To the south of Snowdon lie the wild Moelwynion hills. While the summits of Moelwyn Mawr and Bach lend their names to these mountains, it’s the Welsh Matterhorn of Cnicht that’s better known. However, there’s plenty of wilder places between these popular peaks and Moel Siabod to the north.
You’ll need maps, and these hills cross two sheets – falling at the corner of 4 sheets! Thankfully, the sheets are double sided but you’ll need to be ready to flip them over on the hill. We invested in a site centred map of these hills for convenience.
Cnicht is most often ascended from Croesor, with a rather direct route to the summit. Thankfully, it’s only 689m high and Croesor is already 150m above sea level so it isn’t too exhausting. The route below is a 6km simple up and down walk with around 500m of ascent. It starts off with a steady pull on the old road to Beddgelert before a flat section begins the ascent proper. It gradually increases in steepness as you get higher, culminating with a short sharp scramble to the summit. We’d favour continuing along the ridge and returning down Cwm Croesor as it’s easier in descent than the direct route. However, anyone venturing north east of Cnicht’s summit needs to be a competent navigator as the paths are poor and it is a real challenge in mist.
Many will continue and ascend Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach as well as Cnicht in order to make a full day of it, which would be the classic circular route in the Moelwynion we’d recommend.
This is an alternative ascent into the Moelwynion from Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s again one for those confident in their navigation as there are few paths. The views are excellent, there’s plenty of interest along the way from the dam in Llyn Stwlan to the surprisingly picturesque Cwmorthin.
Other Summits and Walks in the Moelwynion
There’s more than that in the Moelwynion hills of course, with the central area boasting some wilder areas. There’s the summit of Ysgafell Wen that’s a central hub to the mountains, and would be much more convenient if this was the highest summit in the range. You can head off north towards Llyn Edno, Moel Meirch and some real soggy terrain before you reach the ascent for Moel Siabod from Bwlch y Rhediad. The Molewynion also head in the other direction, forming a natural boundary between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Dolwyddelan with the hills of Allt Fawr, Moel Farlwyd, Moel Penamnen and Y Ro Wen. Finally, the hills of Manod Mawr are also lumped with the Moelwynion for lack of anywhere better to put them, as arguably the hills to the east of the A470 Crimea Pass are an area to themselves and sort of merge seamlessly into the Migneint area of Central Snowdonia.