The panacea of Cader Idris

K5E527310I know a place so intimately that I can summon both its scent and textures. I can recall its sightest sounds, and if I focus keenly, even conjure the feel of the air that moves there. The paths and rocks are etched in to my bones, and my heart and soul pine for them. No exaggeration. I dream of the place, and burn to go there. I miss the calm and the chaos; both the panolpy of greens and the utter unpredictability of the climate. I miss her company, because to me, she can only be a lady.

Cader is a provocatrix. At her wooded feet, she lures her visitors with a series of brutal stepped climbs that sap the thighs. Yet with this pain comes pleasure. To the right, she sings like a siren, beckoning all in to deep, clear pools fed by pure mountain water. There are waterfalls, tumbling down stone chutes to churn and swirl, carving out smooth bowls which are idyllic for swimming. The glassy surface is beyond inviting, and to plunge in is literally breathtaking. Torrents thunder down on your head,  you feel pummeled, but intensely alive. I always emerge tingling, intoxicated by the shock of the cold, but entirely invigorated. Tinglingly alive, and dominated.

Yet she is also subtle in her entrapment. Cader reveals her charms achingly slowly. She is a burlesque performer, and her devotees have to work for their vista. The very shape of the mountain slopes draw you in to an embrace, with sweeping, sheltering arms, but the way ahead can be veiled in an instant by opaque mists. Even when emerging from moist gulleys to an apex  of grassland, she presents a series of false summits, fleeting flat stretches and perfect rest-ledges to prolong the joy of the ascent.

Ahead lies the shadow of a dimpled smile, a smooth whale-like contour that cannot be denied. Grey as the dawn and rising like a wave, lines and ridges invite handholds, tracing upward like a lover caressing a stocking-seamed calf. To call this a rocky outcrop is sacrilege. It is a prelude to a most beautiful body of water, with a dark and powerful presence. It points towards the  eyes of the mountain, and in calm conditions, Llyn Cau is the window to the soul of the place.

The lake is my inner sanctum of Cader. To describe the colour of the peaty velveteen water is as futile as trying to stare in to a pair of eyes simultaneously. It simply cannot be done. With every band of sunlight or cloud, the surface shimmers in complex new hues. The water is hauntingly beautiful, and to swim in it is to submit to the place entirely. Just metres in and the depths are numbingly cold, and terrifying. In succumbing to its embrace, it is the ultimate gesture of love. To offer all vulnerabilities and frailty, and be conjoined.





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