Beddgelert and Cwm Bychan

A circular walk of 7 miles including 1,500 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Layby on the A498 by Llyn Dinas, Nantgwynant, Beddgelert, Gwynedd, LL55 4NG

Map References: SH 6124149371  or Lat: 53.023590  Lon: -4.070265  

adult-blur-boots-1452784Considering the modest elevation, this route offers a great variety of scenery from panoramic, mountainous views across the heart of Snowdonia, to wooded valleys smothered in bluebells in the springtime, to the iconic village of Beddgelert and the pretty River Glasyln.

The village is probably named after an early Christian missionary called Celert who settled here early in the 8th century, although the folk tale of Gelert the dog is more often associated with Beddgelert. There is a raised mound called Gelert’s Grave – a significant tourist attraction. The dog is alleged to have belonged to Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, a gift from King John of England. In this legend, Llywelyn returns from hunting to find his baby missing, the cradle overturned, and Gelert sporting a blood-smeared jaw. Believing the dog had savaged the child, Llywelyn drew his sword and killed it. But then Llywelyn heard the cries of the baby, unharmed under the cradle, along with the dead wolf which had attacked the child – killed by his faithful hound, Gelert. Llywelyn was overcome with remorse and buried the dog with great ceremony, haunted by his dying yelps. After that day, Llywelyn never smiled again. A sad tale, but the grave was actually built in the late 18th-century by the landlord of the Goat Hotel, David Pritchard, who created it in order to encourage tourism.

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The route

  1. Go through the gate by the footpath sign, walk the short distance along the edge of the lake before passing over the bridge and turning right to follow the River Glaslyn as it flows downstream towards Beddgelert – for almost two miles.
  2. At the copper mine, ignore the road bridge to the right and turn left towards the car park before turning sharp right to take a footpath alongside the drystone wall. At the end of this short track, turn right on the single-track road and continue towards Beddgelert. At the next road bridge go through the metal gate to the left alongside the river, taking the path into Beddgelert.
  3. Cross the pedestrian bridge over the river then turn left to walk alongside the Glaslyn for about half-a-mile – the route here is sign-posted to ‘Gelert’s Grave.’ At the next bridge, pass beneath it to emerge onto the road. Cross the road and take the stile opposite into grazing land. Keep left alongside the drystone wall, ignoring the first stile by a metal gate into the woods, taking the next stile which crosses over the wall.
  4. Pass a ruined barn to your left and continue along the well-defined grassy track that climbs steadily towards Bryn Du. The lower slopes here are covered in bluebells in springtime, and throughout summer the tooting of steam trains echo across the valley. Follow the National Trust posts as the route winds up towards a small stone enclosure on the summit. Some of this path can be boggy after heavy rain but there are stepping-stones in the form of well-placed boulders.
  5. At the top, far-reaching views towards Snowdon and Moel Siabod make a good stopping point for a tea-break, before turning right towards Aberglasyn Woods. Take the stile over the wall into the woods, and continue to follow the National Trust markers, taking care on the steep sections as the route begins its descent.
  6. At the bottom of the woods, turn left and emerge onto the road. Turn left and walk along the road for a short distance before taking the stone road bridge on the right. Go through the metal kissing gate on the left and turn sharp right to ascend the track which leads through a copse of trees, arriving at a car park.
  7. Turn left and head towards the railway arch, following the route through a small picnic area before taking a well-defined, gradually ascending track towards Cwm Bychan.
  8. The route opens out into a narrow valley, with evidence of copper mining. Head up towards a wooden ladder stile which passes over a drystone wall and onto the summit of Cwm Bychan. Again, panoramic scenery as the route heads towards Llyn Dinas.
  9. Take the steep steps back down to the lakeside and retrace the route back over the footbridge to the starting point. This walk works equally well in reverse, allowing for a well-timed pub stop in Beddgelert towards the end of the walk.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

 

More Beddgelert photography: https://janruth.com/2017/06/01/beddgelert/

Craflwyn and Llyn Dinas

A circular walk of 7.5 miles including 1,200 feet of elevation overall. Start Point:  Craflwyn National Trust car park on the A498, Beddgelert, Gwynedd, LL55 4NG

