The hills around the Mawddach Estuary have always been a major draw to the area, initially for the promise of fortunes to be made in copper, slate and gold, and latterly for the simple joy of walking up and over them.
As far back as Victorian times visitors to Brithdir, Dolgellau and Barmouth pitted themselves against ‘nature in the raw’ on classic walks with suitably evocative names such as ‘The Panorama Walk,’ ‘The Torrent Walk,’ and ‘The Precipice Walk,’ all of which can still be followed today.
In the 1800’s a well-known local guide, Robert Edwards, enthusiastically described his job as “by the all-divine assistance, a conductor to and over the most tremendous mountain, Cadair Idris”, and this mountain remains a major focus in the area. Originally, visitors of a more frail disposition could opt to be conveyed to the summit by horse or mule, and though the beasts have long gone, the ‘Pony Path’ is still a popular route to the top.
For the super-fit, the Mawddach Round, a marathon length circuit, takes in both the summit of Cadair Idris, and that of Diffwys, its counterpart on the north shore of the estuary.
The hills are still scattered with the remains of earlier human activity, be that Bronze Age standing stones, or Victorian gold mines and Railway lines. The Mawddach Way, a 50 km three-day circular walk around the estuary takes in many of these interesting features, while the Mawddach Trail, a forgivingly level and well surfaced route, follows the line of the old Railway along the flat estuary shore.
The ‘New Precipice Walk’ makes use of an old goldmine tramway, high on the hillside to afford fantastic views over Penmaenpool and the estuary beyond. For those seeking a more solitary and rugged experience, the Rhinog range, criss-crossed by old carriage roads and ancient track ways, rises from the north shore of the Mawddach Estuary.
Another longer and way-marked route, the Taith Ardudwy Way (34 km), connects the estuary with Llandecwyn station, just south of Penrhyndeudraeth to the North. By making use of the rail connections out of Barmouth, the Taith Ardudwy and Mawddach Way can be easily combined to make a longer route of some 80 km.
For something a little different, why not explore some of the remains of 20th century military activity in the area. From hill-top memorials to beach defences, there are over 50 different sites in and around the Mawddach estuary to be explored on foot, by bike or by car. See here for further details.
For a truely epic walking experience, the 870 miles of the Wales Coast Path, which passes through the area, is going to take some beating.
Whether you like following someone else’s route, or linking together the network of trails to create your own, the Mawddach Estuary, with all its public transport connections, is a great base for your walking trip. It even hosts its own walking festival each summer, where you can join like minded walkers on guided trips through the hills.
Please visit the EVENTS page for a full list of what's on around the Mawddach estuary throughout the year.
1. The Mawddach Trail
2. The Mawddach Way
3. The Mawddach Round
4. Taith Ardudwy Way
5. Panorama Walk
6. The Precipice Walk
7. New Precipice Walk
8. The Torrent Walk
9. Arthog Falls
Mawddach Big Adventure
Barmouth Festival Of Walking
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