D’s first proper mountain   7 comments

I’ve been promising D for a couple of years now to take him up a real mountain. He’s been up several of the smaller Black Mountain hills but I thought he’d enjoy one with more of a sense of adventure and achievement. My parents now have a caravan on the coast near Aberystwyth so I thought Cadair Idris was a great one to give a go. I’ve been up several times before (not for a few years mind) so I knew it was pretty straightforward and relatively short. Although the weather hadn’t looked promising the night before we woke to cloudless skies so the trip was on!

J had been acting her play the night before back home but the promise of a proper day on the hills prompted her to drive over late the previous night so she joined me a D on our first mountain day.

The route is known as the Minfford path and starts from the car park at the far end of the Tal-y-Llyn, itself a wonderful glacial lake with a classic alluvial flat at the far end. It’s a demanding start with a 300m climb through the woods past the waterfalls.

D on the start of the climb

J & D and the Tal-y-Llyn valley

After 15 minutes it was clearly a day for shorts and T-shirts so we changed into more appropriate apparel. Once clear of the trees the path curves towards the corrie of Cwm Cau, in my mind one of the most fabulous spots in the whole of the UK.

D, Llyn Cau, Craig Cau

We were bathed in warm sunshine as we walked up into the corrie and I took D across to the outflow from the crystal clear lake and introduced him to the delights of fresh mountain stream water – he was amazed to find you can drink it and that it tastes better than the tap stuff. It spurred him on as we continued our climb up to the ridge that bounds Cwm Cau on the Southern side with glimpses down to the lake as we climbed.

D was having no problems with the climb and was in fact leaving J trailing in his wake. We reached the summit of Craig Cau for another lunch stop perched on the edge of the cliffs to really enjoy the panorama and to look forward to the final climb to the summit.

D & J on Craig Cau Summit

The weather wasn’t quite as clear as we’d hoped but it was looking good for a view from the top so we pressed on. Just before the summit we headed off left to follow the ridge to the summit and take in the sensational views across to the Cyfrwy ridge, down to the crags and tarns on the Northern side and over the Mawddach estuary towards Barmouth.

D was well chuffed as he celebrated his first proper mountain – the first of many I hope and he’d made it without any problems.

Hillary and Tenzing on the summit

We’d been hoping to see Snowdon from the top but it just wasn’t clear enough to see that far. Many people assume that Cadair Idris is the highest mountain outside the main Snowdonia massif but in fact Aran Fawddwy takes that honour. I’ve not been up there for 20 years or so since they opened up the access and I reminded J of the time we did it in our University years on one of the worst days of weather I can remember in the hills. I’m planning to get back there this summer if I can find a spare day. We carried on along the top of the ridge towards Mynedd Moel although D was starting to feel a little tired so I went to the summit alone (a fine perch above another dramatic corrie and tarn) while J and D started to head down.

Mynedd Moel

The views back along the ridge give Cadair Idris a real big mountain feel and my eyes were continually drawn to the surrounding hills for some other less well trodden routes in the Tarrens to the South and the Rhinogs in the north.

Cadair Idris from Mynedd Moel

I caught J & D up and we started the long and very steep, rocky descent down towards the trees.

Craig Cau from Mynedd Moel

D finally started to feel the effects of a long day and a small slip knocked his enthusiasm and confidence a bit. Once we reached the bottom a leisurely stop and draft of Welsh spring water and he was back to his old self again and fair raced down the path to the bottom leaving J trailing in his wake.

J & D enjoy a post-steep-bit rest

He was well chuffed with his efforts and rightly so. It’s a 6 mile walk with over 800m of ascent over some pretty rough terrain and whilst he was a little weary at the end of the day he wasn’t the only one! I really hope he gets the hiking bug as he proved he’s up to the task of a big mountain day


The full set of photos are here. Pen-y-Fan near home is now a target and once I can work out the practicalities a trip up Snowdon beckons

Posted April 18, 2011 by surfnslide in Snowdonia, Walking

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7 responses to “D’s first proper mountain

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  1. I think that this was probably my first ‘proper’ mountain too – and look how I turned out!
    I climbed it a few times in the eighties and have never been back – what an oversight!
    Good to see you all having such a fine day out.
    (You might want to edit the post – D’s name appears in full just after the summit photo)


  2. Pingback: mycountryside.org.uk » My favourite outdoor blog posts (18th April 2011 – 8th May 2011)

  3. Pingback: A Weekend at Ours I – Golden Time « Beating The Bounds

  4. I remember I must of been about D’s age when I first climbed this mountain, I still shudder at the thought of that final slog to the summit


    • The route from the south side has the steep slog at the bottom through the trees, always a challenge for old legs like mine. It’s a fantastic mountain, coastal mountains are definitely the best. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Could easily be one of Scotland’s top 20 mountains. It has that same scale and grandeur.


    • Snowdonia has the grandeur of Scotland without the tweeness that afflicts the Lake District. Cadair is one of the best and the coastal views make it even better. One to save for a clear day


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