The Highest Mountains in Wales – The Top 25
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While everyone knows that the highest mountain in Wales is Yr Wyddfa or Snowdon, the remaining mountains may not be as well known. While we could have used some of the more inclusive definitions of mountains – such as Nuttalls – we think that includes a few too many lumps and bumps that don’t merit the title of mountain. We’ve also got our own complete list of the Welsh Mountains WASHIS – Welsh and Six Hundred in Stature – which is a fine list, but we decided to filter it down even further. Marilyns are hills in the UK with at least 150m of a drop in all directions – that is, if you climb this mountain from any direction you’ll always have to climb at least 150m to do so. This results in some notable omissions; Crib Goch, Glyder Fach and all but one of the Carneddau Furth Munros (Carnedd Dafydd, Pen yr Ole Wen, Yr Elen, Foel Grach, Foel Fras and not surprisingly the topographically challenged Garnedd Uchaf / Carnedd Gwenllian).
There are only 55 in Wales over 600m, and here are the top 25 Welsh Summits with a suggested walk to the summit of all of them. We’e also a list of The Highest Mountains in England along the same lines and The Highest Mountains in Scotland (also the UK!) is in the pipeline.
1 Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa (1085 metres) Snowdon Range
The undisputed king of Welsh Mountains. It’s both the highest mountain in Wales, as well as the one with the most choice in routes up. Our choice of route up Snowdon has to be the Snowdon Horseshoe, which also includes the excluded Crib Goch.
2 Carnedd Llewelyn (1064 metres) Carneddau
If Snowdon is the King, then Llewelyn is the Prince. Named after Prince Llywelyn, it’s the only one of the usual high Carneddau included in this list. We recommend the High Carneddau from Ogwen .
3 Glyder Fawr (1001 metres) Glyderau
The highest peak in the Glyderau, but in what’s a recurring theme in this list, not necessarily the best. The nearby Glyder Fach is more interesting, boasting the Cantilever and a frustrating giant boulder-field summit! It’s also the spot from which you’d take the most iconic Snowdonia image, including Castell y Gwynt.
The best route has to be a traverse over the main summits – Y Garn, Glyderau and Tryfan from Ogwen.
4 Y Garn (947 metres) Glyderau
Dominating the views from Nant Ffrancon from some angles, this is an impressive lump of a mountain. It’s also quickly ascended from Ogwen Cottage via the NE Ridge on the same route as recommended for Glyder Fawr previously. Walk it in winter for bonus points!
5 Elidir Fawr (924 metres) Glyderau
This mountain is best known as the mountain scarred by slate quarrying above Llanberis. It’s a shame, as it has a pleasant summit ridge and was my very first summit! It’s probably best as the start of a traverse of the entire Glyderau range from Dinorwic to Capel Curig. If only to avoid the slog from Nant Peris.
6 Tryfan (917 metres) Glyderau
Tryfan is the hill walker’s favourite mountain, and who can dispute that! With a number of reasonable scrambles to the summit, there’s a choice for all hill walkers. The route of choice would have to be Tryfan’s North Ridge and continuing along Bristly Ridge to complete the Bochlwyd Horseshoe.
7 Aran Fawddwy (905 metres) Aran Fawddwy
Aran Fawddwy is the highest summit in Wales outside of the Eryri area. It misses out on being one of the 14/15 peaks by around 10metres. That means that the mountain is quieter and the 14/15 Peaks more manageable! It’s remote country, and a challenging walk whichever direction you take. We recommend the full outing from Llanuwchllyn to Aran Fawddwy as you get to see the mountain’s more impressive eastern face and walk up Aran Benllyn as well.
8 Y Lliwedd (898 metres) Snowdon Range
The poor relation to Crib Goch on the Snowdon Horseshoe, but still more of a mountain than Crib Goch! Already walked on the Snowdon Horseshoe with Snowdon.
9 Cader Idris – Penygadair (893 metres) Cadair Idris
Cader Idris is Snowdon’s geological twin in South Snowdonia, and a fine mountain to boot. We recommend the Minffordd Path, as it is a varied route with prolonged interest.
