Croesor to Cnicht Mountain

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Walk Synopsis

The walk begins and ends at Croesor - a village located at the foot of the Cnicht mountain.

Derek's guide was local walker, Ceri Cunnington - chairman of the 'Antur Stiniog' a Community First initiative to develop outdoor activities as a source of employment in the Snowdonia Park.

The walk begins at the Snowdonia National Park car park in Croesor village. From the car park head towards the footbridge. Turn left and head north-west over the bridge and up the hill through the village.

Croesor village

Croesor is a small settlement consisting of a number of houses, a chapel and a school and the large coursed stones from nearby quarries are a feature of the village.

Croesor village is part of the Brondanw Estate. Clough Williams-Ellis took control of the estate from his father, in 1908, when he was just 25.

Derek and Ceri

The estate stretches from the mountains, through Cwm Croesor and down to the village of Llanfrothen. It occupies more than 3000 acres with 53 homes and five farms.

The estate is now run by the Clough Williams-Ellis Foundation. The houses owned by the estate are painted a patented blue-green colour but also used in Portmeirion.

1. Cwm Croesor valley

This beautiful, hidden, glaciated u-shaped valley has stunning views down to the lower reaches of the River Glaslyn, with Porthmadog, the Cob and Cardigan Bay beyond.

The last steep section to the summit looks imposing but by keeping slightly to the right hand side of the ridge, the big point soon arrives ahead of you without too much difficulty.

2. Cnicht - The Welsh Matterhorn

Cnicht is a mountain in Snowdonia and forms part of the Moelwynion mountain range. Its appearance when viewed from the direction of Porthmadog, has earned it the name the "Welsh Matterhorn".

In reality Cnicht is a long ridge and at 689 metres, not particularly high but the views are great and it feels like a proper mountain. It can be climbed either from Croesor or (with more difficulty) from Nant Gwynant.

Cnicht

Leave the summit walking in a north-easterly direction along a broad, fairly level ridge until you reach Llyn yr Adar on your left.

Turn right here and follow a rather indistinct and often boggy and undulating path until you reach the site of the old Rhosydd slate quarry.

Even in good weather it would be a good idea to have a map and compass for this section but essential in poor visibility. If the weather is poor then it's advisable to turn back at Point 2 (Cnicht) and head back down the way you came.

3. Slate mining & quarrying

Unlike other slate quarrying areas in North Wales there are fewer, large quarrying scars gouged out of the hillsides here.

As Rhosydd was remote from any major settlements it was normal practice for the quarrymen to barrack or lodge at the quarry.

They would arrive early on the Monday morning carrying enough food to last through the week. Unlike some of the other Ffestiniog quarries there was no such luxury as a quarrymen's train.

Getting to work entailed a hard walk, in all weathers, over rough mountain tracks and the working week lasted until Saturday lunchtime.

From Rhosydd quarry walk along the tramway towards Croesor valley but take a slight detour before descending further by staying on the tramway rather than bearing left down the path.

Path on Cnicht

Contour around the steep hillside along the tramway until you arrive at the Rhosydd incline which drops steeply, several hundred feet down to the valley floor.

Retrace your steps along the tramway and drop down to the right along the old quarrymen's path.

Look out for a grassy incline down to the right and with care, particularly if wet, follow this down until you join another level tramway.

Walk along this, over a footbridge above a cascading stream, to another less steep incline which leads down to the level valley floor and the small Blaencwm hydro electric power station.

An obvious alternative, (and easier than turning down the steep grassy incline), is to keep to the old quarrymen's path all the way until you join the tarmac road back into Croesor village.

This route actually gives a really nice perspective of Cnicht as you're gradually dropping down the side of the valley with amazing views across to the other side.

4. Blaencwm hydro-electric power station

Built in 1904 by Moses Kellow, manager and engineer to the quarries and considered a fearless innovator.

One of the first things he did here was to build the power station that provided electricity to the quarry and also to Croesor Village.

hydro electric power station

Kellow was a well-respected pillar of the community and as well as being manager and engineer at the two quarries he was organist to the local choir and a Merioneth County Councillor.

Continue along the track, the old tramway, past farmhouses and Moses Kellow's old house, Bryn, on the left hand side.

A short section of tarmac road brings you to Caffi Croesor (teas, coffees, snacks) and back to the car park at the starting point.

BBC Disclaimer: The Weatherman Walking routes and maps are intended as a guide to the TV programme only. Routes and conditions may have changed since the programme was made. The BBC takes no responsibility for any accident or injury that may occur while following the route. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear and check weather conditions before heading out.


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Cnicht image courtesy of visitwales.com

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