Ice cream booth in Barmouth, photographed by Charles Hawes

Wales Coast Path: Llwyngwril to Llanenddwyn

May 4, 2014 · 17 comments

Date walked: April 2nd 2014

Distance walked: around 12 miles

Cumulative total of miles walked along The Wales Coast Path: 524

The official website of the Wales Coast path is http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/default.aspx

OS map required:  OL23 – Cadair Idris and Lyn Tegid and OL 18 – Harlech, Porthmadog & Bala

I get all my maps from Dash4it. They are well discounted, and delivery is free and fast.

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I had stayed the night at the excellent Prysgoed Bed and Breakfast in Llwyngwril and had had a good breakfast, the only disappointment being that the fresh fruit salad on the menu wasn’t available (I might have asked for it the night before). I eat such a lot of carbs on these trips.

It was overcast as I made my way up the main street, my eye being caught by the attractive window of a  converted chapel (window boxes are nearly always a mistake unless they are regularly gardened).

Window in Chapel wall in Llwyngrrill, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Love the window. Love the way the planter supports echo the window but that planting…

Just to the right of the Garthangharad Hotel the path takes a little lane that rises quite steeply for about half a mile. Steep enough for me to pause several times for breath (I always seem to find the first climb of the day pretty hard work) .

Stone walls on road out of Llwyngwril photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I was reminded of the Yorkshire Dales for these few miles

Just off to right of the road were a series of large flat-topped cairns that appeared to have been unusually carefully constructed – fitting in with the impressive quality of the surrounding walls.

Carin above Llwyngwril, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Walkers cairns are not like this and there were several close together so what’s the story?

The heavy skies were obscuring any view I might have had to the Lleyn, but this edge-of-moor landscape, dotted with ruined farm buildings,  was engaging enough.

Ruined cottage at the edge of the moor above Llwyngwril, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It must have been tough out here, though I suppose the village was only a couple of miles away.

As I climbed, so a view to Barmouth appeared, the  long spit from Fairbourne almost reaching its harbour. My map indicates that a passenger ferry makes this short crossing in the summer.

View to Barmouth from road above Llwyngwril, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Shame about the pylons but they have to go somewhere.

Two miles out of Llwyngwril the road enters a coniferous plantation that was being partly felled; the air filled with the invigorating scent of  resin.

Forestry operations above Fairbourne, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I wonder where all this wood is destined for?

The “official” coast path descends from the wood to Fairbourne and then follows the estuary side to Morfa Mawddach railway station. It seemed a shame to lose the altitude to pass through what looked, from above at least, to be an unprepossessing modern village so I was pleased to find a sign diverting me to carry on through the wood for a more direct route.

 

Wales Coast Path diversion notice above Fairbourne, photographed by Charles Hawes

Just to prove that I wasn’t wilfully avoiding the longer way

This diversion is not shown on the current Wales Coast Path website maps and I am assured by Natural Resources Wales that the diversion no longer applies.

The metalled road becomes a farm track servicing a few exquisitely isolated cottages. This is called Cyfannedd-fawr. I am grateful to a super blog about the area by Iain Robinson for this snippet: “Here, in 1748, one Morus Jones had his home. He was a poet and winner of many bardic chairs.”

Cyfannedd-fawr photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Cyfannedd-fawr: wonderful location.

I passed a sheep cleaning its new-born lamb which wobbled on its newly found feet.

Newly born lamb in field above Fairbourne, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

We, like sheep,…. (try singing it and you might get it, John)…especially new ones

As I descended the hillside the farm track became a wide grass path .

Track descending from Cyfannedd-fawr, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

If you read that blog I just referred to this might even be a track used by mining activity

Tucked away in a mini-valley is another cottage with no access for a car that I could see which  brought to mind a  familiar thought that it would be great to have such an isolated retreat. It is called Penygeulan Cottage and on the map is shown as Gest Ddu.

Isolated cottage near

I would so love to have had a little poke around inside

With no waymarking signs to guide me I may have lost my path briefly; either that or this diversion necessitates a steep scramble down a near-sheer drop. At the bottom a water treatment plant was undergoing work and a waymarked kissing gate suggested that I was back on track.

Kissing gate on The Wales Coast path above Tyddyn Sieffra photographed by Charles Hawes

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go off piste at least once a day

At the bottom of the hill the path crosses the A493 by the war Memorial and takes a little lane to the Morfa Mawddach station.

The Arthog War Memorial, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This is the Arthog memorial

On the way a ramshackle yard offering all manner of edible produce looked more likely to be a supplier of  2nd hand lorry spares.

Farm produce outlet near Morfa Mawddach, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

As a farm produce outlet, this place could do with a makeover

At the  railway line the path then shares its route with the railway across the Barmoth Bridge, warning of a toll to be paid at the other end.

The Approach to Barmouth Bridge, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This is a nice quiet walk- there was even a seat around the corner. I didn’t pass any trains but I am told the line is open now.

