Barmouth, Wales Holiday - July 2019
Starting in the car park south of Ganllwyd the A party (2) set off on a walk in the Kings Forest. The forest track led up the valley of the river to the Rhaeadr Mawddach waterfalls and the site of the Gwyn Fynydd gold mine where the gold for the royal wedding rings has been mined since Queen Victoria’s time. Closed and redirected paths caused a small diversion on the way to crossing the river Gain and joining the old Roman road running south with fine views of the mountains and passing the medieval iron foundries. There was another diversion caused by an unsafe footbridge before arriving back at the start point. 11 miles and 1000 ft of ascent.
The B party walked through the town and took the pedestrian walkway over the railway bridge which crosses the Mawddach estuary to the old junction with the line to Dolgellau Bala and Llangollen. We then followed a path inland climbing over a short pass to Fairbourne where lunch was taken. After lunch we walked out to the beach and followed this for a short distance before taking a footpath along the side of the estuary to the south side of the bridge. We retraced out steps over the bridge back into Barmouth.
Leaving the hotel the A walk started along the Promenade and over Barmouth bridge where a number of large jellyfish were sighted drifting out on the tide. Over the bridge the main trail was left to walk along the shore of the Mawddach estuary until reaching Arthog. Following the path up the valley past the Arthog falls led to a clapper bridge with fine views across the estuary. The path then crossed fields to join a minor road that led up to the main Cregennen lake. An excursion from the main path led up to the summit of Bryn Brith (383m) which included a few rock scrambles but rewarded us with 360 degree views of Barmouth, the Mawddach estuary and the Cadair Idris range (more of this later). Descending back the way we came led us to a lunch stop by the lakes after which a mile of road walking led to a path and then a bridleway back down to the estuary. The Mawddach trail, an old railway track, and the Barmouth bridge returned us to the hotel. 11.5 miles and 1250 ft of ascent.
The B party first ascended to a viewpoint above the town and then followed the Panorama Walk which has excellent views of the Mawddach estuary before ascending over the extreme southern part of the Rhinog ridge and then descending to the sea at Llanaber where a visit was made to the church. Due to the extreme heat we caught the train back to Barmouth.
The A party, bolstered by a new arrival, drove to Minffordd and ascended via the Minffordd trail. We were informed by an information board that this was the shortest, but also the steepest, way to the summit. Not deterred we set off to climb 1000 feet in the first half mile. After the initial steep but well maintained climb the gradient decreased but it was still a constant climb up to the summit of Craig Cau (791m) which afforded us great views of Llyn Cau below. The path then led down before climbing back up to the main summit of Cadair Idris (893m). We ate our lunch with superb views north over the estuary. We were able to see the Cregennen lakes visited yesterday way below us and could see all the way back to Barmouth. Our peaceful lunch was disturbed by someone flying a drone over and around the summit. I rather hoped the resident ravens would attack the intruder but they just seemed curious. After lunch a gentle ridge walk took us to Mynydd Moel (863m) and then with more exertion to Gau Craig (683m). The party then retraced its steps and descended the access land via the Nant Caenewydd valley. This involved heather bashing for half a mile until a main path was reached. This returned us via the steep descent to the car park. 8.7 miles and 3500 ft of ascent.
The B party took the train to Tywyn where we had a short tour along the promenade viewing the old HF guest house on the way (closed in 1982). We then took the Talyllyn railway to Dolgoch where we alighted and had a tour of the Dolgoch Falls. We followed field paths and lanes skirting Bird Rock to Abergynolwyn where we partook of welcome refreshments in the café as the weather was very hot. We returned to Tywyn on the Talyllyn railway and then on the mainline railway to Barmouth.
Several members of the group took the train to Minffordd and walked to Portmeirion the Italianate village designed by Sir Clough Williams Ellis. This is a fascinating place with examples of many different types of architecture which fit into the landscape so well.
The reputation of the A party continued to attract new members and so 4 of us boarded the train at Barmouth to take us North to Taly-Bont. Alighting from the train we ascended the valley of the river Ysgetin through a pleasant wood and accompanied by the sounds of numerous waterfalls and cascades. Emerging from the woodland we crossed an old stone bridge and gently climbed the slopes of the Rhinog range using an ancient by-way with much of the ridge hidden in cloud. The path took us through a pass in the ridgeline at 450m, which by the time we reached it was free from the clouds. We then had good views of the Mawddach estuary although the hills beyond were still in cloud. We continued to follow the ancient track for a few more miles until we reached the top of the Dwynant Valley. Here we turned back towards Barmouth by way of forest tracks and paths some of which were very indistinct and underused. Eventually we joined the Panorama Walk and this returned us to sunny Barmouth. 13 miles and 1500 ft of ascent.
The B party took the bus to Dolgellau. After spending some time looking round the town we took the Mawddach Trail back to Barmouth. This is a walkers and cyclists trail which follows the track of the old Dolgellau Barmouth Junction line which was closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts. It follows the south side of the Mawddach estuary all the way returning across the railway bridge to Barmouth.
It was raining in the morning on Friday so the opportunity was taken to visit interesting parts of the town. A visit was made to the main church which is built on a ledge into the hillside where Chris Bywell had attended the Sunday service. He had asked the organist if it was possible for visitors to play the organ and to his surprise he said yes and even showed him how to access the organ. So for over an hour Peter played the organ, accommodating various requests. We even had a visit from the resident organist who gave us a short recital and took us upstairs to show us the workings of the organ.
In the afternoon the weather improved so we were able to follow more of the town trail where we observed Orielton Hall, once a CHA guest house closed in 1982. Barmouth has a fascinating history.
This was an excellent holiday in a very scenic part of Wales that hasn't been visited by Footprints for many years. It was a pity that many Footprints members missed the opportunity to visit this outstanding area.
We would like to thank Peter M for arranging the holiday.
Bob and Peter