Cnicht and Allt Fawr from Gelli Iago.
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Route Start Location:
|13.88 km||727 m|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
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Cnicht and Allt Fawr from Gelli Iago. Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download
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Cnicht and Allt Fawr from Gelli Iago.
Most photos you see of Cnicht tend to be taken from the south. The classic pyramidal profile it displays to some angles is unmistakeable. However, this side is less well known. It has no proper path and you will need to use navigational skills to find your way to the main Cnicht path.
Distance, Ascent and Time 14km, 850m, 6 hours
Difficulties Navigation in poor visibility
Start / End Gelli Iago
Public Transport Sherpa to Llyn Dinas or Bethania and longer walk in.
The Route starts from the car park opposite the disused quarries on the Nantmor road. If you want to use public transport, then you can walk across from Llyn Dinas after getting a bus to Bethania. Follow the road South for a short distance until you come to a gate and a track. It isn’t marked as Gelli Iago, but there was a bin with Nanmor Mountain Centre written on it if that’s any help. Up the track, past a National Trust noticeboard with some background information and signs tell you to keep left of the house.
Follow the arrows and cross a stream to your right on a footbridge. This side of Cnicht is quiet. We saw nobody beyond the lower reaches of the footpath until we reached the main footpath for the popular Croesor path. The path is clear and takes you sharply up the hillside at first, before easing off and taking you with little effort to Bwlch y Battel. This is a long col that narrows as you follow the main path, but we veered left from the final stile into the bwlch to attain the broad north west ridge up to Cnicht.
The initial section follows a narrow track, much easier to follow than you’d expect from the map. It doesn’t attain the ridge, instead going parallel and below. If you want to walk up the ridge, then you’d need to walk to the narrowest point of Bwlch y Battel and climb from there. It doesn’t get hard going until the main Cnicht ridge gets so close you think you’re there. But the final pull on steep grass and then a short scree run will make you realise otherwise.
You are then upon the main ridge, just about where the 600m contour shows a large flat area. It’s a good spot to stop after all that scree and to get a bit more life into the legs ready for the short scramble ahead. From here you can look down the ridge you ascended and you will see (weather permitting) a green path follows the ridge up too, so you have two ascent choices.
The scramble ahead can be avoided to the right, but the scramble has easier moves than the avoidance that has a couple of high steps. After that, it’s follow the path, and a few more minor scrambles to reach the summit. On a clear day, try and count how many lakes you can see, i lost count!
From the summit, continue along the ridge, following a clear path that occasionally splits in two, as far as the ridge above Llyn yr Adar. This is a distinct, large circular lake with an island in the middle that’s a great wild camping spot and helpful for navigation. You will come to a fork in the path, the right towards the Moelwynion, the one ahead taking you towards Ysgafell Wen by contouring above the lake. The path isn’t on the map, but is clearer than many marked on there, and takes you to a grassy col between the main summits of Ysgafell Wen. The path is generally rough and boggy from now on.
Follow the fence up, and you arrive at a flat grassy top. This, however, isn’t the summit – which is the rocky pinnacle to the East. So cross the fence and clamber up to the rocky top. This could be difficult to find in poor visibility, I’d missed it before in clear weather!
Onwards now towards Moel Druman. Return to the path, and follow the fence past Llyn Terfyn and Llyn Coch, before crossing the fence to climb directly up to the grassy top of Moel Druman. Beware that the fence on the summit is an electrified one! It’s not a spectacular top, not even somewhere to sit, so pick your way down to the path below, either following the fence or cutting right down reasonably steep grass. The path takes you either to the left of the un named lake, or between this and Llyn Conglog. Choose the one you fancy and return by the other. Or in poor visibility, you can follow the fence all the way to the summit of Allt Fawr.
The views are airy from the summit. Not surprising as the mountain falls directly to Blaenau Ffestiniog in a sheer cliff. There is a slightly rocky top, one that provides a few shelves for sitting out of the wind. It’s an often overlooked summit this one, but it’s the highest point for the central Moelwynion, 9m higher than the ever popular Cnicht. Which means it’s often quiet and definitely not crowded.
The walk back is a reversal of part of the route towards Ysgafell Wen. You could continue across the Ysgafell Wen ridge and down towards Llyn Edno, even Moel Meirch, and then down to Nantmor. We decided to make it down towards Llyn yr Adar as the day’s objective was to get as far as Allt Fawr. On reaching Llyn Terfyn, we followed a narrow path along the north side of the tiny lake, past another smaller lake and across some rough terrain to find ourselves at yet another lake (the path is seen on the map, for once). Pass along the north end of this nameless lake, and the path takes you to the edge of the high ground above Llyn yr Adar.
You can walk directly to the knoll at SH656 481 where the map shows two paths meeting, or carry on for a short distance towards Cnicht and then down towards the Lake on a rough path. We cut across, and it’s very rough ground. But we knew we weren’t far from dropping off the hill and the walk’s end. When you arrive at the knoll, you’ll cross a stream and find a clear path. Follow the path, across another stream, and then the path does become very difficult to follow. Don’t follow the river down as that leads over a cliff!
The path can be spotted to the right, going up slightly before dropping down roughly. If in doubt, take a bearing from the stream and count your paces and then take another where the path bends – you should find it. It was just as we dropped off the plateau that the clouds really closed in, and we would have been forced to use the compass.
It’s not the most pleasant descent, and when it was as wet as it had just become was a slow walk down. Rocks are polished and paths are rivers. But, at least the path is generally obvious to follow. Even after you pass Llyn Llagi, where the path is boggy, the path again drops over rocky steps polished by use and it’s a definite relief to finally reach the minor road where you turn left and you will be back in Gelli Iago in a matter of minutes.