According to the Cicerone Ceredigion and Snowdonia Coast Paths Guide, Barmouth Bridge was opened in 1867 and is the longest bridge in Wales.  Which is not right. It is less than half a mile whereas the 2nd Severn Crossing is about 3.2 miles, and half of that must be in Wales. Not being next to a motorway and with no trains coming or going, the Barmouth bridge  is probably a much nicer walk.

The footpath at Barmouth Bridge: part of The Wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

Watch out for some dodgy planks.

And the view up the estuary towards the Snowdonia hills was awesome even on a dull day.

View across Mawddach  photographed from Barmouth Bridge by Charles Hawes

Mawddach and the misty snowdonia foothills

Always pleased to get a bargain, the toll booth on the far side of the bridge was closed.

Toll Booth on the Barmouth Bridge, photographed by Charles Hawes

Yes!

Like Aberdovey, Barmouth is situated at the foot of a hillside, and the road into town from the bridge passes a deep quarry. The harbourside starts pleasantly; I was very taken by the zinc plated corrugated sides of the Sailors Institute Reading Room and its cordial invitation.

The Sailors Institute, Barmouth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Note the apostrophe

I passed the Lifeboat Station, its boat ready to be tractored out to an emergency.

Lifeboat in Barmouth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Am I being fanciful or does this not look like some creature in its lair?

And that was where Barmouth gave up the ghost.

There is something very sad about a closed ice-cream booth (it’s probably a childhood thing).

Ice cream booth at Barmouth, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

No candyfloss for me, boo hoo.

Rupert Bear and his friends were barring the entrance to the amusement arcades; their expressions one of complete inscrutability.

Amusement arcade entrance in Barmouth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I’ve seen Dr Who monsters less menacing than these

The fairground lay dismantled in the near-empty car park.

Car park on the front at Barmouth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

That’s the Cadair Idris massif behind I think

The promenade-side planting was probably conceived by whoever inspired those at nearby Tywyn.

Barmouth promenade, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Hmm. Maybe it’s Art?

And the housing stock, though benefiting from sea views, had seen better times.

Housing on the Barmouth promenade, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The fact is that Welsh Councils are underfunded and this is where it shows

It was almost a relief when the path left the promenade, crossed the railway line and joined the A496.  But there were few pleasures to be had from the curbside of this busy road. A church and cemetery at Llanaber offered some visual relief.

Cemetery at Llanber, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Not really resting in peace

And the sight of the repairs to the railway line were a distraction from the roaring traffic.

Repairs on the railway line near Barmouth, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The line is due to reopen to Harlech on May 1st – I wonder if they make the deadline?

The Wayside must be one of the most miserable looking watering holes I’d passed on the path.

The Wayside Inn, Llanber, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It had a Fish and Chip shop extension

And there was no escaping the all pervasive caravan parks.

Caravan park at Llanaber, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

How many?

At that point Tal-y -Bont ,where I had hoped to find a place to stay, was only a mile away, but it felt like a long mile.  I did not like the look of the roadside  Bed and Breakfast in Tal-y-Bont, so although tired, I was also relieved that they were not answering their phone or their door. (Peering through the windows, it had that spic and span look that made me think that within 10 minutes of setting foot in the place I would have wanted to scream).

The Wales Coast Path finally escapes the road here but I could see no prospect of accommodation if I did, so I walked on to Dyffryn Ardudwy. A sign in a butchers window of this busy village pointed to a farm Bed and Breakfast but a little further on a  brown tourist signed The Cadwgan Inn and pointed towards the beach.  Hope was restored

The lane crosses the railway line and station of Llanenddwyn and immediately afterwards on the right hand side was the Cadwgan Hotel.  It isn’t the prettiest of places but I was relieved that they were open at all and that they had rooms – albeit at a fairly stiff £55.  And a perfectly decent double room it was too, with an en-suite with a big bath and Neutrogena toiletries, although the bikkis were 2nd rate. The bar had Doom Bar and the wi-fi signal, though dodgy in my room, was fine there. I was well set up for the night.

Alternative to the road walk between Llanaber and Tal-y-bont

The Cicerone Guide I mention above does suggest a hill route on the Ardudwy Way that would take off two miles of the road walk but adds a very strenuous 4 miles or so to the days walk. Alternatively, at low tide I understand that it is normally possible to walk on the beach between Tal y Bont and Barmouth promenade but at the time of my walk the end of the promenade was closed due to the railway repairs. In January I corresponded with Quentin Grimley of The Wales Coast Path team at Natural Resources Wales about this roadside section. He hoped that they will “consider further the feasibility of improving the alignment of this section”. I have asked him for an update.

 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham May 4, 2014 at 9:26 am

I am sure I can remember pictures of a holiday in Barmouth (you missed that u out somewhere….) when I was a kid. Can’t remember a thing about the holiday though – mercifully?!

I don’t think this blog is likely to get a grant from the Welsh Tourist Board……. no-one is ever supposed to be this honest about Wales! Xx

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Charles May 5, 2014 at 11:58 am

Well it does have a great beach, which is where you probably spent a lot of time but beaches are not very memorable I suppose. It would be fun to ask for a grant from the WTB!