Map References: SH 59945-48928 or Lat: 53019270 Lon: -4089377 

adult-blur-boots-1452784Considering the modest elevation this walk offers plenty of scenic variety and on a clear day, far-reaching views and a real sense of being in the heart of Snowdonia. Streams shape the landscape here, all flowing towards three rivers; the Gorsen, the Cwm Llan, and the Y Cwm, all of which eventually join forces with the Afon Glaslyn. As a result, the first section of the route can be boggy, although much work has been carried out over the previous 12 months with huge boulders forming a solid path of stepping stones – allowing the land to be navigated whether streams are trickling or tumbling. Welsh black cattle – belonging to the National Trust’s Hafod Y Llan farm, graze here. Essential for land management, these cattle produce some of the best organic beef in the world.

You’ll come across the remains of old copper mineshafts scattered across these hillsides – last worked in the late 1800’s. Due to the copper, the streams and rivers are sterile although clear and often a deep turquoise. Further downstream, where the copper becomes diluted, salmon and trout return, also inhabiting the pretty Llyn Dinas. The lake takes its name from the nearby Dinas Emrys, a rocky and wooded hill where the remains of both medieval and older fortifications have been found. A rock near the lake – called the Stone of the Eagle – was said in a charter of 1198 to mark the spot where the boundaries of the three cantrefs of Aberconwy, Ardudwy and Arfon met. According to legend, an eagle used to perch on it once a week, anticipating battle between the three men.

The route

  1. Start by taking the footpath visible from the car park through woodland, following the black arrow way-markers. Continue past a carved wooden dragon bench and a small waterfall, climbing steadily to reach a giant carved chair at the first viewpoint.
  2. Still following the black arrow way-markers, the route continues up steps and crosses over a small stile in a fence. Follow the path east towards Bylchau Terfyn, eventually crossing a stile in the wall. Although the going is rough – rock, bog and uneven ground – the path is clearly marked by stepping stones where necessary, and way-markers. When you reach the old wooden bridge, cross this and bear left back onto the main track.
  3. Head up towards a broken stone dwelling by the old copper mine; then pass this ruin on your left and continue on the track, until you reach a stile in the wall. Begin a steady descent towards the Watkin Path. The views here are especially good on a clear day – Moel Siabod standing in isolation ahead, Llynn Gwynant nestled below.
  4. Once you join the Watkin Path – one of the main Snowdon routes – the black way-markers cease. Turn right and follow the well-defined path. The impressive Afon Cwm Llan waterfalls will be on your left and the last stretch of the Watkin Path takes you through the ancient oak woodlands of Parc Hafod y Llan. At the single-track lane, turn right. And at the end of this lane, cross the main road and turn left, continuing through the lay-by.
  5. Take a right turn towards Plas Gwynant, which is also signed as a footpath. Follow the lane, taking the left fork up through the trees. At the end of this lane, turn sharp right just before the cattle grid and follow a short path through the woods, taking a bridge to cross the stream.
  6.  At the top of this track, turn right onto a single-track road. Follow this road until you reach another cattle grid on the left – turn left here – by the footpath sign for Llyndy Isaf Farm. Follow this track past the farm and continue towards Llyn Dinas, where the route follows the shores of the lake.
  7. At the end of the lake, bear left – ignoring the bridge to the right – and continue to follow the Glaslyn River as it heads downstream towards Beddgelert – until you reach the Sygun Copper Mines. Turn right here and cross the stone bridge onto the main road. Take a sharp left through a wooden gate and follow the path alongside the road.
  8. At the end of this path, cross the main road and bear right to enter the driveway of Craflwyn Hall. Cross left in front of the hall along a short driveway and return to the car park.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Fancy a pint of Glaslyn? Not the river water, but the ale of the same name, courtesy of the Purple Moose Brewery. If your homeward journey swings towards Conwy then the  Pen Y Gwryd Hotel is worth a visit. A distinctly quirky pub, the building is dated at 1810. Worth noting that the Pen Y Gwryd Hotel was the training base for Sir Edmund Hillary before he attempted Everest in 1953. Lots of interesting memorabilia on the walls, including Hillary’s scrawled signature – captured forever beneath protective plastic – on the ceiling. Many an expedition continues to be planned here, although perhaps not on Hillary’s scale! http://www.pyg.co.uk/

