Walks with Kids

Cwm Idwal & The Devils Kitchen – Our first family walk in Snowdonia

March 3, 2017
Llyn Idwal, Cwm Idwal and indeed The Devils Kitchen are iconic Snowdonia locations and act as a gateway onto the mighty Glyders. We’ve been trying to do a family walk in Snowdonia for a while now. Our usual quick jaunts often see us into the Clwydian Range near Mold. We generally end up waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and make a call on where to go but the additional journey time to Snowdonia (1h30+)  generally puts us off.

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Last weekend though we made an actual concious decision (!) to go and do a walk in Snowdonia. Cwm Idwal and Llyn Idwal are in the very heart of Snowdonia and I found a really nice little walk around the lake there on the National Trust site.

We parked at the Warden’s lodge off the A5. (LL57 3LZ) There’s a pay and display car park there for £5 or you can park on the side of the road for free. We got there for 10am and the car park was pretty full and the sides of the road filling up too.

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As we left and headed up past the Warden’s lodge onto the Glyderau path it began snowing and pretty much didn’t stop until way later in the day. Erin stomped on across the broken up, rocky path whilst Finn cruised on Sarah’s back.

The path heads gradually upwards towards the lake. Jasper came with us on this trip too, he absolutely loves the snow, but he’s clumsy as hell and ended up waist deep in marsh every now and then as he trotted off-piste. Div.

 

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Up at the lake the expanse of Idwal opens up before you. A bowl, lined with craggy, raw, rocky edges all covered in snow and ice. It’s a pretty incredible site to see it in the snow.

We went clockwise round the lake and looking towards the back of the Cwm noticed that the path ascends steeply towards the Devil’s Kitchen and past the rock climbing practice area of Idwal Slabs on the left.

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The history behind this place is shrouded in darkness.

“Shepherds say that Idwal is the haunt of demons and no bird dares fly over its damned water. In the 18th century, writer Thomas Pennant came here and said it was ‘a place to inspire murderous thoughts, environed with horrible precipices’, and it was here in the 12th century that Idwal, son of Owain Gwynedd, was brutally murdered by Dunawd, in whose care he had been entrusted.

When we got round to the back, after heading clockwise round the lake, the path splits. The lower path leads at ground level along the shores of Idwal whilst the left hand path takes you high into the back of the Cwm. I’d originally thought that only the lower path existed so we were quite excited to see the more challenging route.

I photographed this Mountain Goat thinking that it's just ONE Goat. Take a closer look ;)
I photographed this Mountain Goat thinking that it’s just ONE Goat. Take a closer look 😉

We took the upper route and after a steep ascension, we ended up at a small, but treacherous crossing of a waterfall/stream running down the hillside. Luckily it was timed with another hiking party coming the other way and they helped us get the kids across and up into the scree at the base of the Devil’s Kitchen itself. We climbed higher and through the masses of glacial rock for a rest and then followed the path down and round the lake.

The Devils Kitchen
The Devils Kitchen

The way down was far more sketchy than the way up. The ice and snow had compacted under the boots of other walkers and it had made the path extremely slippy. Erin amazed us by practically bouncing and sliding down it with no worries, but Sarah and I had to slow down and be a bit more sure footed. Totally raised the need for walking poles, it would of helped immensely on this bit. We’ve added them to our extensive shopping list!

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Once down we skirted round the lake back to the path down to Ogwyn cottage. Grabbing an amazing cheese and onion pasty from the shop there to warm up. It rained pretty heavily on the last 10 minutes which threatened to spoil an otherwise amazing trip.

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We totally surprised ourselves doing the ‘challenging’ route. It raised the bar for us a bit and hopefully we can get stuck into more fun routes from now on. The great thing about Cwm Idwal is that there are two routes and you can make the call halfway round. Both routes offer stunning views, so there’s something for everyone here.

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