Most people know the highest mountain in Wales is Mount Snowdon, but I’d bet most people don’t know what the second highest mountain in Wales is or even the third for that matter! In this guide I hope to rectify that situation.
Wales is a small, mountainous country on the British mainland which has the Cambrian Mountains running north to south along its length. Branching off this backbone are two mountainous areas, Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, which also serve as National Parks. The highest peaks in Wales are mostly found in these two national parks, with only a few notable exceptions.
Snowdonia is characterised by rugged rock formations, many of which are volcanic in origin whereas the Brecon Beacons are characterised by softer, flat-topped peaks and valleys carved by glaciers.
The highest mountain in North Wales is Mount Snowdon or Yr Wyddfa to use its now official Welsh name and is found in Snowdonia National Park. The Highest mountain in South Wales is Pen y Fan which is found in Brecon Beacons National Park.
The three highest mountains in Wales are Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), Garnedd Ugain (Crib y Ddigyl) and Carnedd Llewelyn. They are all located in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.
Below is a list of the 50 tallest mountains in Wales. This list reflects the Wales Nuttalls classification, where a mountain is defined as being over 2000ft (610m) in height, with a rise of 50ft (15m) from all its surroundings. There are a total of 190 Nuttalls in Wales.
The first 15 of these Welsh mountains are collectively known as the Welsh 3000s. These are mountains in Wales with a height of 3000ft or more. There is a challenge where brave competitors aim to summit all 15 peaks in under 24 hours. The total journey is 50km with nearly 4000m of ascent!
Note: You may notice there are 16 mountains in this list with a height of 3000ft or more however, Castell Y Gwynt is classed only as a Nuttall rather than a mountain, so is not included in the Welsh 3000s.
As somebody who grew up surrounded by these Welsh mountains and who has hiked many of them (20 from the list!) I wanted to share this little tid-bit of knowledge with you all. The largest mountains in Wales are certainly not that large when compared to peaks in the Himalayas or the Alps, but they are beautiful none the less and offer their own unique challenges and rewards.
I hope you enjoy discovering all about the highest mountains in Wales and manage to get out there to hike a fair few too 🙂
The Tallest Mountains In Wales
|2||Garnedd Ugain (Crib y Ddysgl)||1065||3560||Snowdon Massif||Snowdonia|
|7||Pen yr Ole Wen||978||3209||Carneddau||Snowdonia|
|9||Castell y Gwynt||972||3189||Glyderau||Snowdonia|
|15||Crib Goch||923||3028||Snowdon Massif||Snowdonia|
|18||Y Lliwedd||898||2946||Snowdon Massif||Snowdonia|
|19||Y Lliwedd east top||893||2930||Snowdon Massif||Snowdonia|
|20||Cadair Idris||893||2930||Cadair Idris||Snowdonia|
|21||Pen y Fan||886||2907||Brecon Beacons||Brecon Beacons|
|23||Corn Du||873||2864||Brecon Beacons||Brecon Beacons|
|24||Erw y Ddafa-ddu||872||2861||Arans||Snowdonia|
|26||Mynydd Moel||863||2831||Cadair Idris||Snowdonia|
|29||Pen yr Helgi Du||833||2733||Carneddau||Snowdonia|
|32||Arenig Fawr South Top||830||2723||Arenigs||Snowdonia|
|33||Cadair Berwyn North Top||827||2713||Berwyns||Powys|
|35||Craig Gwaun Taf (Duwynt)||826||2710||Brecon Beacons||Brecon Beacons|
|36||Carnedd y Filliast||821||2694||Glyderau||Snowdonia|
|37||Lliwedd Bach||818||2684||Snowdon Massif||Snowdonia|
|40||Waun Fach||811||2661||Black Mountains||Brecon Beacons|
|42||Y Foel Goch||805||2641||Glyderau||Snowdonia|
|43||Fan Brycheiniog||802||2631||The Black Mountain||Brecon Beacons|
|45||Pen Llithrig y Wrach||799||2621||Carneddau||Snowdonia|
|48||Craig Cwm Amarch||791||2595||Cadair Idris||Snowdonia|
|50||Moel Hebog||783||2570||Hebog and Nantile Ridge||Snowdonia|
A Closer Look At The Top 10 Highest Mountains In Wales
1. Snowdon/ Yr Wyddfa, 1085m
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and England and sits within Snowdonia National Park. There are multiple hiking routes to the summit which I describe in this guide. Alternatively, in the Summer months visitors can take a train to the summit from the nearby town of Llanberis.
