The Minffordd Path up Cader Idris is a must do Snowdonia walk and probably the best walk in South Snowdonia. The Minffordd Path is tougher and rougher than the Pony Path, but makes up for the extra efforts with a walk that’s much more scenic.
If you like steps, you’ll love this path. Setting off steeply up the wooded gorge of Nant Cadair, the steps get you quickly up the first section of the hill. Once they’re out of the way, the walk is much more pleasant as you reach the classic viewpoint of Cwm Cau and its corrie lake.
A straightforward ridge walk takes you first up to the top of Craig Cwm Amarch before the final, less distinct pull to the summit of Cader Idris and its shelter.
The Minffordd Path up Cader Idris
1 The walk starts off at the Car Park at Minffordd with the path clearly waymarked past the toilet block and along a well made path. Note that the spelling of Cader/Cadair Idris is causing a bit of confusion even for the officials as you’ll see both spellings used within 10m of each other! We’re now transferring to using the local Cader spelling, as Google now picks up both spellings as being synonymous in searches. The path continues past a tea room (with free wi-fi!) and yo’re soon at the start of the steep gorge walk.
2 The gorge walk is short in distance, but you’ll feel it in your legs after all these steps! Despite that, the path is good and there are plenty of spots to stop to take in the emerging views or just to stare in disbelief at those steps yet to come.
3 When you reach a junction with the Mynydd Moel track, the path soon relents, in the knowledge that you’ve at least got a good chunk of the ascent out of the way. Keep left here rather than crossing the river and the path brings you gently around towards Llyn Cau and emerging views of Cwm Cau and Cader Idris.
4 The path veers left (a fainter path continues straight on to Llyn Cau) and again starts to climb, with an excellent viewpoint towards Cader and Llyn Cau a little distance up. Continue along the path, which steepens as it approaches the ridge, and you’ll be on the ridge to Craig Cwm Amarch in no time.
5 The ridge is wide and climbs steadily until the final pull to Craig Cwm Amarch becomes loose scree and is rather unpleasant. It’s thankfully a short stretch and you can rest on your first summit of the day. This peak looks taller than Cader on the ascent and you can imagine that a few people will have thought that this was the summit of Cader, especially in mist.
6 The descent from Craig Cwm Amarch is indistinct and the path easily lost. Keep right, but not so far right as to fall off the cliffs! The only sure way is to take a compass bearing in mist. You continue to descend to the bwlch noted as Craig Cau on the map (surely Bwch Craig Cau?) which marks the start of the final climb to the summit.
7 The path steepens for the final 150m climb to the summit, with the path largely clear but still needing care to follow at some places.
8 Finally the path emerges right on the summit as the trig point comes into view!
In descent – the hardest part is finding the path from the summit. Follow the Pony Path for a 100m or so, keeping an eye out to the left for the track. The junction is hidden and not easy to find. Trying to hit it from the summit, you’ll need to take care not to veer to far left as you may end up on steep ground above Cwm Cau.
The scree descent from Craig Cwm Amarch is unpleasant in descent. You’ll also need to ensure you turn left at the end of the ridge to return down to Llyn Cau.
There’s a tearoom at the end, as well as the Minffordd Hotel for refreshments.