48 hours in Wales

Mountains have featured prominently in my reading diet recently. Simon Ingram’s Between the Sunset and the Sea and Jeremy Ashcroft’s Britain’s Highest Mountain Walks have both been off the bookshelf more than on, talks and dreams of higher places filling our small town house rooms. Ever more I realise how little we know of the country in which we live, the possibilities available to us from our place by the sea.

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Reading Simon’s description of his overnight adventure on Cadair Idris was enough to turn our dreamy talk into solid plans. Doggy day-care sorted, ferry booked, cheap accommodation hunted down, we had 48 hours to explore a new mountain and the valleys around.

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Cadair Idris sits at the southern end of Snowdonia National park, reputedly quieter than the eponymous peak in the north. We stayed in a caravan on a working farm in the Dysinni Valley, 15 minutes from the trail head next to Minffordd Hotel. Our chosen path was the steepest but promised the best views of the massif during the ascent. It was soon clear that the weather wasn’t going to allow this, thick cloud enveloping us soon after passing the tree line. So we didn’t get to fully appreciate the lake sitting at the base of the steep sided slopes or the presumably expansive views from the ridge, but the summit was reached and lunch was eaten amongst other hardy souls in the old stone shelter.

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We had originally planned a second ascent via an alternative route the next day, but with forecast remaining unchanged, we opted for a lower level valley run instead. The initial target lay in sight, across the valley, from our caravan window. Bird Rock, it transpires, is a renowned location for Cormorant nesting, one of the few inland locations in Europe. It was a tough slog at a run, but the panoramic views into the hills and out to sea were sufficient recompense.

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As so often when running new locations, lack of map checking led us a merry winding route back to the valley floor, across streams and scrambling down steep slopes, finishing the route on country lanes past the ruins of a native castle and immense shire horses.

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Really, the two days we spent exploring the area were but scratching the surface. With so many paths and peaks to still explore, as well as a clear summit view from the top of Cadair Idris, southern Snowdonia is still high up on the list of our adventure locations.