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3.5 Miles / 6Km / 1.5 Hours
This an easy route on mostly flat terrain along both sides of the River Cerist, which runs towards Dolgellau from Dinas Mawddwy.
Although the terrain is generally easy, there is a ford to cross which can be ankle-deep, and occasionally deeper, after rain.
The path can also be followed using this Ordnance Survey Map.
The route is described in a clockwise direction but the path is also signed in the opposite direction. At time of writing in March 2023 a few path markers are yet to be added. This is noted in the description below.
Park in Dinas Mawddwy car park, opposite the Llew Coch (Red Lion) Inn. There are public toilets at the entrance to the car park.
For the first section of the walk there are two option. Neither are currently signed:
a) Through the grounds of the demolished Plas Dinas Mawddwy:
Walk to the children’s play area at the back of the car park and take the unsigned path immediately left of it. Follow the path through a pedestrian gate, to join a broad driveway. Follow the driveway past some wooden lodges all the way to the large gates at Dôl Hir lodge.
b) Along the Wylecop Street & the A470:
Walk out of the car park towards the Toilets and the Red Lion and then turn right (uphill) on Wylecop Street. At the A 470, turn right and walk along the verge for 750m to Dôl Hir Lodge
Points of Interest:
1. Ffynnon Wen (White/Holy Spring)
The most famous of Mawddwy’s healing springs was Ffynnon Wen, situated on a patch of land called Cae Gwyn (white/holy field), between the Plas and the Dol Hir lodge, near the chalets. Thomas Davies in his book Hanes Dinas Mawddwy, 1893, said that it was ‘surrounded by flagstones and about a square yard in size.’ It was considered so important to the treatment of eye diseases that knights from as far afield as Glamorgan in South Wales travelled there, hoping for a cure. With your back to the chalets, the spring is in the bushes in the far left corner of the open green area in front of you.
2. Dôl Hir Lodge (Long Meadow Lodge):
This is the Plas Buckley mansion western lodge and original gates are still intact. There are two ghost stories associated with Dôl Hir. A woman was visiting a house in the vicinity when she saw someone walking in front of her. She hurried to keep up with the person but she got no closer, and then saw them suddenly turn towards the river and disappear. When she reached her destination and told the story there, she was told that she had seen the ghost of a young woman who drowned herself in the river Cerist.
A red stain would be visible on one of the stairs at Dol Hir and however often it was washed away it would return. It even returned after the piece of wood was replaced, but no murder or suicide has taken place there as far as it is known.
From Dol Hir Lodge turn right and walk 200m alongside the A470 and then turn right onto a tarmac lane. This was the old main road until the 1920s; a cast iron mile marker is on the right, 60m along the lane.
Follow the lane for 300m to a junction in a dip, once the site of Cerist woollen Mill. Keep left here and continue for a further 700m, passing the houses of Fachell and Hermon, to rejoin the A470.
It is possible to halve the length of the route by turning right at the junction in the dip. Follow the lane to the house of Pentre Bach and follow the last set of instructions below.
Points of Interest:
3. Site of Cerist Mill with Cwm Maesglase valley and waterfall in the background
The Mawddwy area was fortunate to have several streams flowing from high mountains that could provide the power to turn water mills. Several mills in the area ground flour or ‘fulled’ wool (a process similar to felting, that gives fabric a soft feel). At Cerist, the miller from 1865 to 1891 was William Roberts and the last to mill there was Lewis Jones, who leased it for 7 years in 1909.
In the 1870s the mill was described as ’a two storey building of stone and a slate roof, two pairs of stones, a relatively new kiln, three pigsties, a cowshed, two hay houses, and an old cottage ‘. The whole area was just over half an acre of land. The mill was demolished in the 1920s when the road was straightened.
When ‘Pelton’ turbine technology came to generate electricity at a reasonable price Mawddwy resident, Rowland Evans, took advantage of the ability to produce it locally, and because of the many fast flowing streams that were convenient there was plenty of choice.
He decided that the Maesglase stream, which had been turning Melin Cerist mill for centuries, was the best site, and erected a shed near the old mill a little up stream to accommodate the turbine. In 1924 light came to the village of Dinas, and ‘Rollie’ was the first local to light houses in Mawddwy. By the thirties ‘Rollie’ was lighting up the Dinas Mawddwy area as far as Cywarch and Minllyn.
