December 4th, 2018
Wales is blessed with some of the country’s finest peaks so come and explore them with our guide to mountain walking.
When the tough, dark rocks that make up the mountain ranges of Snowdonia were formed in an ancient era, when most of Wales was submerged under primitive oceans, it would have been difficult to imagine that almost 500 million years later these fragments of stone and rock would make up one of the most popular mountain ranges in Britain.
Today, the jagged and brooding peaks of Snowdonia are among the most revered mountains in the UK. Walkers, hikers and mountaineers from all over the world are inspired to amble, walk, run and climb to explore each peak, escarpment and hidden crevice.
The Snowdonia National Park is home to these breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges which dominate the landscape of North West Wales. It was the first area in Wales to be designated as a National Park in 1951 and covers an area of over 800 square miles.
As the highest of all the mountains in Wales, Snowdon is the most well known. It’s thought that the name comes from the old English word “Snau-dune”, meaning “snowy hill”; a name used by Dark Age sailors who could spot the white peaks as they navigated from Ireland.
The pointy peaks, jagged pinnacles and steep cliff faces were all carved out in the last glacial period, and at over 3,500 feet tall Snowdon confidently towers over its brood of smaller, but no less beautiful hills. Indeed, Snowdonia is made up of many different mountain ranges, and has over 90 summits that are over 2,000 feet high.
The national park has almost 1,500 miles of public footpaths, and much of the park also falls under the Right to Roam act so budding explorers will never be short of a new route.
Of course, stunning mountain scenery is not only to be found in the north of Wales. The Brecon Beacons was Wales’ third designated National Park in 1957, and is now one of the UK’s most accessible.
It spans an area of over 500 square miles, with the dramatic peak of Pen-y-Fan sitting handsomely at the centre, watching over the beautiful miles of lush valleys, ancient sandstone peaks, hidden gorges and mighty waterfalls.
The striking mountains of the Brecon Beacons are different from the pointy peaks of Snowdonia. Flat summits, sharp sides, wide terraces and huge flat faces define these sweeping hills. Pen-y-Fan is one of Wales’ most popular peaks, and there are several well worn routes to the summit that almost breaks like a wave over the valley below. For a double summit walk, Corn Du is often linked to Pen-y-Fan, and for the really brave, Cribyn can be added for a triple summit.
If you’re a first time hill-walker, don’t be daunted by the high peaks and rough terrain. With a little planning and consideration the mountains can be enjoyed by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Of course there are some serious considerations to take into account first, such as fitness and stamina, the weather, the terrain and having the correct clothing and shoes. If you’re new to mountain walking, try a smaller hill first to test your fitness before gradually working up to a higher peak.
All mountain walkers should be adequately equipped. Although the most expensive and technical clothing isn’t necessary for most mountain walks in fair weather, comfortable and supportive walking shoes or boots are essential, as are warm and waterproof clothing.
A great way to learn about mountain walking is to join a local walking group, enrol on a short course at an outdoor pursuits centre or sign up for walks during a local walking festival, which are often great sources of help, advice and encouragement.
See you on the hills!