Waterfalls, woodland and goldmines

Operated by The National Trust, the Dolmelynllyn Estate is located just north of Dolgellau and opposite Coed y Brenin. A network of footpaths has been created through the woodland and across the mountainside. The National Trust have divided these into four interlinked circular trails enabling walkers to enjoy hikes of varying lengths by exploring one, two, three or all four of the trails. The Blue, Green, Red and Black trails all feature waymarkers to keep you on track and each offers plenty to please.  Please note that the green trail can only be accessed via the blue or red trail. The free guides available in the Gallwyd car park include a map of the trails. Your choices are as follows:

Ganllwyd Woodland Walk (Blue trail) –  moderate hike of just over an hour past the Rhaeadr Du, gorgeous cascades in the heart of stunning woodland

Gold Mine Walk (Blue trail + Green trail) – moderate hike of two hours past the falls and through woodland to goldmines on the mountainside

Dolmelynllyn Walk  (Blue, Green and Red trails) – moderate hike of two and a half hours incorporating the Gold Mine Walk plus further woodland

Estate Walk (Blue, Green, shortened Red and Black trails) – moderate hike of four hours encompassing the entire estate

We opted for the Dolmelynllyn Walk and greatly enjoyed it. This is a hike of huge variety beginning from the Ganllwyd car park adjacent to the A470. There are plenty of great spots to stop for a picnic along the way and the waterfalls are truly magical. There are toilets in the car park and a picnic table if you wish to relax for a while after the hike. The only downside to this walk was the inconsistent waymarking on one portion of the blue route. We are not entirely sure that we took the correct paths throughout but we did find all of the important features of the hike!

The historic parklands of the Dolmelynllyn Estate are well worth exploring. The climb up through oak woodlands is simply wonderful and takes you to the slopes of Cefn Coch where you can visit the site of a bygone gold rush. The woods have been managed for centuries with the timber used for houses and boats. Plas Dolmelynllyn, which you pass towards the end of the hike, was the home of William Maddocks, friend of the poet Shelley and founder of Porthmadog.

Duration: 2.5 hours from the car park to the highest point and back

Terrain: Woodland paths and grassland with some moderately steep sections

Rhaeadr Ddu

Getting started

The walk begins in the National Trust car park at Ganllwyd. Exit the carpark adjacent to the information board and collect the handy leaflet which features a map of the trails. Cross the road and you will see the entrance to the trails a few metres to your left and next to the church. Follow the blue circular markers which take you through woodland to the many cascades of the Afon Camlan. The trail follows the river up to the beautiful Rhaeadr Ddu falls. We spent a little time exploring the rock pools and falls before moving on as this portion of the route is so pretty. We then continued upwards through the woods and either there are no waymarkers beyond the falls or we went the wrong way! After negotiating a stile, we found ourselves in an open area where the trees had been felled and traversed this to join a forest road. At this pint we turned left and continued along the road past a rather attractive newly renovated stone house and a small cottage.

Not long after we passed the small cottage, we found a green waymarker with a white arrow pointing towards the right and into further woodland. We followed this route up through he trees and eventually arrived at a farm on the mountainside.  Further green waymarkers directed us through the farm and It wasn’t long before we saw the ruins of the goldmines and realised we were on the right track.

Rhaeadr Ddu

Mountainside and goldmine

After passing through the isolated farm, the circular green waymarkers like the ones on the Blue trail appeared and we followed these to a small river which provided a great picnic spot and an opportunity for our thirsty dogs to take a drink. We then walked up to the Cefn Coch goldmine and explored the ruins. The goldmine was a feature of an area which became known as New California during the gold rush in Wales. Cefn Coch was the region’s third most productive mine. Dog walkers should note that there are a few sheep around this open area of countryside and so pooches are best kept on leads.

After viewing the ruins we continued along what appeared to be path following an old railway track which served the mine. The trail across the mountainside was clearly marked and led us back down to the woods at which point the green trail meets the red trail which is also waymarked. There were wonderful views across the valley to Penhros Mountain throughout the descent.

The red trail

For the last leg of this hike we followed the red trail down through woodland to and around an ornamental lake. The trail is adequately waymarked and led us to the rather attractive Plas Dolmelynllyn which is now a country house hotel. Just beyond the hotel, we discovered Britain’s largest bee bole wall. Boles were alcoves where bees were kept in baskets. This historic feature was discovered during the National Trust’s renovations of the estate.

After examining the bee bole wall, we followed the waymarkers to the point where the red trail meets the blue trail once more and continued through woodland back to a field next to Arfon Camlan and to the A470.

This was an excellent walk with a fabulous combination of natural wonders, amazing views and historic sites. It was never particularly strenuous and the numerous points of interest along the way meant that we could have lingered longer at each, transforming the walk into an all-day hike.

lake at Dolmelynllyn
Woodland at Dolmelynllyn


From the Woollen Mill, head for the A487 and travel south towards Porthmadog. After passing Porthmadog, you will drive under a metal bridge and then arrive at a roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout towards Penryhndeudraeth (A487). Keep on this road which becomes the A470. You will eventually pass the sign for the Coed Y Brenin visitor centre. Ignore this and continue to the village of Ganllwyd. The carpark is immediately after the farm shop on your left. It isn’t huge and so can fill up in the summer. There are toilets and parking is free.