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Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Snowdonia, Wales, Europe

Lat/Lon: 53.00218°N / 4.01499°W

Object Title: Cnicht

County: Gwynedd

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 2260 ft / 689 m


Page By: Nanuls

Created/Edited: Dec 9, 2010 / Oct 10, 2011

Object ID: 683786

Hits: 3206 

Page Score: 89.01%  - 28 Votes 

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"Cnicht or Cynicht (2,265 ft.), Moel Wyn (2,529 ft.) - Mr. J. H. Cliffe ascended the former on September 4, 1857, and declared that he could only hear of one man who had preceded him (the climbing clergyman)... Under certain aspects and conditions it is one of the most striking mountains in Wales, owing to its sharp, conical form, but it bears very little really good rock."

W.P. Haskett Smith - Climbing in the British Isles Volume II: Wales and Ireland (1895)

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.

Cnicht (Photo by mills)

Mountain Conditions

This section displays the weather forecast for Porthmadog, which is located to the south and is one of the nearest towns to Cnicht. Remember that Porthmadog sits at around sea level whereas the summit of Cnicht reaches 689m. This means that when looking at temperature the adiabatic lapse rate must be taken into account, which in Wales is a drop in temperature of between 0.5 and 1°C per 100m in altitude. Exposure and wind speed can also significantly lower temperatures.

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.

Getting There

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.

Cnicht and the Southern end of the Moelwyns
(Photo by Bryan Benn)
Cnicht - The Welsh Matterhorn...
(Photo by matterhorn mel)
Bryan Benn
(Photo by Bryan Benn)

Red Tape and Access

No red tape here!

Although unlikely it's worth checking the countryside access map provided by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) regarding whether or not any restrictions on movement in the area are in place.

Countryside Access Map

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.

Regional Access Database

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.

Scrambling down from the...
(Photo by Philip Stasiw)
Bryan Benn
(Photo by Bryan Benn)
Cnicht,normal route up from...
(Photo by Philip Stasiw)

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:

Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Independent Hostel Guide
Campsites in Gwynedd


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

OS 1:25k Explorer Series OL 17 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa

OS 1:25k Explorer Series OL 18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala/Y Bala

OS 1:50k Landranger Series 115 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa

OS 1:50k Landranger Series 124 Porthmadog & Dolgellau

Harvey Map Services 1:25k Snowdon and the Moelwynion

Harvey Map Services 1:50k Snowdonia British Mountain Map

Road Maps

OS Road Map 9 Wales/Cymru & West Midlands


Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) Snowdonia (Official National Park Guide) by Merfyn Williams with contributions from Ian Mercer and Jeremy Moore

A handy book full of useful information and interesting facts about the National Park.
The Mountains of England and Wales: Vol 1 Wales The Mountains of England and Wales: Vol 1 Wales by John and Ann Nuttall

A classic book covering the Welsh ‘Nuttalls’, which obviously include the Moelwynion.
Hillwalking in Snowdonia Hillwalking in Snowdonia by Steve Ashton

A guidebook to nearly 70 hillwalking routes throughout Snowdonia, including the Moelwynion.
Hillwalking in Wales Vol 2 Hillwalking in Wales Vol 2 by Peter Hermon

The second of two guidebooks describing walking routes up every 2000-footer in Wales – covers the Moelwynion to the Tarrenydd.

External Links

Cnicht from Moelwyn Mawr
Cnicht (Photo by daveyboy)
Cnicht (Photo by Bryan Benn)
Bryan Benn
Cnicht (Photo by Bryan Benn)

Government Bodies and Official Organisations

Snowdonia National Park Authority
Council for National Parks
Association of National Park Authorities
Conwy County Council
Gwynedd County Council
Powys County Council
Countryside Council for Wales
Forestry Commission Wales
Environment Agency
Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
Snowdonia Society
The National Trust

Hiking, Climbing and Mountaineering Organisations and Companies

British Mountaineering Council
The Climbers Club
Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre
Hightreck Snowdonia


Mountain Weather Wales
Weather from the Met Office
BBC Weather
Weather Channel UK

Tourist Information

Visit Wales
North Wales Tourism Partnership
Local Information from Gwynedd.com
Local Information from Snowdonia Wales Net
North Wales Index


Welsh Public Transport Information
Uk Train Timetable


Youth Hostel Association in Wales
North Wales Campsites

Maps and Guidebooks

Ordnance Survey
Harvey Map Services
Cicerone Guidebooks
Climbers Club Guidebooks
North Wales Bouldering
Mid Wales Climbing
Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop

Wildlife and Conservation

Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Natur Gwynedd
North Wales Wildlife Trust
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Welsh Language

Welsh Language Board
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg Welsh language pressure group
Cymuned Welsh language pressure group
Yr Urdd (Welsh Youth Association)
Welsh-English / English-Welsh online translator
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Dictionary
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Lexicon