Kahlil Gibran wrote that you may appreciate that which you love most in a friend more in his absence — ‘as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.’
Before we climbed Cadair Idris this week-end we, who are related by divorce, stopped to look at it more clearly from the Wynford Vaughan Thomas monument on the edge of the Cambrian ridge of mountains where we live, which faces Snowdonia across the Dyfi valley.
The car park at Minfforth is guarded by machines that must be placated with money, large sums in small denominations; all around there are people turning out their pockets and emptying their ruck-sacks onto the still dewy grass, women grovel under car seats and crying children are parted from their pocket money. The gods or maybe the giant Idris himself takes pity on us and sends down two messengers, wise men who have run to and from the summit before breakfast (2 hours for £2.50), evangelists of physical fitness who press a pound coin into my hand which we add to the other sticky, dog-hairy coins that we have gathered and feed them into the machine. I anoint my nearly-nephew with midge repellent.
The path is initially steep with stone steps which climb up through Cwm Amarch.
The stream is swollen with recent rain and there are spectacular waterfalls in the wooded cwm and dappled shade.
After 300m or so the Cwm opens into a wider basin and we climb on up to Llyn Cau where we resist the temptation of a glacial dip and the greater temptation to fill up our water bottles (there was some discussion here about exactly whose fault it was that one of the water bottles was missing and which of us would die of dehydration first and would you actually kill for water…) 50m further up the path the third water bottle was found, presumably rummaged into obscurity during the search for money.
The path goes up to the left from where the above picture was taken and thence skirts around the top of the rock wall around the lake, the peak in the centre is Craig Cwm Amarch (791m) Mount Ham Sandwich in our nomenclature.. From here you can see the whole of the northern half of Cardigan Bay, all the way to Anglesey.
The intrepid can peek over the edge at the lake below. The summit is called Pen y gadair, which means the top of the chair, that’s Idris, the giant’s chair — Cadair Idris (don’t start me on the Welsh language — it likes to change the first letter of words to make it difficult to find them in dictionaries. My chair would be fe nghadair… I think )
In order to reach the summit we need a pep talk and some motivational counselling to fortify the nearly auntie as we have to go down and up again and over lots of wobbly scree and boulders with the ancient wobbly knees.
At this point the nearly nephew changes into a mountain goat and disappears. It becomes eerily quiet.
Above is the summit.
me and the mountain goat.
Now it’s a gentle walk along the ridge to the third peak Mynydd Moel (863m) and then down the long, steep scree below Scotch Egg Crag and the total annihilation of the goat’s father’s sister’s first husband’s third wife’s knees.
It was six miles, graded hard (by somebody) over 3000 ft up and, I’m sure, at least 10,000 ft down!
The Photographs today are courtesy of T.Q.Beckett (all rights reserved) I forgot to replace my battery.