Cadair Idris

Until fairly recently Snowdonia National Park Authority used Cader Idris in its signage and publications. However, whilst working in partnership with Natural Resources Wales recently, to ensure consistency and following guidance given to Natural Resources Wales by the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Office, it was decided to adopt the “Cadair” form.

However whilst discussing details of a planning application, some of the Authority’s Members expressed their views that Cader is always used locally and is in fact the correct form to use. Although the general view is that Cader refers to Idris the giant’s chair (cader / cadair = chair in English), ‘cader’, according to Titus Lewis’ Dictionary published in 1805 does in fact mean fortress or stronghold.

Whichever name is adopted (we’ll use Cadair- it’s on the map!) it is a fantastic mountain, dominating the Town of Dolgellau – and at one time thought to be the highest mountain in all of Britain. Better OS maps etc. have dispelled that myth and relegated Cadair Idris to only the 18th highest mountain in Wales – but even so it is still one of the principal peaks of Wales and with some of the best mountain walks on this island.

Cadair Idris is in truth seven separate mountain tops with Pen Y Gadair being the highest and undoubtedly the feature which gives the mountain its own individual feel is the long northern escarpment which has unrivalled views (and probably what made people believe it was the highest). There are numerous ways to the top (like Snowdon) and we are happy to discuss with you the merits and difficulty of each one before we decide on the actual route we will take to the top. We can have options to start and end the walk at different points so giving you a better feel for the size and grandeur of the mountain.

The ascent from Minffordd in the south starts through and ancient oak woodland and makes its way steeply until the backdrop of the cliffs of Mynydd Pencoed come into view. Here is one of the best examples in Britain of a corrie lake – Llyn Cau. The walk continues steeply over Mynydd Pencoed drops down to the col between it and the main peak. The choice of routes down then can either be over the subsidiary peak of Cyfrwy with its pedestal of rock known as the ‘table’ and then down the old ‘pony’ path (so named as Victorians usedto be taken up by ponies up this path), initially west then north to finish at Ty Nant Farm on the north side of the mountain.

The alternative decent if we wish to return to the starting point is to follow the escarpment east towards the second highest peak of the range – Mynydd Moel. The northern and eastern face of this mountain fall off in huge shattered and broken precipices. The way down follows a path south back to the path of accent just above the oak woodland. Both routes are of a similar distance and time.

An alternative route which takes in most of the best part of the escarpment is to do an east – west traverse of the mountain. This route begins at the high pass above Tal Y Llyn lake and takes in the following peaks:- Gau Graig, Mynydd Moel, Pen Y Gadair and Cyfrwy. The start of the walk up to Gau Graig is very steep but easy to follow. There is another steep pull up to Mynydd Moel but after that it is a glorious walk over the high plateau between Mynydd Moel and Pen Y Gadair.