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Long summer days have recently tempted Chris and I (plus Border Collie ‘Mist’ of course) away from our nearby hills of the Carneddau and Glyderau, with Maesglase (see post #298) and Dduallt (see post #299) getting visits. The extra hours of daylight meant that the longish drives there and back didn’t need a start at ‘Stupid o’Clock’, so while we were both still in that frame of mind I suggested a return to an old friend – Cadair Idris, otherwise known as ‘The Chair of Idris’.
The two classic routes to the summit are the Minffordd Path from the south (see post #65) and the Foxes Path/Pony Track combination from the north (see post #150). We hadn’t been on the Minffordd route since 2012, mainly because the descent had been very loose and eroded, certainly enough for Chris to say at the time that she didn’t fancy repeating it – ever! A bit of online research suggested that the descent route had been fixed – there was only one way to find out.
The day was already hot as we set off from Minffordd carpark. The route is popular but doesn’t get as busy as Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) or Ogwen, at least not when I’ve been there. The first section rises through woodland on a path that gains height quickly but is never steep. The views improve once out of the trees, but you have to wait until the lake of Llyn Cau comes into view before things get really interesting.
After a short coffee break, we set off up a well-renovated path to join the broad ridge that loops round above the cwm of Llyn Cau. The majority of the route to Cadair Idris can be seen from here – the summit of Craig Cwm Amarch sits astride the route and has to be crossed before an obvious drop of about 90 metres to a bwlch, before the final rise to the summit of Cadair Idris.
The summit of Craig Cwm Amarch is undistinguished as a peak but continued to give us great views, and the loss of height penalty wasn’t a deal breaker, especially with the sudden surprise view down to Llyn Cau, over 200 metres below us. Then it was another dose of uphill, this time 180 metres or so to the summit of Cadair Idris.
The top is lumpy, bumpy and stony, but has a small bonus in the form of a substantial stone shelter. It’s not intended to be used as a bothy, but it would provide a degree of comfort for anyone who wanted to ‘overnight’ on the summit. If tempted, remember legend has it that anyone who sleeps overnight on the mountain will wake up a poet or a madman! We didn’t write any poetry, but instead had a second coffee break sitting in the sun, before it was time to set off down.
Last time we came this way, we had avoided the crossing of Mynydd Moel – as time was getting on a bit after our ‘not too early’ start, we decided to by-pass it once again and headed down and right in a roughly westerly direction to cut the corner. Our diversion eventually met up with the descent route from Mynydd Moel, where we found that the path was almost as eroded and loose as last time! Chris reminded me why she hadn’t liked this bit on our previous visit – several times in fact!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock