The Carneddau

The heights of Eryri.

Snowdonia contains all of the tallest mountains in Wales. Five of these are over 1000 metres (significantly taller than anything in South Wales, where Pen y Fan tops out at 886 metres). Two of these peaks are in the Snowdon range, two are in the Carneddau, and one is in the Glyderau. The two highest are Yr Wyddfa (1085 metres) and Carnedd/Garnedd Ugain (1065 metres) - summit of the Crib y Ddysgl ridge, and are generally thought of as Snowdon (renamed by the Victorians). However, correctly, the name Snowdon refers to the massif, and the peaks have their own Welsh names. The Glyderau massif contains the fifth and sixth highest peaks. The Glyder Fawr peak is fifth highest, at 1001 metres, but at the time of this trip, it was thought to be 999 metres, and although it would have been possible to stand on the summit cairn and claim to be at 1 km, that would have been considered cheating.

Snowdon is a wasted mountain. Being the tallest in Wales (far taller than anything in England) it is obviously a major attraction. The path to the top is more like a road, with a continual flow of traffic in the form of tourists, walking to the top. I have no desire whatsoever to accompany the traffic jam. To make it worse, there is a mountain railway to the top, which totally takes the shine off a walk. Getting to the top of a personal investment only to find that the lazy have already got there by train and look down on you? No thanks. Crib y Ddysgol is better, being at the end of the precipitous Crib Goch route. However, it is usually visited only as the summit on the way to Yr Wyddfa, so once again, no thanks.

For this reason, I had never broken 1000 metres in Wales until now (the previous record was 893 metres on Cadair Idris). This is due to not looking far enough North. A couple of ridges North is the Carneddau massif, with two of the other 1 km peaks. This walk will conquer them both. The tallest is just 21 metres lower than Yr Wyddfa, and that is a worthwhile sacrifice, as far as I am concerned. I consider these far more worthy achievements, and can have the pride of knowing I walked a wild route up the third and fourth tallest mountains in Wales, and finally broke 1000 metres.