summit cairn of Carnedd Llewelyn, named after the mighty Llewelyn the Great. A stunning ridge walk with some of the best views in Snowdonia and North Wales, we're really getting into it now.
Carnedd Dafydd, 3425ft
Onto the trig point of Llewelyn's brother Dafydd (supposedly the mountain was named after him), the ridge curves here and reveals some seriously impressive views of the Carneddau peaks.
Pen yr Ole Wen, 3208ft
Our last peak of the day and we finish on a real high (pun intended). With epic views over the Ogwen Valley and a trail that winds down past the Ffynnon Lloer lake, you'll go to bed with weary limbs and a singing soul. 6 peaks in a single day, give yourself a good pat on the back and a huge, hearty dinner.
The next day kicks off with the mighty Tryfan as our first summit, and boy what a scramble to start the day! It's a Grade 1 scramble on the traditional route of the trail, but quickly gets harder if you accidentally veer off, so be careful here. Feeling adventurous? Try the famous pillar jump!
Glyder Fach, 3261ft
Scramble scree is tough underfoot as we head over to Glyder Fach, but on a clear day, you won't get better views of Snowdon than up here.
Glyder Fawr, 3284ft
The last of the scree summits is Glyder Fawr, a seriously epic and gnarly summit with some amazing rock formations. Definitely time for a photoshoot!
Y Garn, 3106ft
The terrain really eases up again here as we're back onto less spiky trails and the rolling grassy hills come back into view. Mountain walking at its best.
Elidir Fawr, 3031ft
The trail from Y Garn to the summit of Elidir Fawr is a real belter of a last peak for the day. Expect stunning views of mountain lakes, views for miles and a sense that you're on the home stretch.
A tough day that will undoubtedly have pushed you out of your comfort zone but you'll feel a real sense of achievement at this point and hopefully feel in the mood for summiting Snowdon tomorrow!
The Snowdon Massif
Crib Goch, 3028ft
The last day and we're starting with one of the toughest mountain hikes in the UK. Crib Goch is a grade 1 scramble, meaning you don't need ropes to ascend it, but when you're up there it can feel very adrenaline-inducing.
If you have a fear of heights, You're almost lucky if you get a cloudy day as you won't be able to see the drop! If you love a good challenge and the drop doesn't bother you, you will love this ascent.
Garnedd Ugain, 3494ft
Continuing along the Crib Goch ridge you'll eventually reach Garnedd Ugain peak, with 360 views of the Snowdon Massif all around you and a sense of excitement building that you've nearly at the end point of this epic adventure.
Final Peak - Snowdon, 3559ft:
The final push! Only 65m more of height gain and you've done it. The last peak and the highest mountain in Wales. Get yourself a cup of hot chocolate at the cafe and a well-deserved summit selfie at the trig point!
How much will it cost?
This will depend on whether you choose to go self-guided or on a guided trip. Undoubtedly the trip will be cheaper if you choose to do it yourself, but may take a little more time to prepare for.
You should expect to pay for a couple of nights accommodation and 3 days worth of food, so a self guided trip could be around £150-£250pp. Our guided trip is £494pp and includes, accommodation, a fully trained mountain leader, food and insurance.
Should I do it solo or with company?
This one is totally up to you. We do offer a guided trip that spans 3 days and offers accommodation for 2 nights and includes some meals and a fully qualified guide. This means you just have to worry about getting there and enjoying it.
More experienced hikers might enjoy the process of planning the route, doing all the navigation and taking it at their own pace, but if you're on your own you can miss out on the team morale that a guided group brings. It's of course totally up to you, there's not right or wrong! Just make sure you're prepared for whichever one you choose.
How fit do I need to be?
You will need a good amount of training for a hike like this if you're planning on doing it all in one go. Take a look at our guide to training for the National 3 Peaks if this is something you're preparing for.
If you're doing it over 2-3 days, you just need to make sure you're comfortable hiking for 8-10 hours. 8 hours of walking and 7 different peaks in one day can be pretty tiring, so even competent mountain walkers with extensive experience will want to get a bit of training in for this. Plus, it's way more enjoyable when you're not absolutely dying up the hill, isn't it?
Welsh 3000s: FAQ's
Which peak is the easiest to climb?
Because the Welsh 3000's challenge links all the peaks through one continuous trail, the majority of the peaks will only involve an ascent or descent of 50-100m.
This is because you'll do all the hard work getting up the first one at the start of each morning, and then you're up on the ridge and they sort of blend in to one another. So those peaks in the middle of the day will probably be the easiest, and the Carneddau are definitely a bit easier going underfoot than the Glyders.
Is it the best charity challenge in the UK?
Great question! This is definitely a subjective one, but we think it's up there. Unlike the National 3 Peaks, it's a lot better for the environment as you only have to travel to one National Park. Plus, you really get to see the best of what Snowdonia has to offer on this challenge.
What time of year should I do the Welsh 3000's challenge?
The best time of year is probably somewhere between May and September, when the days are long and you have enough daylight to complete the days hiking without fear of getting lost in the dark. It's also worth bearing in mind the temperature.
In the UK we obviously don't regularly get prolonged heatwaves, but it can happen. Completing any mountain walk in 30 degree heat would probably be pretty hard going. What you really want is a day with at least 12 hours daylight that's somewhere between 12 and 18 degrees. Basically a perfectly average British day of weather.
Should I do the Welsh 3000's, the National 3 Peaks Challenge or the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge?
It really depends what you're after. The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is only 3 peaks in succession, so is definitely easier than doing 15, but most do try and complete the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in a day, so it's a nice shorter challenge that won't take too much of your time. It could even be great training for the Welsh 3000's.
The National Three Peaks Challenge is probably more famous and more widely recognised as say, a charity challenge. It's generally attempted in under 24 hours and involves hiking the UK's 3 highest peaks in under 24 hours.
10 of those 24 hours however are driving. The driving puts a lot of people off. Logistically it can be difficult fo find someone who will willingly drive you around, and it does mean to have to complete the challenge whilst sleep deprived, which doesn't always make for the most fun!
Doing the Welsh 3000's would probably feel more like a hiking-filled holiday than a mad dash around the country but it's totally up to you.
What equipment will I need for the Welsh 3000s?
You'd be surprised at how little you'll need if you're splitting the hikes across a few days. Essential equipment you should look at getting before setting off includes: maps (if you're not going with a guide); a compass for emergencies ; a torch just in case it gets dark; a good rucksack; well worn-in hiking boots; a water bottle and a decent waterproof coat. If you're going with friends, maps and torches can be split across your bags.
If you're planning on completing the challenge in one go, you might want to consider taking things for wild camping too. Check out our wild camping guide for some further details and advice on this.
What are the best tips for completing the challenge?
A lot of it is common sense. We recommend you take enough food and water, don't hike on the hottest day of the year, do your preparation, make sure you know where you're going etc...
Try not to rush the planning. It's an important stage and if you get it wrong you could be stuck up on the hill wondering what to do. Make sure you've got the right training in and you're mentally prepared for the challenge ahead. Oh, and if you're going in summer, booking accommodation in advance is highly recommended.
Our biggest tip would be to make sure you have a decent pair of walking boots that are already well worn in. Nothing will upset you more than painful feet and blisters. Trust us.
How do I book onto a professional guided adventure?
Have a look at our Welsh 3000's trip and you'll find all the details you need there. If you're not an experienced hiker or navigator, it can take the pressure off so you can just focus on enjoying it. It's also a great way to meet new people if you're keen to have some group morale but can't find anyone else crazy enough to come with you!