These mountains that dominate the north of Snowdonia are home to some of the most remote summits in Wales. This upland area is the largest area of land above 3,000ft above sea level outside of Scotland, and it certainly feels like it. Most of the summits require 2hrs or more of walking to reach them, and a circular walk in these mountains is often a committing challenge, taking unwary walkers far from roads, paths and phone signals!
There are four main ways to reach the high plateau of the Carneddau, although others can be found through some creative route-planning. If you contact us about a guided walk we can help recommend a suitable route for you:
The Ogwen Valley feels wilder and more remote than it really is. To the south, Glyder Fach, Glyder Fawr and Tryfan block out low, winter sunlight and keep the valley in shadow. To the north the high mountains of the Carneddau glow all year round, the relatively bare flanks from this side keeping secret the hidden cwms, crags and lakes that lie within an hour or so of the A5 main road. The first summits reached from this side are Pen yr Ole Wen (978m above sea level) and Pen yr Helgi Du (833m above sea level), both of which allow some easy scrambling as part of circular routes. From these two summits the main plateau can be easily reached.
Cwm Eigiau is a deep, remote valley high above the Afon Conwy. It can only be reached in a vehicle along a narrow, twisting mountain road but it is worth the arduous journey. A small car park marks the start of two tracks – one leading over a pass to the north where the neighbouring valley can be reached (also home to one of the few bothies in North Wales), or up onto a broad ridge that leads on to the summit plateau under the summits of Foel Grach (976m above sea level) and Carnedd Llewelly (1064m above sea level). The second route leads further into Cwm Eigiau where ruined mines and quarries can be explored, under the towering face of Craig yr Ysfa.
Drum marks the northernmost significant summit of the Carneddau. It is not the highest peak (763m above sea level), nor the most spectacular to ascend. However it has to be crossed if approaching from the north (from a small car park at the end of a mountain road) and from here the rest of the summit plateau stretches away to the south, just begging to be explored.
The western side of the Carneddau is best reached from the village of Bethesda (or via Aber Falls, just north of Bethesda) via a series of mountain paths or open mountainside. These paths either lead to the summits up steep slopes or adventurous scrambles. This starting point is the easiest for summiting Drosgl (758m above sea level) or Yr Elen (962m above sea level), lonely summits that are a long trek if approached from the east or south![gap size=”100px”] If you want to book one of our qualified, experienced and local mountain leaders then we would be happy to help. Full information, along with prices, can be found on our guided walks booking page.