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ICE AGE BEAUTY; ERYL CRUMP EXPLORES SPECTACULAR SCENERY SCULPTED BY GLACIERS.

CADAIR Idris is probably the most spectacular mountain in the southern Snowdonia National Park.

The mountain and the surrounding area is a fantastic example of a glacial landscape sculptured by the last Ice Age.

This walk takes you round the narrow rim of Cwm Cau, a stunning amphitheatre of huge cliffs towering and circling the beautiful waters of the lake.

The summit known as Penygadair has awesome views and a welcoming stone shelter building.

The descent takes you along a ridge walk to Mynydd Moel from which you then descend back to Minffordd to complete one ofWales''s best horseshoe walks.

It is quite steep in places and the less adventurous might want to limit their trek to the shores of Llyn Cau.

1 THE WALK The walk starts at the Minffordd car park on the main A487 trunk road south of Dolgellau just by the junction with the B4405 road to Tal-y-llyn.

From the car park head up the tree lined track that crosses the Afon Fawnog. The track then bends left and passes the old National Trust building at Dol-y-cae.

2 Shortly after the building the path crosses the Nant Cadair then turns right and heads north on its steep and rocky ascent through the woodland.

The path continues through the beautiful woodland with views to the right of the cascading falls of the stream tumbling down through the woods.

The path eventually comes out above the woodland and reaches the open valley.

Here it splits where another path heads off to the right.

3 Continue along the main path heading north then north west into the Nant Cadair valley. The path bends left and heads west through the Nant Cadair valley and eventually to the shores of Llyn Cau in Cwm Cau.

Look out for the huge boulders on your right by the path just before Llyn Cau comes into view. These boulders, known as moraine, are huge pieces of debris left behind by the retreating glacier that once shaped this stunning landscape in the last Ice Age.

4 From Llyn Cau a very steep path heads south up on to the rim of the cwm. Though steep, it is only like this for a short while.

Once at the top, follow the path and head west along the back and then the crest of the rim ridge.

The path turns right and head north to reach the small summit at the top of the Craig Cwm Amarch ridge which heads south west from the summit.

5 From the summit of Craig Cwm Amarch head north towards the col at Craig Cau. The views over the drops down to Llyn Cau on your right as you cross the top of Craig Cau are incredible. The drops are steep and any fall could be fatal, so take care in bad visibility.

From the col at Craig Cau climb north for about 200 yards then, after a right turn, climb over the rocky boulder field to Penygadair, the highest summit of Cadair Idris.

The Penygadair summit is 893 metres above sea level. The highest point is marked by a white Ordnance Survey trig pillar on top of a rocky knoll.

On a good day the views stretch far and wide: west to the Barmouth estuary, east to the Cambrian Mountains, south to the Brecon Beacons, and north to the Rhinogs and the main Snowdonia massifs.

6 Just below the rocky summit knoll there is a solid stone hut. This famous hut is a great shelter from the elements and a huge relief on a bad weather day.

It is a modern version of a 19th century hut that was made famous by an old lady who would climb early in the morning to the summit and provide tea to all those who visited.

7 From the hut head north east to east along a wide grassy ridge towards Mynydd Moel. As you leave the hut looking left you have fantastic views north over the other popular ascent to Cadair Idris. The Pony Path heads up over the stunning Cyfrwy which towers impressively over the beautiful Llyn y Gadair.

After about a mile along the grassy ridge, crossing two small summits, you will ascend to the top of Mynydd Moel. This is a fairly featureless top but gives great views north.

8 From the summit of Mynydd Moel descend south to south east on fairly pathless terrain. Turn south after a while and then cross the stile to reach a more obvious path.

The path continues its steep descent south hand railing a stone wall which it eventually crosses and then heads south west.

After a further 400 yards of descent the path will eventually reach the wooden bridge over the Nant Cadair that you saw earlier above the woodland.

Cross the wooden footbridge and turn left. Trace your footsteps back down the step woodland path to Dol-y-cae and follow the track back to the car park.

NEXT WEEK Circling the castle at Caernarfon FACTFILE Distance: It's six miles to the summit and back again.

Time: At least five hours Ascent: 2,585 feet Grade: Challenging mountain walk Start/Finish: Dl Idris Car Park.Grid Reference: SH 732 116. Map: OL23 (Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid. Facilities: Public toilets . Nearest refreshments at Cross Foxes, Corris or Abergynolwyn Parking: Dol Idris car park at junction of A487 & B4405 Getting there: The A487 from Dolgellau and Machynlleth goes past the car park.

Bus services from both towns and Tywyn.

Details from Traveline Cymru on 0871 200 2233. Top Tip: You'll need binoculars to enjoy the view from the summit

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Reflected glory: Cadair Idris from Llyn Cau
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 4, 2012
Words:944
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