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Spring in Snowdonia, and a weekend on Cadair Idris
The mist drifted slowly up the Vale of Ffestiniog. Where we had been standing in the sun looking over the hills on a beautiful Friday evening, now dusk had fallen and the rain had come in. The valley, facing West, and the elevated position of the hut meant that we could see the rain long before it hit us, engulfing the Rhinogs and then greying the sky above.
Sat in a warm hostel though, with food and a full house of walkers, the rain outside was no bother, and Saturday morning, although it dawned to more grey, quickly cleared.
We went south, past the forest of Coed y Brenin, to the iconic Cadair Idris, a mountain that dominates the south of Snowdonia. The giant wall of northerly cliffs looms over Dolgellau, and its host of associated myths and legends does more than enough to bring anticipation to any climb.
We walked up from the south, steep up through sun-dappled woodland, past miniature waterfalls. With several stops to remove layers as we warmed up, we soon reached the open mountainside, the sun finally on us, and the summit ahead.
The path here, well-made and continuously being improved, heads through the Cadair Idris nature reserve and up to the ridge. Walkers approach the summit via a traverse of the crest of the coire that encompasses Llyn Cau, reaching the satellite peak of Craig Cwm Amarch on the way.
Walking up, we found ourselves alongside a hundred people raising money for Prostate Cancer research, and another set doing a challenge for the NSPCC. It’s always good to see people discovering the mountains by raising money for good causes!
After the final rocky summit climb, we were stood on the top, buffeted by the moderate wind and soon able to relax next to the shelter with the view north stretching far away to the Moelwyns and the Llyn Peninsula. Charlotte, who is training for a big walking trip to Europe, was only slightly put out by the knowledge that we’d only done half the climbing she’d have to do on that trip’s first day!
Our route down was steep but sunny, and filled with views over the hills of Mid-Wales that stretched away to the south; knowledge of the café spurred everyone on, and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying tea on the terrace, listening to the birds in the trees and congratulating ourselves on summiting what used to be thought of as the second highest mountain in Wales.
For our Sunday walk we headed down the Vale of Ffestiniog and strolled through the woods. The valley and the river appeared through the trees now and then, and we found no fewer than four secluded lakes, hidden in the trees. Part of this wood is owned by the Woodland Trust, and it’s clear the see the slow change that it’s undergoing from plantation back to being a natural forest, with its bluebells and ferns and giant beeches.
Despite the brilliant weather, no one quite wanted to go for a swim, so instead we opted for a Sunday roast in the Oakley Arms, a fitting end to an action-packed weekend!
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