The impact of weather seems to be a constant feature of this blog, whether it’s finding hidden trails which shelter you from storm force winds and rain, or searching for water when you run dry well below the summit on scorching highland climbs. Today was no exception. I’d been checking the MWIS forecast daily – and it hadn’t been getting any more encouraging. Heavy and persistent rain arriving mid morning, remaining all day and with a little lightning thrown in for added excitement.
In spite of the dire warnings, Erol, Grant, Richard and I ignored common sense and set off from the Minffordd car park in pretty good conditions. It was about then that I remembered how the walk starts.. The last time I did this was with my daughter and a few of her teenage friends, and to this day, when we remember the cadair day, they all say “OMG! The steps!!!”. And that was pretty much how we felt today. There is something much more difficult about lifting your legs high over countless steep steps right at the start of a walk, far worse than picking your own route through a rough track.
The payoff comes however, when you reach the perfect corrie lake of Llyn Cau, nestling below the cliffs of Cadair range.
One of the best things about ridge walks is that they tend to circle the most perfect corrie lakes or lochs. Llyn Cau is a classic example, perfect for a quick lunch, a wild camp – or better still a wild swim (see the post on Bein Eighe for one eventful example!). In spite of Erol managing to attract the attention of a passing seagul, we avoided the temptation for a swim and set off up the track to the left to gain the ridge line.
Cadair Idris is a fantastic mountain in a glorious setting, but you do feel that you are being rather managed. From the steps at the start to the carefully constructed track and cairns around the rim, you seldom feel that you are really in the ‘wilds’. The ridge up to the top of Craig Cwm Amarch is fairly steep and rocky, with the track keeping you just to the left of the crest. It’s definitely worth a few detours to check out the views down the vertigo-inducing cliff face to Llyn Cau below.
So what about the rain ? Well, it did finally arrive as we reached the summit – and it was just about worthwhile pulling on jackets for 30 minutes or so, but then as quick as it started – it pretty much stopped again. In the end, it was a pretty reasonable mountain day : the cloud came down for a time but then lifted completely and it stayed fairly warm throughout.
So where’s the scrambling story in all of this – as I normally only write up the trips which have an element of hands-on fun ? Well, we did take the shortcut down the steep, scree-filled Craig Cau track, but in all honesty I can’t really say that there was much scrambling involved. The nearest to a mitigating factor is that you do have to stay pretty focused to avoid a few spills on the way down, which is difficult as the 360 degree views are quite stunning.
The last stage is to pick your way around the shore of Llyn Cau, along the track and then back down those infamous steps (which are really not so bad when gravity is on your side). A great fun day out in a magnificent setting – and the rain finally arrived on our way home!