You can't win them all - short walk to Llyn Cau at the foot of Cadair Idris

You always hear it don't you, said by other people, they're the classic words of mountain wisdom: "knowing when to turn back is the most important skill" and for most people who walk, hike and climb in the hills and mountains this saying is never anything more than that - a saying or a phrase to remember just in case.  
But sometimes a situation presents itself and you find yourself thinking and remembering that phrase and you realise why it really is the most important skill you can take with you into the hills.

Monday 26th August 2013
From the small cottage in Snowdonia national park where we were staying for the August bank holiday weekend we headed out towards Dolgellau and car park at the foot of the Cadair Idris range just off the B4405 in the small village of Minffordd (pronounced "Min futh") which was to be the start of our walk.

We'd planned a circular walk from the car park; up towards Llyn Cau (where we've wild camped before) via the stone steps and then around the lake via the Minffordd path which takes you west and then NNW before heading round on to the final summit plateau of Penygadair (893m) - then continuing along the summit ridge towards Mynydd Moel (863m) and then down the southern slopes of the range towards Moelfryn and back down through the woods to arrive back in the car park around 6 miles later.

At around 9am (after a slight detour into Dolgellau to get change for the parking meter!) we arrived at the car park and got ready for the walk ahead: boots, bags (amazingly light with only water and food in them) and our Springer Spaniel, Monty, who was about to experience his first mountain walk with us.

The path from the car park starts off as a nice, easy, well trodden trail for about 200 meters and then, just as you pass the small cafe, the steps start.... and the incline doesn't really abate until you reach the banks of Llyn Cau just over 2km away.

A welcome break and great place to admire the falls
The path, and steps, continue through the woods following the course of the Nant (meaning brook or stream) Cadair and some impressive waterfalls before leaving the shade of the trees and joining the Minffodd path which winds its way westwards through heather and over rocky outcrops before arriving at the beautiful Llyn Cau which lies at the base of the Cadair Idris range, hemmed in on three sides (N, W, S) by walls of rock nearly 400m high.

Now up to this point its fair to say that while Monty and I were going strong despite the 22c heat and clear sky Donna was suffering and taking lots of stops on the way up so as not to overheat and by the time we reached the lake it was clear that continuing on our planned route over the summit was not really a sensible option - a real shame in one sense as the views would have been lovely and far better than the last time we both came to the area on our wild camping trip and were treated to zero viability and strong winds - but as I mentioned at the start sometimes it's better to assess the situation properly and objectivity and leave it for another day rather than to push on and risk injury or worse.

Time for a swim!
We'd both been to the summit before on more than one occasion and this won't be the last time we walk in the area so nothing was really lost, in fact it was a great excuse to sit beside the lake for half an hour or so enjoying the sun and allowing Monty time to swim in the lake - something that, with a route planned ahead of us and my frustrating habit of never wanting to sit still, does not really happen very often on our walks!

So back down the path we headed already planning the next trip up, wild camping perhaps, and running through numerous alternative routes that I'd like to try on the next trip - those small paths up from the lake on the western side following the small stream to the Cadair summit look promising.....

Details of the walk via ViewRange (from my GS3) on Social Hiking - for some reason the last 1.5-2km of the walk didn't record properly.


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