Wales Coast Path Circular Walk – Maentwrog and Llandecwyn
Long circular walk through ancient woodland that’s tougher than it looks on paper (especially the official leaflet!)
Distance: 19.5 km
Ascent: 835 m
Time: 6 hours or so
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Penrhyndeudraeth
Two pubs at Maentwrog, shops at Penrhyn. Toilets at Penrhyndeudraeth and near Oakley Arms.
Check out the businesses nearby for more places to stay and drink.
Navigation unclear in a few places – don’t expect it to be foolproof to follow.
Plenty of buses between Porthmadog and Blanau Ffestiniog / Dolgellau pass through Penrhyndeudraeth. There’s also the Cambrian Line railway as well as the Ffestiniog Railway, making it feasible to walk this using the train if based locally.
Wales Coast Path Circular Walk – Maentwrog and Llandecwyn Details
The Wales Coast Path used to divert far inland at Penrhyndeudraeth, with a good 17km yomp to reach Llandecwyn on the other side of the Afon Dwyryd. That’s now hardly a half hour walk thanks to the new bridge – Bont Briwet and one you’ll miss on the Porthmadog to Harlech section of the coast path. However, the original route which takes in a variety of terrain and landscapes made for an excellent walk the Wales Coast Path is certainly the poorer for it. Taking in ancient oak woodlands, two pubs (though a little close to each other to take advantage of both’s hospitality!) a mountain tarn and some hilly walking; this is an excellent lowish level walk.
Note that the pamphlet states the route incorrectly as 17km – but plotting and actually walking the route with a gps device shows that it’s 2.5km longer at 19km but we recorded 21km on the day, so go figure! It’s fortunate we are reasonably fit walkers as we only just made it back before dark and other responsibilities a good hour after we had planned. Couple that with a missing way-mark just before Plas Tan y Bwlch and the frustrating navigation between Maentwrog and the Power Station, you need to make sure you’ve got enough time on your hands. However, the 6 hours suggested is a good guide as to how long this will take.
Wales Coast Path Circular Walk – Maentwrog and Llandecwyn Route Map and GPX Download
Wales Coast Path Circular Walk – Maentwrog and Llandecwyn Route Description
1 – From the car park in Penrhyndeudraeth. Turn right along the street, this isn’t way-marked (which seems to always be the case when way-marked paths cross urban areas). After 500m the path turns left uphill along a dead end, and you need to turn right immediately at the house. There are way-marks here, but you need care to spot them! Follow the steps up.
2 At the road, turn right and follow the track with the route easy to follow for the next 1.5km. Keep an eye out for the Wales Coast Path way-markers as you’ll be leaving the good track at this point along a immediately way-marked right. We blinked and missed this.
3 The route now heads into the oak woodland, and provides a pleasant walk towards Maentwrog. While it’s mainly on wide and easy paths, the initial section is on narrow woodland trails and It isn’t clear in some places, with the path not even on our map. It is well way-marked on the whole, but we did miss one right hand turn at SH647 408 where we continued as the way-mark was either missing or not obvious. We couldn’t find it after some searching! So make sure that you have some means of navigation, as way-marks are a guide and never to be depended on. The trail crosses the Ffestiniog Railway before arriving at Llyn Mair.
4 Llyn Mair is a pleasant change of scene, and you can walk around if you want to extend the route slightly. Alternatively, you can continue at a lick down the country lane to arrive at the Oakley Arms for some mid-way refreshment.
5 From the Oakley Arms, you’ll follow the busy A487 towards the actual hamlet of Maentwrog. There’s another excellent pub here, The Grapes, so you’ll have a choice which one to stop off at (perhaps at both is a bit of an overkill!) The route heads uphill for around 1km on a country lane, before a footpath leaves the road to the right.
6 The next section needs some care as it crosses some more obvious tracks and trails, and takes a rather obscure route that doesn’t correspond to the ground or the map! It’s a short section, and should pose no problem so long as you take your time, and you’ll soon arrive at another country lane. Take this downhill right.
7 The trail descends and brings you back to sea level at Maentwrog Power Station, with it’s huge pipes carrying water down from LLyn Trawsfynydd and still producing electricity almost 100 years after it was built. An old track heads again uphill from here, initially a rather steep pull through Coed Felinrhyd, before levelling out on a boring forestry track. Keep a careful eye out for the way-marker that notes the right hand junction where you leave the forestry road.
8 One of the gems of the route is left until last, Llyn Tecwyn. It would certainly be one of the most scenic locations in Snowdonia were it not for the pylons that scar this valley (and are an unfortunate companion for the remainder of the walk). Looking past these however, this is a bit of upland on our coastal walk. The trail is narrow and the heather ready to trip you up, so take extra care! A good green track then descends into Llandecwyn, with the pylons dominating overhead.
10 It’s finally across the new Bont Briwet to Penrhyndeudraeth. Until this was built, this was the official Wales Coast Path route, now demoted to an ‘alternative’ route. Continue along the bridge, turning right at the railway station to take the road into the village centre. Continue on the same road as it crosses the A487 and on towards the car park where you started the walk.