Cadair Idris is a picture perfect mountain. Seen from the deep corrie (cwm) of Llyn Cau it offers a dramatic front, steep cliffs leading up to a broad ridge. The ascent via the Minffordd Path is the best approach with a descent from Mynydd Moel completing one of the best mountain days in Britain.
The Minffordd Path has a low start and is remorselessly steep, particularly in the early stages. Here it passes through some lovely woodland and a tumbling beck. A short detour from the path brings you to one of the most perfect tarns/corrie/cwm (Llyn Cau), and I would certainly recommend the short detour. On my last visit (albeit in lovely warm weather) many were taking the opportunity for a quick dip. From the tarn the Minffordd Path climbs steeply south and then starts to circle the upper reaches of the corrie on a rocky path. From here the full size of the mountain opens up to the south and west, including the marginally less steep alternative ascent via the Pony Track.
The summit of Cadair Idris is gracefully situated to the north of the corrie. Rather than descend directly to the tarn from near the summit (which we did in 1981) I preferred to extend the walk a little with a lovely walk on a mainly grassy path to the Cadair outlier of Mynydd Moel. It makes for a lovely contrast to what has gone before. From here the descent to the car park is down a knee jangling, eroded path (thankfully being repaired in 2022) but is at least quick.
It was 41 years earlier that I last climbed Cadair Idris, again in hot conditions. It was on a school summer camp. The day marked the wedding of Charles and Diana and our teacher made us stop for 20 minutes whilst the ceremony took place, it was a relief to us all on a hot, steamy day!
There has been some debate as to whether to walk this clockwise or anticlockwise. I would recommend clockwise and a visit to Llyn Cau early in the walk. One of the reasons I tend to walk clockwise is that the sun tends to follow you and remain at your back. The views therefore are better than any route which walks towards the sun. It certainly was when I did it.
There is a lot of steep climbs and descents on Cadair Idris. Look for the space in between contours to work out how steep the land is, closer they are together the steeper the land. However at no stage do the contours merge together on this walk, if they do the walk does become a hands on scramble rather than a walk.
I have done this in summer and winter. Prefer winter as it seems more like an alpine experience. The bivvy shelter was useful as it kept us out of the wind. Highly reccomended!
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