While enjoying a short break at Barmouth with the forecast for a fine and sunny day, we decided to walk the Mawddach Trail between Dolgellau and Barmouth. Having previously cycled the route we decided on this occasion it would be better if we caught a bus to Dolgellau and walked back to Barmouth.
Dolgellau is a good starting point for the Mawddach trail which utilises the old Ruabon to Llangollen Railway line which closed in the 1960s under the Beeching Axe. The trail is now a traffic-free walking and Cycle route which is suitable for wheelchair users, and is now owned and managed by the Snowdonia National Park.
Dolgellau is a Market town which caters for tourists and is popular with walkers and hikers looking to scale the Mighty Cader Idris (892M) The Town has a small selection of shops, restaurants, pubs and accommodation and is a good base for exploring the surrounding area.
The Mawddach trail is typical of disused railway line cycle routes, being flat and level. However unlike many railway routes which are surrounded by trees and buried in cuttings, this route enjoys spectacular open views to Diffwys and the Rhinogs, and up the estuary to Y Garn and the Arans beyond Dolgellau. You can enjoy the wide-open vistas with the spectacular backdrop of the Snowdonia national park this is a view you should enjoy at least once in your lifetime.
The route covers a distance of 9 ½ miles it is a good walk so you should allow 5 -6 hours giving you time to stop and take in the views and perhaps enjoy a picnic or a pint along the way. The route is well signposted so while a map is useful to orientate yourself it is not essential.
To reach the start of the Mawddach trail, take the path from the car park bridge following the River Wnion downstream. At the end of Dolgellau, Rugby Club crosses the river and continue along the path to the junction of the A493, the start of the Mawddach trail is across the Road.
After about 3 miles the wooden Toll bridge stretching across the Mawddach river appears marking the approach to the Hamlet of Penmaenpool where you can stop for a drink or if you haven’t brought a picnic, enjoy lunch at the George III Hotel set on the edge of the Estuary.
After using the facilities and reluctantly leaving the George behind. Over the next 4 miles the full vista of the estuary opens out and the site of Barmouth Railway Bridge appears in the distance as you make your way towards Arthog a small village and popular outdoor adventure centre.
Arthog Bog is also one of the best places to view wildlife in the UK. The RSPB provides a wealth of information on the species you may encounter which include the Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting, and Siskin.
The Mawddach Trail in places has an almost Tolkien feel to it and with Cader Idris close by you can only wonder if this was one of the many places the Author walked and sketched out in his imagination the mythical characters and places of middle earth.
The route eventually leads you to the single track wooden railway bridge carrying the Cambrian coast rail link across the Mawddach Estuary to Barmouth. Originally opened in 1867 with a lift bridge now replaced with a swing section to allow passage of tall ships.
The bridge is part if the national cycle route and provides crossing for both bikes and pedestrians. In the summer steam trains often travel the route bringing back memories of the age of steam and providing a nostalgic form of transport to experience the beautiful North Wales Coastline.
Arriving at Barmouth you have a selection of Cafes, Pubs and restaurants around the harbour where you can sit and relax from your walk, take in the Harbour sights with children crabbing, and the small ferry boats carrying excited day-trippers across to Fairborn.
Barmouth Can be crowded with day-trippers, however, off-peak and in the evening it can be a great place to wind down, enjoy the sunset and contemplate your experience of one of the UK s best Walks.
As for the weather well it is Wales, always best to pack a raincoat and take some warm clothes you never can tell.