Chilly Cadair Idris

As mentioned previously, I’m hoping to backpack along the West Highland Way later in the year. Honing my gear choices is one thing, but I can’t ignore the physical preparation as well. The best, and most fun. training for such an endeavour is of course hiking in the hills with a full backpack!

With a day off work and what looked like a decent weather window I therefore headed off to Cadair Idris. I parked up in the layby at the top of the Tal y Llyn pass and set off up the hill. There was a cold wind, clouds covered the sky and the temperature reading from the car was -2ºC. It was colder than that at higher elevations of course. I was pretty chilly but as I was starting off up a steep slope towards the summit of Gau Craig (684 m) I forewent the jacket for now as I didn’t want to sweat too much. I did put my hat, gloves and buff on though as my extremities were cold and the wind was biting. The buff was soon up over my face trying to keep my nose a little warmer!

I stopped just before the summit. Here I took off my fleece and exchanged it for my jacket which has better wind-proofing and a hood. I also put my thicker gloves on. I then wandered across to the summit itself and took a few photos as the low sun tried to poke out from behind the clouds.

I’d never been up Cadair from here before so Gau Craig was a new summit for me. I headed across a little saddle where I was exposed to the wind towards the next summit of the day at Mynydd Gwerngraig (686 m). From here, it was a steeper climb up over rocky ground towards Mynydd Moel (863 m) on the Cadair Idris plateau proper. It was pretty cold up here and the wind was howling. I was going to stop for a coffee but decided to head on to the shelter at the summit of Cadair Idris (893 m) instead. At least there was some shelter from the wind there.

I stopped in the shelter for a while, boiled some water and made a couple of coffees. I also ate a scotch egg, but didn’t stop long as despite the shelter it was still freezing up here. I carried on along the ridge and then headed across to another new summit for me, Mynydd Pencoed (766 m). From here I doubled back a little into a buffeting wind and the next summit, the familiar Craig Cwm Amarch (792 m). I crossed paths with several people heading up towards the summit of Cadair Idris along here. All of them mentioned the temperatures and the wind!

I then started making my way down the step Minfford Path towards Llyn Cau, passing the barely recognisable summit of Craig Lwyd (690 m) as I did so. There were a few more people heading up along this path. At the lake I found a nice bit of shelter and stopped for lunch. I did boil some water for another coffee too and chilled by the lake for a bit.

Llyn Cau
Llyn Cau

It was too cold to linger for long though so I was soon on my feet and making my way down the Minfford path to the car park. From here it was a steady slog up the Tal y Llyn pass to the van. Fortunately, I didn’t have to walk along the main road as there is a path (part of the Mary Jones Way) that runs along the river in the valley. I did have to walk a few hundred yards along the road, and that was more than enough.

Back at the van I had completed just over 10 miles in mountainous terrain and felt fine. Next I’ll have to up the distance somewhat and carry a heavier pack.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.