Snowdonia National Park is the largest National Park in Wales, covering 823 square miles. The National Park is famous for the largest natural lake, Lake Bala (Llyn Tegid) and biggest mountain, Mt. Snowdon (Eryri) in Wales. Designated a national park in 1951, Snowdonia was the first of the three Welsh national parks to gain this status.
Interestingly, Snowdonia National Park has a hole in the middle, around the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Which was deliberately excluded from the park when it was set up to allow the development of new light industry to replace the reduced slate industry.
For the last part of our mini tour, the weather wasn’t going to be brilliant. The tail end of two hurricanes were coming our way. This meant that at least one day would be an inside day, possibly two. With this in mind, we concluded that visiting towns and villages would produce dreary photos. Of course, this gave us the perfect excuse to visit another National Park. Where stormy clouds, mountains and rugged countryside are a perfect match.
Much to my relief, climbing Mount Snowdon would be out of the question under the circumstances. So we picked a site near Porthmadog. Far enough away from the mountain that Nik wouldn’t be tempted. This time, we did our research before arrival and had possible walks for everyday sorted.
On our first full day, OS map at the ready, we made our way down to Llyn Trawsfynydd. As the crow flies the reservoir is just over a mile, down-hill, from our site. Of course, we didn’t take the quickest route. Instead, we followed a footpath that took us through fields of sheep and Ceunant Llennyrch National Nature Reserve. Arriving at the damn end of the reservoir two hours after setting off with very wet feet and over-excited dogs.
Llyn Trawsfynydd is a man-made reservoir situated near the village of Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd. Built between 1924 and 1928 to supply water for Maentwrog hydro-electric power station. In 1965 the reservoir became the source for cooling water for the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station. In 1991 the nuclear power station was shut down.
Canolfan Prysor Centre is open 8am until 4pm. With a Cafe, Fishing tackle shop and permit office, Toilets and Shower facilities, Bike Hire, fishing boats to hire, Walking / Cycle track around the lake, Car park and Hatchery. For more information Trawsfynydd Lake.
We walked roughly a third of the way along the far side, using the cycle track that goes much of the way around the reservoir, before turning back. We saw some amazing scenery. Became distracted for a while by some stunning examples of fungi. And had a thoroughly enjoyable day, despite being rained on several times. Making it back to Horatio just as the sun disappeared from the sky.
As predicted, the next two days were really rather nasty, weather-wise. We did make an attempt on the first day to go out. The rain was, however, torrential so we gave up. Sticking with going out only to walk the dogs.
With only two days left we were chomping at the bit to get out and explore the wild Snowdonia countryside. Saint Tecwyn’s Church, Llandecwyn, was our end destination for the days walk. There was no particular reason for this. Other than the need for a point to head toward. A rural church seemed as good an endpoint as any other.
For much of our day, we followed the national trail through the stunningly beautiful Welsh countryside. Through stunning woodland, where we again became distracted by beautiful fungi. Around a small lake, edged with heather and along a path with views of the Afon Dwyryd estuary.
Eventually, we found our church. Hurrah! We were starting to get chilly and were more than ready for lunch.
Not only does this beautiful little church, virtually in the middle of nowhere, have a stunning view of the distant mountains. We also discovered that Saint Tecwyn’s was the Church that the idea for the Small Pilgrim Places began. In this church, we found a kettle, biscuits, tea and coffee for anyone to use and break their journey whilst enjoying a quiet place to contemplate or pray. There is more to it than that, better explained on the above website. Finding this at our endpoint, when we were cold and ready for lunch, was just so perfectly apt.
We didn’t avail ourselves of the provided hospitality. We’d brought our own food and drink. However, the explanation of a pilgrimage did strike a chord with us. After all. Living in a campervan, travelling to new places. Discovering new things about ourselves is very much a pilgrimage style journey. We do consider ourselves to be very spiritual in a non-religious sense, so this little discovery held so much meaning for us.
With renewed vigour and a smile on our faces, we then started the journey home. We did, of course, choose a circular route. Never wanting to travel the same path twice in one day. This, of course, led us to another discovery. Our ordinance survey map, although bought new for the trip, is slightly out of date. Some of the footpaths have been slightly moved. Luckily we had a compass with us and good visibility.
After eight and half hours of traipsing through the Welsh countryside. Quite long enough for two amateur walkers. We arrived home somewhat shattered but very very happy with our day.
No adventure would be complete without a steam train. So, Dduallt station was our destination.
The station is at a height of 164.6m and 9 miles from Harbour Station in Porthmadog. Built in 1836 to carry dressed slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog for export by sea. It is now a passenger station on the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway.
According to legend, if you sleep a whole night in Dduallt you’ll wake up as a poet or a lunatic. Some would say that Nik and I already carry the title of lunatic so there was no need to for us to camp out for the night and test that theory.
We could have driven part of the way to the station, but where’s the fun in that? It was a little over 4 miles to Ddaullt station, which should have been easy. However, the first 2 miles of our walk was so steeply downhill that our toes hurt by the time we reach Maentwrog at the base of the hill. Maentwrog is a pretty little village with a rather cute little legend.
This legend says that a giant known as Twrog hurled a boulder from the top of a hill down into the village, destroying a pagan altar. This stone is said to be the one located in St Twrog’s Church courtyard. If one rubs this boulder one is fated to return to the village in the future.
I love a good legend. Once we reach Maentwrog it was time to start our climb to the station. This was a 2-mile journey, mostly steeply uphill, through Coedydd Maentwrog National Nature Reserve. Advertised as slippery when wet. Yep! We can vouch for that.
It was pretty tiring getting to the station but as we were travelling through the beautiful countryside, it was also very enjoyable. Just to make Nik’s day, possibly holiday, we arrived at the station at the same time as a steam train. If we’d taken two minutes longer on our snack stop we would have missed it. The trains only stop at Ddaullt if there is someone on the platform flagging it down.
We stopped here for our lunch and joy of joys, yet another train rolled on through. Our journey back, following a different route and was yet another adventure of steep hills, mud and finding alternate routes where farmers had blocked the footpaths. The day was exhausting and so much fun.
A perfect end to our Snowdonia adventure.
For more blogs about our adventures, click HERE