This 10 mile cycle way follows the path of an old railway line from the main car park in Dolgellau (park in the cheaper long stay section near the rugby pitch.) It ends with a 3/4 mile trip across the beautiful Barmouth rail bridge (small toll.) The route is fairly flat and utterly spectacular, with views of the surrounding mountains and down the river to the sea. It is great for kids, not too strenuous and no real hills. At the end of your trip you can reward yourself with a delicious ice cream at Knickerbockers - beside the Anchor restaurant and facing you as you ride into town before setting off back to Dolgellau, or stopping off for dinner at the George the Third hotel beside the toll bridge in Penmaenpwll.
The best B&Bs are those that make you feel like you're in the comfort of your own home and Coed Cae certainly fits the bill. Situated in two acres of woodland overlooking the beautiful Mawddach estuary, the B&B is ideally located for those hoping to indulge in outdoor pursuits although equally perfect for those wishing to sit back and relax in a beautiful setting. Don't miss host Jackie's exquisite home cooked with a local and seasonal twist!
I recently bought an old tourist guidebook published in 1931 called "The Lure of the Cambrian Coast". The preface closed with a fine description of this part of the world: "the lovely Cambrian coast resorts are washed by the Atlantic Ocean, and the ozone-laden breezes, mingling with the pure mountain air, bring colour to the cheek and radiance to the eye. Sunshine records are high, and no industrial smoke obscures the beneficent ultra-violet rays."
Aside possibly from the reference to sunshine records, this really is a true description of the area. For those wishing to take in the ozone-rich mountain air, the craggy edifice of Cader Idris looms large over Dolgellau enticing the serious hill walker. For a gentler walk from Dolgellau, or even a bike ride, you can follow the river Wnion and Mawddach Estuary along the old railway line. The old trackbed hugs the estuary and passes through idyllic Penmaenpool to Morfa Mawddach (once Barmouth Junction) where it meets the modern day line. The mile-long bridge to Barmouth has a parallel footpath which is a splendid, often windswept, wooden promenade from which to look down the estuary to your point of departure; Dolgellau. Featured on the BBC's "Railway Walks", presented by Julia Bradbury, this walk is a real treat and must have been one of the most scenic train rides in Wales before the line was closed in the 1960s by Dr. Beeching.
There are several old halls near Dolgellau that once belonged to wealthy families, some of whom acquired their wealth in the aforementioned "industrial smoke". One such is Penmaenuchaf Hall just few miles outside Dolgellau at Penmaenpool. Once the country retreat of the Leigh Taylors from Bolton, it's now a country house hotel set in CADW listed private grounds. If you're looking for an oasis of luxury while inhaling the pure, Celtic breezes this is the place.
Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel
t: 01341 422129
(Nearest railway station: Morfa Mawddach)
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