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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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Tuesday 16th. June dawned bright and sunny so I set off towards Dolgellau. The start of the precipice walk is at Coed y Groes, on the narrow road between Dolgellau and Llanfachreth.

The walk lies on the Nannau Estate which grants permission for use of the footpaths.

There has been a house at Nannau since the 12th. century, when the estate was  owned by Cadwgan, Prince of Powys. The original building was burned down in 1404  after trouble between the owner, the 8th. Earl of Nannau and his cousin Owain Glyndwr.

The house wasn’t rebuilt until 1693. The Nannau family (who became the Nanney’s), still lived on the estate, but were having financial problems. Hugh Nanney was imprisoned for trying to sort out his financial prblems by cutting down 10,000 Oak trees.

When the male line died out the female line, which had married into the powerful and influential Vaughan family, took over and replanted many of the trees. In 1796 they built the grand mansion that stands today.

The early part of the walk crosses woodland and farm pasture. Nannau Hall stands to the south east, and you can glimpse it through the trees as you start the walk.

Nannau Hall.

Nannau Hall.

As the path starts the slight ascent up around Foel Cymwch you get your first sight of Llyn Cymwch in a hollow surrounded by woodland.

Llyn Cymwch from the north.

Llyn Cymwch from the north.

As the path ascends and rounds Foel Cymwch spectacular views open up. The first photo is the view to the east; the lush foothills and pasture land of this part of Wales. The second photo is the view across Coed Dôl-y-clochydd towards the peaks of Snowdonia.

Looking north east from the side of Foel Cymwch.

Looking north east from the side of Foel Cymwch.

Looking over CoedDol-y-clochydd.

Looking over Coed Dol-y-clochydd.

I could have spent hours sat here. The views in any direction were stunning and it was so peaceful. All I could hear as I sat looking out over the wonderful landscape was bird song, the occasional sheep and the breeze rustling through the bracken. The sun was bright and warm and it was a shame that I had to move, but the precipice was just around the corner.

The narrow path winds it’s way along a terrace on the slope of Moel Cymwch with the Mawddach valley down below. The path is quite rocky in places so good boots are definitely a good idea.

The precipice footpath.

The precipice footpath.

The Mawddach valley from the precipice footpath.

The Mawddach valley from the precipice footpath.

The precipice footpath.

The precipice footpath.

The precipice path itself  is just over a mile, with the occasional twist and turn to add interest. As you reach the southern end, below Foel Faner, more beautiful scenery opens up in front of you.

Straight in front of you Afon Mawddach meanders through the plain of Dolgellau, on through sand banks before reaching the sea. Just to the left are the northern cliffs of the Cadair Idris mountains.

Once again this is a place just to sit and take in the views and the peace.

Afon Mawddach meanders to it's estuary.

Afon Mawddach meanders to it's estuary.

The northern cliffs of the Cadair Idris mountains.

The northern cliffs of the Cadair Idris mountains.

It’s a shame, but once again I have to move on. Now the path turns to the left and descends to the shores of Llyn Cymwth. The scene is still peaceful, with just a few fishermen on the banks of the lake. The walk back to the car park is along the tree lined banks of this lovely little lake.

Llyn Cylmwch from the southern end.

Llyn Cylmwch from the southern end.


Fishermen line the banks of Llyn Cylmwch

Fishermen line the banks of Llyn Cylmwch

Fishing on Llyn Cymwch

Fishing on Llyn Cymwch

The precipice walk starts and ends at Coed y Groes. It’s only about a  4 mile walk so you can have an afternoon stroll or make a day of it. There are a couple of picnic tables at the car park, but there are plenty of places to sit on the way round. Whichever you prefer, the precipice walk is definitely worth a visit.


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