Country diary: just about the most dramatic scenes in the Welsh hills

riving north from Corris using a December afternoon, I saw the truly amazing bowl of Cwm Cau brimming with cloud. It swirled and streamered from its rocky basin to get at low sunlight slanting in along Tal-y-llyn. It lit the valley with garish candyfloss luminescence. I parked at Minffordd and took the route for your hill.

This was the main route with which, in 1960, I climbed what is among the many finest of Welsh mountains. Since that time I’ve made the ascent by every conceivable route, nevertheless the one from Minffordd still ranks high among my favourites. That it was popular before enough time of my first acquaintance from it. In Richard Wilson’s 1765 canvas Llyn-y-Cau, Cader Idris, you will find the ridge path already vestigially traced.

When When i first saw that marvellous painting inside the Tate, only a few years whenever i first encountered the hill, I was thinking it exaggerated, romantically overblown. But over a December day Twenty five years ago, the hill glowing with all the golden light associated with a Claude landscape, I came across myself at Cadair’s summit, and on impulse consideration to look for the purpose where Wilson had sketched his composition.

It wasn’t difficult to find. A number of hundred metres on the east, a few paces down the convex grassy slope, and suddenly, over the cwm, an incredible, triangular black peak reared up, “as if with voluntary power instinct”. The mystery was solved. What Wilson had actually painted was the gable end of any ridge running through the satellite peak of Mynydd Pencoed, and he’d succeeded in doing so with remarkable accuracy and restraint. He’d captured the essence of a single that is dramatic scenes while in the Welsh hills. Rock climbers it is known as the Pencoed Pillar, and this towers above the cwm’s sombre little lake. I drank from that after I’d toiled up from Minffordd, watched the swirl of cloud above, heard the chuckle associated with a number of ravens, and paid attention to “lake water lapping with low sounds because of the shore”. A legend borrowed from Snowdon from the Victorian novelist Mrs Hemans has it that anyone sleeping here wakes as poet or madman. Observed why.


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