 

Aber Falls

adult-blur-boots-1452784A circular walk of 5.2 miles including 985 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: The service road off the A55 slipway by Aber Falls Hotel, Abergwyngregyn, Llanfairfechan. LL33 OLP

Map References: 6562572840 or Lat: 53.235540 Lon: -4.014783

An easy circuit taking in Aber Falls. The waterfall is formed as the Afon Goch plunges about 120 feet over a sill of igneous rock in the foothills of the Carneddau range; especially spectacular in full spate after heavy rain or suspended in ice and snow as per the photo: spot the ice-climbers! Abergwyngregyn is a small picturesque village with a long and varied history, located between Bangor and Llanfairfechan on the North Wales Coast, opposite Beaumaris which lies across the Menai Strait. Along the main footpath towards the falls there are several small Bronze Age settlements including an excavated roundhouse and smithy, fenced off with an information plaque. Aber Falls Whisky Distillery is one of only four in Wales, and the first in North Wales since the early 1900s – still using specially crafted Welsh ingredients from the surrounding area.

The route

  1. Take the road that winds up through the village. After approx one mile, the road swings sharp left over a stone bridge. Ignore this turning and go straight on through a small car park, and through the gate.
  2. The route here is straightforward and well-signed along a wide path which follows the river upstream towards The Falls.
  3. The path continues across the front of The Falls, down some stone steps and over a wooden footbridge to cross the river, before ascending the other side.
  4. Continue through the gate, signed for the North Wales Path. This lesser-populated section of the walk continues past another, smaller waterfall to the left, and then begins to ascend to the right.
  5. The gradual climb affords good views across the valley and eventually, the Menai Strait, Puffin Island and Anglesey. The Great Orme comes into view at the highest point of the walk.
  6. Once over the stile, there are options here to return to the car park, but cease following any signs for the North Wales path which continues parallel to the coast and bears left towards Bangor. Instead, head downhill, taking the steep, right-hand track on the side of the hill which will return you to the village.
  7. Alternatively, continue onto the wide track ahead and follow this, passing over a couple of stiles alongside gates as the path winds downhill before presenting an optional sharp right towards a cluster of cottages and an old kissing gate. Go through the gate and bear left down the driveway. At the end of this lane, turn right and follow the road a short distance to a T junction. Turn right here, and the car park is on the left.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Watch: https://www.dailypost.co.uk/business/business-news/video-aber-falls-youve-never-6952438

 

Penycloddiau

A circular walk of 6.5 miles including 1,200 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Coed Llangwyfan car park on the minor road between the village of Nannerch and Llangwyfan, LL16 4NA

Map References:  SJ: 1389566856 or Lat: 53.191797 Lon: -3.290199

The Clwydian Hills stretch for around 20 miles, rising between the Vale of Clwyd and the Dee Estuary. This undulating landscape is less rugged than the big mountains of Snowdonia, but when visibility is poor in the national park, the weather across the Clwydian hills can often be less harsh. The softer, quieter countryside is a great alternative for those walkers not always driven to scale the popular summits, although Snowdonia is often visible as a jagged horizon across the Vale of Clwyd.

Penycloddiau, one of the largest hillforts in Wales, dates to the Iron Age, around 800BC to 43AD. The Bronze Age cairn at the north end of the fort was restored in 2010 and in 2017, excavations by the Clywdian Range Archaeology Group unearthed a significant number of 4,000-year-old stone tools from the Bronze Age. Most of the fort is defended by a single bank, which in places is made solely of stone. Many hut circles are recorded but are now sadly buried beneath heather and bilberry.

