Adventures on Cnicht

Pretty much the northern mountains of Snowdonia, from Moel Hebog in the west, to Moel Siabod in the east. Eleven images stitched together; took a while!
Pretty much the northern mountains of Snowdonia, from Moel Hebog in the west, to Moel Siabod in the east. Eleven images stitched together; took a while!

Hello folks

I’m going to write the post with a gallery at the end, but please read the post first.

I know it’s been quite a few days since my last post, but the weather here in Blighty has been truly awful to say the least. Yesterday started the same, as I’d asked a friend of mine to walk up one of our local mountains, Cnicht (689 metres). Only a tiddler really, but what she doesn’t have in stature, she makes up for in character. Basically, from the north and south, the mountain appears as a long ridge ending with a steep drop down into Cwm Croesor, but from the west, it takes on the appearance of a perfect pyramidal shape, hence the name that it’s given of the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’. She has very steep sides towards the western end and a fall would not be wise, and the height of her north and south faces as you make your way up through the relative cwms seem to tower above you.

Anyway, I woke up at 8:05 am and looked out the window; blowing a gale with lots of rain – couldn’t see the mountains for toffee. “Sod getting in the mountains” I thought. I almost cancelled. But instead, I checked and cross-checked the forecasts and it was set to improve from around 11:30am. So I contacted my friend Nick and said “Sod it, let’s just get out!” I drove down to Capelfornia (that’s Capel Curig to you) and picked him up and made our way west. Nick had admittedly been on the pop the previous evening and was feeling a little delicate, but he was excited to be getting out somewhere other then Siabod. Wasn’t long before the inside of the car was smelling like a spirits distillery, but I’m sure Nick was perfectly aware his breath could have stripped paint 😉

As we drove up the lovely little road to the Gelli Lago ‘car park’, the top of Cnicht had cloud on, but we were confident as it was clearing from the west. We suited and booted and off we went. It was good to be moving like this. Hill sack on, my new boots on my feet and the feeling of anticipation of what the day would bring for us. It wasn’t long before we gained some height and had views of the Snowdon Horseshoe to the north, albeit still under cloud. The light was already starting to play with us, so we were getting pretty excited!

We made our way slowly up into the cwm and onto the wonderful wet, boggy ground that is the Moelwyns; glad I’d put my gaiters on as I lost my foot more than once. All part of the fun. It wasn’t long before we spied a group of eleven not far in front of us. Damn it! It was Tuesday and Cnicht is rarely busy and here we are, start of the week and we’re not going to get her to ourselves. Oh well. Nick had plans to go further west to a group of llynau (lakes) so we mooched across through Bwlch y Battel and down again to this point, to expansive views across Porthmadog Bay. And the light. Wow. It was really working for us at this point. We didn’t want to hang around, so I took a panorama of the lakes and we headed off, tromping up bog infested, boot sucking ground.

The Lakes As The Light Improved
The Lakes As The Light Improved

We both became quite knackered and had a ‘fat break’ and also so Nick could manufacture a roly (cigarette). He said he liked to “…give the mountain a chance” haha. Nick was very considerate and said he wanted to be behind me so I didn’t get smoke in my face. He’s a good lad 🙂 Shame the wind was blowing from the west as we were heading east..hehe. We both confessed to being pretty tired, as it was such a slog getting up, but we both knew the view down into the cwm would be worth it. That’s the thing with hill and mountain walking; it’s damn hard work and I often ask myself why I do it during these ‘fat’ moments (also known less delicately as ‘hanging out of my arse’) but it’s being there. The fresh air, the wind on my face, the environment, stunning views, the feeling of space and it keeps you very fit. There’s no feeling quite like it.

On arriving at the top of this little hill, we had expansive views down into and across the cwm. We stood around here for a while and took some shots, but it was getting cold very quickly, as we were being battered by the wind. It was better that we braced ourselves to take our shots kneeling to prevent camera shake. We were both shooting at around 1/100th second anyway at f/7.1 so this would effectively eliminate blurring due to the faster shutter speed. It was so great to under-expose our exposures as the light allowed us to do this, because of the amount of light and darks that were opening up before us. Ecstatic is not the word for it; we’d taken a gamble with the weather and it was paying off dividends! Better still, we didn’t have to mess about setting up our tripods.

As we packed up and headed for the notch in Cnichts west end, the group we’d spotted earlier came into view. We had to laugh, as the detour we had taken would have allowed them plenty of time to get up, but they’d hardly made any progress. Upon catching them we could see why. It was a group of kids that were out with one of the local outdoor centres (Kent Outdoor Centre) and it was clear they all had some kind of behavioural difficulty (autism, ADHD that kind of thing). Actually, walking up behind them on the very steep scree path gave us a chance to climb slowly! So it was a blessing in a way. One or two of the kids were messing around though and kept on falling over, which concerned me a little as if he fell backwards, he’d bounce back down into the cwm. Thankfully, we made the notch safely. The leader thanked us for our patience and we moved on, straight up the nose!

It was pretty exciting now, as the light was perfect. The sun was glinting off Afon Croesor as it snaked its way down to the sea; it was a beautiful and memorable sight. The cwm itself is almost a perfect U-shaped valley, more so on the south side and western end as its slopes lead your eye up to the summit of Moelwyn Mawr across the void.

We made the summit and were rewarded with some of the best light and views I have had from a mountain top. Nick was inconsolable with excitement, uttering expletive after expletive not unlike a tourettes sufferer; “son of a thousand t** w**ks” quite possibly the most amusing thing I’ve heard in a while. We were both buzzing to be honest, but Nick’s excitement was infectious. We shot and shot and shot, until we felt satisfied NB: I’m aware how disgusting that sounds, but I’m going to leave it in for innuendos amusement. The group caught us on the summit and thankfully after making lots of noise and dudicious use of the ‘cword, they disappeared along the ridge to the east, leaving us to enjoy the stunning sight before us. After I’d eaten and not offered Nick any chocolate (it’s ok, he hates it and thinks it’s ‘over-rated’) we made our way back down the steep nose with much stumbling from me “…it’s my new boots making me fall!” I insisted. To be honest, I was being very careful about my back as a spasm would have been disastrous.

Descending back down into the cwm, we contemplated various things and were happy we’d had a fantastic day on the hill, with some of the best photographic opportunities for weeks. I managed to get a shot looking back up the cwm towards Cnicht with the stream; I didn’t want to leave without getting a water shot!

After getting back to the road and Nick explaining how he wanted to “punch someone hard in the face” we were both feeling very satisfied. I cleaned my boots in the river, stretched my back, packed up and drove us both back to Cafe Siabod for a brew and some cake.

Thanks Nick and thank you north wales for being kind to us for a few hours. The weather changed dramatically a couple of hours later and I processed my photos listening to the sounds of high winds, rain and banging cat flap and letterbox!

A superb day and can’t wait to get out again. OK. You can see the pictures now, there’s a lot to look at though 😉



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