A little about the path...
Can’t decide between a walk up in the hills or down by the sea? Why don’t you have a go at this circular walk in the Arthog area? It will take you up into to the hills, with spectacular views of the Mawddach estuary in one direction and of Cader Idris in the other, before you come back down to the sea.
1. The route starts at Arthog car park which is near the Mawddach Trail. From the car park you will see the old trackbed of the Great Western railway which was operational between 1868 and 1965. The line from Dolgellau to Morfa Mawddach junction is now owned and managed by the National Park Authority and is very popular with walkers and cyclists.
2. Go to the right at the car park entrance and in approximately 100 yards you will see a ladder stile on the left hand side. In front of you, you will see Ty’n y Coed slate quarry. Blasting at the quarry has ceased but crushed slate can still be bought here.
3. Once you are over the stile, follow the path along the sea defence embankment to the kissing gate. From the gate, follow the main road to the left for a few yards, until you see an iron gate on the other side. Take care when crossing the road into the woodland. This is an ancient broadleaved woodland which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in order to protect the special plants that grow here. Come here in spring to see the woodland’s floor carpeted with bluebells.
4. As you climb up through the woods you will see, and indeed hear, the Arthog river on the final part of its journey to the sea. The source of this river is Llyn Cyri, far up in the hills above.
5. At the top of the woodland, notice the enormous beech tree near the stile! This tree is at least two hundred years old! Directly over the stile the path leads to the left. Shortly, you will reach a beautiful clapper bridge (large flagstones placed over the river) with Tyrrau Mawr in the background.
6. On your right, over the clapper bridge, are the remains of Llys Bradwen (Bradwen’s Court). Here stood the court of Ednywain ab Bradwen, leader of one of the Fifteen Tribes of Gwynedd who lived here early in the twelfth century, in the time of Prince Gruffydd ab Cynan (‘ab’ or ‘ap’ means ‘son of’). In Ednywain’s day, almost nine hundred years ago, this structure of earth and stone comprised two parts. Ednywain lived in the larger of the two and the other was used as a courtroom. A large boulder stood either side of the entrance, but they were demolished during the second half of the nineteenth century. According to folklore, in 1806 the old preacher, Lewis Morris, used to lean on one of the boulders while preaching the gospel to local people.
7. At the top of the hill just over the bridge there is a spectacular view of the Mawddach estuary with Barmouth and the railway bridge in the far distance.
To the right of Barmouth are the northern hills of the estuary. In 1834, deep in the rocks of these hills gold veins were discovered by accident. Gold mining work began in 1847, and in 1854 a valuable gold seam was discovered at the Clogau copper mine. The mining work has now come to an end but a local jewellery making company, Clogau, continues to sell jewellery made from this precious gold.
8. As you follow the path across farm land you will shortly join the road which leads up to the Cregennen lakes. Once the lakes come into sight the path will veer to the left, off the tarmac road.
9. You are now 800 feet above sea level, and from this point onwards the path will lead over rough heathland with Pared y Cefn Hir on your left and Cregennen lakes on your right. These lakes are owned by the National Trust and are popular for trout fishing. On the right in front of you, you will see Cader Idris. According to the legend this mountain was named after a giant by the name of Idris who lived on the summit. There are numerous legends connected to Cader Idris; perhaps one of the most well-known is that anyone who sleeps on the mountain wakes up either a madman or a poet!
10. You will shortly pass an old farmhouse, Ty’n Llidiart, before joining the tarmac road. Approximately 100 yards along the road you will see the remains of Rehoboth Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. Directly opposite the chapel the path leads down through the woods before re-joining the tarmac road above Kings Youth Hostel.
11. At the end of the tarmac road you will cross the main road (take care when crossing). Walk along the drive which leads to Abergwynant Farm (do not turn left into the farm but continue straight ahead towards the woods).
On approaching the woodland at the end of the drive you will see Plas Abergwynant on the right. This woodland is known as Abergwynant Woods and was formerly part of the mansion’s estate. It was originally a native oak woodland, but during the 1960’s around 80% of the mature trees were cleared with the intention of replacing them with evergreen conifers. By the 1990’s the woodland’s condition was deteriorating, and it was under threat from infestation by Rhododendron ponticum. Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive shrub which spreads rapidly in Snowdonia, shading out native plants. In 1996 a substantial area of the woodland was purchased by the National Park Authority with grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Park has since endeavoured to restore this special woodland to its former glory by felling the conifers and planting oak and birch, as well as by managing the spread of Rhododendron ponticum.
12. On your left as you walk along the track you will see the remains of a lime kiln. During the 18th and 19th century lime was imported to this site where it was burned in the lime kiln before being spread on agricultural land as a fertilizer.
13. At the end of the track you will join the Mawddach Trail. Take a left turn by the bridge. This is the last section of the route, which will take you back to Arthog car park along the old trackbed of the Great Western railway.
Industry has played a major part in the history of Morfa Mawddach since the 1770s. Ships were built in the estuary’s creeks using timber from nearby oak trees. Sailing boats were also a familiar sight; exporting flannel, slate and bark and importing lime and guano for use on local farms. The remains of the quays can be seen along the estuary today.
14. Approximately two miles along the track you will arrive back at Arthog car park.