Cadair Idris & Llyn Cau

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By SheepFarmer on 21/12/18 at 4:15pm (last edited 30/04/20 at 4:55pm)

Hills walked:
Craig Cwm Amarch (Hewitt, Nuttall, Sim, and Tump)
Craig Lwyd (deleted Nuttall)
Cadair Idris - Penygadair (Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall, HuMP, High Hill of Britain, Clem, Sim, and Tump)
Mynydd Moel (Hewitt, Nuttall, High Hill of Britain, Sim, and Tump)
Mynydd Gwerngraig (deleted Nuttall)
Gau Graig (Nuttall and sub Sim)
Mynydd Fron-fraith (Dodd, Dewey, and Tump)
Ceiswyn (Dodd, Dewey, HuMP, sub Marilyn, Clem, and Tump)
Date started:07/10/2018
Distance:23.1 km or 14.4 miles
Ascent:1616m or 5302ft
Descent:1615m or 5299ft
Start OSGB:SH731115
Time taken:8:41

Moving Time: 6h 44m 53s

I did this walk back on a fine day in October and like most times if I've got the time I'll plan a long whole day walk. In this case although the title is Cadair Idris & Llyn Cau the walk was actually The Minfford Path to the top of Penygdair with a loop round Llyn Cau on the way then down NE along the full length of the ridge down to the road then up along the ridge the other side & back down to the road and a short stretch back to the car park. And for those who don't know in English Llyn is lake, Craig & Graig are rock, Pen is top/head

GPX track (note, due to daylight saving time? my walker times on this plot have come out 1 hour early)


Arriving early meant a pretty much empty car park for a fine Sunday. Although it's pay & display there are free toilets. Setting off your on a nice easy flat track (pic 01) just to loosen you up a before you soon hit the slopes as you enter the woods and start steeply climbing up an engineered path near a stream, although the temps were cool when setting of, going up the steepness & in the shelter of the woods meant I was getting rather warm even down to 1 layer & wondering if I'd have been better with a cooler top.

Pic 01

Emerging from the woods you then start to get the views although at this stage the views are more back over the valley rather than ahead, but to make life a bit easier the gradient slackens. Being out of the trees does allow one to have a better view of the stream ones paralleling and there's a nice footbridge made of 4 large slate slabs for those taking the path that forks off. Initially the views of the mountains ahead are of Gau Graig a subsidiary summit of Cadair Idris, then as you go on more Mynydd Moel and the connecting ridge, this being my route down. As you go on further up the stone flagged path & start rounding the large bend the summit peak of Cadiar Idris, Penygdair comes into view although it's the steep rocky side of Mynydd Moel that draw ones attention more as it's closer and looks bigger. As you come out of the bend your attention is draw to the sharpish peak & steep face that is the end of the ridge of Craig Cwm Amarch & its peak. Approaching Llyn Cau I forked off the main Minfordd Path to loop round the Llyn Cau and it was at the far side looking out of the cwm that I took pic 02 that has the ridges I went up & down on. The path round the llyn was a very minor one wandering up & down the slopes into the water a bit & requiring a bit of scrambling at times, especially when I was about 1/3 round and came upon a solid rock outcrop that had been ground smooth by glaciation and with a wetness on top I didn't like the look of things so, initially as can be seen on my track I dropped down to see if there was an easier way over but there wasn't so it was back up & up a bit more to cross. Plus it was also a bit boggy ground around where you cross the streams marked on the map.

Pic 02

One low point whilst I was rounding the llyn was that a drone was buzzing round at times, although if it was one of the ones that mountain rescue are now using then all is forgiven for the irritation.

Pic 03

Pic 04

About 7/8ths of the way round came the panorama of Pic 03 with Penygdair right of centre. Pic 04 came having completed the loop round Llyn Cau and shows not only the terrain that I'd just covered but the magnificence of Craig Cwm Amarch is what draws your attention centre pic and for those who want a direct route up there is path going directly up from the llyn to the saddle on the right. On thing I'd say is if you are doing the Minfordd path it's worth the small diversion up to Llyn Cau to get the views & to see all of mountains that form the basis of this cwm and also to get a view of all of the water body in one go unless you are very brave semi-reckless because baring the start of the climb up, you'd have to go further out than I did.

Pic 05

From pretty much where I'd started the loop round it was a short stretch off path back onto the main route & other people were using a bit of a scar of a path closer in that went up steeper. On the main path it was another short stretch but this time steeply up the side of the ridge onto its top. From here it was a varying gradient on a well trodden & eroded path. Pic 05 came when I was due South of the U of Cau on OS maps and shows the face of Craig Cwm Amarch disappearing off left & the bulk Penygdair across the water.

Pic 06

Pic 07

These two were taken from the summit of Craig Cwm Amarch & moving as close to the edge as I felt comfortable with, the hill top centre is Mynydd Moel in the 1st & to it's left in the 2nd is Penygdair it also gives one an idea of how the cwm sits up in the landscape.

