As you know, I was feeling a little deflated due to my Coast to Coast issue recently. I’m one of those that has to set myself challenges to keep myself motivated and happy. I’m planning on hiking up Snowdon in July and thought it best to get some prep in first ( if Coast to Coast was anything to go by!)
Therefore I hiked the Pony path which is located on the North side of Cadair Idris and Dolgellau is just down the road. The winds were around 45 mph so it was a challenge there’s no doubt about it. The weather was OK, dry and sunny in parts but the weather up there changes like the er…wind.
On arrival there is a car park at the bottom which charges I think £3-4 for the whole day and toilets too. I’d recommend you try them out because it’s a long way back down for a quick ‘nip t’ loo!’ It’s a nice steady walk to begin with and well sign posted. You’ll see a grey stone house on your left and there’s a path along side of it, with a rushing stream on the other side. Walk up that you’ll come to a small woodland area and then a gate. After you’ve gone through the gate and over the large piece of slate you’re greeted with the start of the ascent.
If you’re a fan of flat ground – go back now!
On the way up…
The stone steps are wide and remind me of teeth with big spaces in them, only there’s no gum just lots of earth. Thankfully they were quite dry but there are parts that are wet only because there are little streams running through them so do be mindful. I can remember thinking ‘Wow this is high…. !’
Generally it’s an easy(ish) hike. There are parts that require you to step carefully over sharp rocks and there’s no clearly defined path unless you want to take the edge (be aware of winds) and I did not! There are lots of chances for you to stop and rest to admire the views and fill your lungs up with clean air. For those who’ve not hiked up high – beware you will start to feel light headed and even sick. It felt like altitude sickness and it should pass if you keep well hydrated, eat something to raise your blood sugar and rest for 5 minutes. (Editor’s note: I’ve since been informed that you don’t get altitude sickness until 3000 m and higher apparently it’s not possible but that’s what they said about the light bulb…. Anyway I’m not too sure what it was but to save arguments sake, if you do feel like that -sit and rest.)
In total the hike right to the very top peak is 2,768 ft but it’s very weather dependent. We reached about 1700/1800 ft before the weather turned nasty with 45 mph winds and the visibility began to go poor so we headed back. I’ve learnt only a fool would push on and get themselves into danger! I think it’s good to know your ego’s limits and the weather’s limits when you’re out in wilderness – they’re both very different.
What can I say about the Cadiar Idris hike? If you want panoramic views – then do it. If you want to feel the wind in your hair-then do it. It’s such a rewarding hike and I felt super proud to have got up there. I’m not especially phobic of heights but I did get the sense that everything was closing in on me at one point and I went a bit green when I looked down. That passed for me once I’d looked further into the distance and felt privileged to be able to do this hike. It’s not all about getting to the top and back down (although your legs would have you believe other wise). It’s about taking in the beauty, smelling the fresh air, hearing the small birds in the bushes, feeling the heather and rock against your skin.
Take every sight, sound, smell and feeling in because this maybe the only time you get to.
On the way back down…
Getting to the top was satisfying but it’s only when you go down, do you realise how far you’ve come. Keep your eyes peeled to the ground because there are a few slippery pieces of slate, and rocks and stones that move. Trust me, it’s safer to trip up then it is down!
I find walking down harder because it takes much more muscle strength in the ankles to keep you sturdy. I never walk face on when coming down, I turn to the side and step down carefully because it helps with my balances. I’m a newbie hiker and I’m still learning the ropes and finding out what’s best for me – so you will too.
Once down, we noted it took us 4 hours which was good going considering the clingy winds. If I was to do it again, I’d take a hat to protect my ears!
Oh and you’ll be thankful to have shades with you also.
I’m super looking forward to try the other paths particularly the south one, just by Barmouth beach, it’s not as high but I’ve been told it’s a bit more technical.
Where have you been lately?