The route

  1. From the car park, take the footpath up in the far righthand corner, signed for Penycloddiau and Offa’s Dyke path; denoted by the acorn marker. Follow the track through the edge of the fir trees, climbing steadily until presented with an obvious turn to the right over a stile and onto open hillside.
  2. The route here is straightforward, following the well-defined track towards the  summit of the hillfort, denoted by a stone cairn. The descent from here is well-marked until you reach another small knoll. Don’t ascend this, bear right and head towards the bank of fir trees and the very visible communications mast on Moel y Parc
  3. A number of paths meet here. Turn sharp left to take up the Clwydian Way, and follow the public byway – The Cilfford Byway – for about 1.5 miles of easy walking with good views across the Vale of Clwyd to the right.
  4. At the end of the byway, turn left on the single-track road. The first footpath on the left will take you back up to the car park – alternatively, continue along the road for a few yards and take the first footpath/bridleway to the right.
  5. Go through the metal gate into open pasture, passing a new property called Pen y Bryn on the right. Follow the track as it swings to the left, passing through several gates and eventually into a wooded area.
  6. Pass through the final gate into open grazing land, where the track doubles back up to the left between a small stone barn and a wooden shack. Follow the track as it winds across the lower reaches of Moel Arthur. The route is less distinct here but the bank of fir trees at the start of the walk and the communications mast are both clearly visible ahead. Keep these to your left as you descend due north.
  7. At the bottom of the hill, pass through the gate onto the single-track road. Turn right and after a few yards, you’ll reach the car park on the left.

 

Aberffraw and St Cwyfan’s Church

A circular walk of 8 miles including 830 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Cable Bay car park, Porth Trecastell, Anglesey. LL63 5TE

Map References: SH 3307065 or Lat: 53.207852  Lon: -4.496570

adult-blur-boots-1452784An undemanding, low-level walk along a section of the Anglesey coastal path. Much of the coastline here is reminiscent of Cornwall with rugged clifftops and hidden coves. A variety of sea birds provide a constant, chattering presence and grey seals have been known to put in an appearance close to shore. Because of the effects of erosion, some parts of the coastal path have been lost to the pounding waves of the Irish Sea; therefore it’s not advisable to begin walking this route during or around an expected high tide.

St Cwyfan’s church – the church in the sea – sits on a island called Cribinau – accessible during low tide via a causeway of rough stone and founded in the seventh century by an Irish saint, although the current building is dated closer to the 12th century. Old maps show the church was actually built inland, but gradual sea erosion has now made it a central feature of Porth Cwyfan. At high tide the church is completely surrounded by the sea. Services are still held on the first Sunday in June and August

 

The route

  1. Facing Cable Bay, take the footpath to the far left of the car park and follow the blue coastal path markers across the headland for .8 of a mile. Bear left up a slight incline towards another coastal marker. Go through the gate into pasture land.
  2. Keep to the lefthand fence-line. Panoramic views of Snowdonia in the distance and all the way down to the Llyn Peninsular. At the end of this field, with the farm buildings well ahead, turn right to locate a gate by a footpath sign. Pass through this gate onto the road, crossing after a few yards to take a gravelled path on the left.
  3. Follow the path as it meanders round the perimeter of Anglesey Race Track, farmland to the left. At the end of this track you’ll arrive at St Cwyfan’s church.
  4. The coastal path continues around the perimeter of the bay but due to erosion it’s far easier to walk across the beach. Worth exploring church island before picking up the route at the far end of the beach and passing through a wooden gate back onto the grassy headland.
  5. Continue to follow the blue coastal path markers as the track winds along the edge of the coast. The path has broken down in some parts, making it necessary to walk across the beach or skirt around the rocks. An easy enough proposition when the tide is low.
  6. Eventually the route heads along the estuary towards the village of Aberffraw. Ignore the route up through the houses and if the tide allows, continue along the beach – eventually passing several cottages on the left – to reach an old stone bridge. At the bridge, turn left and head up into the village.
  7. Turn left at the T junction, with Aberffraw church on your left, and keep left to exit the village, continuing along the single-track road. Where the road bears left, locate a wooden kissing-gate on the right and enter the pasture land. The land here is flat and although this section of the route – the Heritage Way – may seem indistinct due to changing crops or grazing animals, it’s easy enough to spot the next gate or stile.
  8. Follow the right-hand fence-line initially, then cross diagonally to the left to locate the next gate set into the boundary which crosses a small stream via a wooden bridge. Cross the next field, bearing left again towards a wooden stile. This brings you onto a farm track. Go straight ahead here and follow the fence-line through farmland. Views to the left of St Cwyfan’s church can look spectacular here due to the elevation. Continue through the gate then bear right to take a diagonal track towards the next stile – farm buildings ahead.
  9. Continue over the next stile then head towards the houses – rooftops just visible. Cross this final field to locate a kissing-gate to the left of a farm gate, which returns you to the same gravelled path at point 3 of this route – alongside a large property called Llangwyfan-isaf. Retrace your steps to the car park.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