An earthen urn containing human remains was excavated from a nearby field sometime in the early 1800s, but its whereabouts are unknown, and it is thought that it was destroyed.
The Fachell was once a drovers’ inn and later a shop, and as the name suggests (fachell / catchment), a place to catch the animals.
4. Hermon Chapel & Schoolhouse
The Hermon schoolhouse was built in 1840 at a cost of £52, and it provided a permanent home, until the doors were finally closed over 110 years later. It is now home to a local family and a former rugby player who represented Wales.
The Sunday school had a hard time establishing in Cerist, and had to move from place to place in the early days, dependent on the generosity of a farmer and a vacant barn in the summer, and a warm kitchen after the harvest had filled the barns. The schoolhouse moved from Llwyn Celyn to Buarth Glas, and then to Dolobran, but the land owners often discouraged the tenant farmers when they supported Nonconformity.
Once at the A470, turn right and walk along the verge for 100m to a reach a tarmac lane on the right. Turn right along the lane and follow the lane for 300m, then turn right onto a track signed for Bryn Cerist and Braich Melyn. Follow this track through several gates and a ford to rejoin a tarmac lane. Turn left onto the lane, go through a gate, and follow it for 1km to a T-junction.
Points of Interest:
5. Dolobran Farm and Woolen Mill
The stone platform on the main road just before the lane was Dolobran Farm’s stand for milk churns. Milk would be collected every morning. Churn collection stopped in 1979.
As you cross Hywel’s bridge over the Cerist you can see the buildings of the historic Dolobran Farm on your right. The name may derive from ‘Dol-Abram’ (Abraham’s Meadow) or perhaps from ‘Ebran’, a place for feeding animals.
A Quaker family lived there until they emigrated to America with William Penn (the founder of Pennsylvania). Others from the Dolobran family also went to America in the 19th century. Next to the river are the ruins of the ‘New Factory’, built around 1845 on the site of an earlier fulling mill. It had little success even though it was the only woollen factory in Cerist, but it lacked investment and had to compete with better factories and machinery in other parts of area.
It was all over by the start of the First World War, and although the building was used as a storehouse for a while, it quickly fell into disrepair. The farm is now owned by the National Trust.
At the T-Junction turn left passing the house Pentre Bach. Continue on the broad track through the woods.
600m past Pentre Bach the woods on both sides finish and a footpath leads diagonally rightwards towards a caravan park below. Take this footpath, following the Cwm Cerist walk roundels.
Halfway down to the caravans more footpath roundels point slightly left and uphill. Here, the right of way goes up to the fenceline 50m away, traverses below the fence and then descends back to the broad track you’ve been following.
Once back on the track, head for a farm gate at the bottom of the field. Go through the gate and then, at the road, turn right. follow it for 300m back to the car park.
Points of Interest:
6. Pentre Bach, a ‘Tŷ Unos’ – a house built in one night
From the period of the 17th to the early 19th century, high rents and the practise of enclosure of the commons combined with an increasing population led to much poverty and to many people squatting on tracts of land in rural parts of Wales.
This is the story of Pentre Bach. People thought that if a house could be built on common land in just one night, then they would own that land. The test to see if the house was finished was if there was a fire burning in the hearth by the following morning. Residents could claim the land as far as they could throw an axe from the four corners of the house. Such a one‐night house had no official status in English law.
The mythical one‐night‐house belief may have had some influence on the peoples’ habit of squatting on common land, so that they could get away without paying rent.
7. Ruined wall of Williams Hughes house
As you descend towards the caravan park you may see a ruined wall on your right. This was the home of William Hughes the last minister to preach without a license for nonconformity at the time of the protestant reformation. He came to Dinas Mawddwy in 1797 and was the Congregational minister in the area until his death in 1826 at the age of 65. He has two hymns in the Caniedydd hymn book. He is the author of the one verse hymn below, translated from the Welsh.
Lord, don’t let me /
be content without the truth /
an oil‐free lamp will go out /
in the big trial soon./
Give me oil /
in the vessel with my lamp.
Much of the grounds and the building were taken in the 1850s for the Plas yn Dinas gardens. Only an ancient boxwood bush, the remains of the gable end of the building and some yew trees indicate its location.