Saturday, 1 July 2000

Cader Idris (Penygadair)

The immense summit ridge of Cadair Idris
Height: 893m (2,930ft)
Prominence: 608m (1,995ft)
Region: Snowdonia - Cader Idris
Classifications: Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall
Summit feature: Trig pillar and stone hut
Times climbed: 1
Related trip report: 
Cadair Idris - 17/05/2015
The shelter on the summit with the trig pillar behind
Cader Idris (formerly Cadair Idris) (Cad-er Idris - The Chair of Idris) is one of the most popular mountains in Wales for walkers and hikers and features many classic glacial erosion features such as cwms, moraines, striated rocks, and roches moutonnées. The crater-like shape of Llyn Cau has given rise to the occasional mistaken claim that Cader Idris is an extinct volcano though this theory was discounted as early as 1872.

Much of the area around Cadair Idris was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1957, and is home to Arctic–alpine plants such as purple saxifrage and dwarf willow.

The most widespread explanation for the name of the mountain is based on the fact that Cader means "chair" in Welsh. Cader Idris would thus translate as "the chair of Idris", and Idris is usually taken to be a giant who was said to have used the mountain as an armchair to gaze at the stars.

There are numerous legends about Cader Idris. Some nearby lakes are supposed to be bottomless, and anyone who sleeps on its slopes alone will supposedly awaken either a madman or a poet. This tradition (of sleeping on the summit of the Mountain) apparently stems from bardic traditions, where bards would sleep on the mountain in hope of inspiration. In Welsh mythology, Cader Idris is also said to be one of the hunting grounds of Gwyn ap Nudd and his Cŵn Annwn. The howling of these huge dogs foretold death to anyone who heard them, the pack sweeping up that person's soul and herding it into the underworld.

The summit of the mountain is known as Penygadair ("top of the chair/stronghold") and features a trip pillar and stone built shelter - the remains of a Victorian refreshment hut. The views from the summit are superb.

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