Wednesday 13 May 2015. I’ve long wanted to do the Cadair Idris circuit but for one reason or another have failed to tick it off on previous visits to Snowdonia. The weather forecast for today was good so I set off for the 44 mile drive to the start of the walk at Minffordd. Although it was fairly short at 6.3 miles, the 3,280ft of ascent made this one of the hardest walks that I’ve done for a very long time. It took me six and a quarter hours to complete; 4 hours going up with a couple of stops along the way and lunch near the summit shelter. The route down was a little quicker at 2 hours 15 minutes.
There was no easy start to this walk with a series of steps rising about 650ft right from the off. This had me sweating, removing my jacket, and left me wondering if I really wanted to do the rest of the circuit. Thankfully, the going became a little easier and a coffee stop helped me recover my equilibrium and convinced me that I could make it all of the way around. The first sighting of Llyn Cau was uplifting and spurred me on to the top of Craig Cau (2,570ft) where I stopped for an early but brief lunch break. Just enough to give me the energy for the drop of a couple of hundred feet that followed before the 600ft climb to the summit of Penygadair (Cadair Idris) at 2.930ft. This is no small mountain: Scafell Pike being only 270ft higher and Snowdon clocking in at 630ft higher.
My second and longer lunch break was taken near the summit of Cadair Idris where there is a trig point and a stone built shelter. This is dark and dank but would be welcome in extreme weather. The view from the top was spectacular and I could see across to Barmouth on the coast with the Lleyn Peninsula away in the distance. The way down began with a gentle stroll across a grassy hillside but with nearly 2,600ft to descend it could only get tougher. The grassy path soon gave way to a more stony track and this deteriorated further into an rocky nightmare as I followed a fence line back to the point where I rejoined the Minffordd path. From here I retraced my initial route descending the steps that I’d climbed much earlier in the day. The cafe at the start of the trail was still open so I had a welcome cup of tea before the drive back to Llanrwst.
I’m pleased to be able to say that I have now done Cadair Idris. It was a good, if very taxing walk, but I don’t think that I’ll be rushing to do it again during this holiday.
My new tablet continues to give inconsistent readings. Sometimes it is spot on and at others it goes off track for no apparent reason. I know because it often showed me as being off route and I was checking this with the GPS tracking running on my phone at the same time.