Mawddach/Dolgeallau Area

Key information: Mawddach/Dolgeallau Area

  • The lovely Mawddach Estuary and Dolgellau area has a plethora of fine walks.

  • In addition to jewel-in-crown Cadair Idris, fit in something different, be it on the middle slopes and hills or on the estuary bottom.

  • Come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather any time of year.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating90
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest12
  • Charisma31
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating90

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 893m (Cadair Idris)
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable


The beautiful area around the Mwddach valley and estuary, and the pleasing little town of Dolgellau, has a plethora of fine walks.

The jewel in the crown is the Cadair Idris ridge, which looms grandly to the south. It is easy to see why Cader (as it is known) is one of Wales? most-loved mountains, as it is a fine climb through gorgeous scenery, gaining increasingly dramatic views back over estuary and valley and receding mountain ridges, with the huge sweep of Cardigan Bay to the west. At 893m (  ft) , it would not quite count as a Munro in Scotland but, as the highest point for miles around, the summit commands suitably stunning 360˚views. The cliff-lined high ridge of this great massif is more than 11km (7 miles) long, with a variety of walking options once on top, so don?t just think of an up-and-down climb (or consider other parts of the ridge, such as Craig-las.

 There are 3 main ways up Cader: the Pony Path from the North, the easiest way up, via the saddle with Craig Las to the West. Some 5km each way, it should take a couple of hours up; the Fox?s Path (also from the North), a lovely walk up to the Llyn-y-Gadair lake in the heart of the great cwm, then a tiring and dreary slog on steep scree up to near the peak (a tough descent, only for the very experienced); and the Minffordd Path from the South: the longest and loveliest path, it skirts the rim of the perfect Llyn Gau cwm.

Other excellent walks include:

-          The area round beautiful Cregennan lake, just north of Cader. Create your own circuit through rough and boggy uplands, hill farms and woodland, with the great ridge always looming above you. A Walkopedia favourite.

-          The well-known Precipice Walk, some 5 miles north of Dolgellau, which circles a pretty hill, winding along its very steep western hillside. (precipice is a bit hyperbolic) and beside a ravishing little lake below its eastern slopes. Lovely vegetation and views. Has been promoted since Victorian times.

-          The New Precipice Walk, not far away on the northern slopes, is an easy path which follows an old gold mining tramway cut into at times steep valley sides for some spectacular views down the estuary to the sea.

-          The Mawddach Trail, following the route of an old railway line from Dolgellau to Barmouth on the coast. Easy but pleasant, and can be bicycled. Consider a break and the riverside George III pub.

-          The Mawddach Way, which circuits the estuary in 3 days or so. 50km.

-          The Rhinogs, north of the Estuary, are rougher and emptier.

-          The woodland walk by the Arthog Falls near Fairbourne on the coast is pretty, and will have you puffing a bit.

The whole area is textbook glacial, and none more than Cadair Idris itself.

You will encounter a variety of ecosystems (woodland, sheep pasture, moorland and rough mountain slopes, with Alpine/Arctic conditions and areas of tough bare rock on high ground.

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