My Chicken Soup on Cader

Well, I feel like I haven’t updated recently enough here. After today I’ve got heaps to say, but I’m going to break it up into a number of posts.

I’ve spent the week watching a high pressure building and really wanted to get out for a run in the hills. Before my calf strain I’d been doing lots of training sessions but not really enjoying my running. I’ve decided it was more important to enjoy the run.

So this morning I woke early and headed out. From the house I look at a sky line of the Cader Idris range, and this morning I’m heading for that skyline. The ascent profile looks like thisIt’s an old friend, this route, views opening, paths unwinding without the need to think too hard. Technically challenging running, my favourite romp across a moorland plateau and enough climb and distance to really clear my lungs and legs.

The sun is low and warm giving beautiful relief on the hills.

Climbing out of a shaded Dolgellau is lovely, racing up the contours as the sun comes rushing down the hillsides quickly letting me chase my own long shadow.

I love that this end of Cader is hardly ever visited, it means that I often see mountain wildlife that is harder to spot on the Western end. This morning is no different. Just on the final pull onto Gau Craig I spotted a couple of Black Grouse scuttling into the heater and minutes later a Hare bounds across my path, zig zagging to confuse me. No chance I am going to catch it though.

Then onto the long plateau towards the base of Mynydd Moel, a stunning place, the Tarrens close, Plymlimon in the distance to the South. The Arrans behind, The Rhinogs just to the North, Rhobell Fawr alone. A great place.

Into the hardest climb of the route, the steep path onto Mynydd Moel. Lungs definitely working hard, my heart thumping in my ears and my legs running along the pleasure/pain barrier of lactic production. The gradient eases as 820m passes, a quick glance over your shoulder as you cross the summit shows you Llyn Cynwch (Precipice Walk) at an unusual angle. Behind this is the square blocks of Trawsfynnydd power station reflecting sun off its flat sides. Then moving west, suddenly Pencoed Pillar appears, then Penygadair, the main peak of Cader Idris appears. Frost and icy puddles still sit in the shadows behind rocks and ridges. This morning whisps of cloud are being blown South over the lowest part of this ridge and in my shorts and light shirt I’m keen to keep moving.

This crossing from Mynydd Moel to Penygadair is quick, I pass the summit hut just before 0700, quickly recalibrate my watch for altitude, and then off the other side. This bit is a bridleway and I unusually spot a mountain bike tyre print. I think about work momentarily, the white paper on the change in definition of Rights of Way. My mind wanders to memories of Pete Burnsall for a few seconds before edging over to Cyfwry and the beautiful lollop down to join the Pony Path at Rhiw Gwerdydd. I have mixed feelings about the path improvements here, but I follow them to try and do my bit to prevent any further degradation of the hill side through heavy use.

The terrain gets easier, the pace increases and quickly you arrive at Ty Nant. From here I head through the car park that most people access the hill from and follow a footpath that goes round the back of Llyn Gwernan, through some woodland and then rejoin the Cader Road for a nicely sloped run into Dolgellau.

Dolgellau, now bathed in sun, is slowly waking up, I run through the small back lanes down to the main bridge. Now feeling hungry and a bit tired but still quite springy. Time to go home, have breakfast and spend time with the kids.

My soul truly fed.

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