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“In order to complete the Welsh 3000s Challenge you are required to have been at the top of all 15 (or is it 14, or shall we call it 16?) of the mountains over 3000 ft in Wales within the space of 24 hours, without using any form of transport.” – this quote from the excellent site http://www.welsh3000s.co.uk/. Further reading on the front page indicates that this is not a day trip to be taken lightly. This post is about the planning behind our assault on this challenge.
You can read elsewhere about the exceptionally fast times set by runners and measured starting at the top of Snowdon and finishing on top of the last peak Foel-fras, however for practical purposes, and perhaps for a greater sense of achievement than getting the train to the top of Snowdon, most people’s journey will be longer and start and finish at a car park.
There are numerous paths up Snowdon, but to minimise distance and pick off a couple of peaks along the way then starting at Pen y Pass and proceeding via Crib Goch and Garnedd Ugain is the preferred route. After descending Snowdon to Nant Peris, there is a well-trodden route to Foel Fras, your decision then is how to get home with the car parks at Aber Falls, Bwlch Y Ddeufaen and Abergwyngregyn being the best options. If you don’t have a “support driver” then how you get a car to the end point is a consideration. I’ve plotted out the options on the following map.
In terms of distances, there doesn’t seem to be much in it, so you will probably decide based on your perception of the quality of the path and the willingness of your driver to follow a narrow single track road. I spend a lot of time being frustrated by the lack of availability of GPX files for routes for free, so I’ve put links to the ones I have created below. Please note that whilst these are based on route descriptions, maps and aerial photography they may not be perfect and are unvalidated – basically use at your own risk.
- Red route to car park at Bwlch Y Ddeufaen is 44.56 km. GPX file.
- Blue route via Aber Falls is 44.91 km, and with much less well defined path? GPX file.
- Green route to Abergwyngregyn is 45.08 km. GPX file.
So, being reasonably fit nowadays and with an aspiration to start very early and finish before dusk I have a target of about 15 hours. I’ve made assumptions regarding an estimate of capability (from other events e.g. Malvern Midsummer Marathon) and allowed 5 mins at each summit and 15 mins at the two road crossings to match the aspiration to the assumptions to produce the following speed versus gradient profile and resulting time versus distance and altitude plots.
Note that the peaks look a funny shape because it’s faster downhill than uphill (I hope). The main point of this is to ascertain that estimated timings are feasible, in theory at least, and to give estimated road crossing times to our support driver of 3:34 hours and 8:58 hours. The full table of estimated elapsed times and distances is below, and a column showing actual times assuming a 04:30 start.
|Where||Elapsed time||Distance (miles)||Calculated time – 20%||Calculated time||Calculated time + 20%|
|Castell Y Gwynt||07:44:47||13.5||10:41:50||12:14:47||13:47:44|
|Pen yr Ole Wen||10:24:57||17.2||12:49:58||14:54:57||16:59:56|
You’ll be needing a weather forecast. Here is a selection of five day forecasts from the Met Office in text format: