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Date: 23 Sep 2003
Start / Finish: Dolgellau. Roadside parking.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 23 Cadair Idris.
|Day 1||Gau Graig, Cadair Idris & Carnedd Lwyd||9 miles / 3700 feet (14.5km / 1127m)|
|Day 2||Tyrrau Mawr, Craig-y-llyn & Craig Cwm Amarch||9 miles / 3250 feet (14.5km / 990m)|
|Day 3||Cadair Idris & The Mawddach Trail||15 miles / 1860 feet (24.1km / 566m)|
An idea to walk the whole Cadair Idris ridge turned into this criss-cross route that approaches Penygadair twice from different directions.
From the E end of Dolgellau a narrow lane climbs SSE and ends at a mast at Bwlch Coch. We followed the waymarks S onto the open hill and then aimed SE to meet a wall, which we followed SW with the cliffs of Gau Graig looking impressive ahead. A final climb L gains the summit cairn. Joining the ridge path, a fine walk above Llyn Arran leads to Mynydd Moel and then the busy summit of Cadair Idris (Penygadair), with its (occasionally) fine views - and they were today. Following the Pony Path W, which was being repaired in the lower sections, we crossed the bwlch and climbed to the small grey rockpile of Carnedd Lwyd.
Once the mist had cleared, we continued the climb to the precipitous top of Tyrrau Mawr and the last top, Craig-y-llyn that overlooks Llyn Cyri. Descending SW we picked up the footpath that leads S to the lane head at Bodilan Fach, which we followed round to Llanfihangel-y-pennant (public toilets & bin). Taking the narrow lane N a good track climbs R at Tynyfach, heading up the valley above the Afon Cadair and crossing the Nant Pencoed. Shortly after, the track zigzags R uphill and we took the side track R to the sheepfolds at Pencoed 685111. From here it is a strength-sapping ascent over coarse grass up Mynydd Pencoed. The first part of the climb is pathless but a thin path develops about half way up; this route is clearly used, if at all, in descent (and it's easy to see why), as people fan out part way down. Eventually the gentle spine is reached at the ridge fence and easy walking takes over, with good views and Cadair Idris ahead. Just before the final climb to the top, a flat grassy area made another good pitch with superb sunset views of the Lleyn peninsula and Bardsey Island.
A fine clear morning saw us on the final climb in the early light above Llyn Cau, with great views of the cliffs of Craig Cwm Amarch, to Penygadair for the second time. Reprising the Pony path descent to the bwlch, we continued down to a ladder stile at 695142 where we took the path NW that descends to a lane. Turning L then R we followed a gated lane to 680157, where a good track heads SW above a farm and contours below the striking heathery and rocky ridge of Bryn Brith to arrive at Llynnau Cregennen. From the shores, the face of Tyrrau Mawr is seen to advantage. Descending the access road to a sharp R bend, we took the generously waymarked footpath SW to the top of the wooded Arthog valley and descended a good path on the W side by a succession of waterfalls and cascades. Emerging onto the A493 by a church, a footpath opposite leads to a car park on the Mawddach estuary trail, which gives a fast, easy, but long return walk of around 6 miles to a footbridge at Dolgellau (722179). Crossing the footbridge and forking R we emerged at the road, where we turned L for a short way to the car.