Cadair Idris - a full traverse Walking

If the more common approaches to Cadair Idris are a little short for you, try this bigger, better one.
Cadair Idris is more ridge than summit. Its high point, Penygadair, is little more than a bouldery bump that crowns a wonderful upland plateau, cut into on both sides by dramatic cwms. Most of the walking is concentrated around these cwms, typically horseshoeing around them and ticking the top in the process. This route is something completely different: a lengthy outing that crosses the whole ridge, taking in the wonderful outlying Gau Craig as well as Mynydd Moel, Penygadair and Cyfrwy. It's a big day out, but a good one, and you'll certainly feel you know the mountain at the end of it.

Cyfrwy from Penygadair, Cadair Idris  © Tom Hutton
Cyfrwy from Penygadair, Cadair Idris
Fetching Map

Detailed description

SH6980915377 Turn left onto the road and follow it along, past the Gwernan Lake Hotel, to a junction where you turn right. Continue for another 1km to another junction by a bridge and telephone box and turn right to climb to the top of the lane. Keep straight ahead onto an enclosed track and pass a barn before bearing left to continue by the wall. The track veers right and climbs to a gate. Now keep ahead, with the wall to your right, and shortly bear left, as the path re-establishes itself. Cross a ladder stile to emerge on open ground.

SH7485215661 Keep straight ahead on a faint path that leads up into a broad col. Keep ahead again to drop a little and then continue alongside a wall to contour around the hillside. At the foot of the obvious ridge, bear right, over a stile, and then follow a faint path up the ridge, crossing further stiles and eventually continuing along the top of steep crags. Continue until the ground levels and then cross a ladder stile and a smaller stile to the left of it, to backtrack slightly to the summit of Gau Graig, which is a great yet seldom visited viewpoint.
Mynydd Moel  © Tom Hutton
Mynydd Moel
© Tom Hutton, Jul 2007

SH7439114090 Head back to the stiles and keep ahead to follow the clear path along the boggy ridgetop, crossing to continue on the other side of the fence when you get the chance. Pass to the left of two grassy humps and hop over another stile to start the steady pull up onto Mynydd Moel. Continue to the summit cairn, where there’s a decent windbreak, and then bear left a little to follow the escarpment edge towards Pen y Gadair, with amazing views to the north and west. You’ll pass the top of the Foxes Path (recently re-laid), and soon arrive at the pile of jumbled boulders that props up the trig point. You’ll see the bothy down to your right if you need to take refuge.

Cwm Cau from Penygadair, Cadair Idris  © Tom Hutton
Cwm Cau from Penygadair, Cadair Idris
© Tom Hutton, Feb 2010
Now keep ahead to follow the well-cairned Pony Path down towards the broad saddle beneath Cyfrwy, with great views down over Llyn y Gadair. It’s worth breaking right to bag the summit of Cyfrwy – which is the top of one of Wales’ most classic rock climbs – and then track south or south-west a little to re-join the Pony Path, which is marked with cairns every few metres. Continue down onto easy ground in the broad saddle that separates the main mountain from the outlying top of Carnedd Lwyd.

SH6915313528 The path swings right here; descending easily at first and then around a few switchbacks as it drops onto the huge plateau below. Continue over easy ground to a gate in a wall and then stay with the path as it drops steeply again, back down to the road near the farm buildings at Ty-Nant. Turn right onto the road and the car park is just a few metres up on the left hand side.

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Further Routes

by Tom Hutton