The Welsh 3000’s in one day
Area: North Wales
Furths (Welsh hills over 3000ft): Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl, Elidir Fawr, Foel Grach, Foel-fras, Garnedd Uchaf, Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr, Pen yr Ole Wen, Snowdon, Tryfan, Y Garn (Glyders), Yr Elen
Date walked: 30/08/2018
Time taken: 16.5 hours (Pen Y Pass to Dulyn Bothy), 14 hours (summit to summit)
Distance: 43 km
It was that time of year again whereupon I would be traveling down to Wales to meet up with Mountainstar, Malky and a number of other good old and new friends to enjoy some walking in the Welsh Mountains. We would also be partaking in some alcoholic refreshment, Bothy bagging and some guitar playing, not to mention the occasional bad joke or two, and I was thoroughly looking forward it all. I had spent a few days in Wales at this time last year intending to attempt the Welsh 3000 walk but had unfortunately been ill at the time and had to change my plans. Now, having fully recovered from my ills I was again ready to attempt this walk. I had done some training in the hills in Scotland over the past few months but not as much as I would have liked, but I was feeling ready for the challenge.
The 15 mountains above 3000ft in Wales can be walked as a single end to end walk. This is no walk in the park but an intense challenging physically demanding and exciting walk. The walk is normally started at the summit of Snowden after a gentle walk up the previous day and an overnight bivvy at the summit and is completed when the walker reaches the last summit, Foel Fras. However I decided (as many others have done) to start the walk from the Pen Y Pass car park adding a 700 metres ascent up and over the exciting Crib Goch ridge, to the walk. I would then descend from the last summit, Foel Fras, to Dulyn bothy.
So Having the whole week free I packed everything I needed for a weeks camping and bothying in Wales and duly made my way down to Dolgam campsite near Capel Curig on Tuesday 28th August 2018. I arrived late afternoon and set up my tent which was to be my base for the next 5 days.
Now my walk over the Welsh 3000 summits (15 of them) was scheduled to start at 0500 hrs on Thursday morning and my planned route from the final summit was to be a pathless descent, dropping 500m over 3 kms to Dulyn Bothy. I had to visit Dulyn Bothy beforehand to drop a pack of supplies, sleeping bag, mat and change of clothes etc in order to make for a comfortable night, so without further ado I drove to the parking area below Craig Fawr Llyn (Loch, Lake or Tarn) and carried my prepacked kit into Dulyn Bothy. I walked in nice and slowly because in addition to a large backpack I was also carrying 10kgs of coal and I didn’t want to expend any more energy than was absolutely necessary. However it is not a long walk, 3 to 5km depending upon the route you choose, and it didn’t take long to reach the Bothy. There was a small group of 4 in the bothy and after I had set up my sleeping arrangements we sat down for a night of chat and guitar playing which was excellent fun. After a poor nights sleep (Bothy life) I was soon back at Dolgam campsite and spent the rest of Wednesday eating and relaxing in preparation for the big walk. I also prepared some small food and water ration packs and dropped one at Nant Peris and one at Ogden in preparation for my forth coming walk.
After a reasonable sleep I was up at 0415hrs eating a light breakfast of bananas, raisons and chocolate bar and drinking a mixture of water and orange juice. After getting dressed I was ready to set of for the short drive to Pen Y Pass car park arriving there at just after 0510hrs. It costs 10 pound per day to park in the car park and because I would not be returning until the following morning to collect the car I had to purchase two tickets for two days of parking, ouch. It was still dark but with the bright moonlight there was no need for a head torch and with no further ado it was time to go.
Taking the PYG track which starts at the top of the car park I happily meandered on my way for approximately 2km to reach the clearly marked route to the start of the ascent up to the Crib Goch ridge. Initially its not too steep but it soon leads to some good hands on scrambling up the hillside. After ascending about 550m above Pen Y Pass I popped out at the start of the Crib Goch ridge, It was now light as daybreak had broken, there was virtually no wind and it was warm but not too hot, perfect conditions for today’s challenge. As I was taking a refreshment break a chap appeared and headed off in lightweight running kit across the ridge. I was soon out after him and we made pretty short work of crossing the ridge. It was rockier than I remember compared to the last time I was here but in truth the ridge presents no problems to the walker on such a good day. There is a good scramble up to Garnedd Ugain and then its an easy path adjacent to the railway up to the summit of Snowden. The views were excellent. It was now 0730hrs and I was feeling good and stopped for some refreshments. There were a few people on the summit. Two chaps were packing up there bivvy’s and said they were doing the 3000’s. I wished them good luck but never saw them again.
Now whilst I was researching this walk I could not find any photos of the routes down from the North ridge to Nant Peris but I had driven along the road to Nant Peris yesterday and spy-ed a reasonable grassy descent from Clogwyn station 2km North of Snowden summit. So that’s the route I took. It was a steep initial descent but in these dry conditions (slightly wet grass) it was a breeze and I was soon down in Nant Peris restocking my food and water from my hidden stash for the onward journey.
