Dolgellau.Wales
Dolgellau, Cader Idris and The Mawddach Estuary from Foel Offrwm

Dolgellau, Cader Idris & The Mawddach Estuary from Foel Offrwm

The Town of Dolgellau in Snowdonia

Dolgellau is one of the most beautiful places in Snowdonia. It may not be one of the top towns people think of when they book their ‘staycation’ in North Wales, some just think all Snowdonia has to offer is Snowdon. Sometimes Southern Snowdonia gets a bit left out, but it’s just as stunning as the North. It’s not quite the ‘Riviera’ of Snowdonia, but obviously we are nearer the Equator!

I spent the first twenty years of my life in the south of England and the last thirty in Dolgellau and I started this website in 2000 (aka dolgellau.com) . I am a keen walker and photographer (most of the photos on this website were taken by me on walks from home). I rarely even venture further north than Porthmadog, which speaks volumes for this area (and possibly my lack of adventure).

Dolgellau is a fabulous base to explore Snowdonia. If you want mountain biking you have everything including the flat Mawddach Trail which follows the old railway bed to the lovely seaside town of Barmouth. If hurtling down hills on two wheels is your thing, then Dolgellau is the nearest town to Coed y Brenin Mountain Bike Centre and further north you have the rugged slate tracks of Antur Stiniog in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The town is steeped in history and was formerly the county town of Merionethshire (now Gwynedd). Its main bridge over the Afon Wnion dates back to 1638 and the remains of historic Cymer Abbey, founded in 1198, can be seen in the nearby village of Llanelltyd. This is again within walking distance of the town (being around a mile and a half away). The route also passes through the Dolgellau Golf Course (Nine-Hole), which also serves tea. The stone circle on the Marian (the local recreation field) is not ancient, but left over after the 1949 Eisteddfod.

Spend time walking around Dolgellau’s narrow streets and squares and you will soon spot signs of its past. Fancy houses to the south, winch-hoods high on the town buildings and the ruins of the old Pandy fulling mills scattered along the Afon Aran are all remnants of its successful woollen industry. The influential Quaker George Fox visited in 1657 which converted many locals to Quakerism with a handful of them among those who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1686, under the leadership of Rowland Ellis who lived at Bryn Mawr, a farm in the hills to the south of the town. His house gave its name to a town in Pennsylvania which is home to a prestigious women’s arts college.

Dolgellau & Cader Idris
Dolgellau Sklies

Many of the prettiest walks are only a few minutes drive away including Torrent Walk & Precipice Walk, both popular since Victorian and Edwardian Times. There are others including New Precipice Walk with stunning views of the Mawddach Estuary 800 feet below. This has one of the best views in the area, even better than the mountain views in my opinion.

Another very popular walk and bike trail starts by the town car park and runs nine miles along the old railway track bed to Barmouth on the coast. This is The Mawddach Trail (or Llwybr Mawddach in Welsh). This walk was featured on Julia Bradbury’s Railway Walks series on the BBC first broadcast in 2008. The walk is also popular with bird watchers as are the two Osprey nest sites about an hours drive away (one to the north at Glaslyn near Porthmadog and another one to the south by the River Dyfi, just past Machynlleth).

Why bother taking the train up Snowdon when you can spend a day walking up a mountain, or at least in the foothills of one. One of the finest mountains in Wales is Cader Idris (Cadair Idris), it may be a few hundred feet shorter, but it has stunning views with a variety of paths to the summit through ancient oak woodlands, glacial valleys to wide open vistas. As it’s not Snowdon, you can get a little peace and quiet with fewer walkers. A couple of hundred hardy people even race to the top from Dolgellau town centre and back every May… no kidding!

Porthmadog maybe the hub of three Narrow Gauge Railways; The Ffestiniog, The Welsh Highland and the ‘fun size’ Welsh Highland Heritage, but base yourself just a forty minute drive away in Dolgellau and you have easier access to others including the popular Talyllyn and Bala Lake Railways, as well as lesser-known ones including the Corris Railway and the smaller Fairborne Railway which runs along the beach.

Watersports are catered for with a twenty-five minute drive away in Bala with the largest natural lake in Wales, some 1.75 square miles of it. It’s popular for sailing, canoeing and windsurfing as well as some lovely walks and cycle paths. If you like your seaside towns, then one of the best, Barmouth is only ten miles away, you also have Aberdovey/Aberdyfi and Tywyn.

All-in-all, there’s just about something for everyone.

…Ian King

Some Local Walks

10 Things Within 10 Miles
(1) THE MAWDDACH TRAIL - Walk or cycle all (or some) of the way to Barmouth along the old railway line.

(2) PRECIPICE WALK - Stunning views south to north, looking down on the Mawddach river valley. Also the beautiful Llyn Cynwch lake.

(3) CADER IDRIS - Even if you don’t get to the top, The Pony Path from Ty Nant has some excellent views. You could even walk the ridge.

(4) CREGENNEN LAKES - Take a drive up to these stunning lakes from Dolgellau (up Cader Road) or Arthog.

(5) CYMER ABBEY - Visit historic Cymer Abbey & Llanelltyd Bridge over the Mawddach. There is also a lovely riverside walk.

(6) PENMAENPOOL - Part of The Mawddach Trail, but worth spending a while to walk over the old toll bridge and visit the George III pub.

(7) TORRENT WALK - A popular walk since Victorian times. A great thing to do after heavy rain (not that it rains much here).

(8) NEW PRECIPICE WALK - Stunning views, from the Aran mountains in the east to Cardigan Bay in the west.

(9) BARMOUTH - Have a stroll on the lovely sandy beach and walk along the half-mile long bridge.

(10) COED Y BRENIN - Even if you don’t have a bike, there are plenty of lovely forest walks, rivers, mines and waterfalls.
RECENT CHANGES & ADDITIONS:

Photo Wall - Old Photos from my Flickr Pages
Social Wall - A Mixed Social Media Wall Added
New Home Page ‘About Dolgellau’ Text Added
Lakes Around Dolgellau Added
Nannau Deer Park Walk Added
Site Map Added
More Detailed Photos of Railway (Town)
More Detailed Photos of Railway (Outskirts)
New Shops Page
New Food & Drink Page

Complete Site Re-Design (February 2017)
Dolgellau.Wales

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If you are looking for accommodation, there are B&Bs and Hotels on the Dolgellau section of the Booking.Com Website.