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Cnicht and the Moelwyns

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:35 am
by poppiesrara
This felt rather like a reward for a few months around low and rounded peaks; the first climbs of the spring, and the first day when it felt like a little bit of exposure and a bit of scrambling over 'proper' mountains would be in order.

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It was a beautiful, near-sunburning day and Cnicht was just the mountain to fit with it. Despite what the map might have you believe, the path up from Croesor is extremely clear and well-signed in the lower stages; further up you can find your own way along the obvious and constantly-interesting ridge scrambling over or skirting round the steep and rocky crops. Just after a tiny notch at about 600m up, there is a steep and quite exposed climb (pictured below) where pure walkers might feel a little uncomfortable but even that is not too hard, and before you know it you are on the sharp little peak. Even on a hazy day, there were good views from there, to the north especially.
5. Cnicht.jpg

8. Cnicht south ridge.jpg
Cnicht south ridge

9. Nearing top of Cnicht.jpg
Nearing top of Cnicht, the steep section

11. Cnicht North Top, Moel Siabod in distance.jpg
Cnicht North Top, Moel Siabod in distance

12. Ysgafell Wen, Moel Druman & Allt-Fawr from Cnicht.jpg
Ysgafell Wen, Moel Druman & Allt-Fawr from Cnicht

From Cnicht, the descent to the north is contrastingly gradual and easy, before an often invisible 'track' cuts back south-east towards the main Moelwyns. While it's hard to follow the actual path, the going isn't too difficult anywhere though (plenty of slight switchbacks and an occasional bit of bog aside) and making a beeline for Moel-yr-Hydd and Moelwyn Mawr on the skyline (or perhaps in mist just following a bearing) worked perfectly well. The ruined Rhosydd Quarry is quite a desolate and haunting place, but its workings do at least provide you with a nice clear and firm route of ascent up to the foot of the (rather soggy) climb of Moel-yr-Hydd. The views around here really open out in all directions, with the first sights of the rocky ridge between the two Moelwyns tempting you onwards even as the legs start to tire.
22. Snowdon over Llyn yr Adar.jpg
Snowdon over Llyn yr Adar

25. Cnicht from north.jpg
Cnicht from the north

27. Moelwyn Mawr.jpg
Moelwyn Mawr

28. Ruined barracks in Rhosydd quarry.jpg
Ruined barracks in Rhosydd quarry

30. Cnicht from top of quarry.jpg
Cnicht from top of quarry

32. Moelwyn Mawr over E & W Twlls.jpg
Moelwyn Mawr over East & West Twlls

34. Foel-Ddu, Snowdon in distance.jpg
Foel-Ddu, Snowdon in distance

36. Blaenau Ffestiniog and Manod Mawr from Moel-yr-Hydd.jpg
Blaenau Ffestiniog and Manod Mawr from Moel-yr-Hydd

41. Moel-yr-Hydd.jpg

After a longish but easy enough climb up Moelwyn Mawr (while the tallest, perhaps the least characterful peak on this walk), the next mile or two along the ridge is constantly testing, a steep descent and then little rocky ramp up to Craigysgafn, then a quite hairy drop to Bwlch Stwlan that seems a lot, lot further down than the 100m-odd it really is. That looked as if it would be a terrific ascent route though - perhaps that would be the right way round for this walk if leaving Cnicht for another day? Everyone seems to write that the path up Moelwyn Bach 'isn't as bad as it looks', and that's perhaps true (it appears almost vertical and wholly relentless from Craigysgafn) but it's still tricky enough - loosely surfaced for something so steep and then almost scrambly for the last few metres before it levels off to the summit. The route you are taking fills the eye before and behind for most of this section, but it's still with a little breath of pleasure (relief?) that you reach the cairn.
44. Craigysgafn & Moelwyn Bach from Moelwyn Mawr.jpg
Craigysgafn & Moelwyn Bach from Moelwyn Mawr

45. Llyn Stwlan from ascent of Craigysgafn.jpg
Llyn Stwlan from ascent of Craigysgafn

47. Moelwyn Bach from Craigysgafn.jpg
Moelwyn Bach from Craigysgafn

48. Allt-Fawr & Moel-yr-Hydd over Llyn Stwlan.jpg
Allt-Fawr & Moel-yr-Hydd over Llyn Stwlan

49. Craigysgafn and Moelwyn Mawr.jpg
Craigysgafn & Moelwyn Mawr

It's a long but fairly easy (mainly grassy apart from a few marshy patches just before the woods) path down to the lane and back to Croesor, concluding a terrific route with a final view back up to the classic profile of Cnicht:
57. Cnicht from Cwm Croesor.jpg
Cnicht from Cwm Croesor

Highly recommended - do it now before the crowds start to hit that very tempting Cnicht path!

Re: Cnicht and the Moelwyns

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:26 am
by susanmyatt
Love the photos, really enjoyed this area when we did it, especially when you can have a look around the old buildings, wondering about the good old days :D

Re: Cnicht and the Moelwyns

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:09 pm
by ChrisW
Great report and some fantastic photo's there, loved it - thanks for posting :D

Re: Cnicht and the Moelwyns

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:40 pm
great report and pics,a group in work have this planed in a couple of weeks, i was going to give it a miss having a few things i need to do but seeing this report i might have to go now...... :)

Re: Cnicht and the Moelwyns

PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:16 am
by tango
P an excellent report, lovely photos too im planning on doing a similar walk in the summer " i have no choice work" :) . But going to miss out Cnicht done it before, but that mountain has some character.. i loved when i walked it such a relief from just tramping over bogs & babies heads " elephant grass" :lol:. Im going to make a beeline for those ruins too i like exploring places like that so thanks for the report. Cheers