One of two routes to the summit of Cader Idris along its southern slopes
The Llanfihangel y Pennant Path is one of three routes to the summit of Cader Idris. The Minffordd Path and the Pony Path are other possible routes to the peak.
This is the easiest path up Cader Idris, but it is the longest at over five miles. The route approaches Cader Idris from the head of the Dysynni valley and gently climbs up to join the Pony Path at the top of Rhiw Gwredydd.
Cader Idris is one of southern Snowdonia’s most popular summits and is a peak that is steeped in mythology and folklore.
Why this path?
The Llanfihangel y Pennant Path is a hard/strenuous path. A good level of fitness is required and navigation skills are essential.
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Snowdonia National Park Authority has categorised this route as a hard/strenuous route. It is only suitable for experienced country walkers with a good level of fitness. Navigation skills are essential. The terrain will include steep hills and rough country. It may also include some sections of scrambling. Full hill walking gear is essential. Specialist equipment may be required under winter conditions.
Car Park in Llanfihangel y Pennant (SH 672 089)
Relevant OS Map
OS Explorer OL23 (Cader Idris and Llyn Tegid)
As you cross the bridge over the Afon Cader, you will see a ruined cottage containing a commemorative stone on your right.This was the home of Mary Jones who in 1800 walked bare-foot 25 miles over the mountains to Y Bala to buy a Welsh Bible from the Reverend Thomas Charles. It is said that her devotion inspired him to found the British and Foreign Bible Society.
Mythology and Folklore
Out of all the peaks in Snowdonia, Cader Idris is undoubtedly the most steeped in mythology. Countless legends are connected to this mystical summit and its surrounding lakes.
Cader Idris’ name, translated as Idris’ Chair, is often said to have been derived after a giant called Idris. Legend has it that Idris used the summit as a chair to survey his kingdom. Another theory suggests that the mountain is named after Idris ap Gwyddno, a 7th-century prince of Meirionnydd.
Many of the lakes around Cader Idris are supposedly bottomless, and it is said that, after spending a night on the peak, one would either wake up a poet or a ‘madman’.
Welsh mythology also suggests that Cader Idris was the hunting ground to Gwyn ap Nudd and his Cŵn Annwn. The howling of this pack of hounds foretold death to all that heard it—herding their soul into the underworld.
Geology and Biodiversity
Cader Idris is formed of sedimentary and igneous rocks from the Ordovician age. Llyn Cau, which sits at the bottom of the crater-like Cwm Cau was formed by a cirque-glazier across several ice ages. The glacier’s size was up to a square kilometre at one point.
Much of the area around Cader Idris is a designated National Nature Reserve—home to Artic-alpine plants such as purple saxifrage and dwarf willow.
Cader Idris on canvas
In the 18th century, Richard Wilson, an artist from Machynlleth, made the hike up to the shores of Llyn Cau at the foot of Cader Idris. Here he painted what is arguably his most well-known landscape painting.
It’s important to remember that these were the days before photography, and Wilson’s painting would have been the first time many had seen the landscape of Snowdonia.