 

Cemaes Bay

A circular walk of 10 miles including 1,500 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: The wildlife reserve car park at Trwyn yr Wylfa, Cemaes Bay, Anglesey. LL67 ODH 

Map References: SH: 35619-93789 or Lat: 53.415189  Lon: -4.474820 

adult-blur-boots-1452784A circular route utilising much of the Anglesey coastal path. Spectacular scenery – on a sunny day the area takes on a Mediterranean feel with bright turquoise seascapes, coloured rocks, soaring white gulls, and if you’re lucky – seals and porpoises. Worth noting that it’s possible to shorten this route by making the start point at Cemaes Bay village at point 3 and reducing the overall mileage by approx 4 miles, without missing the most scenic parts of the walk.  

There’s plenty of historical points of interest in this area too, and the best place to see the Gwna Melange – an unusual combination of ancient rocks created by an underwater landslip. In fact, the whole of the island is a designated European Geopark so a veritable playground for those interested in geology, including White Lady’s Rock; a triangular-shaped slab of rock which once formed part of an arch but was quarried extensively in Victorian times for its quartz. Only ruins remain of Porth Llanlleiana, used for the production of china clay, and further on, evidence of the area’s industrial heritage in the form of winding gear which was used to lower quartzite, used in the production of bricks, down to the works at Porth Wen. Production ceased at the start of WW1 but the site is still an evocative piece of history in a breathtaking setting.

 

The route

  1. Take the footpath by two brick pillars and pass through a metal kissing-gate, walking up through a small copse onto the headland. The way may seem indistinct here as planning for a second phase of the power station has altered the landscape. Walk towards the sea and head to the right, passing through several wooden gates whilst following the blue coastal path markers – towards a small cove and the outskirts of Cemaes village.
  2. The route continues close to several coastal properties. Still following the blue coastal markers, take a gravelled path to the right, turning right again at the finger-post sign. Walk between the stone walls then turn left down a slope to the shore. The blue markers are set into the pavement here and lead up through the village.
  3.  In the centre of Cemaes village, turn left at Bridge Street, opposite Ye Olde Vigour pub. Bear left at the next finger-post towards the harbour, and a short promenade. Turn left at the National Trust finger-post signed for Llanbadrig and Penrhyn Mawr, and follow the steep track up between blackberry bushes, passing through a wooden gate onto the headland.
  4. Go through the next wooden gate to the right, which leads down a dip and back up the other side, passing an old kiln set into the hillside. Continue to follow the track until you reach White Lady’s Rock. Turn right here towards a wooden gate, arriving on a single-track road.
  5. Turn left on the road and walk a short distance to reach Llanbadrig Church: the oldest Christian site in Wales. Locate a stone stile consisting of steps set into the boundary wall of the church and climb over this – turning right – to pick up the coastal path again along the headland.
  6. From here, it’s a straightforward walk along the cliffs, the route eventually dropping down towards Porth Llanileiana via steep steps. Climb the zigzag path back up the other side to reach the top of Dinas Cynfor and the ruins of a hill fort, and a watchtower. Distant views reveal the Skerries, Middle Mouse, Point Lynas, East Mouse, and on a clear day, the Isle of Man.
  7. From the watchtower, follow the headland again, the route dropping down towards Hell’s Mouth – a deep inlet – and back up the other side. Cross a wooden stile and climb a steep winding track to the top of the hill. From here, follow a wide, grassy track as it heads towards Porth Wen bay.
  8. The brickworks come into view on the left – if you don’t mind exploring uneven ground it’s worth scrambling down to take a look – otherwise, continue along the grassy track, passing through a gate and following the route as it bears right and then left, eventually ending at a single-track road. Turn right. Walk for almost a mile, then on a right-hand bend look for a footpath on the left.
  9. Go over the stile into fields, passing over a stream via a wooden bridge. The footpath is clearly marked and continues through a section of private garden then once through the next gate, keep right along the lower footpath. Continue until this path ends at a single-track road. Turn right then at the T junction, turn left and after approx a mile, you’ll be back at the harbour in Cemaes. Retrace your steps back to the car park.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.