walkhighlands

Cadair Idris - Brockens Again

Hewitts: Cadair Idris - Penygadair, Mynydd Moel

Date walked: 20/10/2018

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 10.1km

Ascent: 946m

In my reply to HMHT's post earlier in the month I said that I must get back to Cadair soon, and so it was!


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On my first visit in 2008 (where did that 10 years go?) with my wife and son, we were lucky to get a temperature inversion and were just above the clouds. I said then, 'this is Brocken Spectre conditions', and sure enough we were treated to that spectacular sight. The forecast for my day today, this time with friend Mark, was for cloud in the morning, clearing during the day, and 'temperature not reducing with height'. Surely I couldn't be lucky again?

It was sunny as we approached but the Cadair massif was cloud-covered as forecast. We set off on the Minffordd path just before 9, steadily with only brief stops until we reached the small plateau above Llyn Cau, where the view to the east opens up.

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heading up the lower well engineered path

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looking back at the clag

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superb glaciated rock at Llyn Cau

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Llyn Cau

The air had been still and it was hot going on the steep ascent requiring strip-down to base layer, but the plateau was the place where the wind was first felt - not strong but belying the conditions lower down. The cloudbase was just above us as we stopped for a drink and large bites of pasty and we got good views to the northeast. Layer back on as we cooled down and dried out.

P1090108.jpg
northeast from the plateau above Llyn Cau

Moving on up we went into the cloud, with the occasional hazy view down gullies to the Llyn. Then the cloud was whipped away for a brief time giving an atmospheric sight of billowing vapours on the edge of the cwm, stunning.

P1090110.jpg
misty gully

P1090112.jpg
cloud boiling in the cwm

That was the last we saw for a while, the mist remained fairly thick all the way to the summit trig point, which suddenly appeared dead ahead as if a surprise. A bit damp again, from the mist this time. A couple of photos there and we retired to the hut to get out of the wind which was stronger now, for a stop and fuel. Well-filled ham, cheese and tomato rolls prepared by my lovely lady, along with coffee, was perfect. We had a chat with a few folk as they came and went.

P1090114.jpg
still in mist between the summit and hut

P1090115.jpg
grub time

Now, on my hill ascents, I have been known to mention to other passing walkers that there is a cafe at the summit, or to ask them 'is this the way to.. (insert any nearby hill other than the one I'm on)'. It usually gets a laugh or perhaps 'yes there is a cafe but it has just closed for the day'. So in the hut, I mentioned to a newly-arrived chap that we'd bought the rolls at the hut, but the person selling them had just left. To which he replied, looking hungry, 'oh, you were able to buy food here then, I didn't know that,' his words tailing off as he realised he'd been had. We shared a good laugh.

There are a couple of grimy windows in the hut, sunlight suddenly briefly blasted through the one facing south as we finished eating. Right, time to get out and experience what, somehow, I had known before we started would be a day of superb mountain weather. Just outside the hut we chatted to a couple for a few minutes, mentioning fine places in Wales and Scotland - where the lucky chap had recently been on a Torridon trip. Clear cloud, clear, please! And it did, as if to order. The wind was stronger than forecast, blowing in from the west, creating cloud squeezed over the western end of the massif, shredding and writhing as it was released across the plateau toward Mynydd Moel. Dipping and rising, now you see 10 yards, now you see 10 miles. Magic was happening.

P1090119.jpg
clearing....

P1090120.jpg
and it's clear, in an instant

P1090121.jpg
the summit of Penygadair

For a Brocken, you need the sun behind you and mist ahead, preferably below, so a cliff edge is best. Off we went the few yards to that cliff edge. Hang around a bit, a bit longer, a bit longer, blimey it's cold in this wind can't feel my fingers, get the gloves on. Then, there it was, the Brocken, almost in the exact same spot as 10 years ago. It came and went faster than I can say the words, bright, fading, as the mist rushed past with varying density. It was a hard job to capture it on the camera but it shines in my memory.

br vid.jpg
brocken, hard to capture today

The main route from Penygadair to Mynydd Moel is away from the cliff edge, but right on the edge is a faint path/sheep trod which is superior. We slowly followed this, stopping many times to experience the spectacle, and put on an extra layer. A reminder that winter is coming, and how it would be so easy to be caught out without the warm gear. The Brockens continued until we dropped below the mist level.



