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5 Miles / 8 Km – 2.5-3 Hrs – Moderate
The full route can be followed using this Ordnance Survey map.
A generally moderate path, though steep in places, from Dinas Mawddy alongside the River Dyfi and then climbing over to the seldom-visited Cewydd valley.
Park in Dinas Mawddwy car park, opposite the Llew Coch (Red Lion) Inn. There are public toilets at the entrance to the car park.
To start, walk back out of the car park and turn left down the hill at the crossroads at the toilets.
Walk 200m down the hill, to Dolybont common, where you will see a footbridge over the Dyfi. Cross over the footbridge and immediately turn left, alongside the river. Follow the footpath alongside the river, over a ford, then up some steps into a field. Continue through the field, then drop down again close to the riverbank, for 1km until you reach a footbridge to the hamlet of Abercywarch on the opposite side.
At the footbridge turn right and cross the field for 200m to a house. This is Maes y Pandy (Woollen Mill Field).
Points of Interest:
In the past, fairs were held at Dolybont common, as well as on the High Street. People flocked here from all over North and Mid Wales to buy, sell, take on work and fight! Dinas Mawddwy fairs were famous for fighting between local residents and neighbouring communities.
The street would be closed almost a mile outside the village due to the number of fair attendees.
1. Close to the footbridge here there is an old tradition of salmon poaching and there is supposedly a tunnel to the top of Foel Benddin from the river!
2. Ty Gwyn:
John James a surveyor was raised at Ty Gwyn in the early 1800s. He assisted in gathering evidence for Westminster parliament for a report on the state of education, culture and ethics of the Welsh Nation in 1847 . The report, contained in 3 volumes of blue-coloured books, was known in Wales as Brad y Llyfrau Gleision ‘The Betrayal of the Blue Books’.
The report by Ralph Robert Wheeler Lingen, Jelinger Cookson Symons and Henry Robert Vaughan Johnson, three English churchmen who spoke no Welsh, shocked the Welsh of the time as it cast doubt on their morality and the secular and rebellious nature of the Welsh language . This reaction of ‘betrayal’ by the English Institute was the reason for the term ‘Brad y Llyfrau Gleision – The Betrayal of the Blue Books’ being coined. In its introduction it states:
“The Welsh language is a huge drawback to Wales and a manifold barrier to the moral progress and commercial prosperity of the people.”
One of the local families in Dinas Mawddwy is said to have spat on the coffin of John James.
Turn right onto the track in front of the house and bear left, between the house and an outbuilding and then follow the fence on your right. After 200m cross a stile and then immediately turn left, steeply uphill, aiming for another stile at the top of the field.
In the woods here the path becomes indistinct in places so care is needed. Follow the path through the woods for ~150m to a large tree fallen across the path. Step over this and walk on for 10m. Now bear left uphill (not at all obvious) for 100m to reach a much better path that contours rightwards. Follow this for 200-300m to a ford and gate at Pant Tywyll.
Cross the ford, bear right alongside a fence for 50m, and then turn left onto a wide track leading uphill. Follow this through the woods for 200m to reach a gate by a large Yew tree.
Go through the gate and continue straight for 50m to enter a field, where you bear slightly left. You are aiming for a new gate and stile in the corner of the field, at roughly the same height as you, past a small copse of trees in the field . Once past the stile follow the path alongside a fence as it climbs to the ruins of Bwlch Cwm Cewydd Farm 250m ahead.
Go through a gate immediately right of the corrugated iron building into a small yard and then through another gate just right of the ruined farmhouse, onto a broad track.
Walk downhill for 50m and, at the left hairpin, turn right through a large gate onto another track, which is followed for 20m to a stile and footpath on the left.
The route can be cut short here (~30 minutes to the parking) by staying on the broad track for 800m and, at a gate and finger post, turning right and following the directions at the ‘Tanybwlch woods to parking’ section below.
