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 rating90
- Natural interest15
- Human interest12
- Negative points0
- Total rating90
- 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.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Hillwalking in Snowdonia: British Hills and Techniques – Steve Ashton/ Cicerone Press: a beautifully illustrated, detailed guide to nearly 70 routes throughout Carneddau, Glyders, Snowdon and the Outlying Areas, from an author whose passion for the area is palpable throughout.
Ridges of Snowdonia - Cicerone
Snowdonia & North Wales: 50 Walks – AA 50 Walks Walking Guides/ AA Publishing: offers a wide mix of relatively short treks in the region, with practical advice, maps and a readily accessible grading criteria to assess difficulty levels, minimum times etc.
OS Explorer map.. Can be bought locally.
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk: Spring/ Summer/ early Autumn – the changing seasons in Wales each have their own distinct charm; winter, with snow likely on highr ground, is more for the specialist.
Weather: Welsh. One of the wetter and fickler climates in Great Britain, so come prepared for all eventualities, rain especially, and snow in Winter.
Train to Barmouth. Or car. Or bus, although this will be a tortuous option of coming from a distance.
No permits are required for walking here.
See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
· Mountain weather: variable temperatures; don’t rely on the weather forecast. Rain, cold and wind are always possible. Come prepared.
· Heat and strong sun can be experienced in summer. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
· Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
You can easily do these walks independently. You can hire guides locally. ANY RECOMMENDATIONS?
While some walkers prefer to camp, there is a wide range of hotels, hostels, B&Bs and guesthouses available throughout the region.
Characterful, even charming, Dolgellau is the obvious town to stay in.
Book in advance during high season to avoid disappointment.
· Snowdonia Tourist Information – www.snowdonia.org.uk
· Let’s Stay Snowdonia - www.staysnowdonia.co.uk - fully-comprehensive guide to accommodation and main regional attractions
· Snowdonia Campsites – www.walestouristsonline.co.uk/snowdonia/campsite/index.html - a handy directory, searchable by region
· www.snowdonia-adventures.co.uk/accommodation/budget- accommodation.html - for hostels and budget accommodation
See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.
A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively but effectively named Hotels.com.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
· www.wikipedia.org. As often, a good starting place.
· www.mawddachestuary.co.uk has great information, including on walking and cycling.
· The Discover Dolgellau website (www.discoverdolgellau.com ) has god local information as well as walking ideas.
· Snowdonia Tourist Information – www.snowdonia.org.uk
· Have a look at Tripadvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on these walks and the area.
Other things to do in the area
Endless, in Snowdonia and elsewhere.
North Wales is a Mecca for adventure and extreme sports enthusiasts: choose from a wealth of climbing opportunities, including bouldering; also mountain biking; coasteering and watersports. Cycling on The Mawddach Estuary Trail.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more