Refine your search

Type of Venue

 

Location

 

Facilities

 

Or Venue Name

 
 

image for Famous Person or Ghost item typeLocal Legend at Cadair Idris (NRW)

Local Legend

Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris

Details

Cadair (or Cader) Idris is one of Wales’s most iconic mountains. It is about 893m in height, standing at the southern gate of Snowdonia, overlooking Dolgellau. The three peaks are Pen y Gadair (Head of the Chair), Cyfrwy (the Saddle) and Mynydd Moel (the Bare Mountain). In the cwm half way down the mountain is Llyn Cau, supposedly a bottomless lake.

There are numerous stories and legends associated with this mountain and Idris, the giant who’s seat it supposedly is. A few of the nearby lakes – such as Llyn Mwyngul (commonly known as Tal-y-llyn lake) are reputed to be bottomless, and those who venture up the mountain at night should take heed before sleeping on its slopes. It is said that those who sleep on the mountain will awaken either as a madman, a poet or indeed never wake again.

Idris appears in many guises in the Welsh tradition – as giant, prince and astronomer. One of the tales told of the giant, is that sitting on his great chair one day, he felt pieces of grit inside his shoes which he removed and cast down the mountainside. The three large stones that rest at the foot of the mountain are said to be those annoying pieces of grit. Another tale tells of Idris throwing pieces of grit across the area. One of these pieces – a significant sized rock landed in Aberllefenni, another in Rhydymain and the third in Abergeirw. There are two other stones on the left of the road through the pass as you head for Dolgellau, linked with this story. The largest across the way from the lay-by was thrown by Idris and the other, a smaller stone was apparently put there by his wife!

But who was Idris? Where does his fame stem from? The trail in terms of an historical Idris probably begins with Sualda ab (son of) Idris, a seventh century prince of Meirionnydd (c 630AD). The father in this case is Idris – Idris ap Gwyddno of Meirionnydd who died in 632 AD, and who is recorded in the Harleian genealogy. He is noted as the son of Gwyddno who, some have linked to that man of the same name - Gwyddno Granhir, owner or ruler of the lower Cantref, or submerged hundred (cantref or hundred being an area of land). It was upon a stream within Gwyddno's lands that the quasi-historical poet and visionary Welsh hero Taliesin was found floating in a basket on May eve.

It is appealing to link these mythological strands historically. In reality, however, we will possibly never know whether Idris was indeed a one-time prince of Meirionnydd. A prince who’s renown or military prowess caused him to become a ‘giant’ amongst men, and immortalised as the giant of Cader Idris, or rather if he is the product of local folk tales and the vivid Welsh imagination, fuelled by the dramatic landscape and changeable weather of the Snowdonia mountains.

While the mountain is most strongly associated with Idris the giant, it is sometimes also referred to as Arthur’s seat – presumably referring in this case to the legendary King Arthur. This connection has been popularised by Susan Cooper in her book The Grey King which forms a part of the well known The Dark is Rising series.

In Welsh mythology, Cader Idris is also forms part of the hunting ground of Gwyn ap Nudd, lord of the Celtic Underworld ‘Annwn’, and his strange, red eared, otherworldly dogs. The howling of these great dogs was a portend of death for those who heard it, as it was believed that the pack herded the person’s soul into the underworld.

Coach parties acceptedDisabled toiletsOn-site light refreshmentsPublic toiletsAccepts groups

Cadair Idris Visitor Centre and Cadair Tea Room are 250 metres from the car park and the Minffordd path to the summit passes by them. The visitor centre houses an exhibition showcasing the wildlife, geology and legends of Cadair Idris National Nature Reserve. The exhibition includes: interactive games short film about the making of the mountain film about work that Natural Resources Wales does for nature conservation here animated films telling the legends of Idris the Giant live infrared footage of rare lesser horseshoe bats in the roofspace The centre is owned by Natural Resources Wales, and managed in partnership with the staff of Ty Te Cadair Tea Room. Both the visitor centre and tea room are open seasonally.

Contact

Enquiries

Address

Southern Snowdonia,
LL39 1AX

Location

Directions

Plan route to Cadair Idris (NRW) using Google mapsPlan route using Google maps

Map reference: SH 696154  Lat: 52.72122 Long: -3.93070

Public Transport:
Bus services 30,32,34 [Dolgellau-Tywyn-Machynlleth] run on the A487, stopping at the junction with the B4405 close to the entrance of the car park.

By Car: Visitor Centre Car park is signposted off the A487. The Minffordd path to the summit of Cadair Idris also starts from this location.

Parking: with charge

Accessible by Public Transport: 10 miles from Tywyn station

Facilities

  • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
  • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
  • On-site light refreshmentsOn-site light refreshments
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups

Cadair Idris Visitor Centre and Cadair Tea Room are 250 metres from the car park and the Minffordd path to the summit passes by them. The visitor centre houses an exhibition showcasing the wildlife, geology and legends of Cadair Idris National Nature Reserve. The exhibition includes: interactive games short film about the making of the mountain film about work that Natural Resources Wales does for nature conservation here animated films telling the legends of Idris the Giant live infrared footage of rare lesser horseshoe bats in the roofspace The centre is owned by Natural Resources Wales, and managed in partnership with the staff of Ty Te Cadair Tea Room. Both the visitor centre and tea room are open seasonally.