One hot Bank holiday weekend, my lovely friend Erika and her partner Joe invited me to go camping in the Welsh mountains. We each have a great appreciation of the outdoors and love spending time outside, particularly, in a tent!
Having giving it serious consideration, I think I could probably, quite happily, live in a tent forever… What is it about camping that lures us in? I’ve tried to explain it to non-impressed friends and family members before. But it can be hard to explain. I think it could be the simplicity of it. There’s no room for manicured morning routines or general household clutter. It’s just you, the basic things you need to ‘survive’ (hard to call it survival but y’know, food and things), and the great outdoors.
Generally by the end of the day you’re so tired, you could sleep on a bed of leaves and you’d likely sleep soundly. Let alone a squeaky air mattress. It just beats waking up, looking out of the window and seeing… cars, concrete and conformity. You can roll out of a tent in the morning (perhaps even literally) and stare at the clouds, feel the wind and smell the grass. Simple things… Anyway, I digress…
We stayed for two nights at Cwmrhwyddfor Campsite. Although I’m ‘quarter’ Welsh, this is a name I unfortunately don’t think I’ll ever be able to successfully pronounce. It was situated in a perfect location for hiking Cadair, as it was only a short walk to the start of the trail from the campsite entrance, and the views of the mountains from the tent itself were pretty darn majestic. The site had all your basic needs covered, toilets/washing facilities, flat ground and firewood! (one big bag for a fee of £4).
The hike itself was beautiful. It is Wales after all. Mountainous crags, bubbling streams, fir scented forest and carpets of heather welcomed us. Around noon (before the real hiking began) we stopped next to the lake and made a pretty substantial lunch using Joe’s portable sandwich press (how fancy is that?!).
After lounging around in the heather and taking photos, we hit the trail again. We immediately began ascending a craggy path that wound its way towards the left peak of Cadair. As we reached the ridge line, expansive views and swathes of more mountain heather met our eyes.
We carried on along the second highest peak, climbed a stile/ladder and wandered down across the grassy ridge line where the sun managed to greet us for a few moments. We paused for the photo opportunity and hiked on.
The peak itself was shrouded in thick fog when we neared, obscuring the ultimate view we had hoped to see from the top; View or not, it always feels good to reach the summit.
To save ourselves time on the descent back down to ground level we decided to take a daring short-cut down a slightly less travelled path, which quite honestly, to me, looked like a sheer drop from the mountain edge into the mist filled expanse below. ‘Me – “We’re going down.. this way!?”‘
We climbed down between a narrow crag in the mountain with a drop positioned on our right hand side, which was, probably for the better, hidden by a thick mist. After carefully sliding down over dewy grass and between foot and hand holds in the rock, we eventually emerged from the clouds onto the eye-wateringly steep mountainside and began a slow, winding climb down through streams of slate, steep grassy verges and marshy ground.
We arrived at the lake side (after many photograph stops) and I gave a granite boulder a grateful little pat, to thank the mountain for making it down, intact, and the right way up.
We wandered wearily back down the mountainside, past waterfalls and streams, and paused to stare at the golden sunset casting a warm glow over the valley. We then found the local pub in the Gwesty Minffordd Hotel, which was one heck of a sight for sore eyes (and legs). Also a great idea to book at if camping is not your scene!
All in all, it’s a beautiful area. And Cadair Idris is a perfect blend of height, heather, dramatic crags, and a healthy dose of sheep, it’s one of the Welsh classics. I always claim that the coast is my favourite landscape, but really, its an equal tie with the mountains…