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Cadair Idris via the Pony Path, Southern Snowdonia.

An alternative walking route in the Snowdonia National Park

Cadair Idris is an alternative walk for those heading to the Snowdonia National Park. Located in the south of the National Park, it offers a quieter time for walkers who want a gentler introduction into what Snowdonia has to offer, rather than the obvious walk up Mount Snowdon itself.

Name and location of route: Cadair Idris via the Pony Path, Southern Snowdonia.
Distance: 4.35 miles (7km)
Total ascent: 0.45 miles (729m)
Duration: Three to four hours
Terrain: Easy going walking underfoot on well trodden and well marked paths. Even in poor visibility the route can be followed using the small cairns marking the way.

Description of route: Cadair Idris (or Cader Idris depending on the guide book you read) is located in the south of the Snowdonia National Park. It is included as a ‘Top 10 Walk’ because when walkers head to Snowdonia they invariably swarm to Snowdon itself. So for a quieter time, and a gentle introduction into what Snowdonia has to offer; take a trip up Cadair Idris.

  • From the car park (SH 698 152) located 0.62 miles (1km) west of the Gwernan Lake Hotel cross the road and take the signed footpath which ascends steeply through beautiful woodland.
  • When you reach Ty Nant Farm, pass through a gate and over a footbridge, bear right and continue climbing, passing through three more gates and crossing another footbridge until you are above the woodland and you get your first real views of the area.
  • You will reach a track junction where several stone walls intersect, continue on the south west path.
  • Continue up the steepest section of the walk following the Pony Path as it zigzags its way up the steepest part of the walk before intersecting a bridle way and turning sharply east.
  • Continue to the Pen-y-Gadair triangulation pillar at 0.55 miles (893m) and revel in the awesome views out to sea, to the higher mountains of Northern Snowdonia as well as the waters of Llyn Cau to the South, set in a dramatic amphitheater of crags and rock.
  • Start your descent by continuing to follow the Pony Path as it now bears East passing a stone hut (in adverse conditions plan to stop here as this is an ideal place to shelter and eat rather than on the exposed summit).
  • In adverse conditions you may choose to re-trace your route back to the start.
  • In good conditions it is well worth descending via the Foxes Path, the start of which is clearly marked by cairns.
  • Descend the Foxes Path, clearly marked on the map, crossing several streams before arriving at the Gwernan Lake Hotel where you can treat yourself to a well earned pint before making your way back to the car park!

Tips for the route:

  • On the final ascent to Pen-y-Gadair there are stunning views over Llyn-y-Gadair but avoid the temptation to get too close to the path edge, as a 0.12 mile (200m) drop awaits you!
  • The descent via the Foxes path offers a more exciting prospect than re-tracing your steps but don’t try it in adverse conditions and ensure you locate the cairns marking its start.

Facilities on route and in the Snowdonia local area:

  • Garthyfog Farm — set in the heart of Snowdonia National Park with the Cadair Idris mountain range on your doorstep and beautiful beaches nearby. For more information see our Top 20 UK campsites.
  • Camping at Ty Nant farm, right at the start of the route.
  • Gwernan Lake Hotel
  • Braich Goch Bunkhouse and Inn, a short drive from Cadair Idris is this 16th coach house offering bunk house accommodation and a pub with pool and table football!
  • Toilets at the car park.

OS map required: OS Explorer (1:25 000) OL23, OS Landranger (1:50 000) 124

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