The Stuff of Leg Ends

... and outsmarting the crafty Celts

First morning at the cottage. What a view! A spot like this for the morning coffee is almost enough to make me up sticks and move to the boonies…

Time for some serious Snowdonia (although there are some quite nice looking walks local to the cottage, including a hill fort across the valley).

I have decided that the Devil’s Kitchen may be a stretch with my current fitness levels, so have opted for Cader Idris - the highest mountain in southern Snowdonia. All Trails has it as “Moderate”. What could go wrong?


Legs could go wrong.

It was a fairly steep climb from the car park up to the lake. As this was marked as an out and back trail, I had half an eye for the descent, but this first section was eminently doable.

A brief pause to admire the lake and it was on to phase 2. The climb began in earnest. From the lake, it looked as though people were climbing vertically. Turns out that was almost the case! I went up the first couple of sections but then reached what was pretty much a vertical rocky section. I reckoned I could make it up OK, but wasn’t confident of my ability to come back down that way without walking poles. Note to self - come better prepared with the proper kit next time. And the correct fitness level.

The nice thing about Cader Idris as compared to Snowdon is that, although people (some considerably more advanced in years) do skip by like geriatric mountain goats, it is all very friendly and doesn’t have the same feeling as humiliation as Snowdon. I put this down to the fact that there are fewer charity walkers - so not being overtaken by one-legged people on crutches and kitchen sinks strapped to their backs. Also, not overtaken by anyone dressed as a giant penis, which is always a bonus.

I made my way back down in the full knowledge that this freed up the afternoon for another adventure. It was absolutely the right call too as my legs had pretty much turned to jelly by the time I got back to the car park.

Onwards in search of the mystical birthplace of the Welsh dragon.

Dinas Emrys is the site of a fort built by the Saxon king Vortigern. Apparently, it kept collapsing and his thinking was that a sacrifice of one of the locals would sort it out (don’t judge, building techniques were different back then).

Turns out that the selected “volunteer” was none other than a young Merlin. Merlin explained that the tower wouldn’t stand because two dragons were sleeping beneath the mountains and this has certain seismic implications. Anyway, word is that Merlin found the lake under the mountains and released a red and black dragon, who proceeded to mix it up. Long story short - red dragon victorious and now the symbol of Wales.

Oh yeah, and the fort got built, the ruins of which I am on my way to.

With such a weight of symbolism, I expected this to be a major tourist draw. Not so. The sat nav (well Google) missed it and I ended up parking some miles up the road. I had several routes plotted to it, but all seemed to be over private property or otherwise blocked. Or there was some mystical shielding instigated by a mythical magician? No matter, it shall not remain hidden from me. Channelling my Celtic heritage (all 19.8% according to MyHeritage), I proceeded to pull aside the veil of cloaking.

Well worth it - a very pleasant walk up and a lovely view from the top only slightly marred by the two terriers who took a dislike to me for disturbing their owners’ peace. Or maybe they could sense the 80.2% non-Celt and took exception to it?