For the main route, turn left onto the footpath. Follow the sunken track downhill for 100m and then bear diagonally rightwards, following a vague path for another 100m to a gate. A large garden is below; Go through the gate and bear left, aiming for the left edge of the garden, where the path joins a lane.
Points of Interest:
3. Bwlch Cwm Cewydd (Pass of St Cewydd’s valley)
St. Cewydd is the Welsh equivalent of St. Swithin.
The write and poet Lewis Jones lived at Bwlch. In 1888 he wrote a popular book called ‘Cydymaith y Bugail’ – (‘The Shepherd’s Companion’ ) recording sheep earmarks. Each farmer would mark their sheeps’ ears in a unique pattern, as a way of identifying them. Jones’ book contains over two thousand such marks across the counties of Meirionydd, Montgomery and Ceredigion.
Before books such as Lewis Jones’ appeared farmers would have to rely on their local knowledge to identify unknown sheep, noting the marks in manuscript books, or papers with the notes written or cut on them.
An introduction to his book is a lovely poem by Robert Jones of Ty’n-y-braich:
“Iawn awdwr gasglai’r Nodau, i’n cyrhaedd
Y cariwyd y ffrwythau
Ryw filoedd yn dorf olau
Dyma’r gwir a dim o’r gau.”
‘A great author who collected the marks, to reach us
That the fruit was carried
Some thousands are a bright crowd
This is the truth and none of the false.’
– The 256-page book was published by Evan Jones Machynlleth in 1888.
The house caught fire during the Second World War.
Turn right down the lane and follow it for 800m until the track for Pen y Graig farm is reached on the right. Turn right (footpath sign) along this track, past the farm.
Follow the signed track for 300m to a new stile just before a very boggy gully. Cross the stile and go straight ahead on (slippery) stepping stones, to join a broad track just ahead.
Follow this track for 800m until, as it begins to descend to the valley, a footpath leads rightwards, uphill, to a new gate. Follow this path through the gate and traverse the field to go through a 2nd gate, overlooking the A470. Bear diagonally rightwards downhill, and you will soon see another gate into the next field. Go through that and follow the path down onto the A470.
Points of Interest:
4. Pandai – Mills near Penygraig:
Water mills were essential for farmers well into the 1800s. Just below Penygraig was a fulling mill, used to put a soft, felted surface onto the locally produced woollen cloth. At the road bridge at the bottom of the valley was the corn mill, now a private house.
5. Cae’r Gof (smithy’s field), River Cleifion & Ebrandy
As the path bears right shortly before the A470 you are above the farmhouse of Cae’r Gof, which presumably belonged to a blacksmith at some point, and the river Cleifion. Cleifion means sick or injured people and it’s possible the name came from either a group of sick people, possibly lepers, or perhaps from soldiers injured in a local battle. Ebrandy (Fodder House), on the the A470 below would probably been a place to feed horses travelling the road.
Mallwyd & Camlan
The village of Mallwyd is associated with one scholar in particular, Dr. John Davies. A vicar and translator, he left his mark on Mallwyd and Wales. At his home he translated into Welsh the 1620 Bible and his work is considered to have been vital to the survival of the Welsh language to this day. He was also responsible for the erection of the rectory, the extension of Mallwyd Church and the erection of 3 bridges (2 over the Dyfi at Mallwyd and Minllyn and one over the Cleifion). He died in 1644 before ‘ the Civil War between the King and Parliament began.
The Brigands Inn is located in the centre of the village, and is a former coaching inn between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth and Dolgellau where horses were changed and travellers could rest. It has had many names over the years including Cross Foxes, Peniarth Arms, and The Bury.
Where the Cleifion and the Dyfi meet are the meadows called Camlan where the Royal Mail coach would ford the river.
Local legend has it that King Arthur fought his last battle here at Camlan.
Once at the A 470 you have a choice of 2 routes. A shorter flat route (~20 minutes back to Dinas Mawddwy) or to climb a little more for views over the village (~40 minutes.
