The walk takes you up to the old Clogau gold mines where there are lovely views of the mountains of Southern Snowdonia and of the Mawddach estuary. The Clogau mines were the largest and the most productive in the area. Although this was originally a copper mine, over 165 tons of minerals were quarried here between 1862 and 1911 from which 78 thousand ounces of gold was extracted. 'Clogau' literally means steep cliff.
Distance: 4 miles - 6.5 Km
Time: 3 hours
Grade: Hard Leisure Walk
Start/Finish: Lay-by at Dolgellau end of Bontddu off A496
Grid Reference: SH 679 188
Post Code: LL40 2UL
Relevant Map: OS Explorer OL23 (Cadair Idris & Llyn Tegid)
Facilities: Toilets and garage in Bontddu
Parking: Lay-by at village of Bontddu
Note: This map is intended as a rough guide only. You should use the most recent version of the relevant Ordnance Survey map (see above) when walking this route.
1. From the lay-by, cross the road carefully and walk in the direction of Dolgellau turning down towards the river Mawddach by the public footpath sign and towards a house named Rhuddallt. Turn left at the front of the house, walking through a small gate in the direction of the river.
2. At the end of the path, turn right through the gate, and following the estuary, pass through another gate, following the tide bank. Cross the bridge over the ditch and walk on until you reach the river Cwm Llechen which flows through the village. Turn right following the river, joining the road up towards the village of Bontddu. When you come to the main road, turn left and walk for 50m until you see a Public Footpath sign on the opposite side of the road. Follow this path up past the old chapel; it leads up through woodland to the site of the former gold mines.
3. Take care here! The gorge is steep and the river currents strong. Keep to the path in the shade of the oak trees; trees from this spot used to be felled to supply the ship building industry on the river Mawddach. You will presently come to Figra bridge. The remains of the old minerals work can be seen on the opposite bank of the river.
4. Keep climbing until you reach the tarmac road. Turn right and once past the second house, Llechfraith, pass through the gate where you see the Public Footpath sign on the left, bearing left behind the house. This path ascends gradually to the old Clogau gold mines. Pass by the mounds of rubble, aiming for the next valley, namely Cwm Mynach keeping the hillock on your right and the stone wall on your left. You will presently arrive at a corner with a stone stile. The stones can be extremely slippery in wet or icy conditions. Take care.
5. Once over the style, carry straight on down until you come to the house called Garth Gell. The Garn mountain will be straight ahead of you and Diffwys to the left. Carry straight on down the track turning right past the front of the house and pass through the gate continuing to descend at a slant. This is a permissive path - the condition being that no one should disturb the stock. We request that you keep your dog on a leash here and wherever else there may be animals grazing. You will come to a u-turn near the building at the bottom of this section of the path. Walk through the gate on your right and climb the incline towards the wooded area where a gate leads into the RSBP Nature Reserve - Garth Gell Woods. The oak and birch trees as well as the heather sustain a variety of woodland birds, as well as a good number of nightjars.
6. The path leads you through the reserve where there are splendid views of the Mawddach estuary, Cader Idris, Aran Fawddwy and Aran Benllyn, and Rhobell Fawr.
7. When you come to a prominent fork, bear right and continue to walk down through the woods. When you reach the gate in the wall on the left, pass through it turning right onto the tarmac road which leads back down into the car park.
Mawddach Estuary (© Kevin Richardson)