A walk - The Cadair Ridge

I have to say that this was a thoroughly pleasant walk, though that may in part be down to a sense of relief.


I generally like to use less-frequented routes where possible and the previous week I'd completed a circuit of Moel Siabod in the north of Snowdonia that had ended up as a gruelling slog across lonely pathless bogs and scrubby hillsides (I'll write that one up soon). I'd expected more of the same on some sections of today's walk in the south of the Park but instead I found easy to follow paths and a population of fellow hikers (I love walking alone but sometimes it's good to know that there are other people out there).


Having said that, if you want to follow in my footsteps (you can download a GPX file of my route here), be aware that this particular ascent of Cadair Idris takes in a couple of tricky stream crossings and a long haul up a scree slope. You will need mountain walking experience. The total length of the walk is 15 miles and involves 4,133 ft of ascent.


The weather forecast predicted a murky start but with the cloud clearing by mid-morning. So, no pre-dawn walking today; my main aim was to reach the summit of Cadair Idris as those clouds lifted, hopefully witnessing some misty and moody scenes to inspire new paintings.

I started at the Snowdonia National Park Authority car park (£6 all day; pretty grim toilets on site), five minutes drive west of Dolgellau and just beyond Llyn Gwernan.

As you head back out of the car park and back onto the road to start the walk, a prominent sign for "Cadair Idris" points right. This is directing you up the popular Pony Path, which I have done a couple of times before. So, for a change and to avoid the crowds I went left along the road for a few hundred yards and picked up the path that heads due south from opposite the Gwernan Lake Hotel.

The gentle climbing starts immediately. You rapidly gain height and views of Penygadair, Cyfrwy and the rest of the Cadair Ridge that hadn't been visible at the start.

Early views of the Cadiar Ridge. The summit (Penygadair) is in the centre, partly obscured by cloud, with Cyfrwy on the right.

Just before Llyn Gafr, the first of twin lakes, comes the trickiest stream crossing. The path invited me to cross at a point where wading through knee-deep, gushing, water couldn't be avoided. I normally have a couple of bin bags in my rucksack for these occasions (they make great waders) but I knew I'd forgotten them today. So, tracking upstream I thankfully found a point where a couple of "islands" afforded my best chance. With one of the best standing-start long-jumps I've ever achieved, I made it, despite managing to drag a trailing boot through the water as I grasped at the far bank.