Just before the path that heads down to the north there is a small scrambly section of descent. Across the head of this gully and back to the cliff edge. Ahead, all the terrain to the Mynydd appeared suddenly, and just as quickly was cloaked once more. Then it cleared completely for our walk to the summit of Mynydd, wonderfully placed on the edge of the cliffs. Looking back to the west, all was cloud covered - the cloud top appeared to be rising and the base falling, perhaps that was the last of the lightshow today. A quick out and back along the edge to the north and a different view back to the summit.

P1090135.jpg
looking back at the small scramble

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misty toward Mynydd Moel

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instant clearing

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Dolgellau from the summit of Mynydd

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looking back, still misty

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Mynydd summit from around the cliffs

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Llyn y Gadair

We should have had a food and drink stop but, for a reason I can't fathom now (perhaps elation, changing weather, cold and stupidity) decided to head straight down, ignoring previous lessons of the need to keep hydrated. The going is fine at first then deteriorates markedly at a steeper, heavily eroded section, before the made path. I don't remember it being this bad 10 years ago, showing the impact of rapidly increasing numbers enjoying the mountain world and Cadair's delights. There were quite a few folk making their way down and we weren't inclined to stop, passing large groups strung out on the tough sections. So it was 3km and 750m descent in 1 hour, faster than I usually go at and by no means planned.

P1090151.jpg
heading down, Llyn Cau and Tal-y-llyn

P1090153.jpg
on the good path below the eroded section, ascent route in the distance

I was to pay for this later. Whilst not painful, the thigh and calf muscles have decided to stay in a tensed, hard state, only now easing 48 hours later. At least there was no cramp, unlike my previous visit! Perhaps the magnesium supplement has helped. I have also paid by making a donation to the funds being raised to put in a path on that eroded section, Cadair being the closest 'full on' mountain to my home and one I intend to visit more often, and to help the mountain and its visitors.

So 4 visits, 2 with Brockens. They are not common, what are the odds of experiencing this on the same mountain? Verily, Cadair Idris is a Magic Mountain!

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yokehead


User avatar
Pub: Clachaig
Mountain: Ben Lui
Place: Glencoe
Ideal day out: scramble, ridge, snow
Ambition: Move to Scotland!

Munros: 68
Corbetts: 9
Grahams: 1
Wainwrights: 23
Hewitts: 87



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Statistics

2018

Trips: 16
Distance: 235.4 km
Ascent: 14594m
Hewitts: 35

2017

Trips: 17
Distance: 214.5 km
Ascent: 15861m
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 2
Hewitts: 25
Wainwrights 12

2016

Trips: 11
Distance: 130 km
Ascent: 8275m
Hewitts: 21
Wainwrights 12

2014

Trips: 2
Distance: 26.9 km
Ascent: 1522m
Munros: 1

2013

Trips: 4
Distance: 55.7 km
Ascent: 3522m
Munros: 7

2012

Trips: 15
Distance: 139.4 km
Ascent: 11203m
Munros: 8
Hewitts: 3

2011

Trips: 20
Distance: 196.4 km
Ascent: 15761m
Munros: 15
Corbetts: 5

2010

Trips: 10
Distance: 106.7 km
Ascent: 9077m
Munros: 8
Corbetts: 1
Grahams: 1

2009

Trips: 26
Distance: 305.3 km
Ascent: 22525m
Munros: 23
Corbetts: 1
Hewitts: 15

2008

Trips: 9
Distance: 86.9 km
Ascent: 6930m
Munros: 9
Hewitts: 6


Joined: Nov 13, 2008
Last visited: Oct 22, 2018
Total posts: 689 | Search posts