Coed y Brenin (The King’s forest) covers 9,000 acres lying within the Snowdonia National Park.
Originally it was part of the Nannau Estate, then became the Vaughan Forest. It became Coed y Brenin in 1935 to celebrate the silver jubilee of king George 5th.
There is forest, open heath land, rivers and waterfalls here, with plenty of wildlife. If you’re lucky you may see Fallow deer in some of the clearings, and there are lots of woodland birds. You will also probably see disused mine buildings, copper and iron were mined here, as well as gold. Coed y Brenin gold has been used for making rings for the royal family.
The wonderful eco-friendly visitor centre is a good place to start.
There’s lots of car parking space here, and the centre has a cafe, information desk, mountain bike shop and toilets. There is a verandah to sit out on, childrens play area, and lots of trails start here too.
All the trails are well way-marked, and are graded too. There are tracks for walking, mountain biking and running. There are some especially for wheelchairs too.
Afon Eden runs through the forest close to the visitor centre. There is a short, easy path which leads you down to the river and alongside it.
This trail is only about a mile long, and is suitable for wheelchairs. There is a picnic site close to the river, and some lovely scenery.
The path way-marked in red leads to the two wonderful waterfalls. This path is classified as “strenuous”, and I have to agree with that. It has some steep ascents, some using rough paths. It is still a great walk however.
On the path up through the dense conifers look out for the Wood ants. You may see the nests before the ants…..they keep adding to them and some are huge.
If you prefer a less strenuous walk to the waterfalls there is an easier route starting from Tyddyn Gwladys, near Ganllwyd. This route has fewer ascents, following Afon Mawddach and then the Gain up to the two falls. As you follow the path alongside the river you pass a small row of cottages. Mostyn cottages were originally built for workers from the mines.
Just a little further along is Ferndale. This was once workshops and a blasting plant for the mines but is now a small holiday complex.
And then it’s onwards, following the river, and it’s not too long before you hear the roar of the falls.
The first view of Pistyll Cain (Cains waterspout) is from a small bridge over Afon Gain.
There is a rough, narrow path to get closer to the falls, but be careful, some of the stones get slippery when wet. It’s an impressive cascade though, splashing 148 ft against the black rocks and into the pool below. We’ve been having some heavy showers during the last week or so which has filled up the rivers. When I was here a week ago the falls looked like this.
Just a few yards from Pistyll Cain, by some ruined mine workings is Rhaeadr Mawddach. Maybe not quite as graceful but you can hear the thunder of the torrent before you see the falls.
Once again the heavy showers of the last few days had made a big difference. This was the falls last week, but however much water is pouring over them they are still worth seeing.
There are disused mine workings all over the forest, like this one near the falls.
If you fancy a bit of a climb you can go up and see the old Gwyfynydd mine, the last of the gold mines to close. It’s not a long walk up to the mine, but I’m moving on up above the falls and then back down river.
Near the village of Ganllwyd another river, the Gamlan meets the Mawddach. Although the rivers meet in the forest, Afon Gamlan is not in Coed y Brenin, so I’m cheating a little here, but it’s worth it.
You follow Afon gamlan towards the village, then cross the A470 next to the memorial hall. A path then leads up to the hillside to Rhaeadr du (Black falls).
These lovely little falls inspired artists such as Turner and Gainsborough.
A stone stands near the falls, on which, during the late 18th century an unknown person carved lines from Thomas Gray’s Alcaic Ode, in latin.
From here the Gamlan thunders over rocks as it rushes down the steep valley to join the Mawddach.
There are some lovely walks around rhaeadr du and further up (including more disused mines), but now I’m heading back to Coed y Brenin visitor centre for a cup of coffee, and maybe a stroll through the woodland afterwards.
There is so much to see and do around Coed y Brenin. One visit is just not enough. Give it a try, you’ll love it.
Have a look at the Forestry Commission website too. There’s a good little video on there. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/recreation.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/WalesGwyneddNoForestCoedyBreninCoedyBreninVisitorCentre