The Snowdonia Was has a 97 mile low-level main route, with mountain alternatives. Linking all the mountain days up would give a mountain route of 122 miles.
Stage 1 – Machynlleth to Dolgellau
15.5 miles/24.7 km | 750m ascent
Leaving the historic market town of Machynlleth, the ancient capital of Wales, you cross the River Dovey and head into the Dovey Forest. Passing the old slate mining villages of Corris and Aberllefenni, the route then heads up the forested Llefenni Valley before descending towards the hills of central Snowdonia. With the great mountain of Cadair Idris coming into view on the left, the Way then wanders around the hill’s flank before descending through woodland to reach Dolgellau.
This day is a good introduction to the route, passing steep hills but also giving you an insight into two of the main landscape uses of Snowdonia (past and present), slate quarrying and forestry. You’ll also reach the highest point on the whole route, at just over 400m, but don’t take this as meaning it’s a hard day.
Mountain Route – split into two stages (1A and 1B), reaching the summits of Tarren Hendre and Cadair Idris.
Stage 2 – Dolgellau to Trawsfynydd
14 miles/22.6 km | 790m ascent
The route rises straight out of Dolgellau, perfect for looking back over the town and the impressive northern cliffs of Cadair Idris. You then cross the River Mawddach to its western side before the Way follows a fantastic path that clings to the side of the slope, looking down over the river and the woods. After a more gentle section of woodland track, you cross the Mawddach again before entering Coed y Brenin forest.
The wide forest tracks allow you to enjoy the splendour of this vast landscape before you finally emerge on the moors above Trawsfynydd. With the day’s route laid out beneath you, and the Moelwyn mountains visible ahead, you descend to the town, positioned high up next to Trawsfynydd Lake.
This section of the route also allows you views over the wild hills of the Rhinogydd, and sees you walk along sections of the Sarn Helen, the Roman road linking north and south Wales.
Mountain Route – A long arduous day (2A) climbing to the summit of Y Garn, part of the Rhinogydd.
Stage 3 – Trawsfynydd to Beddgelert
18.5 miles/29.5 km | 930m ascent
Starting the stage with a walk half-way around Trawsfynydd Lake allows you time to admire the lake itself, and the flanks of the Rhinogydd mountains. From the dam at the northern end you’ll descend through woodland into the Vale of Ffestiniog, a wide valley which divides north and south Snowdonia. You’ll have views out to sea, and cross the sandy estuary before arriving in the town of Penrhyndeudraeth.
From here another woodland path takes you towards the foothills of the Moelwyns, which you wander alongside for the rest of the day, passing the old village of Croesor. Views extend down to the sea, with the Llyn Peninsula visible in the west, and the pointed summit of Cnicht to the east. The final part of the day is a spectacular route alongside the River Glaslyn, alongside the Pass of Aberglaslyn, to arrive in Beddgelert, nestled in the hills right next to Snowdon.
Mountain Route – Split into two stages (3A and 3B) reaching the summit of Moel Ysgyfarnogod on Stage 3A and the summits of Moelwyn Mawr and Cnicht on Stage 3B.
Stage 4 – Beddgelert to Dolwyddelan
12.7 miles/20.6 km | 800m ascent
From Beddgelert, the route winds its way along the River Glaslyn, passing the legendary hill of Dinas Emrys and giving you views right up to the summit of Snowdon itself. You then pass by the beautiful Llyn Dinas before another stretch of riverside path takes you to the next lake, Llyn Glaslyn. Now in the heart of the Nantgwynant valley, the Way follows the path up to the Bwlch y Rhediad, over the Moelwyns.
The wild expanse of hills on the far side of the pass makes the second half of the day very different to the first, but you’re soon down in the Lledyr Valley and wandering through fields to the village of Dolwyddelan. You’ll also pass Dolwyddelan castle, and have your first view of the famous peak Moel Siabod.
Mountain Route – Split into two stages and with different end-points. Stage 4A takes you to the summit of Snowdon and down to Pen y Pass. Stage 4B leads you over Moel Siabod to Capel Curig.
Stage 5 – Dolwyddelan to Bethesda
15.5 miles/25.1 km | 660m ascent
A truly spectacular day, the beginning sees you walking up round the flank of Moel Siabod, through forest and then over the open hillside, along easy tracks. The mountain ranges of the Glyderau and the Carneddau open up before you as you drop down to the village of Capel Curig, and begin the long walk through the Ogwen Valley. This valley section may be the most stunning of the whole route, surrounded by giant peaks such as the iconic Tryfan and the hulking Carnedd Llewelyn.
Once past the Ogwen Falls at the end of the walk around Llyn Ogwen, the route enters the Nant Francon, where you can admire the glacial features laid out in the landscape. Now back in the heart of slate mining country, the stage finishes past the giant spoil tips of the Penrhyn quarry before leading you into Bethesda. An excellent day for admiring grand mountains from a relatively flat route.
Mountain Route – Stage 5A goes right over the top of the Glyderau ridge, a day of several peaks including Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach. It starts from Capel Curig.
Stage 6 – Bethesda to Conwy
21 miles/33.6 km | 1480m ascent
Leaving Bethesda along the northern flanks of the Carneddau, the view quickly opens up over the Isle of Anglesey and the sea. The path is over open hillside and leads you slowly down to the Aber Falls, a 37m high waterfall and one of the highlights of the route. from here the Way heads back up to the hills, famous as the location for over 1000 ancient sites, and containing the largest area of high ground in Wales. After walking along a stretch of Roman road, you descend into the seaside town of Llanfairfechan. As this is by far the longest of the stages, it’s possible to split it into two by stopping over in Llanfairfechen.
From here, the route rises up past the hill of Penmaenmawr to the open moor around Tal y Fan, and peaking on Cefn Coch, where you can admire a fantastic stone circle. Continuing on the flanks of the hills, the Way heads to the Sychnant Pass before following a track round the side of Conwy Mountain to begin the descent to Conwy. The castle comes into view and you can enjoy the last few hundred metres along the estuary before arriving in the town itself.
Mountain Route – A long day, Stage 6A goes over the summits of Carnedd Gwenllian, Foel-fras and Drum, all peaks in the Carneddau mountains.