Cadair Idris : waiting for the rain to arrive…

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.

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Erol, Grant and Richard at Llyn Cau, below the cliffs of Cadair Idris

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Tryfan and the Glyders from Idwal : the ultimate Welsh Workout

The traverse of the Glyders ridge must surely rank as THE best walker’s route in Southern Britain.  Throw in a quick scramble up Tryfan’s South face (and a little more practise on the edge of Bristly ridge) – and you achieve the perfect recipe for a great November day out in the hills.

We started out from Idwal Cottage, taking the track south east, then up and over the lip to Llyn Bochlwyd.  A nice easy start and a perfect place for a quick breather before the fun starts.  The whole day is mapped out for you from the shore of the lake : Tryfan’s conical peak to the West with the great wall of Glyder cliffs straight ahead.

Martin, Greg and Julian take five

Martin, Greg and Julian take five

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Llyn Idwal and up the Devil’s Kitchen to Y Garn : the place to go when storm winds howl!

We’ve all been there…  You’ve planned this trip for weeks, reviewed the route many times to get the perfect blend of challenging scrambling and great views, you’ve discussed it on Facebook with your mates and everyone is set…  Except : you’ve been checking the Mountain Weather Information Service – and it’s looking really ominous!

For most of us who don’t live close to the mountains, we have to plan trips well in advance.  There’s seldom a chance to change dates at short notice – but unfortunately you also have to be realistic and safe, especially in Winter.  Heading off for that airy ridge scramble when the forecast includes storms and 80 mph gusts (as happened to us just after Christmas), puts you just the wrong side of sensible.  So is their a solution which protects that precious day in the hills, but ensures we get home in one piece ?

Well, if you’re heading for Snowdonia there is a perfect route – and it’s quite possible that that storm will create the ideal conditions for an epic day out and put that smile on your (rather wet) face.  The trick is to use the geography to your advantage – and the cliffs surrounding idyllic Llyn Idwal create that perfect wind break, as well as providing a great scrambling route up towards the summit of Y Garn.  The wind may be howling – but it’s passing harmlessly 100’s of feet over our heads.

Heading up the Devils Kitchen rock face

Heading up the Devils Kitchen rock face

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