- Location: Abergynolwyn
- Distance: 6 miles
- Description of this walk: A circular walk through the nearby the foothills of Cader Idris in the Snowdonia National Park.
- Map: O/S Explorer Map 0L23
- Download a map of this walk to print off and follow in Derek's footsteps. (PDF 1.4MB)
As an experiment, this walk was done using a GPS device. We've included GPS marker points, should you wish to use them on this walk.
1. Nant Gwernol station
52.64185° N, -3.95062° W
The walk began in Abergynolwyn at the Nant Gwernol train station, where steam trains used to transport slate from the nearby Bryn Eglwys Quarry to the rest of the country.
The train line was an important part of the community here, linking the village with Birmingham and London and providing a vital supply line. In the 1920s families could hire a slate truck for the day to ride around in, as a summer treat.
The station is now served by a small passenger steam train carrying people between Abergynolwyn and Tywyn on the coast but it's situated in a spectacular spot, above a wooded valley with waterfalls and streams.
After meeting our guide - Lisa Markham, we 'departed' the station platform and followed a narrow, muddy track towards Nant Gwernol footbridge - which spans the river below.
There's a track leading up the hill but don't take that one, stay on the green route as indicated by the sign.
Footbridge and waterfalls
From the bridge you'll have an amazing view of a waterfall cascading out of the hillside and a nice view of the route through the valley where you'll be walking. Take care crossing the bridge as it can be a bit slippery as Derek nearly found out!
Turn left at the end of the bridge and keep walking down through the valley. There are steps leading up a track here but this is marked as an orange or blue route so ignore these and keep walking.
The track here can be muddy and uneven so take care but enjoy the waterfalls and pools as you go.
There is a variety of bird life here - from dipper and grey wagtail in the streams below, to goldcrest, coal tit, redpoll and crossbill in the trees above.
2. Quarrymen's houses
52.644° N , -3.95545° W
Near the top of the track you'll pass a stone bench and a Woodland Trust sign marked 'Coed Nant Gwernol'. Head past this and down the hill into the village, following a tarmac road, with the old quarrymen houses to your right.
These picturesque stone terraces have lovely views over the hillsides and show real craftsmanship. Opposite the cottages, you'll see the village Post Office and café where we ate lunch, as well as a beautifully carved wooden statue.
The sculpture features two river nymphs which references a legend where the two local rivers merge - the River Gwernol and the River Dysynni.
Cross the main road and follow signposts for the castle. Walking down Llanegryn Street you'll pass more quarrymen cottages on your left hand side.
3. Capel y Cwrt
52.64586° N, -3.95856° W
At the end of the road before the stone bridge is an area known as Cwrt - the original name for the village when it was just a small hamlet.
Turn left at the chapel and walked down behind the quarrymen's houses onto Water Street. Turn right onto a rusty metal footbridge which is clearly signposted and cross the river.
52.645099° N, -3.958679° W
Once on the other side, follow paving stones across a marshy field where you'll get a nice view of where the two rivers meet - the River Gwernol and the River Dysynni.
At the top of a slight incline follow the track as it opens up into bracken rich hillside. Pass a wooden style and gate and continue along the river bank - always keeping it to your right.
Take care along this stretch of the walk as there are steep drops down into the ravine and fast flowing river below.
All along the river bank you'll see lovely old oak trees and looking back - you'll notice a conifer plantation up on the hillside forming an almost triangular shape.
The track becomes a mixture of stone, grass and mud and as you round the corner you're greeted by a picturesque view of a steep sided valley. To your right is an old white farmhouse with a wooden rope swing over the river below.
4. Cow rings and trough
52.64588° N, -3.96543° W
A little bit further on and you'll come across a rocky outcrop where small iron rings have been embedded into the rock. These were used by local farm women to tether cows to, when milking and feeding them.
One of the rocks has even been chiselled out to make a feeding trough for the cattle.
Follow the track down along the valley and through a wooden gate. The steep hillsides were covered in rusty coloured bracken when we did the walk in October and it felt quite chilly as the sun disappeared down behind the hills.
Keep an eye out for odd shaped white rocks on the opposite side of the river bank.
They were probably deposited there during the last Ice Age but one in particular resembles a standing stone and is easily spotted.
52.64626° N, -3.97467° W
After a few minutes walk you'll arrive at a metal gate and stile. Head through this and continue down the valley.
Nearing the river, the track turns muddier as streams run down off the hillside and into the river below. After a short distance you are back on steadier footing.
As the route straightens out, you'll find yourself walking through a marshy area, over a small stream and up past some old farm machinery, left to rust amongst the reeds.
5. Valley views
52.64898° N, -3.97893° W
The river soon begins to widen and there are some lovely wooded areas before the walk opens up into the next valley.
At the end of this valley you'll be rewarded with some spectacular views towards Foel Caerberllan and Castell y Bere.
6. Stone wall
Walk towards a nearby stone house with an ornate stone wall and cross over the stone bridge at Pont Ystumanner. Take care here, as you're now walking on a well used and narrow road.
52.65113° N, -3.98183° W
Turn right over the bridge and walk up to the cross roads. Turn right here, following the signs for Abergynolwyn and Tal-y-llyn and head towards the impressive farmhouse known as Caerberllan.
7. Caerberllan farm house
52.65122° N, -3.97786° W
This amazing building which was built in 1590 has an infamous history of murder and family feuds passing through the same family for generations.
There are some lovely views here and the local farmer is also a champion, shire horse breeder and you might see some of his show horses in the surrounding fields.
There are a few farm dogs around but their bark is worse than their bite. Wander past the farmhouse and outbuildings and head up along a rough vehicle track, skirting the base of Foel Caerberllan.
There are some lovely old trees along this section of the walk and a magnificent holly tree which was covered in red berries in October. After approximately 10 minutes, you'll begin to notice the stony base of the castle opposite.
52.65599° N, -3.97111° W
There are a couple of tracks veering off left towards the main road but keep walking until you come to an old kissing gate underneath a large, established tree.
Once through the gate, veer right and walk diagonally across the field until you reach a stile and signpost with the castle directly opposite.
Follow in Derek's footsteps as he walks through stunning locations in Wales.
Take a look at photos taken on location during this walk.
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