Have a long planned weekend away staying in Dolgellau next weekend. The plan is to walk up Cadair Idris on the Saturday and MTB at Coed Brenin on Sunday.
Never been up Cadair before and as we’re staying in Dolgellau it seems obvious to climb it from the north. The Pony Path sounds a bit dull and there’s a lot of negative comment about Fox’s Path although it does sound more of a challenge.
What’s the UKHW collective’s view on routes up Cadair?
Also, any suggestions as to any alternatives for MTB (bearing in mind we want to have wrapped it up by about 2pm to allow time to travel home).
Cadair is a great mountain. Loads of options for both walking, scrambling and climbing. If you are just walking then by far the best route is the Minffordd Path which goes up into Cwm Cau and around the ridge to the south before heading to Penygadair main summit. From there you descend via Myndd Moel following a wall to the path in Cwm Cau. There are also good scrambling options out of the back of Cwm Cau straight up towards the main summit.
Towards the top the Foxes path is very steep and from memory quite loose.
Yes, great mountain. I like the way up from spot height 285 at the high point over to Minfford. Round the back to Llyn Aran. Up a steep path behind llyn Arran and along the ridge to the summit. Slightly tricky making a circuit of it however, but you could descend Gau Craig. Summit plateau certainly worth traversing twice. Have to navigate with care round to llyn Arran through boundary walls using 1.25,000.
I really like the Beast trail at CyB it should take 2.5 to 3 hrs to ride at a comfortable pace and takes in the best bits and views of the forest. I'd avoid doing the Tarw Du trail although its shorter it can be a bit brutal
This is the sort of thing I had in mind. While the Minfordd path is probably best, it's also really short. Last time I was up there, I started from the station at Fairbourne and got on the ridge at Craig Cwm Llwyd in the west, joining this route and finishing up in Dolgellau. Then bus back to Machynlleth to get the train. Can't believe it was possible to do that by train from Telford in a day trip, even in the depths of winter!
Perhaps an alternative is to start in Dolgellau and get the bus round to Minffordd. Then you can go up the Minffordd path and down any number of routes back to Dolgellau.
The linked route is excellent and (dare I say) easily as good as the Cwm Cau circuit. The eastern outliers are worth a visit too. Park somewhere near Hafotty-fach and take the Ffordd Ddu track. Break out up the Craig Cwm Llwyd ridge, and follow the ridge over Craig y Llyn and onto Craig Las which is a great top: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikepeacock/7153258823
An optional diversion via Cyfrwy and then onto Cadair Idris itself. Descend via the Foxes Path, or retrace to the Pony Path, and walk out along the minor road. Should be a good 12 mile round or so.
As others have said, Minffordd is the classic. A visit to Gau Graig on the eastern edge is well worth it for the views down into the valley.
A radical alternative not suggested is to go from Llanfihangel y Pennant (SW of Penygadair). It's a longer drive, but you'll have far greater solitude (if that's what you're after). The Western tops are magical, with good views back to the main summit, and down to the Mawddach estuary. Plus at the start of the walk, you have the added interest of Castell y Bere (a native Welsh Castle).
I have thought about starting from Llanfihangel y Pennant on many occasions but never got round to doing it. As a matter of interest after Gwastadfryn do you continue up to join the Pony Path or go north east over Mynydd Pencoed or up the valley towards Craig Cau?
I suppose all of those work! When I did it, I was bagging Nuttalls, so after Gwastadfryn, followed the track North, then cut through the trees at Uwchygarreg to gain the summit of Craig y Llyn, and then bascially followed the edge eastwards all the way to Penygadair. Would have loved to have returned via that ridge running SW from Craig Cwm Amarch, but ran out of light, so instead followed the Pony Path back from Penygadair to the pass, then down the track.