Walk up Cnicht from Croesor Circuit
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Cnicht may only be 689m in height, but is one of the most popular hills in Snowdonia – for good reason!
Route Start Location: Croesor
|10.52 km||576 m||4 hours or so|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
Toilets and cafe (we’ve yet to see it open though)
Some steep sections and navigation can be tough once off the summit.
Car park in Croesor
None to Croesor. Your best bet is to walk in from Nanmor, where the Sherpa stops.
Walk up Cnicht from Croesor Circuit
Cnicht from Croesor aka the Welsh Matterhorn, is one of those essential hill walking routes to include on your Snowdonia Itinerary, and it certainly deserves better than a simple up and down. There are much better options for ascending Cnicht, with a number of circular route options from Croesor.
This Cnicht Circular Route continues along the long summit ridge towards Llyn yr Adar. You then descend to Bwlch y Rhosydd Quarry and continue downhill towards Cwm Croesor to complete the circuit. The best circuit is to continue onwards up Moelwyn Mawr and Bach , but that may be too strenuous a walk or you just have half a day to spare.
The ascent can be challenging in places, with a section of scrambling just before the summit that requires some care. While the path along the summit ridge towards Llyn yr Adar is easy to follow, you’ll soon be on faint paths. This makes the section between Llyn yr Adar and Bwlch y Rhosydd challenging to navigate. Thankfully, the descent to Croesor is along a very good track that used to be the road to the Croesor Quarry until the 70s, and you’ll be back at the start in no time.
The Croesor to Cnicht walking Route
This Cnicht circuit starts at the quiet and slightly isolated Snowdonia village of Croesor. Find your way along the single track road off the A4085 towards the Snowdonia Natioanl Park car park, which is a free at present and which also has a porter-loo.
Once geared up, cross the footbridge straight from the car park over the Croesor river and follow the road up out of the village passing the old school and the man made outdoor slate swimming pool on your left, which draws water in from the river in the summer. Pass the church on your right and you’ll soon find yourself going through a kissing gate and on your way up the well signposted path along the main summit ridgeline.
Keep slightly right of the long ridge, and as you climb you’ll be treated to views of the neighbouring Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach to your right, with glimpses of Snowdon to be seen on a clear day on your left.
As you climb you’ll see why it is often referred to as the “Welsh Matterhorn” viewed from this direction, some claim locals refer to the mountain as such, but we can certainly vouch they defer to Cnicht. It is said and confirmed in the Dictionary of the Welsh Language that the name Cnicht is borrowed from the word knight, as the summit resembles a helmed knight.
Just before the final push to the summit you’ll come to a level shoulder with recent indications of some who have enjoyed a wildcamp and may need to read up on our Leave not Trace article. This is usually a great place to take a brief rest to assess and find your next step, which is a path that follows around the right, avoiding the grade 1 scramble.
Once on the summit you’ll be rewarded with one of Snowdonia’s best 360 degree summit panoramas. With stunning views down the Glaslyn estuary, with Porthmadog and the cob leading your eyes out towards Cardigan bay.
Upon leaving the splendour of the Cnicht summit views head out towards Llyn yr Adar (which is Birds Lake in Welsh), keeping it on you left. You’ll come to a small cairn and the path junction at SH656477. It’s here you’ll need to turn right and be ready for more challenging navigation, with the path becoming indistinct and almost year round boggy!
Navigation done, you’ll find yourself at the old Rhosydd slate quarry, where quarrymen worked and stayed in barracks for the duration of the working week, getting to and from work by foot! You’ll need to head right towards Llyn Croesor, with the path crossing the dam before joining the good track (actually a road!). Your journey should be more pleasurable as you now descend down Cwm Croesor, or Croesor valley, taking in the beauty of the u-shaped glacial features and parallel to your previous ascent up the Cnicht ridgeline.
The gradual descent will take you back to Croesor village and to the car park. You could stop for tea at Caffi Croesor just before arriving at the car park, though not always open. Other options include Caffi Brondanw found on the road back before joining the A4085. Or maybe those looking for something stronger could visit the very comfortable Brondanw Arms at Llanfrothen, also known locally as Y Ring as it was originally where boats were moored before the days of the cob and Williams Alexander Madock’s land reclamation scheme.