A week in the October half term spent in Snowdonia. After my recent Three Peaks Challenge I had lots of plans to walk and play in the mountains.
In reality though it’s really difficult to motivate yourself and even more so, the children when it’s pouring with rain every, single day. I want my children’s first experience of a mountain to be a positive one, not of me dragging them along in the rain with zero visibility, and anyway it’s just so cosy by that open fire…
However constantly checking the weather paid off and it looked like our luck might finally be changing. A dry morning was suddenly on the cards. A further check of the mountain forecast revealed poor visibility and freezing conditions on the summits but at least we’d be dry. With Cadair Idris virtually on our doorstep we had to at least give it a go.
Cadair Idris or Cader Idris is a mountain in Gwynedd Wales, which lies at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. Myths surrounding the mountain include it being the chair of Idris Gawr the giant. It is said he could bestow either madness or poetic inspiration on whoever spent a night on its summit. It’s just as well I’m not planning on putting that theory to the test.
A number of routes will get you up to the summit. The Minffordd Path is generally considered the best, with its varying path and spectacular views – it’s my first choice. The Pony path being the most popular and straight forward route with a steady ascent. There’s also a few more options for the slightly more ambitious walkers, who aren’t attempting with three East Anglian children. 😉
Honestly the dilemma over routes. My heart is desperate to go for the fun and exciting Minffordd path, but with poor visibility, and inexperienced children my head rules and we settle with the safer option of the pony path.
I’m a little miffed if I’m honest, with visions of a dull, tedious path leading up the mountainside. Yes LLanberis path I’m looking at you…
Ignoring the slight feeling of disappointment we park at the Ty Nant Car Park and are straight away off onto the pony path.
A tree lined path taking us immediately into our steady ascent. A gently flowing stream alongside us and it seems I might have been a bit hasty in my judgement.
My children despite mountain inexperience, are fully experienced in my inability to remain upright. The little monsters are full of mocking, jubilantly waiting for my first stumble. In fact Mountain Goat has now become a verb in our house. Indeed it’s hotly tipped as a new entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. Honest.
Mountain Goat Verb 1.To end up on one’s arse whilst walking on any gradient above 1% ; ‘Mum’s trip to Snowdon ended with a spectacular Mountain Goat.’
As one child brutally mocks me, karma is swift to deliver, and over she goes. A triumphant air punch as she loudly declares ‘Yeah! And I’m a Mountain kid!’
That’s. My. Girl.
We pass the poignant memorial of Will Ramsbotham. Such a sad tale, Will completed the Cadair Idris Fell Race in a record time of one hour and twenty-five minutes on the 5th June 1993. The race starts and finishes in Dolgellau and is approximately 10.5 miles going all the way to the summit. Tragically the day after he set the record Will returned to the mountain to celebrate. He fell whilst climbing and died as a result of his injuries.
My children read the inscription and then look at me wondering what on earth I’m getting them into this time…
The family seperates, the youngest being a natural bounds off ahead.
For the rest of us, a consistent and steady trek up the mountain path, with plenty of opportunity to stop and
take a breather enjoy the views, and also watch as the clouds roll in.
Our reluctant walker begins to tire and declares dramatically this is awful and that he’s dying.
It’s a hard life.
A constant supply of
bribes sugary energy snacks keeps them moving, along with regular stops, pep talks and casually giving the local workforce a hand laying a new path…as you do.
Progress is made though and just as my son is on the brink of (yet another) untimely death we reach the cloud and have most of the ascent behind us. Phew!
The temperature plummets and layers are added.
The kids suddenly appreciate the true challenge of scaling a mountain.
With visibility now significantly reduced, our path levels. The crowds of the lower slopes long gone and we find ourselves not entirely sure which way we should be heading.
The path up until now having been pretty foolproof. Luckily I have the route loaded on my GPSr though, there’s not much scope for error up here.
Back on track we follow a rocky path to the summit, by now the kids are wrapped in all their layers and energy levels are falling rapidly. They are pretty keen to reach the summit.
A brief scramble for the final ascent provides a bit of fun though for weary, chilly children.
Then finally, the satisfying moment as they reach their first mountain summit. Only a month after I reached mine, but mine was much bigger… 😉
Time for a well deserved rest in the summit shelter.
We top up energy levels as some locals tell us about the recent demise of a visiting walker who tragically lost his path and appreared to have simply walked off the mountain. A timely reminder to play it safe on the mountains. And terrify the kids for the walk back down.
I take the opportunity whilst the children finish refuelling to attempt to find the summit geocache. I don’t cache quite so much these days, my only real interest is caches in locations such as this. The hint for the cache is quite specific, following the instructions I find myself alone on a rocky outcrop, after all the recent rain I can only inch my way along incredibly slippery rock. Combined with poor visibility and the fact I’m doing my very best Bambi on ice impression I decide to abort my mission. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.
Our trek down much quicker. With children feeling the cold despite numerous layers, they understand the importance of getting down out of the cloud. It is so cold though, my hands even start to freeze…
I will just point out I’m not a hairy hobbit. Promise.
As we descend and begin to warm, the opportunity to cache arises once again.
A brief detour from the path and my caching urge is sated.
We continue our brisk walk back down to the car and I only Moutain Goat once. 😉 Impressive, I know…
Cadair Idris, well and truly conquered. Our next mission, an important one, to find lunch. Hungry from our efforts and achievements. The Pony path, maybe not the most exciting path but certainly not without views, fun and challenge.