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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ashby

A Magical Sunrise Walk Up Cader Idris

Updated: Apr 12

Nothing in the world can replicate the peace and tranquillity of a sunrise over Cader Idris. Here, Dean talks about his experience of walking up Cader Idris to experience the sun rise. He tells us the best way to do it, and shares some tips. It's a tough walk, he says, but one that is well worth the effort.

"It's the way the light starts to creep at dawn. The luminous orange stripe over the horizon. The stillness and the quiet, broken only by the sound of a bird chirping. If you’re in need of a break from everything, including your own thoughts, this is a soul-soothing experience like no other."

Dean Ashby,

Director, Ashby's Adventure Trails and Treks.

About Cader Idris

At 893 m (2,930 ft), Cader (or Cadair) Idris is the highest mountain in southern Snowdonia. For our Cader Idris sunrise walk, we park at the Cader Idris Visitor Centre and nature reserve, which houses an exhibition showcasing the area's wildlife, geology, and legends.

Talking of which, legend has it that Cader is named after a giant called Idris. In English, it means Chair of Idris, while Cader could also refer to an ancient fortress. And we’ve heard, if you spend the night on the mountain, you’ll end up mad or a poet.

"We've walked up Cader Idris with the near-freezing temperatures of a January morning," says Dean. "And at that time of year, we've no intention of staying up there all night. Anyway, I’m mad enough, so people tell me. And I’m not really into rhymes."

Walking In The Dark

" We usually take the Minffordd Path up Cader Idris, the shortest but steepest route. To be in time for the sunrise at 6 am, we need to set off from the car park in the pitch black. The thing about walking in the dark is that your senses awaken. You’re aware of every noise, smell, sound, and stone beneath your boots, and it’s invigorating.

Depending on the time of year, we need to walk for around for two hours with our head torches on."

Tip: Use the red light on your head torch to preserve your night vision, but don’t have it on flash mode. You use the flash mode setting if you’re in distress to notify mountain rescue or other walkers.

"When the lights starts to creep, the mountains all around became bathed in a weak daylight. Then we can turn off our head torches."

Daybreak on Cader Idris

"When the sun rises, we stop, we look, we watch and we marvel. An orange glow appears over the horizon. If we're lucky, when we look up and into the distance, we see everywhere become luminescent orange. And there are so many different shades of orange. The sky blazes!"

When do we ever look up and into the distance? We’re always looking down at our phones or our laptops. When do we take the time to really feel and notice what’s around us? This is mindfulness, and it’s wonderful.

What You Need To Know About Walking Up Cader Idris For Sunrise

There are three recommended routes to conquer Cader, and all are designated hard or strenuous routes. You should allow between five to six hours to get to the summit and back. In cold weather, snow and ice can cover the paths, so you shouldn’t attempt this climb unless you are experienced and adequately equipped. In addition, there are many cliff edges to be aware of, and in low visibility, it could be dangerous. You also need to be prepared for drastic changes in the weather.

"I recommend that everyone should experience how a sunrise makes you feel," says Dean. "Being immersed in nature when the world starts to awaken has a positive effect on your wellbeing that is second to none. If I had to sum it up in two words, I’d say it’s mind-blowing."

If you’re interested in booking a Cader Idris sunrise walk or another mountain hik, get in touch. We can tailor an event to suit you.

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