Take on the Welsh Matterhorn within the Moelwynion Mountain Range.
Ever wondered what else lies within Snowdonia apart from the usual big named mountains? well look no further, because recently i took a trip to the Moelwynion mountain range and climbed the rather impressive Cnicht.
From my base at Nant Gwynant i took a 15-minute drive to a very small village called Croesor. The drive alone was interesting as it passes through one vehicle lanes lined with eccentric welsh cottages and houses. Croesor lies east of Beddgelert and west of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
The Moelwynion range is known for its boggy terrain and thus gaiters should be part of your walking attire more often than not, in this region. My visit was in early April, and on the day i was doing this walk, the weather was poor and it was snowing and hail-stoning sporadically.
There are numerous routes from Croesor to the summit of Cnicht, which some include the nearby Moelwyn Mawr and Bach as part of a circular route. This is more strenuous and a day should be given for the full round. The route i did can be done in 2 to 3 hours maximum, and is the type of walk if you have a morning or afternoon free.
Croesor is slightly isolated in terms of its geographical location and can be accessed from the A4085 before heading down to the village via the single-track road. The car park on my visit was free and possibly has room for 10 to 15 cars.
Cnicht is a mountain in Snowdonia which forms part of the Moelwynion mountain range and comes in at 2,260ft in height.
Its appearance when viewed from the south-west, i.e. from the direction of Porthmadog, has earned it the sobriquet the “Matterhorn of Wales.
To start the walk head out of the car park and turn right (There is a big sign on the left of the car park telling you to turn right) Walk over the bridge and up the road that passes through Croesor. The village is very small and the one road you will be walking on will lead you directly to a metal gate that you will pass through.
Once through the gate the terrain changes to stones and scree as you head up through a little wooded area. Once at the top there is a gate on your right that you will pass through. This will lead you on to open ground and if wet it can be boggy. Cnicht will be visible all the way from this point and your perspective will make it look like a pyramid.
You will walk through disused buildings or the remains of them, before climbing a wall stile. On the other side you will have great views of Moelwyn Mawr to your right. The path is well defined and it will continually lead you up hill with Cnicht always in view. Just before you start your ascent of Cnicht, there is a wall stile you will need to pass over, and on the other side the path is very fragmented and there is a little rock fall to navigate through.
Now given Cnicht is only 2,260ft in height i was pleasantly surprised that this little walk was going to offer me a surprise scramble. In fact, most of the ascent you will find yourself using both your hands and feet to work your way up to the summit. The path erodes in places and twists and turns in others.
Two thirds of the way up it began to hail and snow, and it was hard to see anything without my eyeballs being stung by bouncing hailstone. I had my snow mask, so i put it on which made life much easier. The weather was changing all the time with low cloud passing and then clear
visibility. I eventually got to a part where i could see the impressive views of Cwm Croesor below me to the right and behind me i had amazing views of the coast. If that was not enough i had the south side of Snowdon to my left.
To get to the summit you will come up from the left-hand side given the path sweeps around this way. But make no mistake there is still some enjoyable scrambling to do and a bit of working out where the route is to the top. Once at the top the summit is rather wide and the views on offer are something else.
This walk was short but sweet and i really enjoyed it to be honest, sometimes less is more in my opinion. You will reverse your route and come back the way you came, to get back to the car park at Croesor. There is a bigger version of this walk that i will be doing in the future but for a limited time to spare walk, you won’t go far wrong with Cnicht whilst in Snowdonia.