10 Pen y Fan (886 metres) Brecon Beacons
The highest mountain in Wales outside of Snowdonia and the highest summit in South Wales and the Brecon Beacons. It’s also one of the Welsh 3 Peaks. Most usually ascended from the Storey Arms, but we’d suggest ascending Pen y Fan from any other direction – with the approach up Pen y Fan via Cwm Llwch our pick.
11 Moel Siabod (872 metres) Moelwynion
Standing alone, on the sideline of the main Eryri Mountains is Carnedd Moel Siabod. While a decent mountain day will probably involve ascending some of the other Moelwnynion, we’d advise Moel Siabod via Daear Ddu as the route of choice.
12 Arenig Fawr (854 metres) Arenig
Arenig Fawr is the highest mountain in central Snowdonia with hardly any other summits nearby. Because of that, it has an unrivalled view of the entire Snowdonia National Park and is the perfect spot to see how many you can name. The best route would be Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant from Arenig.
13 Cadair Berwyn (832 metres) Berwyn
The highest welsh summit that’s not in a National Park is found in the Berwyn Hills. These are an expanse of high heather moor that provide big days out. Our recommended walk is Cadair Berwyn from Llandrillo, which can be boggy in places.
14 Waun Fach (811 metres) Black Mountains
The highest point in the Black Mountains, a vast area of high hills on the border with England. While the best route would be an epic traverse of Waun Fach and one of the other parallel Black Mountains ridges – but we recommend the route up Waun Fach from the Dragon’s Back pub.
15 Fan Brycheiniog – Twr y Fan Foel (802 metres) Brecon Beacons
Fan Brycheiniog is the highest point in the Black Mountain area of the Brecon Beacons and can be climbed from Glyntawe.
16 Pen Llithrig y Wrach (799 metres) Carneddau
The really awkward outlying summit of the Carneddau is hardly fitting as the sole target of the day, but can provide an alternative approach to the Carneddau from Capel Curig.
17 Moel Hebog (783 metres) Eifionydd
One of the most popular lower summits in Snowdonia, with the obvious walk of choice being Moel Hebog from Beddgelert, bagging Foel yr Ogof and Foel Lefn in the process.
18 Glasgwm (779 metres) Aran Fawddwy
One of the least known hills on this list, but the only one that boasts a lake on the summit. Ideally ascended as part of a walk up Aran Fawddwy from Dinas Mawddwy.
19 Moelwyn Mawr (770 metres) Moelwynion
Any summit that has a range named after it has to be worth the effort and Moelwyn Mawr is no exception. While we think the best side of the mountain can be seen from Tanygrisau, we’d recommend walking this as Moelwyn Mawr from Croesor in order to climb Moelwyn Bach and Cnicht – as it would be criminal for us not to give Cnicht some mention in this article!
20 Waun Rydd (769 metres) Brecon Beacons
More like the Peak District than Pen y Fan a few kilometres away, and best walked via Craig y Fan Ddu from the south.
21 Y Llethr (756 metres) Rhinogydd
The highest point in the Rhinogydd, but you’d be hard pressed to realise that after walking over the proper Rhinog summits. Best as part of an entire traverse of the Rhinogydd – ideally wild camping on the way.
22 Pumlumon Fawr (752 metres) Pumlumon
Mid Wale’s highest summit, most usually approached from Eisteddfa Gurig to the south. However, we’d recommend the approach from Nant y Moch reservoir as being more ‘mountainous’.
23 Moel Llyfnant (751 metres) Arenig
Arenig Fawr’s companion to the west is a surprisingly good viewpoint and provides largely good walking from the bwlch. Already walked as part of the Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant circuit.
24 Yr Aran (747 metres) Snowdon Range
One of our regular walks at Mud and Routes, and a surprise that it’s the 24th highest mountain in Wales. It’s a fine little mountain. An alpine miniature. Were it anywhere but tagged onto the southern end of Snowdon, it would be one of the more popular mountains in Snowdonia. As it happens, very few people bother with the usual walk up Yr Aran from Rhyd Ddu, which suits us just fine!
25 Craig Cwm Silyn (734 metres) Eifionnydd
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siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.