Cadair Idris from Minffordd
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Cadair Idris from Minffordd (6th April 2005)


The Cadair Idris peaks are the southernmost massif of the Snowdonia National Park. The area is much less well known than Snowdon itself and consequently it is generally much less crowded with hikers. Although the Minffordd path is generally clear this is serious mountain country and you need to take great care, particularly if the weather is changeable. Cloud can descend very quickly. In such a situation a working gps system can be very useful but take a paper map and a compass as well.


Starting from Tywyn High Street catch the #30 bus towards Dolgellau. The bus heads up the valley, parallel to the tracks of the Tal-y-Llyn railway. The train tracks end at Abergynolwyn but the road continues up the valley of the Dynssini river, then following the shore of glacial Tal-y-Llyn lake with Cadair Idris towering to the left and the peak of Mynydd Rugog to the South. Get off the bus at the Minffordd Hotel, a lttle way beyond the head of the lake. At the road junction take the path to the public car park. It is also possible to reach this spot by taking the #30 bus in the opposite direction, from Dolgellau.


Go through the car park, then follow the clearly signed path past the Mountain Centre. The path climbs steeply through woods beside a stream. Above the trees the valley is littered with large rocks which have been scraped and shaped by the glacier that formed it. Soon the path leaves the stream, veering away to the left, and climbs towards the lake of Llyn Cau, a beautiful black circle of water at the base of the dark grey amphitheatre-like cliff, the chair of Cadair Idris. Somehow this stillness of the water gives the impression that it is bottomless although in fact it is a modest glacial lake, all that remains of a glacier which created the chair. Just before reaching the lake-side the path turns South, heading up through rocks.


At the top of this short climb the path runs along the crest of a rockwall, Craig Cau. Follow the path along the ridge towards the West but don't lose height here.

The path is marked by a scatter of stone cairns through this region. When you come to a fence cross it (there are stiles) then head downwards, across a col before climbing through rocks to the summit. At the summit (Penygadair) there is a stone shelter.


To descend towards your starting point, follow the path going North East from the summit. Do not follow the path between two adjacent cairns (this is the Fox Path) since although you can descend this way you will find yourself on the wrong side of the mountain from the Minffordd Hotel, with a tricky public transport journey back to Tywyn!


With the cairns on your left continue, staying on the right hand side of the ridge, without losing much height, reaching another slightly lower peak of Mynydd Moel.


In places the path is difficult to distinguish from sheep tracks but continue until you reach a fence. Cross the fence and follow it down hill. The steep path has been improved by flagged steps.


The path turns South West through a gate, descending towards woods and the stream which you followed on the way up. Cross the stream on a modern bridge to rejoin the ascent route. This leads back to the Visitors Centre and car park. The bus stop has regular but infrequent buses back to Tywyn so check the timetable before you set off.




Total distance: 9.6km (6 miles) Total time: 5 hours Ascent: about 1000m

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Entering Ystrad-Gwyn

Peak of Cadair Idris

View back down Ystrad-Gwyn

Llyn Cau

Cloud waves

Tal-y-Llyn from the descent

Almost back to the start