Cnicht – the Matterhorn of Wales

Sunday evening and a succession of Atlantic depressions are bringing in a light but steady rain from the West that manifests itself on the window as I begin writing my first post in ages. Above the sound of the rain, my favorite radio show plays – hi Julianna and Ashley all the way over there in Middlebury Vermont – while the reasons for my absence from this blog; Daniel and Benjamin are both now asleep upstairs.

In view of the weather I think this one should feature lots of sunshine so I’ve dug out some photos of a short trip to North Wales we did at the end of summer.

Cnicht from the Croesor path

The shapely form of Cnicht – the Knight – seen from the Croesor path

The southern Snowdonia peak of Cnicht is an eye catching feature when seen from the lowlands between coatal Portmadog and the Pass of Aberglaslyn. A steep and rocky demeanor belies its modest altitude of 689m or 2265 ft and it is much easier to climb than it is to pronounce correctly. Indeed Cnicht; whose name means “the knight” is often referred to as “The Matterhorn of Wales” due to its shapely conical appearance.

Summit view from Cnicht

Looking back down Cwm Croesor towards the sea near Portmadog from the summit of Cnicht

From the charming Welsh mountain village of Croesor a signed path leads to the summit along an interesting ridge and a steep rocky path though the route is without difficulties and as far as the summit, remains obvious requiring little in the way of route finding.

Snowdon and Crib y Ddysgl aka Carnedd Ugain

Snowdon (left) and Crib y Ddysgl the two highest mountains in Wales seen across Llyn yr Adar in the high country behind Cnicht

Welsh mountain tarn

Another aspect of Cnicht seen from a tarn on the plateau at the head of Cwm Croesor on the way to Moelwyn Mawr

A curious thing I found here was that despite this being my first visit to this valley and mountain, the area seemed strangely familiar. This was because it was the setting for one of my favorite childhood stories; The Shop in the Mountain by Showell Styles which featured a teenage boy and his sister who move to North Wales from Birmingham and come to be at home in these mountains. The author incidentally, at one stage held the record for the fastest ascent of Cnicht from Croesor.

I don’t know whether he still holds the record but it was under no threat from me as I made my leisurely way to the top in sunshine that would do justice to a Mediterranean island. Beyond the summit the character of the terrain changes and one looks out over a vast high country scattered with lakes and small crags where I stopped for lunch by a remote tarn with views to Snowdon before carrying on to Moelwyn Mawr across the valley.

Pete Buckley November 2012

About Pete Buckley

Hi I'm Pete and I'm a UK based outdoor enthusiast, part time writer and photographer. My work includes action adventure novel The Colonel of Krasnoyarsk as well as a couple of travel stories recounting firstly a campervan adventure around New Zealand and then a week on foot in the Swiss Alps, hiking from the Eiger to the Matterhorn. The subject of these pages is predominantly hiking in the English Lake District (which is near where I live), North Wales and the Scottish Highlands as well as cycling; from rides with the kids to trail riding in the Highlands of Scotland and other wonderful places... Thanks for visiting.
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7 Responses to Cnicht – the Matterhorn of Wales

  1. Cnicht …! You can’t go wrong with such a grand little peak, and it punches well above its weight – I posted a trip there about a year ago, but there’s always something new to see, and your pics were spot on!

    Great post, Pete – don’t leave it too long before the next one 🙂


  2. LensScaper says:

    Ah Cnicht. One of my favourite mountains. I’ve just been putting the finishing touches to a presentation that, this week, is getting its first airing at a local camera club. And I have images almost identical to these. Classic Cnicht, great images. It’s a lovely little climb and the trip across the moorland to the Moelwyns via the Rhosydd quarry makes for an interesting day out. Thanks for posting this, Pete.


  3. Pete Buckley says:

    That’s the route I actually did – over to the quarry and up Moelwyn Mawr though I didn’t do M Bach as well! It made for a varied and interesting day out. Let me know if you’re doing any presentations in the Blackburn area and I’ll try and come along. Thanks for the comment.


  4. Shivya says:

    What lovely pictures. And now I’m one of those who realizes the value of the sun 😉 Glad you’re writing again!


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