So now its a short 1km walk along the road turning right onto the well signposted track after the small graveyard. The track then goes through a field and onto a minor road leading to another small track up the side of the Afon Dudodyn. After approx 1km from the road I crossed a style and took the faint path climbing 600m directly up the hillside to the summit of Elidir Fawr and the time was now 1035hrs. There was a young lad up here and I was talking to him about the full round. I said I was heading to Ogden to then walk directly up Pen yr Ole Wen. He told me it was very steep and a less steep ascent could be had by descending East from Tryfan Beallach and heading up the easier grassy slopes East of Llyn Ogwen. I thanked him for his input and said I would decide later bearing in mind my rations were stashed at Ogden.
So onwards again following the easy path around the base of both Mynedd Perfedd and Foel Goch (both hills below the 3000ft threshold) and continuing on to the easy climb up to the summit of Y Garn a distance of approximately 4km from Elidir Fawr. Its quite rocky from here and over the rest of the Glyders culminating in the massive rocky summit of Tryfan.
Glyder Fawr and Glydr Fach soon follow on skirting the Devils Kitchen. The rock formations in this area are amasing with the so called “Castle of the Winds” a fine example with its spiny pinnacles of vertical slabs of rock rising from the ground like giant needles. It really is an incredible landscape. The route continues over to the so called “Bristly Ridge” whereupon I descend into the steep scree filled gully down to the beallach below Tryfan. This drops around 300m and is quite loose and steep in places so a careful descent is required.
There are now quite a lot of people on the hills so I take the opportunity to stash my backpack. I will be climbing up Tryfan and coming back down so the energy saved in doing so will only be a bonus. (I wouldn’t normally stash my pack but with plenty of other walkers around, if I were to get into difficulties help would be close at hand). So with no further ado I head up the part track part boulder field leading to the bouldery ascent of Tryfan. It is hard climbing but I am soon on the summit. Its very busy here with people of different ages enjoying the weather in the mountains. Its now 1400hrs and I am feeling a bit less energetic than I was at the start. However I have to push on. I descend quite quickly to and retrieve my pack. Now bearing in mind what the young lad told me earlier on and the way I am now feeling, I make a reassessment of my route and decide to take the easier route up to Pen yr Ole Wen. This means of course that I wont be retrieving my stashed supplies and in fact will be pretty much out of food for the Carneddau hills. (I returned on Saturday to collect my stash)
So I now head down the good path on the east side of Tryfan. Its stony and uncomfortable descending but that’s only because my knee is a little bit painful. I am soon on the road at the base of the mountain and I cross the road heading for Tal y Llyn Ogden. The track heads up the hillside climbing gently for 250m whereupon it veers West and climbs for 350m all the way to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen. I was pretty knackered at this point and it seemed to take me an age to reach the summit. I knew that this would be the crux for me and I now knew that I would complete the challenge. I have 6 summits to bag over a distance of 13 kms and the total ascent maybe only 700m. That in itself would normally be a run for me but due to the previous 12 hrs of walking it actually proves harder than I thought it would hahaha. Three young lads appear having just ascended the steep slope I think.
Its now 1730hrs and my next summit is Carned Dafydd. Its an easy walk and then its on to Yr Ellen. There is a faint path at the beallach before Carnedd Llewelyn which traverses the hillside leading to the easy ascent of Yr Elen. The path disappears from time to time but if you traverse the small boulder fields in the same direction as the path was heading, you soon pick up the path again. Arriving at the beallach its only a 50m ascent up to the summit. As I return to the beallach I meet the young lads ascending. So onwards to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn, continue to Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf and finally the trig point summit of Foel Frass.
Arriving at the summit of Foel Fras at 2035hrs meant the summit to summit challenge has taken me just over 14 hours. That’s actually the time I told Mountainstar that it would take me so pleased with that.
Darkness has descended and I now have to get my head torch out. I switch it on and its not very bright but its no problem because I have packed spare batteries. So I open the head torch and in the process I manage to break one of the locating lugs. Then when I try to change the batteries I find the torch holds AAA bats and I have bought AA bats. No matter how much I push they wont fit hahaha. So back in with the old bats and I now have a 3km descent to the Bothy in complete darkness over pathless terrain with a wobbly head torch. Nothing for it but to Soldier on. The route I have chosen drops 450m down the hillside with some steep drops, boulders, bog and huge reeds eventually finding a very small track to Duly Bothy arriving at the Bothy at 2140ish. That was tough.
Alan and 3 others were in the Bothy and offered me nutrition and fluid but I was feeling quite ill and could not stomach anything of substance. I hadn’t eaten for the last 4 hours and had pretty much used up all of my energy reserves. I just needed rest now and could replemish my energy supplies in the morning. After another restless Bothy sleep I was back on form ready for the walk out to the cars. Alan took me to Pen Y Pass to collect my car and we had a great weekend of drinking, playing guitar, playing pool and we even went for a wee walk on sat morning hahaha. Loved it. What an awesome week in Wales.