This is a multi-use 4½ mile recreational path created especially for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The path leads through a variety of landscapes offering fantastic views of the Gwyrfai Valley and the surrounding area including stunning views of Snowdon.
The path from Rhyd Ddu to the opposite side of Llyn y Gadair is even and wide and therefore suitable for some powered Tramper type vehicles or power assisted wheelchairs. However the remainder of the path has some steep sections, and there is a footbridge or ford to negotiate within Beddgelert Forest.
If you don’t fancy walking or cycling both ways, you can create a circular route by using the bus service, or the Welsh Highland Railway to bring you back to the start. For timetables, call the numbers or follow the links below:
Traveline Cymru: 0871 200 22 33 or www.traveline-cymru.info
Welsh Highland Railway: 01766 516000 or www.festrail.co.uk
Distance: 4½ miles - 7 km
Time: Around 3 hours
Grade: Leisurely Walk
Terrain: Wide and even paths with some steep sections. Path surface varies from crushed slate and gravel to tarmac.
Start/Finish: SNPA Car Park in Rhyd Ddu or Beddgelert
Parking: SNPA Car Park in Rhyd Ddu or Beddgelert (both are ‘Pay and Display’)
Post Code: Rhyd Ddu LL54 6TN / Beddgelert LL55 4YJ
Relevant Map: OS Ordnans Exp OL17 (Snowdon & the Conwy Valley)
1. The path starts directly opposite the entrance to the SNPA car park in Rhyd Ddu. The first part of the route will take you to Llyn y Gadair and along the causeway which supported the railway that transported slate from Gadair-wyllt Quarry. The quarry was operational between 1885 and 1920, and for a period slate waste was dumped in the lake!
2. Llyn y Gadair lake, and Afon Gwyrfai river that flows out of it, is of great ecological value as it sustains a wide variety of plants and wildlife of national importance, such as the Arctic Char, and Floating water-plantain.
Beautiful views of the surrounding area can be enjoyed from here. Snowdon and Yr Aran stand to the east, and Mynydd Mawr, Y Garn and Mynydd Drws y Coed to the west.
3. The path then enters Beddgelert Forest, a conifer and broadleaved forest. There is a vast network of public footpaths here so make sure that you follow the Lôn Gwyrfai way markers.
4. The path emerges out of the forest for a while at Pont Cae’r Gors. Take care when crossing the railway line.
5. After following the track down from Pont Cae’r Gors you will cross Afon Cwm Du river via an old eighteenth century stone bridge that was used to carry coach and horse traffic to Caernarfon.
6. The path climbs gradually towards Hafod Ruffydd Uchaf where you can take a seat on one of the benches and enjoy the magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. From Hafod Ruffydd Uchaf you will make your way down to the Beddgelert Forest Campsite.For a while, the path will weave in and out of the forest, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area, alternated with the otherworldly atmosphere of the forest.
7. The path eventually comes out of the forest onto open farmland on the foothills of Moel Hebog, where a striking view of Moel y Dyniewyd can be enjoyed, before gradually descending towards Cwm Cloch.
8. From Cwm Cloch the route follows the road down to Beddgelert, bearing right before the railway bridge to go to the car park near the Welsh Highland Railway Station in Beddgelert.
Communities and Nature
The work of developing this path was part funded by the Communities and Nature project, which is a £14.5m European funded project led and managed by Natural Resources Wales. CAN aims to generate economic growth and sustainable jobs by capitalising on Wales' environmental qualities, particularly its landscape and wildlife. CAN is part funded by the European Regional Development fund through the Welsh Government.
Llyn y Gadair
The jaunty traveller that comes to peer
Across its shallows to the scene beyond
Would almost not see it. Mountains here
Have far more beauty than this bit of pond
With one man fishing in a lonely boat
Whipping the water, rowing now and then
Like a poor errant wretch, condemned to float
The floods of nightmare never reaching land.
But there’s some sorcerer’s bedevilling art
That makes me see a heaven in its face,
Though glory in that aspect has no part
Nor on its shore is any excelling grace –
Nothing but peat bog, dead stumps brittle and brown
Two crags, and a pair of quarries, both closed down.
T H Parry Williams (translated by Tony Conran)