What I love about Wales is how it is shrouded in myth & Legends. From King Arthur and Merlin, to fairies, giants and Ladies of the lakes, there is so much folklore inspired by the landscape, and it’s no wonder as when you spend time there you can’t help but feel the magic in the air.
One legend that has always enthralled me is that of Cadair Idris, one of the most popular and mysterious mountains in the southern part of Snowdonia. At 893m, it is one of the highest peaks in its range, allowing for panoramic views across to Snowdon, the coast and over to mid wales.
Add to this, the belief that the lake, Llyn Cau, on Cadir Idris, is bottomless and that anyone who sleeps alone on the mountain would either die, go mad, or return a poet, it is easy to see how the mountain holds such mysticism and magic.
Cadair Idris has always been on my list of mountains to climb as an adult (I have climbed it as a child but cannot really recall it), and after exhausting the main part of Snowdonia, I felt it was time to move my sights to the south of Snowdonia and explore the area, taking in Cadair Idris and the Rhinogs (truly wild Wales).
Friday 4th May 2012:
After what seems like a British Monsoon, the weather forecast looking good, myself & a friend headed off to Taly y Llyn, to a campsite which was located next to the lake and right at the bottom of Cadir Idris. Here, most conveniently, you could join the Minffordd path from the corner of the field. There are many routes up Cadair Idris, each with its own level of excitement, but on this particular occasion we decided to take the Minffordd path.
After a good night’s sleep at the basic but lovely campsite we headed onto the Minffordd path which takes you up through the woods, passing by the small waterfalls and bubbling waters of Nant Cadair, eventually coming to an opening where you could see the full volcanic looking structure of the mountain. With a crater-like appearance that wraps around Llyn Cau, it is easy to see why it is often mistaken to be a volcano, though there is now evidence to suggest that it isn’t. It is also easy to see where the ‘Cadair’ (chair) comes from as it does indeed look like a giant’s chair with the Saddle and Mynydd Moel acting as the chairs arms.
The weather was fair, except for a light snow shower, and with just enough breeze to move the fluffy clouds along, it allowed for incredible views as we ascended the ridge. As we approach Lyln Cau, we veered left to ascend up the west ridge which leads up to the summit, Penygader. Being such a popular mountain, the summit was busy and it was difficult to get a lone photo at the summit without elbowing others off the mountain (don’t worry, I didn’t actually do this). The views at the top were immense with a clear view across to the Rhinogs and on to Snowdon and its neighbouring peaks. This was accompanied by views out to the Irish sea and the southern mountain range. We sat for a while, having lunch, taking in the scenery and watching climbers manoeuvring up the north face of the saddle which leads down to Llyn y Gadair.
We left the summit and made our way across to Mynydd Moel (863m) via the ridge with a steep drop to one side. From here we descended down the path that led us back down to connect to the Minffordd path just above the woods. Following the steps down we arrived at the beginning of the path, crossing the stream and back in to the Campsite where the sun was shining in the early evening. A quick drop of the bags and a short drive to the hotel at Tal y Llyn, we sat with a drink and watched over the water as people fished in small boats.
A great circular walk up a magical mountain with inspiring views, and although we didn’t actually see Idris (could have been our demise if he had actually sat down) you could definitely feel the giant’s presence!