Turn right alongside the A470 and continue to the Celyn Brithion caravan park. Turn right through the park entrance, keep left and after going through a gate, follow a lane for 1km to Tanybwlch farmhouse. Keep left past the farmhouse, through one more gate, and in 200m metres you will reach the footbridge you crossed at the start of this route.
Turn right alongside the A470 for 200m and then turn right through a double farm gate. Walk 20m uphill and go through another large gate on the left, with a well-worn footpath beyond. Follow this path as it gently climbs, and then tracks below the woods, for 1.5km to a gate and signposted Y junction.
Points of Interest:
7. Ruins of Gloddfa Goch (The Red Diggings)
Robert Evans lived here in the late 1800s, and his talents in singing and violin playing are recorded in the Cambrian News. In 1883 was the best at the Festival / Eisteddfod held in the shed near Dinas Mawddwy station.
The name Gloddfa suggests that there had been excavations here – it may have been a quarry near Celyn Brithion caravan park.
In the valley below you, left of Dinas Mawddwy, is the hamlet of Minllyn developed when people were moved here to make way for Edmund Buckley’s mansion which was built in the 1860s near what is now the car park in Dinas Mawddwy.
On the hillside opposite is Minllyn Quarry, first developed between 1793 – 1800 by a local owner and then further developed by Edmund Buckley. This was a slate quarry and famous for slate slabs for making billiard tables, fireplace and floors as well as toilets and urinals. There was a water powered mill on the treatment floor near the open pit by 1845 and it was the first integrated mill in the region employing 3 saws, 3 planers and slate treatment machines; the water wheel was later replaced by a pelton wheel with backup steam. From the mill there was a steep slope down to the valley below with a further short incline to the Mawddwy Railway. The quarry closed but was re-opened and re-equipped in 1872 and for a short time a workforce of over 100 produced slate annually at 100 tonnes per year. A larger new mill with 40 engines was built on the valley floor. By 1894 the workforce had reduced to 20 with 550 tonnes of slate being produced.
Productivity continued to decline until the quarry closed in 1925, by then there were only 3 saws and 2 planers. The large shed and other sheds are still visible at Meirion Mill – a shop and café and also another shed owned by the Wool Board which is still used for receiving and processing wool from the surrounding areas. Meirionnydd farmers started a co-operative post-war to produce blankets but that work ceased and the sheds were purchased by the current owners.
It is thought that there has been a fortress between Minllyn bridge and the quarry above called Caer Bryn but there is no record of it or any remains except for high earth and shingle banks. Building the foundations of the Buckley Arms Hotel in Minllyn three or four graves containing human remains were found. The Hotel was built for Victorian tourists who were encouraged to visit the quarry and to climb the Arans and visit other sights in the area. The Hotel is constructed of in-situ concrete, built in 1873 for Sir Edmund Buckley to the designs of James Stephens of Manchester. It is said to be the oldest reinforced concrete building in Europe and the second oldest in the world.
Foel Dre (Bald Mountain of the village)
Above Minllyn quarry is Foel Dre (or Foel Dinas). In 1876 when Edmund Buckley went bankrupt he was forced to sell his estate, and at the auction Foel Dre common landowners protested that he had fenced the mountain out, planted trees and taken the land without permission. Their protests were not successful. The woodland now belongs to Natural Resource Wales / Welsh Government.
At the gate, turn downhill (left if you’ve done the main route, hairpin right if you’ve taken the short-cut from Bwlch Cwm Cewydd) and follow the path over a stile visible in the dip below. Cross this stile and bear slightly left for 100m to another stile leading into the woodland. Follow the path through the woods down to a metalled lane. Turn right onto the lane and continue past Tanybwlch farmhouse ahead. Just past the farmhouse keep straight, through a gate, to reach the river Dyfi and the footbridge you crossed at the start of this route.