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5.5 miles / 3.5hrs for the shorter option
8 miles /4.5hrs for the longer option.
The shorter path can be followed using this Ordnance Survey Map.
This is a long and fairly challenging walk with some boggy sections and one or two steep climbs. The views from the top are worth it though. Note that the route goes through the Dyfi forest, where tree-felling work can disrupt paths at times. Please follow any instructions or signage that you see.
The route is described in a clockwise direction but the path is also signed in the opposite direction.
The first part of the route follows the path of the old Hendre Ddu & Maes y Gamfa tramways that were used until WW2 to carry slate from the local mines. Slate trucks and small railway wagons known as ‘Ceir Gwyllt’ (wild cars) would freewheel all the way from the mines down to Aberangell railway station carrying slate slabs and workmen. Accidents were common, but the ceir gwyllt seem to have been a popular form of transport.
The walk starts from the West end of the village of Aberangell. Roadside parking space (opposite a no-through-road sign) is limited, but there is ample parking at the village hall (shown as ‘Neuadd Aberangell’ on the map) only a few hundred metres further back.
Start by walking along the road away from the village. After 100m you pass the spring of Ffynnon y Seiri, with it’s slate sign, on your right. This is the ‘Carpenter’s spring’ and was used until mains water was introduced in the 1920s. Follow the road downhill for a few hundred metres, passing a set of large iron gates on your left at a small bridge over the Angell river.
1. These used to be the gates of the impressive Manor House of Dinas Mawddwy until they were sold to the landowner here in the 1870s, when the Lord of Mawddwy went bankrupt.
Stay on the tarmac road out of the village, and follow it, over a cattle grid, for 1km until you reach a small road junction. Take the right fork, marked as a no-through road, and signed to Nanthir. Follow this road for a further 2km, with the river Angell on your left, until you reach a footpath sign on your right, just before a stream and forestry track.
This whole section used to be part of the route of the Hendre Ddu slate tramway.
Turn right, over a stile, onto the footpath (boggy here and several places further on) and follow it alongside the stream and over two footbridges. You are now on the line of the Maes y Gamfa spur of the tramway which brought slate down from the quarries above.
After the 2nd footbridge bear left alongside the fence and then climb steeply up towards the farmhouse of Maes y Gamfa (‘Field of the Stile’). This steep climb is an ‘incline’ – a steep railway track down which the slate trucks were lowered on a steel cable before joining the tramway proper.
At the top of the incline join a farm track, right of the farmhouse. Just above the farmhouse is the slate winding house for the incline, which used to house the huge wooden drum on which the steel cables ran. The quarry itself is a few hundred metres beyond, but isn’t easily accessible.
Continue uphill on the broad farm track. Follow this to the top and and through a gate into a meadow. There is no visible footpath here, but bear slightly rightwards past a footpath post, and continue in the same direction diagonally downhill for 200m metres until you reach a footpath gate in the fence opposite. Go through the gate and follow the indistinct track diagonally leftwards across the slope down to a gate and cross the little stream of Nant Cwm Du at the bottom.
Climb 30-40m up the bank to reach a footpath post by a rutted forestry track from the felling done here in 2022. Don’t take the forestry track but cross straight over (footpath marker on a tree stump ahead) and follow the thin path as it traverses the hillside. After 500m the path broadens and a few hundred metres further on joins a well-made forestry road.
Turn right here and then immediately take the footpath signed on the left which takes you downhill through another area of felling, and past the ruined farmhouse of Brithdir Coch which is soon visible below you. Descend past Brithdir Coch to another good farm track
Not much is known about the old farmhouse of Brithdir Coch. In the late 1800s it briefly became the village school, and It was probably abandoned in the early 20th century. The valley here is called Cwm Glanmynach – the valley beside the monk’s stream. It is thought that this valley housed a monastery, probably linked to Cymer abbey in Dolgellau, in the middle ages. Some of the local place-names such as Cae Abaty (Abbot’s field) and Maesglase (Cloister Field) also reflect that. There is a pond just below Brithdir Coch – perhaps the monks used to catch fish for their Friday dinner there.
From Brithdir Coch you can walk directly back to Aberangell (~20minutes) or extend the route via Bwlch Cae Tomen (~1.5hrs).
a) Direct return to Aberangell:
This is quickest and simplest route back.
Turn right along the farm track, which becomes a metalled road after 1km, all the way along the valley back to Aberangell at Ffynnon y Seiri.
b) Aberangell via Bwlch Cae Tomen:
This option adds a few more miles of walking and another climb, but rewards you with stunning views of the Dyfi valley.
Instead of turning right along the track, take the footpath directly opposite, cross the footbridge and climb up towards the farmhouse of Ty Mawr. The path goes behind the farmhouse on it’s left before dropping back to the main farm track. Follow this farm track downhill for 100m to a sharp right hand bend on a stream. Here, take the footpath on the left, heading steeply uphill. At the forestry road 500m ahead, cross over and take the footpath opposite. Follow this path uphill for 300m to a stile. Note that the path is hard-going and difficult to follow in places – posts and plastic tape mark the way, at time of writing.
You are now at Bwlch Cae Tomen- ‘The Pass of the Hummocky Field’. Once over the stile, bear diagonally leftwards, passing beside a lone tree that soon becomes visible. Continue diagonally downhill for a few hundred more metres to pick up a good farm track. About halfway down this track, behind a large tree bent almost horizontal, is a large isolated boulder. This is thought to be a relic of the ice age – a ‘glacial erratic’ carried from elsewhere by the ice and dropped here when it melted.
Follow the track down to the farmhouse of Bryn Ffynnon and the metalled road, then turn right and follow the road back to Aberangell.