Pic 08

This pic came about 200m from the summit of Penygdair and shows the edge that I'd just walked round up to my current position and why one needs to be cautious moving out for the best views down and the valley centre top holds the main road down to Machynlleth. Moving on just a few minutes and moving across to the other side of the ridge cam a nice view of the 14miles to Barmouth it's estuary and part of the near 700m long wooden bridge/viaduct, I have to say after my holiday in the lakes the previous month where I had zero views so often to see that distance with clarity was very nice.

Pic 09

Pic 10

Having scrambled up to the trig pillar on the summit and been exposed to what was know a biting wind came Pic 10 looking out NW over Cyfrwy/The Saddle along the ridge & edge where the pony path comes in to the sea that is the blueness below the grey cloud. Having found a more sheltered spot I stopped wrapped up in multiple layers & gloves & had half of my packed lunch before wandering over to the look at the shelter and wonder if anyone has spent a lonely night here and come back mad or a bard according to legend. At this time the cloud came down more & obscured distant views & even those closer at time such that the view down to Llyn y Gadair was about 50% visible. Moving on the ridge on to Myndd Moel is bare grass although the path is worn down to the underlying surface in a lot of places, it was also very exposed to the wind and I was now walking with 2 fleeces on top of a long sleeve polo shirt & my light gloves & hat. But Pic 11 came looking back at the summit with zoom, don't know how close they came to the top before having to carry, but they obviously wanted to have been to the summit with bike rather than just leave them and walk. There are some mad people out there - a bit like my parents who in their younger days took their 2 English Setters up Gordale Scar in the Yorkshire dales.

Pic 11

Pic 12

Having sped along the ridge to near the top of Myndd Moel pic 12 came looking back with the cloud having risen some, it also shows how exposed you are on it & why it was so cold & windy on such a fine autumn day, the water body in the valley to the left is Llyn Mwyngil (Tal-y-llyn lake). Just before sitting down on the top of Myndd Moel for the rest of my lunch in the wind shelter I took pic 13 looking at my route onward along & down the ridge to Gau Graig. The path onto Gau Graig was eroded down to lose stone on the steep bit off Mynydd Moel. Pic 14 came a bit further on where the ridge narrows showing Gau Graig as the broad level centre pic.

Pic 13

Pic 14

Reaching Gau Graig came a nice view back at the ridge I'd just come along, pic 15 plus pic 16 with the spur out from Gau Graig that has the cairn at its base & looking across the valley to the edge that was due to go along & pic 17 is form the same position as the last but looking onwards at the terrain closer in that I was going over which was a mass of hillocks & big stone walls with stiles with little trodden paths through the rough grass & heather. I should also point out that I'd pre plotted an approximate route & variations and had them in my GPS unit to help as a guide as no footpaths were marked on maps, although it was open access land I did go out of this into a farms in bye fields although my crossing point was another of the big ladder stiles over the stone walls that I'd gone over a few of although this one was a bit dilapidated, but from it I could see a gate to which I headed directly & went through & then followed the fence until I ended up in a corner of a field with no exit so very carefully went over the fence & realised that the byway marked on OS maps is a sunken lane but it was overgrown & the path was on the western side, although at one point you were directed round the farmyard away from the route on the map but only for a short distance before being back on it all the way to the road.

Pic 15

Pic 16

Pic 17

Reaching the road instead of walking on or at its side as expected I found that there was a permissive path running just in the field on the Western side until I came to where I needed to cross over. Having crossed although I started off up the path that climbed up a gully (going to bottom left corner in pic 18) to the top of the edge, but I deviated to go up the bit of ridge on the road side for the views along and over the valley, with the long edge to the right of the road being what I'd walked down & along.

Pic 18

Reaching the little tarmac road/track that climbed up the backside of the ridge gave one a spell of easy walking before what became some of the hardest ground I've come across to walk on, as shown in pic 19 in that it was clumps of moss & heather that were about a foot high and although there was a bit of a path where I wanted to go it followed the fence against the wood but being back from the edge gave no view, so I walked more out over the hard stuff with an exaggerated step, I seemed to find a sheep tracks going my way only for them to fad out again and leave me straining onwards. Being out gave the view across to the Cwm containing Llyn Cau and the peaks and ridges that I'd come over & seeing most of my round in 1 view with the long distances gave a real feeling of satisfaction of achievement. One can also see Llyn Mwyngil down in the valley.

Pic 19

Having struggled on through the tuff stuff it was nice to come onto some pasture land for a view down the valley over Llyn Mwyngil & out to see the sun shine on the sea. Pic 20

Pic 20

Having accidentally wandered out of the open access land to try and get a better view it was time to get back on my preprogrammed route that involved a step descent through heather and grass to what had seemed to be a bit of a track on aerial photo's, it turned out that it probably once was as had banks either side but it had the odd tree hanging low over that required ducking & the bracken had grown tall, but I persisted until I picked up a bit better route that lead me to a gate onto the road that I'd managed to find with google street view. From here it was a simple walk along the roads nice wide grass verge back to the car park.

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