About Cadair Idris | National Nature Reserve

Cader/Cadair Idris is a spectacular mountain reserve with a variety of landscapes and terrain. Rugged summits, glacial lakes and a mossy wooded gorge cover over 450 hectares of breathtaking landscape.

The Nature Reserve lies within Snowdonia National Park and is part of the Cadair Idris Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

The reserve encompasses the mountain and lower slopes, with a variety of habitats of European importance. These include dry heath, wet heath, blanket bog, woodland and the species-rich marshy grasslands of Tir Stent common, as well as a number of low nutrient or clear-water lakes. The cliffs support tall herbs growing on the ledges, and a range of plants growing on rock crevices. These habitats support a wide range of species, including slender green feather-moss and marsh fritillary Butterfly.

While the romantically inclined attribute its features to the work of giants, geologists come up with more prosaic but nonetheless interesting explanations that span hundreds of millions of years. The origin of the rock is volcanic, some of the lavas being poured out under the sea and shaped into bulbous "pillows" that give it the name pillow lava. These are interspersed with layers of ash and other sediments that settled out on the sea bed of the time.

The glaciers of the last ice age scoured and scraped at this hard upfolded rock leaving visible scratches on some of the surfaces and hollowing out basins now filled with small lakes such as those at Cregennan on the first 'step' up the mountain, or the supposedly bottomless Llyn Cau on the south side.
Amongst this craggy country on the mountain tops there survive rare Arctic/alpine flowers, a legacy of the last Ice Age such as purple saxifrage and least willow (a 'tree' that never gets to more than a scrambling shrub).

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.

DOL IDRIS NATURE TRAIL (0.7 miles, 1.25 kilometres).
The Dol Idris nature trail is located in the parkland on the foothills of Cadair Idris in the south of the Snowdonia National Park. Dol idris has around ¾ miles of accessible paths to take you around the parkland, going past a picturesque little lake and its fish ladder, exotic trees and the remains of a soft drink laboratory!


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