Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Best Long-Distance Walks In Snowdonia | A Guide For Backpackers and Multi-Day Hikers

Wales is packed full of long-distance walks, many of which pass through Snowdonia. Here are our favourites

With hundreds of miles of tracks and paths, including numerous waymarked trails, the Snowdonia National Park is the perfect backdrop for a backpacking adventure. In fact, as far as we’re concerned, if you’re visiting North Wales, going on at least one really long walk is a must. It will not only be a life-affirming, richly rewarding experience, it’s also the best way to get to know the landscape. And when the landscape is as full of drama and beauty as Snowdonia, this becomes an irresistible prospect.

You’ll pass through a rich variety of different surroundings, including spectacular mountain ranges, whilst also exploring the fascinating history and heritage of the region.

“The terrain can be tough and the weather can be notoriously changeable”

Some of the park’s most popular multi-day walks are easily split into manageable day hikes, enabling you to go from village to village and stay in campsites, hostels, B&Bs or bunkhouses. More remote and challenging routes may involve wild camping in the mountains – an adventure in itself.

The terrain can be tough and the weather can be notoriously changeable, so you’ll need a good level of fitness and decent outdoor kit, as well as the skills and experience to hike and camp in the hills. So, prepare first and then peruse our list of the top six long-distance walks in Snowdonia. But never lose sight of the fact that the point of a long-distance walk is to enjoy it – this is not a race to the finish. Whichever trail you choose to tackle, take the time to soak it all in.


Photo: Will Renwick / Jordan Tiernan

Cambrian Way

Distance: 88 miles/142 km (northern section) or 298 miles/479km (entire route)
Ascent: 27,711ft/8,446m (northern section) or 74,000ft/22,555m (entire route)
Time: 6-8 days (northern section) or 18-21 days (entire route)
Start: Dinas Mawddwy (northern section) or Cardiff (entire route)
Finish: Conwy

We’ll start with arguably the longest and toughest long-distance walk in the whole of Wales – the Cambrian Way. Dubbed the ‘mountain connoisseur’s route’, this 298-mile monster snakes its way from Cardiff to Conwy, meandering through all of Wales’ major mountain ranges. Only the northern section lies in Snowdonia, but many would argue that this is the most spectacular stretch of the whole trail.

It also takes in many famous peaks including Cader Idris, the Rhinogydd, Snowdon, the Glyderau and the Carneddau, so you will bag plenty of summits while enjoying fabulous mountain vistas. Thanks to the efforts of campaigners, all of the trail is now waymarked, though given the rugged and challenging terrain, this is a trail best suited to experienced backpackers. Still if you’re looking for an epic walk in every sense, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Photo: Will Renwick

Snowdonia Slate Trail

Distance: 83 miles/134 km
7 days

The search for slate has shaped the landscapes of North Wales in myriad ways, and at the height of this vast enterprise in the late Victorian period, it was said that Welsh slate ‘roofed the world’. But as the industry declined, the mines, quarries and tramways were gradually abandoned. Today, remains of these workings are still dotted across the mountains.

“Walking the Snowdonia Slate Trail is the best way to trace the fascinating industrial history of the area”

Visiting them is an atmospheric and unforgettable experience, and walking the Snowdonia Slate Trail is the best way to trace the fascinating industrial history of the area.

Created in 2017, it’s an absorbing 83-mile lollipop route that starts from the sea at Porth Penrhyn, Bangor, before heading south to Bethesda and embarking on a wide loop around Snowdon, Ffestiniog and the Glyderau.


Snowdonia Way

Distance: 97 miles/156km (main route) or 122 miles/186km (mountain route)
16,430ft/5,009m (main route) or 32,008ft/9,756m (mountain route)
6-8 days

This classic long-distance route is a wonderful tour of the national park from south to north. Setting out from the historic market town of Machynlleth, it crosses Snowdonia’s southern lowlands before heading up through spectacular mountain scenery to reach Conwy on the north coast. The main route is often erroneously referred to as the ‘low route’ but includes some stiff climbs and tough days, ensuring you still get plenty of stunning views.

