A weekend of running & walking Cadir Idris

At the start of October we headed to a tiny cottage near Machynlleth, perched up on a hill with nothing but sheep around us and a gorgeous view. That’s right… we escaped from the farm to go and stay on a farm… and it was lovely!

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After walking Helvellyn last year we searched around for the next mountain, and Cadir Idris was one that had been recommended. It’s argued by some to be the best in Wales and tends to be a lot quieter than the likes of Snowdon, which really appealed to us.

We were away from Thursday – Monday and due to rain on most days Sunday looked like the best walking day. This worked out well as I was really keen to run the local parkrun half an hour away on the Saturday.

The bumpy track leading up to the holiday cottage was exactly a mile, mostly uphill, so on the Friday morning myself and Laura decided to head out to run the track. We ran downhill fast and then set off walking and running back up. I can’t remember exactly when it happened but at some point, either during or after that run, my calves cramped up and they did not loosen at all!

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Saturday morning arrived and my calves were still stiff but I was determined to run the parkrun. We turned up at Dolgelleu, found someone to ask about parking and loitered around a very empty car park. At 8.50am there were only a handful of people there but the run director started her briefing. There were 29 runners in total! Amazing. What a sweet little parkrun, I’ve never seen such a small amount of people at an event before. The route was out and back x 2, which was a bit strange but lots of fun as we all passed each other several times. Lots of high 5 opportunities.

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My legs felt okay while running and I kept the pace fairly steady and managed to smash out a new PB.

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But then as we got back home the cramping returned and didn’t go away for the rest of the day, no matter how much I tried to stretch.

On Sunday morning even walking downstairs was hard work so I was apprehensive as to how I was going to cope walking the mountain. At times on the Saturday I had wondered if I was even going to be able to do it but on Sunday morning I knew I would, I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be.

I was disappointed as this was the first mountain I was going to be walking since I had started running and I was really looking forward to seeing how my fitness had improved. I’m not the greatest hill walker still and probably never will be but my stamina and leg power has improved so much already.

I stuck my compression socks on and we set off, and thankfully my legs were okay! I could feel they were a little tight but they weren’t painful or restricting.

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Straight away we were going up steps! Bloody steps. 5 steps, pause and breath, 5 more… Ugh! I’m supposed to be fit. Who am I kidding.

We went up through woodland then followed an easy path through a clearing and soon enough we could see the summit of Cadir Idris ahead of us, Penygader.

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We circled around to the left and walked up on to a ridge.

We were now pretty high up and the views were amazing!

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It was a steep climb up to a peak then down a little before climbing once more to the final summit, Penygader!

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It had been fairly clear so far but as we made the final ascent a huge cloud was rolling over towards us and we arrived at the summit in the fog. It was freezing cold so we didn’t hang around for long and hunkered down in a stone shelter with a few other fellow walkers to eat some lunch.

After a nice break we continued away from Penygader and stayed on a level for a while, with some fantastic views across the to the coast to the left.

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Before long we took a right turn as per the instructions and started going downhill. The path was quite tough going with lots of rocks and shingle which would slide under your feet.

But soon enough we were back at the stream in the woodland and starting our way back down the steps to the visitor centre.

Time for a cup of tea!

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The visitor centre is fantastic, just what you need when you finish walking a mountain. It was a great resource of information about the local area and wildlife as well as serving some lovely food & drink.

The route is supposed to take 5.5 hours and we flew round it in under 5 hours (not counting the time we stopped for).

Although it felt quite tough while we were walking overall it wasn’t as hard as I’ve found mountains before, and I think a noticeable improvement in fitness for me is that my recovery is so much quicker.

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This is the route we followed – http://www.trekkingbritain.com/cadairidristheminfforddpath.htm

Despite the calf stiffness it was a fantastic weekend of running and walking, and simply a lovely time with friends.

It was also Zebby’s first time up a mountain and only his second holiday with us and he was a star. As expected he had no problem walking the mountain, although he did pull us all the way up and then back down again!

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We decided it would be easier in the holiday cottage and walking with just one dog so we left Guinness with my Mum for a relaxing weekend. Although Guinness is more than capable he does have some arthritis kicking in and I know he was just as happy chilling out at home.

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