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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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Having been ill all over the holiday period blogging has taken a back seat. Yesterday (7 Jan 2009) I just had to get out, and took off into the hills.

I don’t think the photos I took need any explanation or commentary, so I hope you enjoy them.

Betws y Coed in frost and ice coating.

Betws y Coed in frost and ice coating.

The Llugw valley looking beautiful in winter clothing.

The Llugwy valley looking beautiful in winter clothing.

Frost and ice make the beautiful Llugwy valley even more spectacular.

Frost and ice make the beautiful Llugwy valley even more spectacular.

A frosty scene on the banks of Afon Llugwy
A frosty scene on the banks of Afon Llugwy
The fast-flowing Afon Llugwy is frozen

The fast-flowing Afon Llugwy is frozen

Ice on Afon Llugwy

Ice on Afon Llugwy

Dolwyddelan and Moel Siabod

Dolwyddelan and Moel Siabod

A frosty scene at Dolwyddelan

A frosty scene at Dolwyddelan

The frozen Afon Lledr at Dolwyddelan

The frozen Afon Lledr at Dolwyddelan

The Snowdon range

The Snowdon range

Pen y Benglog

Pen y Benglog

Tryfan

Tryfan

Clogwyn y Tawr

Clogwyn y Tawr

Bochlwyd Buttress

Bochlwyd Buttress

Ice on the fast-flowing stream leaving Llyn Ogwen

Ice on the fast-flowing stream leaving Llyn Ogwen

Ice patterns on Llyn Ogwen

Ice patterns on Llyn Ogwen

A frozen Llyn Ogwen

A frozen Llyn Ogwen


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Today I was starting in Betws-y-Coed (pronounced “bet us i co ed”). This lovely village is a popular with tourists to Snowdonia, the name means Prayer house (Betws) in the woods (y Coed).

My walk started behind St Marys church, a forestry track leading up the steep wooded hillside.

A stream tumbled down the hillside by the track until I came to a little wooden bridge and started up a narrow steep path.

 

This path wound up the hillside through the lush, dense woodland. The higher I climbed the more the path became like a stream. It’s quite a climb, going up to about 700ft above sea level.

 

 

 

 

Once at the top of the climb the small lake called Llyn Elsi comes into view. Nestled in amongst woodland with little islands it’s a picturesque, but little known lake.

The photo is taken from the small monument erected to commemorate the Town Council being allowed to take water from the lake in 1914.

My walk took me around the near side of the lake through the lovely woodland, arounf the northern end and then up through the mainly conifer woods on the far side.

As I came to the top of the hill at the far side I should have had good views of the mountains of Snowdonia and the wooded Llugwy valley, but the cloud was too low today.

 

I eventually came to a gate at the side of the forestry track I was on and turned off down this path.

It may look like just another path but this is Sarn Helen, a Roman road. Originally this roadway was about 160 miles long, running from Aberconwy to Carmarthen.

 

It’s a lovely walk down here through the Oak, Beech and Sycamore woods.

 

 

 

This stream runs alongside the path, but today there were parts of the path that were like a stream too.

 

 

 

 

 

The Roman road eventually led me to the main A5 road running between Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig. I crossed the road and dropped down to Afon Llugwy and the miners bridge.

The bridge is more of a steep staircase across the river and was built in the 18th century for the miners in the local lead mines.

 

Although it’s August the river is swollen with all the rain we’ve had, and it was roaring through the narrow gorge under the miners bridge.

 

Now I crossed the bridge and took a path alongside the river and back towards Betws-y-Coed.

 

 

As I got back to Betws-y-Coed I came to Pont-y-Pair. The bridge was built in 1468 and the name means “Bridge of the cauldron”.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s easy to see why it got the name as Afon Llugwy boils underneath it.

But now it was time to return home.

It was a wonderful walk in woodlands and with lots of streams, rivers and a lovely lake. The only problem today was that most of the paths were like streams or deep in mud. Those that weren’t were wet and slippery.

If anyone were thinking of doing this walk I would definitely suggest they wait until we’ve had a dry spell. I had to spend a lot of time looking down rather than at the scenery.

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