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There are few mountains that crop up in legend and folklore quite as frequently as Cadair Idris. This massive upthrust of land is the southernmost high point of Snowdonia and was once thought to be the highst mountain in the British Isles on account of its lofty apearance from the north. In reality it is half a kilometre shy of such an accolade, standing proud at 893 metres. Regardless of this, it is still a fine mountain massif containing numerous summits, a unique ambience and some delectable llyns.

Perhaps this ambience is due to the various myths and legends that surround the mountain. Cadair Idris means the chair of Idris, Idris being a King who was said to use the mountain's mighty bulk as his throne. Some tales tell of a huge giant, others of an ordinary man. Stranger still are the tales that tell of Cadair Idris being the home of the Celtic God of the Underworld and its hounds of hell that roam the summit in the dead of night. Many who have slept on Cadair Idris claim to have heard them howling through the dark hours, though the wind may be a more credible suspect. Speaking of using the summit as night time accomodation, a saying goes that if you sleep on Cadair Idris you will awake either as a poet or a madman. And it is an easier summit than most to sleep on, as early entrepreneurs built a shelter up there that is as sturdy as some Scottish bothies. Guiding on Cadair Idris was a profitable business, you see, when people thought it was the highest in the land.

As pleasant and atmospheric as Idris' summit and ridges are, for me the main attraction is Cwm Cau with its fabulous, almost circular llyn. This is a scene of great beauty. The mountain above is reflected superbly in its serene waters, whilst the pointed summit of Craig Cwm Amarch looks down magesterially from above. It is frequently compared to Snowdon, but really comparisons are unnecessary. I found Cadair Idris to be charming in its own right, but not in the same league as Snowdon in terms of drama. One final legend to mention! Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by Llyn Cau's beauty, for below its surface awaits a terrifying sea serpent named the Afanc, or so the legend goes...

Cadair Idris

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