2. Garnedd Ugain/Crib y Ddysgl, 1065m
The 2nd highest mountain in Wales is Garnedd Ugain. Garnedd Ugain is a neighbouring peak to Snowdon and is often climbed in combination with Crib Goch, Snowdon and Y Lliwedd to form the Snowdon Horseshoe. An incredible mountain day involving grade 1 scrambles and knife edge ridge walks.
3. Carnedd Llywelyn, 1064m
Carnedd Llywelyn is the third highest mountain in Wales and the highest mountain in the Carneddau range. This range has the largest area of land over 3000ft in England and Wales and many of the highest peaks. Carnedd Llywelyn itself is a rather sprawly peak but offers fine 360 degree views.
4. Carnedd Dafydd, 1044m
Carnedd Dafydd is the neighbour to bigger brother Llywelyn. As the two largest peaks in the range, Dafydd and Llywelyn are often combined in walks around the Carneddau. The ridge from Dafydd to Llywelyn is a fine section of high mountain walking, with great views on offer the whole way.
5. Glyder Fawr, 1000.8m
Glyder Fawr, meaning big pile of rocks, is the highest peak in the Glyderau range. Glyder Fawr was remeasured with GPS in 2010 and was nearly 2 meters higher than previously thought, meaning it joined the list of Wales’ “Super Mountains” (mountains over 1000m high). It is an intriguing mountain with other-worldly rock formations strewed across the summit.
There are many routes to the top of Glyder Fawr which is often climbed in combination with other peaks in the range, namely Glyder Fach. A common route to the summit of Glyder Fawr is via the ominously named Devil’s Kitchen. You can read more about hiking routes through the Devil’s Kitchen to Glyder Fawr in this guide.
6. Glyder Fach, 994m
Glyder Fach, meaning small pile of rocks, is a slightly smaller version of it’s adjoining peak Glyder Fawr. Although smaller, I would suggest this peak is even more interesting than Glyder Fawr, as it has the Cantilever Stone to play around on. For hiking routes to the top of Glyder Fach including some top grade scrambles, take a look at this guide.
7. Pen yr Ole Wen, 978m
Pen yr Ole Wen, meaning Head of the White Slope, provides access to the rest of the Carneddau range from Ogwen Valley. A direct scree-climb to the summit of Pen yr Ole Wen is possible from Ogwen Boathouse, however there is a far more interesting route available from the eastern side. To learn more about this route take a look at this guide.
8. Foel Grach, 976m
Foel Grach is another from the Carneddau range and the northerly neighbour to Carnedd Llywelyn. Translating to (the rather unglamorous) Scabby Hill, this broad, grassy peak tends to collect snow in the Winter months. There is now a shelter just off the summit if refuge is required.
9. Castell y Gwynt, 972m
Located between the two peaks of Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach, Castell y Gwynt or Castle of Winds is an intriguing rock formation. Castell y Gwynt was remeasured in 2007 and upgraded to a Nuttall. Despite this new classification it has not been added to the Welsh 3000 list. None the less, Castell y Gwynt offers a fun scramble for anyone wanting to bag the summit but can also be easily by-passed when passing between the two main Glyder peaks.
10. Yr Elen, 962m
Coming in at number 10 on this list of Welsh mountains is Yr Elen, which is another from the Carneddau range. Yr Elen is found just to the west of Carnedd Llywelyn to which it is connected by a ridge. Yr Elen tends to attract little attention from walkers since it stands as a spur away from the main ridge. Hikes to Yr Elen are often combined in loops with Llywelyn and Dafydd.
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