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Snowdonia (part 2) – The Cnicht

It’s distinctive shape from the south-west has earned The Cnicht the title of ‘The Welsh Matterhorn’.

It is an interesting steep ascent, with some scrambling at the end, followed by a gentle walk along the more wilder ridge beyond to the disused Rhosydd and Croesor slate quarries before descending back into Croesor.

It was a beautiful sunny day, the day after climing the Nantlle Ridge, that a group of friends and I arrived in Croesor, ready to climb The Cnicht.

The Cnicht

Date 30th May 2009
Length 5.7 miles
Time Taken 5 hours
Average Speed 1.2 mph
Max Height 2161 ft
Min Height 534 ft
Height Gain 1802 ft

View the map on OS Explore

Download GPS data exported
from Viewranger

On the route from Beddgelert (Croesor is about 15 minutes drive), you don’t really get to see much of the Cnicht. Not until the final approach to Croesor on the tiny single track road, off the A4085, do you get a glimpse of it’s profile.

The mountain gets its name from the old English word ‘knight’, the silent ‘k’ being pronounced at that time. It is said that the shape of the mountain bears a similarity with a knight’s helmet.
Source – Wikipedia

I have to admit having just spent a happy hour or so flicking through ‘The History of Chivalry and Armor’ (translated from the original 19th century French edition) – looking at the gorgeous colourful illustrations, trying to find a picture of a helmet in the shape of The Cnicht. I presume it is named after some kind of conical Anglo-Saxon helmet?

So, armed with a downloadable Viewranger guided walk, we set off. The free carpark was full, but there we managed to find some on road parking nearby. The climb is progressively steady, only becoming very strenous towards the peak. The views as you ascend quickly become fantastic, especially across to Porthmadog and Tremadog Bay.

There is a sheltered plateau, just below the peak, which makes a lovely resting point before tackling the final ascent, which requires some enjoyable hands on scrabbling. The views from the summit are spectacular – rather than my slightly inferior photos, I have found this wonderful 360 degree panorama on the BBC website.

From the summit, there is a gentle, easy to follow, route along the ridge to a pair of lakes – Llynnau Diffwys. From here, the route we were following continues to the disused Rhosydd and Croesor slates quarries. However at this point the troops were restless, and the pub was calling (well it was a hot day!) So rather than exploring the quarries, we took the more direct footpath past the resevoir and down to what was presumably originally the quarry supply road.

It was a shame not to have had the time to explore the quarries – slate mining has played such an important part in the history and geography of this part of Britain. I did intend to write about both quarries, but it just doesn’t seem right without having at least looked around them (well the parts that are accessible anyway)! So I guess that I will have to come back, not just to visit the quarries, but to also tackle the neighouring peaks of Moelwyn Mamw and Moelwyn Back. I am already looking forward to it!

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