Snowdonia Hiking – Cnicht

Cnicht Mountain in Snowdonia
The ridge shape of Cnicht

Cnicht is fondly known as the “Matterhorn of Wales”. This is due to its similarity, when viewed from Porthmadog, to the iconic alpine mountain of the same name. However, it was when I was hiking on Elidir Fawr that Cnicht caught my attention. When viewed from the north, the ridge like nature of Cnicht is clearly visible. A traverse of the ridge looked like a fun walk and after identifying its exact location on my map, I decided that Cnicht should be on my hiking list for Snowdonia.

Just after Christmas the weather was dry but there was quite a lot of low clouds. Tackling some of the higher peaks in Snowdonia seemed pointless since their summits were shrouded in cloud. At 689m, the lower summit of Cnicht could clearly be seen as I approached Nantgwynant along the A498.

View from the Snowdonian mountain Cnicht
On the ridge, looking back towards Cnicht North Top

Ascending Cnicht from the North West

Starting near Gelli-lago, the route from the north west up to Cnicht follows three sections of ascent, broken by the small lakes of Llyn Llagi and Llyn yr Adar. From the side of the Llyn Llagi I could see clouds hanging firmly over the summits of Snowdon and Moel Hebog. It felt like I had made a good choice to route today.

Upon reaching Llyn yr Adar the weather started to take a turn for the worse. Clouds started to surround the summit of Cnicht, a wet mist started to hang in the air and the temperature began to drop a little. Maybe I wasn’t going to be lucky enough to get some good views after all.

Ascending the third section of ascent onto Cnicht’s ridge I was well and truly in the clouds and feeling quite disappointed. With mountain walking you never know what the weather might do and I was in for a surprise.

My shadow cast on the clouds below - a Brocken Spectre
A Brocken Spectre was the highligh of the hike!

Brocken Spectre

As I closed in on the summit the clouds above me started thinning out and the sun warmed my face. Looking back behind me, away from the sun, cast on the clouds below was a Brocken Spectre! These are quite a rare phenomena where your shadow is cast onto the clouds, surrounded by rainbow like glory rings. They are often transient and by the time I got my camera out the shadow was starting to fade. Even without being able to capture a sharp photo, this was a good result!

The Descent

Descending to the south west, towards Croesor, involved some easy scrambling. Had I been walking the route the opposite direction, I am sure that I would have been wondering whether to keep going upwards. However, reaching the summit via this route is not too difficult.

View up towards Cnicht summit
The approach to Cnicht summit from the south west involves an easy little scramble.

Turning right I followed a small scree path down the western side of Cnicht before having a bimble around the small summits and lakes at Cerrig-y-Myllt.

For the rest of the day the weather remained dry on what turned out to be a great walk!

More walks can be found in our Hikes, Trips & Travel section of the blog, and you can see my Cnicht hike photos on Flickr.


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