“You’ll pass through a rich variety of different surroundings”

If you’re keen to bag some of North Wales’ most famous peaks and are prepared to put in plenty of extra effort, the higher-level mountain route incorporates a series of diversions that climb over several summits, including Cader Idris, Snowdon, Moel Siabod and Glyders Fawr and Fach. One of the advantages of these optional spurs off the main route are that they enable walkers to be flexible, adapting their plans for the day’s walking as weather (and fatigue!) dictates. And although the route isn’t waymarked, there’s both a brilliant website ( and a Cicerone guidebook to keep you on track.

Welsh 3,000s

Distance: 32 miles / 51km
11,000ft / 3,353m
1-2 days
Pen y Pass
Foel Fras

By a convenient quirk of geology, all of the 15 peaks over 3,000ft in Wales are found within the three mountain groups of northern Snowdonia – the Carneddau, the Glyderau and the Snowdon massif. If you are fit enough, it is possible to bag them all in a day (and if you’re really fit, you can run them in a matter of hours – the current record is held by Finlay Wild, a Lochaber-based GP, who did it in 4hrs and 10 minutes).

“If you’re really fit, you can run them in a matter of hours”

However, if you’re not up for charging across the mountains, the route can also be completed in a couple of days. It’s still a challenge, particularly the hands-on scrambles to cross knife-edge Crib Goch and scale the jagged peak of Tryfan, and you’ll need good hill legs too. The route isn’t waymarked either, so you’ll need decent map and compass skills, especially in poor visibility. However, this is a truly spectacular walk that goes up and over all of the highest points in Wales, making it as exhilarating as it is exhausting.


Wales Coast Path

Distance: 70 miles/113km
5-6 days

In 2012, Wales became the first nation in the world to have a dedicated coast path along the entire length of its coastline. In total, it is 870 miles (1,400km) long, stretching from Chepstow in Monmouthshire to Queensferry in Flintshire. There are several fabulous stretches, not least the Gower Peninsula, the Pembrokeshire Coast, the Llŷn Peninsula and the Anglesey Coast Path.

“Any – and all – of these trails are well worth walking”

Any – and all – of these trails are well worth walking. However, the main section that lies within the boundaries of the Snowdonia National Park is the stretch of coast along the historic county of Meirionnydd, roughly reaching from Machynlleth in the Dyfi Valley to Porthmadog in the Glaslyn Estuary. This coastline includes the unique Italianate village of Portmeirion, the broad golden sands of Harlech Beach, the bustling seaside town of Barmouth – with its famous foot and rail bridge across the Mawddach Estuary – and the extensive dunes near Tywyn. In places, the path is surprisingly quiet, making for relaxed and tranquil walking, accompanied only by wheeling seabirds overhead, the crashing of waves and the salt tang of sea air.

North Wales Pilgrim’s Way

Distance 136 miles/219km
10-15 days
Basingwerk Abbey, Holywell

Long-distance walking is as much a mental challenge as a physical one, testing reserves of personal strength and fortitude whilst also offering plenty of headspace for reflection, contemplation and meditation. Perhaps that’s why so many classic pilgrim routes have been taken up by backpackers, from the Camino de Santiago that crosses northern Spain to the epic Via Francigena, which runs from Canterbury Cathedral to the Vatican in Rome.

“Long-distance walking is as much a mental challenge as a physical one”

The recently created North Wales Pilgrim’s Way, or the so-called ‘Camino Cymru’, is the latest addition to these historically and spiritually significant routes. It is a 136-mile waymarked trail between Basingwerk Abbey near Holywell and Bardsey Island, off the coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. The route links 6th-century churches and other religious sites, including thousand-year-old crosses and ancient stone circles. Along the way it also skirts the fringes of northern Snowdonia, offering magnificent views into the park.


For more from our Wales Issue 

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