Secret Mountains Series. Cnicht
Take on Cnicht – aka the Welsh Matterhorn – for breathtaking mountain scenery and one of Snowdonia’s best 360-degree summit panoramas.
How do you fancy a rewarding mountain hike which takes in long views over land and sea? This circular walk up Cnicht – from the Snowdonia village of Croesor – delivers big when it comes to the picture-perfect.
Cnicht’s pointed summit really stands out among the rounded bumps of the neighbouring peaks. It is part of Snowdonia’s Moelwyn range, a short drive from Porthmadog, Beddgelert and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Its appearance when viewed from the direction of Porthmadog, has earned it the name the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’, albeit a somewhat smaller version (689m as opposed to a whopping 4,478m).
So Cnicht is not particularly high, but the views from the top are really magnificent, and it certainly feels like a ‘proper’ mountain. Relatively light on visitors, it’s a place where you can enjoy the sense of really being off the beaten track and completely ‘away from it all’.
We recommend that you start your hike from the village of Croesor as per our suggestion below. Our route is meant as a general guide; always take an OS map and compass with you before when you walk, and research your route before you set off.
A Welsh Matterhorn and an Anglo-Saxon knight
Whilst it is known locally as the Welsh Matterhorn, Cnicht’s name actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for ‘knight’ – given to the mountain by medieval sailors who noted its resemblance to a 14th-century bassinet helmet when viewed from the sea.
Route up Cnicht from Croesor
Our walk begins at Croesor, a remote mountain village which is around 7 miles / 15-minute drive from Porthmadog.
From the car park in the centre of the village follow the lane up past the school and chapel. At the gate continue northwards to the brow of the hill, then fork right.
The way ahead should be obvious. Enjoy the lovely views of the rolling moor landscapes as you make your way to the summit. A gentle climb becomes progressively steeper, and there are a couple of short scrambles just before you get to the top.
Once you are up there, the views are really breathtaking. A 360-degree panorama takes in Snowdon and the Glyderau to the north, Cardigan Bay to the west, and Cwm Croesor and Moelwyn Mawr to the south.
Leave the summit walking in a north-east along a broad, fairly level ridge until you reach Llyn yr Adar (Lake Adar) on your left. Turn right here and follow a rather indistinct and potentially fairly boggy path until you reach the site of the old Rhosydd slate quarry.
From the quarry, you can follow the old quarryman’s path all the way down to the road back into Croesor village.
- Distance: 11km
- Height: 689m
- Time required for walk: approx. 4 hours
- Start point: Croesor village
All the usual safety advice applies: never go into the mountains without the right gear. Our bare minimum recommendations would be waterproofs, spare layers, food, water, gloves, hat / sun hat (and sun cream if you are climbing in summer), map, compass, mobile phone and whistle. Make sure you check the weather before you depart, and if possible, tell someone at home which route you intend to take and what time you expect to finish. You should always thoroughly research your route so you have the best possible idea of what to expect.
Stay in a holiday cottage near Cnicht
The start point of this walk is just a short drive from Porthmadog. Take a look at our beautiful holiday cottages nearby.