Cadair Idris is one of the highest mountains in Wales. It’s 893 metres high and is a ruggedly beautiful place in Southern Snowdonia. It has far fewer visitors than celebrated Mount Snowdon and this makes it generally a more peaceful place to visit. I walked part of the way up Cadair Idris on the steep Minffordd path recently with my husband and 11-year old son. It was a tough walk but the scenery was so gorgeous and varied that even my son forgot about his aching legs. Here are some of the things which he learnt that day.
- The Welsh word for ‘slow’ is ‘araf’. We saw this written on the road on the spectacular drive through Snowdonia National Park from our B&B near Dolgellau and my son still remembers the word. Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe and is spoken by the majority of people who live in this part of Wales.
- You need to check the weather forecast and make sure you know where you’re going before setting off into the mountains. We met a park ranger in the car park before we started our walk and he told us that the forecast was good that day.
- Idris was a giant in Welsh mythology and Cadair Idris is said to be his chair. There’s a legend that anyone who spends the night at the top of this mountain will awake either mad or a poet.
- It’s possible to walk up a mountain in trainers if you really, really don’t want to put on the hiking boots which your parents have brought for you to wear.
- Playing football regularly makes your leg muscles much stronger than your Mum’s and is excellent preparation for walking up steep mountain paths.
- Even very young children can climb mountains. We passed a chirpy two-year old walking up the path as we went down: her Dad told us he’d carried her quite a bit of the way.
- Cadair Idris was made by fire and ice. After our walk we went to the excellent Cadair Tea Room for lunch and then to the Visitor Centre next door. My son was intrigued to learn that the Cadair rocks were created by volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago and that the Cwm Cau hollow high up in the mountain was carved out by glaciers during the last Ice Age.
- There is such a thing as a Creme Egg cake and it’s just what you need after a long mountain walk. Lee at the Cadair Tea Room makes the best home-made cakes and his Easter special was delicious.
- Alder, birch and hazel leaves look quite similar to each other. There’s a children’s nature trail and treasure hunt starting from the Cadair Tea Room and those three leaves were the trickiest to find.
- Ginger beer was produced here at one time. The Dôl Idris parkland at the foot of Cadair Idris was once owned by the Idris family, manufacturers of Idris ginger beer. Mr Ivor Idris donated the land to the Snowdonia National Park Authority in the 1980s.
Family travel lowdown: Cadair Idris and its Visitor Centre are open to the public and free to visit. The Dôl Idris car park charges are £2.50 for up to four hours, £5.50 all day until midnight. The Cadair Tea Room and Visitor Centre are part funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Communities and Nature Project through the Welsh Government. Thanks to Visit Wales and CAN for arranging our trip to Snowdonia.