Birthday Weekend – Day 1, Cnicht and the Moelwyns   8 comments

Being the kind-hearted type who knows the way to a man’s heart (well this one’s anyway), Jane treated to me to a surprise weekend away in the Welsh hills for my birthday. When I say “surprise”, she had to ask me what I was doing that weekend to make sure I was free which kind of gave the game away. Still weekends by ourselves without the kids in tow are a rarity so I was chuffed to bits and on top of that the weather forecast was looking pretty good.

We spent the Friday night at my parents caravan ready for an early start the next day, leaving the kids with them to be spoilt. The world was our lobster as the saying goes so after much deliberation I plumped for a route I’d been longing after for several years, Cnicht and the Moelwyns from Croesor.

11.2 miles, 4,400 feet of ascent

We were parked up and underway by 10 and Cnicht looked magnificent on what promised to be a great day.


Cnicht from Croesor


Lower part of the SW ridge of Cnicht

The long WSW ridge has always looked a cracker and it didn’t disappoint. Expansive coastal views, glimpses of the main Snowdonia massif and a twisting, rocky ridge, never difficult draws you upward towards the fine airy summit.


Looking back to Tremadog Bay

I love ridges and mountains with a view of the sea so this one ticked all the boxes and I was in an exceptionally cheery mood as I crested the top. The weather was a little cloudier than it first looked but the views were still superb and it was time for lunch number 1 and fresh brew of tea.


Jane on the summit




Moelwyn Mawr from Cnicht

It’s a summit that wants you to stay and we spent the best part of an hour lingering, looking at the view and savouring the situation.


Cnicht summit ridge

When it was time to move on, the complex high level terrain of small knolls and tarns to the west looked too inviting to ignore and we decided to extend the walk to take in Moel Druman and Allt Fawr.


NE to Allt Mawr

This was fine walking on narrow sheep tracks across shallow edges, rocky points, always with another jewelled tarn around the corner.


Looking back to Cnicht


Near Llyn Coch

I definitely need a wild camping trip up here and possibly with D as it’s a reasonably easy walk up from the road. On a warm afternoon it would be a pleasure to drop the tent and wander about all the features and small peaks.


Un-named tarns

Today I left Jane behind to climb Allt Fawr which has a superb vista over the industrial landscape of Blaenau Ffestiniog.


Blaenau Ffestiniog from Allt Mawr


Moelwyns from Allt Mawr

We were reunited at the outflow from Llyn Conglog and began the walk back towards the Moelwyns. We spotted numerous wild camp sites including a cracker perched on a ledge amongst the rocks. As you descend to the col you enter an amazing area of long abandoned old mine workings and what must have been a substantial collection of dwellings in it’s heyday.


Mine workings below Moelwyn Mawr

The whole area is one great industrial archaeology theme park complete with ruined buildings, levels, tramways and mine entrances. On a day when perhaps the weather rules out the high tops it would a fascinating place just to poke around and explore.


The gates of hell

It was one of those days that looked like an afternoon clearing to blue skies was on the cards and as we started the long climb to Molewyn Mawr the sun started to show itself again. I declined the extra effort to claim Moel-yr-Hydd but wish I hadn’t – it looks like a fine peak perched over Ffestiniog.


Ascending Moelwyn Mawr, Moel-yr-Hydd behind

By the time we reached the summit the weather was glorious and the views across the Lleyn Peninsula were especially fine. As always you could pick out my favourite little hill Carn Fadryn and Snowdon was also now looking clear.


Moelwyn Bach from the summit of Moelwyn Mawr


Lleyn Peninsula from Moelwyn Mawr


Moel Hebog and Nantlle Ridge

We’d been strolling for a few hours without a break so we found a superb little spot perched on the edge of the cliffs, feet dangling, overlooking Llyn Stwlan.


Perfect lunch stop

Another brew and food to keep us going on the final section, first over the rocky ridge of Craigysgafn and onto Moelwyn Bach. The direct route is protected by a massive overhanging rock buttress but the path around is easy and we were soon on the summit.


Jane on Moelwyn Bach summit

The weather and views were now magnificent and long easy angled, grassy west ridge was perfect to enjoy them to the full.


Head towards the setting sun


Snowdon and Cnicht

Nothing finer than walking towards the sun with mountains on either side and the sea in front of you. As we reached the road Cnicht again drew the eye and the walk back down the road to Croesor was superb in the warm evening sunshine with the spring greens contrasting against the blue sky to superb effect.


Pastoral meets mountains


Cnicht in all its splendour

It would have been a perfect evening for a wild camp but for us it was time for a little relative luxury of the Brigands Inn at Mallwyd. A few beers and some excellent food topped off a fine day. My weather luck was still holding and we looked forward to another mountain day to follow. Coming soon to a blog near you.

“The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up”

8 responses to “Birthday Weekend – Day 1, Cnicht and the Moelwyns

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  1. Classic circuit improved by the inclusion of Allt-fawr, superb. A splendid area for wild pitching (but I would avoid Llyn yr Adar like the plague!).


    • Some cracking spots tucked in near Moel Druman and beside the stream that heads down towards the mine workings. Llyn yr Adar looked very soggy indeed. Can’t beleive this was my first walk in this area, some magical spots and I felt I could just wander for miles across all the tops and rocky outcrops


  2. Had a another read and watched the slideshow again – had more success than I did on the tablet. Looks like a cracking day out. Feel free to tell TBH about how nice this birthday treat was at every opportunity: she might be inspired. (A man can dream.)


    • It’s a great area for walking and one of the best days out on the hills in a long time. One of those days when you just want to carry on and not go down. We were pretty late arriving in the pub in the end. I will happily tell TBH that she should take better care of you – for a nominal fee of course


  3. Andy, I have done so little walking in Wales, apart from a little in Snowdonia and the Breacons. Must change this !


    • Thanks Mark. I’m lucky that my parents have their Caravan on the coast of Wales which brings most of Snowdonia within a couple of hours drive (It’s a very long trip for a day from my home in Hereford). I’d neglected Snowdonia for a number of years so I’m just starting to rediscover it. I’m hoping to take my son backpacking in this area next weekend if only some semblance of summer would arrive!


  4. I enjoyed that Andy, dreaming of Snowdonia whilst ‘working’! The Moelwyns are my favourite hills in Snowdonia, have had some cracking wild camps up there in the past.

    A good birthday treat!


    • It was an awesome day and the Moelwyns are a magnificent group of hills, with fascinating terrain and history rolled into coastal views. I’m hoping to get a short overnight backpacking trip up there next weekend with Jane and my son, it will be his first wild camp. If the weather is nice I found a great spot near Moel Druman and some others by the stream heading down towards the mine workings.

      It certainly was the perfect birthday treat – I’m worth it though 🙂


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