Coed Y Brenin


Coed Y Brenin – Waterfalls and Goldmines Trail

Coed Y Brenin Forest Park boasts a number of wonderful walks including short strolls by the river and the arduous 11 km Volcano Trail. At 3.5 km and with no steep sections , the Waterfalls and Goldmines Trail occupies the middle ground. This is a beautiful woodland walk through a steep-sided valley. The waymarked route takes you along the banks of the Mawddech river past two spectacular waterfalls and the remains of the Gwynfynydd Goldmine. There’s something interesting around every corner and plenty of wonderful spots for picnics.

The circular walk begins at the Tyddyn Gladys car park where there are picnic tables and lovely views of the river. You will be walking on forest roads and gravel paths with no awkward terrain to tackle other than the narrow path which leads to the first falls, but this is only 50 metres long. Some sections of the trail are also used by mountain bikers so take care if you are walking with dogs. Your dogs don’t have to be kept on leads but there are sections of the trail with steep drops down to the river where caution is advised if your dogs are likely to run off.

Duration: Roughly 90 minutes if you don’t linger at the beauty spots

Terrain: Mostly gravel roads and paths

Coed Y Brenin river Mawddech

Starting Out

The walk begins at the Tyddyn Gwladys car park where there is a route map displayed. Head north on the forest road and follow the trail along the river. There are waymarkers throughout the walk to keep you on track.  These have a blue backgrounds with white footprints on them. After a little more than 1km you will see a dramatic waterfall to your left. There is a narrow path which enables you to get closer to the falls. Take care here as the rocks can be slippery. When you have admired the falls, and they are worthy of your admiration, walk back to the main trail and continue in a northerly direction.

You will soon arrive at the second waterfall. The Gwynfyndd Goldmine was situated at the foot of the falls but was closed down in 1999. Gold was first discovered in the area in 1864.  Prospectors dug hundreds of horizontal mine shafts into the hillsides in an attempt to tap into the seam of gold-rich quartz which ran through the mountains. One of the largest gold strikes of the 19th century occurred at Gwynfyndd where 9000 ounces was recovered in 1888 alone. Today, this would be worth over £6.5 million. You can see the site of the mine more clearly from the other side of the river where there is an information board.

Coed Y Brenin Waterfall
Coed Y Brenin bridge

Crossing the River

Keep following the forest road until you arrive at a stone bridge which spans the river. If you fancy a break or a snack, you can walk down to the river bank just before you reach the bridge. When you are feeling refreshed, cross the bridge and then walk south along the forest road. The woodland is even more spectacular on this side of the Mawddech. A few meters along the route, there’s a wonderful view of both waterfalls and an information board outlining the history of gold mining in the region.

Continue following the trail alongside the river.  If you keep your eyes peeled, you will see the entrance to one of the old mine shafts to your left. As you work your way back towards the start point, the forest road draws closer to the water and there are a few places where you can wander down to the river bank. It is certainly worth taking the diversion as the views up and down the valley are amazing.

The Opposite Bank

As you wander along the trail, you will eventually see the car park on the opposite bank of the river. Continue walking for approximately 300 metres and look out for a waymarker directing you to the right. A pathway wends its way down the hillside and past a picnic table towards a wooden bridge across the river. Cross the bridge to the other side but remember to stop halfway so that you can admire the striking views of the river and gorge below.

Once over the bridge, follow the path back to the car park. This would be a great time to take a seat at the picnic table to enjoy a snack or a cuppa before returning to your vehicle. There are no toilet facilities at Tyddyn Gwladys. If you are in urgent need, the Coed Y Brenin visitor centre is just a few minutes away. Drive back to the A470 and head north. The visitor centre is signposted and features a shop, a cafe and toilets. There is a fee for parking here and you pay for your stay when you are ready to leave. The payment machine is adjacent to the shop’s entrance.

Coed Y Brenin Woodland
Coed Y Brenin woodland


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. Just before the village, turn sharp left immediately after the 30mph speed limit sign. Follow the road over the bridge and up into the forest. You will pass the Pont Cae’n y Coed car park. Ignore this and continue to the Tyddyn Gwladys car park which is next to the river and on the right.