Cadair Idris is a spectacular mountain located in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park – and one of my favourite mountain walks! Taking on this trek, you will be greeted with stunning views of Llyn Cau, across Snowdonia and right out to the coast!
We decided to take the Minffordd Path – with the addition of summiting Mynydd Moel, creating a circular route around the ridge of Cadair Idris (way more fun than an out and back route!). After a big hearty breakfast we started our trek from the Minffordd Car Park and headed along the tree lined track, following the well-marked route to the forest. We then passed the tea room to our right, which opens at 10am and began the steep (and I mean steep) ascent through the forest.
Despite the incline of this section of the walk (my calves were hating me for it), the views along the way were amazing and there were plenty of places to stop and catch our breath and take in the beautiful surroundings! After a while the path opened up and levelled out (phew!) and there was a path to the right crossing the river (we returned via this path) – however, for now we carried on straight heading towards Llyn Cau and were welcomed with our first views of Cadair Idris and Mynydd Moel!
Here we had two options – to continue straight or take the path right directly up to Llyn Cau, adding an extra 15 minutes to the walk – I definitely recommend taking the path to see the lake; it’s beautiful and the perfect location to soak up the views and enjoy a well-deserved snack and some water (chocolate digestives were my biscuit of choice today!).
We then re-traced our steps back to join the main path, which became very steep again as we approached the ridge to Craig Cwm Amarch. Here the path is marked by lots of small cairns, so on a clear day the path is pretty obvious, with fantastic views of Llyn Cau! We continued the steep and loose path up to the top of Craig Caun (be careful on this section – I went over my ankle quite a few times!) and the clouds began to roll in …
The visibility here became very poor – the clouds came in extremely quickly and we could only see a few meters ahead. We had our OS Map with us and luckily we were following a couple who had walked this route many times. We walked with these guys for about half an hour and eventually reached a stone wall, which we climbed over and then headed right – down to Bwlch Cau.
Eventually the clouds started to lift, just in time for the final ascent – another extremely steep section of the route! We zig zagged our way up slowly, taking a few breaks to catch our breath … and after a few moans and groans on my behalf, we finally made it to the summit! Yey!
Unfortunately, when we reached the top the clouds were blocking the surrounding views, so we had our obligatory summit selfie and found an area to sit and enjoy our packed lunch. Halfway through our sandwiches the clouds decided to lift – and there, right in front of us, the surrounding mountains and countryside, right out to the coast, were revealed!
What a scene! We sat and enjoyed this moment, not wanting to leave. Until the cold got to us – and we eventually we got up, took some photos and decided to continue our adventure.
From the summit we continued northwest, in the opposite direction to our ascent, and followed the path to Mynydd Moel. I would definitely recommend continuing this way, along the flat barren top, rather than descending the same way you came up – you will be treated to even more amazing views of the surrounding area, all the way out to the coast!
From the summit of Mynydd Moel (863m) we returned to the fence that we had previously crossed – and followed the fence downhill. This is a very steep and rocky route – so make sure you take it slowly and watch where you are placing your feet. This was tough on the knees … so we had a little break half way down and admired the views of the lake behind us. Eventually we made it to the point where we met the Nant Cadair stream at the corner of the pine forest, we crossed the stream, met our original path and followed our footsteps back to the carpark, via the café!
What a fantastic day! In total it took us approximately 5 hours to complete this 10km circular route – and we absolutely loved it! I would love to hear any recommendations you have in regards to walks around Snowdonia and North Wales!
Until the next one …