Walking along the Mawddach Trail to Dolgellau

In my research around Barmouth I had read about the Mawddach Trail, a 15km walk along an old railway track beside the river Mawddach. After two days mostly spent inside, I felt ready to walk for a few hours on Sunday. I put on my new wellington boots expecting puddles and small rivers to wade through, but none of that happened, but luckily the boots turned out unexpectedly comfortable.

To get to the trail I first had to walk over the single-track wooden railway viaduct crossing the river estuary. The bridge was built between 1864 and 1867, with major renovations in the last century. While walking I admired the wooden structure and noticed the silence, I was out early, not so many people around, the wind had completely dropped, a curious eery feeling.

And looking back:

The Mawddach Trail has been prepared for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users, so walking was easy and comfortable. The views were stunning and relaxing back into my walking practice, I entered an enchanted state, so soft and calm and beautiful the views over the water and the surroundings. See for yourself.

And looking back to the railway viaduct:

The trail:

Paenmenpool was the first small settlement on the way, where I had hoped to get some food. Interestingly I was not very well prepared, in my backpack I had just a flask with tea and a pack of oatcakes. The local pub and restaurant was being renovated, at the toll bridge over the river I was told, no food today and 4 more km to go to the small town Dolgellau. Lots of food options there. And the sun came out when I reached the town and no way I would go inside for food. I found a little fish and chip shop and had chips and tea, sitting on a plastic chair in the sun.

Opposite I noticed the bus stop and after filling up chips I checked the bus times, there was only 1 bus in my direction 2 hours later, perfect timing to explore the town. It looked very artsy, shops with art supplies and wool. In one shop window hundreds of knitted squares were stacked, some of them sewn together to make a scarf and the scarfs they said would be sewn together to make blankets for the homeless. I love the idea and hope to be able to contribute at least one square myself.

When entering the town I saw a stone circle, but it looked ‘strange’, I walked around it during my tour of the town and did not feel like entering it. Later I read that it is a modern stone circle. On my next visit – Thursday is market day in Dolgellau – I am intending to find out more about the circle. Also the views must be even more stunning going from Dolgellau towards the sea along the track. Next time bus in, walk back.

Maybe then there is also time for a stroll through one of the two little oak forests which took my attention on the way, reforested after most of the oaks had been used for the busy ship building industry that was once situated here. The ship building stopped around 1850 and then the railway track was built to bring summer sea resort guests from the cities to Barmouth.

Closing this post with a picture of a statue in a small park near the river in Dolgellau named ‘roots’.

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