Snowdonia

Rocky, rough and tough – that's how we like our mountains. Don’t think that just because you can take a train to the top, Snowdon isn't a proper peak. In fact, Snowdonia National Park is a mountain and adventure capital that's up there with the classic Alpine destinations.

Each of the six official eight-mile routes to the highest mountain in Wales (1085m) offer sensational hiking and incredible views. In Snowdonia’s nine ranges, there are 15 peaks over 900m high, including Snowdon itself. You may have heard of some of the others. Tryfan (918m) is a famous landmark: a triangular peak offering some of the best scrambling – and views – in Britain. Meanwhile, Cader Idris is 893m high and rears up from the shores of the beautiful Mawddach Estuary.

Man and dog with climbing rope.
Van driving Snowdonia Mountain Range
Mountains, Snowdonia

Preparing for a Snowdon walk, driving through Snowdonia and beautiful blue skies above the peaks

Cambrian Mountains

The Cambrian Mountains is a name that describes the sparsely-populated landscape from Foel Fadian (563m) near Penfforddlas and Pumlumon Fawr (752m) near Ponterwyd in the north, all the way south through the Elenydd and the Elan Valley to Mynydd Mallaen (462m) near Llandovery. At its southernmost tip you’ll discover Mynydd Llanfihangel-rhos-y-corn (356m) near Brechfa Forest. The Cambrian Mountains span the three counties of Powys, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

Landscapes of the Cambrian Mountains of Wales (credit: Scott Waby/Cambrian Mountains Initiative)

Located between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, the Cambrian Mountains include cairned summits, open moorland and lush valleys. They are home to the sources of the rivers Wye and the Severn and the peaceful Elan Valley reservoirs.

By day walk some local and National Trails, journey on your mountain bike or horse and even paraglide from quiet nearby peaks. By night you will discover some of the darkest skies in Europe by visiting the many Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the Cambrian Mountains Astro Trail.

Looking north from Pumlumon Fawr
Milky Way at Dark Sky Discovery Site
River running through the Elan Valley

Looking north from Pumlumon Fawr, Milky Way at Dark Sky Discovery Site and the Elan Valley

Black Mountain Range, the Black Mountains, Fforest Fawr, and the Brecon Beacons

The Black Mountain Range and the Black Mountains aren’t one and the same, although they are both found within the grassy expanses of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Black Mountain Range, sometimes just called Black Mountain, is to the west, north of Swansea. It’s one of Wales’ most wild and remote corners with impressive, glacier-carved escarpments and isolated lakes, several miles from the nearest road. Its highest peak is Fan Brycheiniog (802m).

The Black Mountains are to the east, on the border with England. Abergavenny, Hay-on-Wye, Llangorse, and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal stand at their feet and their highest point is the Waun Fach plateau (811m). Confusingly enough, this range is also home to a peak called Black Mountain.

To the southwest is Fforest Fawr (Great Forest), an upland area of remarkable limestone cliffs and caves. It was the the first Geopark in Wales.

View of stars in the dark sky and snow-covered mountains in the foreground
A path way near the top of Pen y Fan

Views of Pen y Fan and Corn Du

Dominating the centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park are the Brecon Beacons, whose most celebrated peaks, Pen y Fan (886m) and Cribyn (795m), are the highest in southern Britain. The Brecon Beacons are popular, with plenty of footpaths and bridleways. But they’re quieter than Snowdonia. Head off on foot and at times it can feel as if you have an entire mountainside to yourself.

Be safe!

Exploring the outdoors is fantastic fun, but please read up on the risks and make sure you are prepared.

Related stories