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Close to the lovely Rhaeadr du, in the late 18th century an unknown person cut into a rock lines from Thomas Gray’s Alcaic Ode.

The original carving is barely visible now, but next to the rock is a slate tablet with the original Latin verse and an English translation carved into it.

The stone containing original Latin carving.

The stone containing original Latin carving.

The slate tablet containing both Latin and English translation.

The slate tablet containing both Latin and English translation.

The lines from the Ode are so wonderful that I thought that by way of a change I’d reproduce them here, accompanied by some photos taken at and around the falls.

Alcaic Ode  by Thomas Gray.

O thou! the spirit mid these scenes abiding,

Whate’er the name by which thy power be known

Truly no mean divinity presiding

These native streams, these ancient forests own

And here on pathless rock or mountain height,

Rhaeadr du.

Rhaeadr du.

Amid the torrents ever-echoing road

044a

Afon Gamlan, below the falls.



Afon gamlan rushes through the broad-leaved woodland.

Afon Gamlan rushes through the broad-leaved woodland.

The headlong cliff, the woods eternal light

We feel the godhead’s awful presence more

Than if resplendent neath the cedar beam,

By Phidins wrought his golden image rose

If meet the homage of thy votry seem

Grant to my youth – my wearied youth – repose.


For any Latin scholars out there here is the original Latin version, and please don’t blame me for the translation. I am most definitely not a scholar of the classics.

O tui, severi religio loci,

Quocunque gaudes nomine non leve

Nativa nam certe fluenta

Numen habet veteresque silums,

Presentiorum et conspicimus Deum

Rhaeadr du.

Rhaeadr du.

Per invias rupes fera per juga,

Clivosque praeruptos sonantes

Inter aquas, memorumque noctem

Quam si repostus sub trabe citrea

Afon Gamlan

Afon Gamlan

Fulgeret auro el Phidiaca manu

Salve convanti rite fesso et

Da placidam juveni quitem.

Afon Gamlan

Afon Gamlan

This is a lovely wooded valley which is maintained by the National Trust. Not only did it inspire the unknown person to engrave the melancholic ode, but it also inspired artists such as Turner and Gainsborough.

Visit it yourself and be inspired.



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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.

Coed y Brenin visitor centre, 15 July 09.

Coed y Brenin visitor centre, 15 July 09.

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.

Afon Eden, 15 July 09.

Afon Eden, 15 July 09.

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.

Picnic site beside Afon Eden, 15 July 09.

Picnic site beside Afon Eden, 15 July 09.

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.

One of the paths on the red route, 9 July 09.

One of the paths on the red route, 9 July 09.

Ling in flower beside a path, 9 July 09.

Ling in flower beside a path, 9 July 09.

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.

A wood ants nest, 9 July 09.

A wood ants nest, 9 July 09.

Ants using an old branch as a road back to the nest, 9 July 09.

Ants using an old branch as a road back to the nest, 9 July 09.

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.

Ferndale, 15 July 09.

Ferndale, 15 July 09.

And then it’s onwards, following the river, and it’s not too long before you hear the roar of the falls.

Pistyll Cain, 15 July 09.

Pistyll Cain, 15 July 09.

The first view of Pistyll Cain (Cains waterspout) is from a small bridge over Afon Gain.

Pistyll Cain, 15 July 09.

Pistyll Cain, 15 July 09.

Pistyll Cain, 15 July 09.

Pistyll Cain, 15 July 09.

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.

Pistyll Cain, 9 July 09.

Pistyll Cain, 9 July 09.

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.

Rhaeadr Mawddach 5, 15 July 09.

RRhaeadr Mawddach, 15 July 09.

RRhaeadr Mawddach, 15 July 09.

Rhaeadr Mawddach 4, 15 July 09.

Rhaeadr mawddach, 15 July 09.

Rhaeadr Mawddach, 15 July 09.

Rhaeadr Mawddach, 15 July 09.

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.

Rhaeadr Mawddach, 9 July 09.

Rhaeadr Mawddach, 9 July 09.

There are disused mine workings all over the forest, like this one near the falls.

Disused mine workings at Rhaeadr Mawddach, 9 July 09.

Disused mine workings at Rhaeadr Mawddach, 9 July 09.

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.

Afon mawddach above the falls, 15 July 09.

Afon mawddach above the falls, 15 July 09.

Afon Gain joins the Mawddach, 15 July 09.

Afon Gain joins the Mawddach just below the falls, 15 July 09.

View from a glade, 9 July 09.

View from a glade, 9 July 09.

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.

Afon Gamlan joins the Mawddach, 15 July 09.

Afon Gamlan joins the Mawddach, 15 July 09.

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).

Rhaeadr Ddu, 15 July 09.

Rhaeadr du, 15 July 09.

These lovely little falls inspired artists such as Turner and Gainsborough.

Rhaeadr du, 15 July 09.

Rhaeadr du, 15 July 09.

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.

Carved stone near Rhaeadr du, 15 July 09.

Carved stone near Rhaeadr du, 15 July 09.

The original Latin along with translation. 15 July 09.

The original Latin along with translation. 15 July 09.

From here the Gamlan thunders over rocks as it rushes down the steep valley to join the Mawddach.

Afon Gamlan, 15 July 09.

Afon Gamlan, 15 July 09.

Afon Gamlan, 15 July 09.

Afon Gamlan, 15 July 09.

Afon Gamlan, 15 July 09.

Afon Gamlan, 15 July 09.

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.

A path through woodland in Coed y Brenin, 15 July 09.

A path through woodland in Coed y Brenin, 15 July 09.

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





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