One of the advantages of having one of the most visited mountains in the UK is that it takes the limelight away from some of North Wales's other great peaks. Snowdon (please, not Mount Snowdon) is popular and with good reason: it offers some of best mountain walks in Europe. However, if you've already "done" Snowdon* or fancy going off the beaten track, good news: there are plenty of unbeaten tracks nearby.

Curious to know more? Read on for our top five unsung summit heroes of North Wales...

1. Penycloddiau (440m) in the Clwydian Hills, Denbighshire

Flickr: © @Debjam (NoSoma)

It's natural for most folk to head for Moel Famau and its crowning Jubilee Tower when heading for the Clwydian Hills. It's the range's highest point. But for windswept quiet and the same great views, Penycloddiau (Pen-y-cloth-ee-i) is a beauty. You'll need a map to find the car park in the bwlch (pass) between Penycloddiau and neighbouring Moel Arthur (try SJ 1395 6674) but at 280m above sea level it's an easy and enjoyable walk to the summit from here. For a little more exercise there's limited on-road parking at Afonwen and a steep lane to climb before it becomes a track and joins Offa's Dyke path, which also takes you to the summit.

2. Rhobell Fawr (734m) north of Dolgellau Gwynedd

Flickr: © Ted and Jen (TedandJen)

Rhobell Fawr is the highest of the peaks in the mass of mountains between the Rhinogs in the west and the Arans to the east in this southern portion of Snowdonia. Leave the car at the village of Rhydymain on the A494 and first follow a forest road and then a dry-stone wall up the rocky mountain. Occasionally the rock outcrops are big enough for you to need hands as well as feet. From the trig stone at the top there are wonderful views in all directions and, unless you're unlucky, you'll have the place all to yourself. You can create a longer walk by heading north to Y Dduallt (the source of the River Dee) but have a good map with you - the paths can be indistinct.


3. Cnicht (689m) near Croesor village, Gwynedd

Flickr: © Peter Trimming (peter-trimming)

Pronounced exactly as it looks, Cnicht is probably the most popular peak on this list on account of it often being called "the Welsh Matterhorn". It does look formidably pointy on the usual approach along Cwm Croesor, off the A4085 between Beddgerlert and Penrhyndeudraeth. When you get closer you realise the peak is more elongated than it first appears. Even so, Cnicht requires a head for heights and a little scrambling. Don't try it in icy conditions if you're not suitably equipped. Start from the village car park and include the peak in a loop around the head of the valley - beyond the peak there are slate mine workings to explore, too.

4. Moel Hebog (782m) near Beddgelert, Gwynedd

Flickr: © Andrew (ARG_Flickr)

Hebog's "blocky" summit can look quite fearsome from Beddgelert but the walk is straightforward enough for experienced hill-walkers. Find the start from the Welsh Highland Railway's Beddgelert station, cross the railway again and head across open, boulder-strewn land that, at the right time of year, can be covered in bluebells. It's a short, steep ascent which gets rockier the higher you reach, and when it gets loose near the top you may need your hands. At the top you can marvel at Snowdon, the Nantlle ridge and extensive views across the Llŷn Peninsula.

5. Yr Eifl (The Rivals) - Garn Ganol (564m), Tre'r Ceiri (485m) and Garn For (444m)

Flickr: © Andrew (ARG_Flickr)

The mountain that dominates the Llŷn Peninsula is actually three peaks, including Tre'r Ceiri's incredible ancient hill fort which covers the summit with a maze of ramparts and walls. Tre'r Ceiri means "Town of the Giants" and who's to say giants didn't once live here? Spellbinding sea and mountain views compete for your attention as well as the remains of mines and quarries. Park at Porth-Y-Nant car park (north of Llithfaen village) and combine your walk with a visit to the Nant Gwrtheyrn cultural centre.

* No-one has ever "done" Snowdon, in our opinion. As well as so many ways to explore this wonderful mountain, there's its constantly shifting light and changing weather. Throw it all into the mix and Snowdon is never the same twice.

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  1. Snowdonia Safaris
    Yes Cnicht is a true mountain gem.
    Little known unless your local.
    Chose a fine day - Park in Croesor
    CP and walk up - takes about one and a half hours ....
    You will be well rewarded..
    Fab views all around 360 degrees.
    Enjoy ..

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