When one stands, as many do, in one of the many popular tourist centers along the mouth of the Glaslyn Valley, one mountain dominates the view. It does so, because from this angle it appears as a sharp pyramidal peak, apparently displaced from some more suitable surroundings such as the Alps and dropped awkwardly into Snowdonia’s arguably less dramatic Moelwyn range. The mountain is called Cnicht and its profile has earned it the grand epithet of The Matterhorn of Wales. It’s perhaps unfortunate therefore, that on closer inspection Cnicht doesn’t quite live up to the eponymous peak’s grandeur. At only 689 meters, it’s one of the area’s smaller mountains, and rather than having the sharp alpine summit it appears to promise, it actually takes the form of a more ordinary elongated, broad and grassy ridge. Furthermore, while short passages of easy scrambling can be found in places, and although there are decent crags nearby, its rock is too sparse and broken to offer anything in the from of a rock climb.
All is not lost however; Cnicht is a great objective for those wanting to walk in the Moelwynion and an excellent precursor to a more in-depth exploration of the range. When combined with an ascent of Moelwyn Mawr for example, it forms a superb horseshoe of Cwm Croesor. This part of the range is full of intriguing features, including abandoned mine workings and one of Wales’ only Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) breeding sites.
For those who are interested in such things, the mountain is unusual for Snowdonia in that it gets its name, not from Welsh, but from the old English word 'knight', the silent 'k' being pronounced at that time. Apparently, this is because Cnicht’s shape bears some similarity to a knight's helmet, which I’m assured, isn’t a euphemism in any way, shape or form.
This section displays the mountain conditions for Snowdonia, of which Cnicht is a part. Click on the widget for maps and further information.
When to Climb and Essential Gear
Cnicht can be climbed at anytime of the year, however in poor conditions the mountain may be best avoided. April to September offer the most reliable conditions and one will need all the equipment one usually carries for a day in the mountains, which in Wales means full waterproofs and sturdy boots as a minimum.
If you’re lucky enough to climb the mountain in winter conditions then an ice axe and crampons would be very useful.
Cnicht is located in the southern Moelwynion, between the valleys of Nantmor and Gwynant in the west and Cwm Croesor in the east. The mountain can be approached from any of these valleys, but for most, the best start is from Cwm Croesor.
Cwm Croesor may only be reached from the south. If you’re coming from the east therefore, leave the A487 in Penrhyndeudraeth (SH 611 389) and take the A4085 north in the direction of Beddgelert (SH 590 481). Just after the village of Garreg (SH 612 416), there is a right hand turn (SH 614 420), which is signposted for the village of Croesor (SH 630 447). The village is reached after around 3km. Park in the small National Park run car park in the village.
Red Tape and Access
No red tape and access issues here!
For climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) runs a Regional Access Database, which holds mountain/crag specific information on matters of conservation and access, including issues such as nesting restrictions, nature designations and preferred parking.
If you are in any doubt about any particular access arrangement, or need to report an incident, you should contact your local BMC Access Representative or the BMC Access Officers for Wales: Elfyn Jones.
Camping and Accommodation
There’s an almost unlimited supply of accommodation within the Snowdonia National Park so it would be inappropriate to list it all here. For budget accommodation it’s worth checking out some of the following sites:
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