|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 25 Sep 2018
Start: Dolgellau / Finish: Barmouth.
Update Sep 2023:- Barmouth Bridge Major restoration project (two phases).
If you plan to walk the whole Mawddach Way, note that Network Rail are closing the bridge completely - even to walkers - betwen certain working dates as announced on their project website above.
|Day 1||Penmaenpool & Llynnau Cregennen||8.2miles / 1732 feet (13.1km / 527m)|
|Day 2||Daran & Morfa Mawddach||5.1miles / 555 feet (8.1km / 169m)|
A 1½-day route following the southern arm of the Mawddach Way (MW) low-to-mid level trail from Dolgellau to Barmouth, with one small modification to follow the high level track from Gellilwyd Fawr to Kings hostel rather than the more southerly variant via Llyn Gwernan.
Our first public transport backpack in Wales on a weather forecast of low confidence for the west coast, this trip was a trial of the rail and bus routes and an exploration of the MW, starting at Dolgellau on the southern arm of the trail and adapting the schedule according to the conditions. After a good first day the weather deteriorated greatly and we terminated the trip at Barmouth, leaving the northern arm for another time.
Unlike the well known Mawddach Trail low-level route, the MW is not signed. It follows rights of way that are generally well waymarked but a careful eye must be kept on the map, there are occasional spots where the line is little used and not easy to follow.
Leaving the T3 bus at Eldon Square, we walked north to the river and joined the MW at the large car park to follow an easy and pleasant 2½ mile (4km) stretch on the Mawddach Trail, reaching the A493 at Penmaenpool Bridge.
A short way west up the A493 is the footpath sign indicating the ascent into the low undulating hill country of the southern Mawddach, initially through a mixed forest of conifer and native woods to a small tree-shaded reservoir. The high parts of this section gave good views of the surrounding higher hills of the Arenigs, Rhinogydd and Dyfi range as the Cadair Idris ridge loomed ever larger to the south, while the scattered stunted woodland hosted an extensive variety of fungi including a fine display of Fly Agaric.
The footpath line all but disappeared on the descent through small trees to Graig in waist-high bracken that dwarfed the chaotic low mossy walls shown on the map, but we reached the access track without much difficulty.
At Graig we ascended the lane to the buildings at Gellilwyd Fawr. Here the MW heads southwards to Llyn Gwernan but we turned west on the byway, a high level track traversing the open hills north of Craig y Castell to Kings hostel giving more fine views.
Another good woodland path climbs out from Kings to cut off a loop in the lane and continues as a track towards Ty'n llidiart where white waymarks guide the route around the buildings. A very good path traverses the lower flank of Pared y Cefn Hir approaching Llynnau Cregennen with the grand northern face of Tyrrau Mawr across the valley. Just before the lake we cut across to find an excellent pitch shielded behind a low heathery rise.
Hopes of a great sunrise were dashed by the sound of drizzle blasting the tent in the fresh wind and we opened the door to a dank curtain of windblown mist shrouding Tyrrau Mawr. At least the drizzle stopped as we set off around the northern shore of the lake and into the low hill country to the west.
The high point of the first climb gave a good view back to Pared y Cefn Hir, presenting a striking rocky profile from this side, and a dull view of Barmouth Bay. The footpath crosses the fast flowing stream that forms the Arthog waterfalls lower down via a fine stone bridge, looking like part natural feature and part clapper bridge.
Tle line traverses the hillside of Daran to the head of the next stream, but here the waymarked footpath is directed away and descends steeply through woodland well away from the flow, arriving at the A493.
A short way north up the road is the access path westwards to Ynysgyffylog through the Arthog Bog SSSI, a wetland nature reserve managed by the RSPB and included on the First Nature natural world website.
A short walk up the road the MW joins the Mawddach Trail past the sands and marsh of the estuary and across Barmouth Bridge. The once mandatory bridge toll no longer applies, but at the far end there is an honesty box where the nominal £1 donation may be made towards the maintenance of the bridge and associated routes. There was a dull but pleasing view back over the bridge towards the misty hills.
The weather deteriorated further as we arrived in Barmouth town centre in increasingly heavy drizzle and bought food and drink for the journey home, starting with the T3 bus leg back to Wrexham and its warm sunshine and blue skies.