The Walk up Cadair Idris via the Pony Path is one of the more popular walks up Cadair Idris.
Cadair Idris is traditionally regarded as the highest peak south of Snowdon, albeit a good 12 metres lower than it’s less illustrious neighbour, Aran Fawddwy. This is a brief account of the walk up the Pony Track up Cadair Idris, which is the easiest track.
However, I’ll start by suggesting quite strongly that if you are going to do one route up, that it should be the Minffordd Path as opposed to this one. Although, the views of the Cyfrwy Arete are one major point in its favour. Finally, for the record, Cadair Idris is the name of the mountain while the actual summit is called Penygadair.
1 The route starts at the national park car park at Ty Nant (click for location and instructions on how to drive there), where there is a £4 fee for parking, or for those that perambulate more freely can save £2 so long as they’re up and down within four hours. It is also feasible to walk there from Dolgellau if you do not wish to drive. It’s not the largest car park, but there is an overspill car park in the nearby field that is opened at busy periods. There’s also a car park and a picnic area. Leave the car park and follow the minor road right for a 100m or so, and the route left is clearly signposted for Cadair Idris.
2 Follow the track through an initially forested area, past a farm and over the footbridge before it starts to pull uphill.
3 The path now keeps to a steady and constant ascent that apart from one small section at the bwlch, it maintains to the summit. Crossing the hillside, the path is largely easy to follow, though it does become unclear in one or two places it’s nothing that a bit of observation an common sense won’t overcome. The Cyfrwy Arete dominates the view, the reserve of climbers with no easy route up.
4 Soon enough, the mountain looms large ahead, but the zig zags keep you going at the same pace as before. There’s an older path parallel, but you should follow the zig-zags as the park has closed the other path off in order to prevent further path erosion. Looking back, there are wonderful views across the Mawddach, although the river itself is hidden by hills in the near distance.
5 It’s only a 100m ascent up the zig-zags before the welcome respite of the bwlch is reached. It’s an ideal spot for snacks before the final leg to the summit. You’re also treated to extensive views across to Tyrau Mawr, Llanfihangel y pennant and of course to Cadair Idris, though admittedly not from its best angle.
6 The path continues steadily upwards, with no respite and no real difficulty. Only when the path reaches the tops of the cliffs does the route get tricky in any way. It becomes rockier, with a short section of very easy scrambling that will go unnoticed by experienced hill walkers.
7 Not far beyond the scrambling, and you arrive quickly at the summit itself. If the weather is particularly foul, there’s a shelter below that may be dank but protects you well from the elements. If you’re lucky, you’ll have extensive views of the Rhinogydd and Eryri to the north and the rolling hills of mid Wales disappearing to the south.
8 The route poses no challenges in descent that have not already been mentioned, and is easy enough to follow back to the start.
It’s well worth stopping off at the Gwernan Lake Hotel for a pint or a bite to eat afterwards.
For an alternative description, visit the Snowdonia National Park website – here.