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 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.
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.
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…