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John May 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

The Barmouth bridge toll booths closed a year ago as Gwynedd Council (who, did you know, have to pay nearly £40,000 to Network Rail each year to make the bridge available to walkers and cyclists) weren’t making enough in tolls to cover the cost of collecting them. Like Anne, I visited Barmouth as a kid and can’t remember anything about it.

Your spell checker’s playing up again! The word is spelt “pissed” not “piste” 😉

That caravan site must have won an award as the most depressing place in Wales. And the Wales Tourist Board SHOULD give you a grant for highlighting (often in a lighthearted way) where they are failing! Says something when a graveyard presents one of the most attractive views!

Nice pics as always but I was hoping you’d include one or two of Llanwotsit.

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Charles May 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

That figure sounds extortionate to me!
As far as the caravan site awards goes I think the most depressing place one could be hotly contested.
Yes, I really should have taken a pic of LLanwotsit.

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Paul Steer May 4, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I think Barmouth suffers from a lack of vision and investment. It sits at the mouth of the beautiful Mawddach estuary and its drab car park and concrete sea front do nothing to add to the beauty of its position. There may be people there with the vision but lack the financial backing?
It’s good to have honest opinion, it may stir people into action. A visually pleasing environment will bring in visitors who will stay.

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Charles May 5, 2014 at 11:52 am

Local government finances are always a bit of a mystery, but you’d have thought that a consortium of local businesses might be able to get together and do something about this and several other of the drab and shabby towns that I have encountered on the walk so far. As you say, it makes a lot of difference to the visitors and they potentially bring in a lot of money

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Jessica A. Hawes May 5, 2014 at 10:35 am

I have a photo’ of my Aunt Jessie on the sands at Barmouth, taken about 1920. It looks to be domnated by two large chapels but seems pretty ordinary even then. I believe it was always a place for cheap, quiet (!) holidays. Ma

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Charles May 5, 2014 at 11:49 am

You must show me the next time I’m up!

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David Marsden May 10, 2014 at 7:37 am

Going off piste is obligatory on any long walk, isn’t it? I find so anyway, and actually, that I’m rather good at it. (Nice to have one string to my bow). A house near my place of work has planters on top of the gate posts. Each holds a small, dead conifer and has done so for at least five years. They don’t need watering, I suppose. Dave

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Charles May 10, 2014 at 8:48 am

Of course it is. All wise people say you have to find your own way in the world. How about tying some bright ribbons on those dead conifers one night. Would be such fun to see what they would do.

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Iain Robinson June 1, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Thanks for the lovely mention, Charles. I’ve been enjoying your “warts and all” descriptions of the path! That area between Friog and Cyfannedd Fawr is a veritable warren of old mines and has a fascinating, peaceful atmosphere…your photos do it justice, too. I don’t like Barmouth really, but we walked up towards the higher ground behind the town (in search of an old mine, of course) and encountered some interesting buildings and views, a lot more cheerful than the depressing scenes of tattyness in the town.

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Charles June 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

You are very welcome Iain – yours is a great blog. And thanks for the encouragement for my approach to the path. I wish I had more time to get off the beaten track. I found some good mine working remnants when I did between Abersoch and Rhiw.

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Michelle September 5, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Hi Charles. We’re planning on walking Llwyngwril to Barmouth then Llanbedr to Barmouth over 2 days. Any tips? Thanks Michelle
PS have you completed any of the stretch between Aberdaron & Nefyn yet? I would recommend staying in a glamping pod at Tudweiliog http://www.penrallt.co.uk/glamping.html
There is a lack of B&Bs on that section of the Llyn and it beats camping! All the best

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Charles September 6, 2014 at 10:14 am

Hiya
Well, as you can see, I’ve written up both those sections. Do check the official route maps cos the OS maps may well not be up to date. You’ll see that I didn’t go through Fairbourne. I’d be inclined to try the intended route via Tonfanau quarry; you might get tea and cake where I did. Llwyngwril does have a shop and a pub.
Yes I have now got as far as Bangor, so thanks for the recommendation but have passed by already! Do post a comment on those sections when you have done them.

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Michelle September 15, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Hi Charles. We completed this section of the Wales coast path this weekend. As you suspected, the route via Fairbourne was open. This part is quite a descent down to Fairbourne but it was very pretty following a stream. We stayed in a B&B in Barmouth but didn’t find it depressing (as previous comments made) possibly due to the time of year. It was difficult finding a B&B with vacancies, maybe due to a vintage truck rally that was there this weekend. We’re planning to walk from Llwyngwril to Aberdovey next – the last one until next year. All the best, Michelle.

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Charles September 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Hiya. Yes I can imagine that a vintage truck rally would be a major pull!????. I think I’ve suspended my WCP walk for this year, too,but have posts scheduled until December, so do keep checking in.

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Ros Hawes September 10, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Just done the first part of this walk. But carried on to cregganan lakes. Just as you have described.

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