Things To Do:
For an up-to-date list of events and activities in Barmouth, Dolgellau and all around the Mawddach Estuary, please visit the Mawddach Estuary Events Guide
For hundreds of years the Mawddach estuary and surrounding area has been popular with visitors seeking to escape city life and spend time amongst the beautiful scenery. Millennia of inhabitation and industry have left the hill-tops crisscrossed with paths and tracks and scattered with the remains of earlier activities, while sympathetic schemes in the valley bottom forests have provided important facilities and specialist habitats. Much of the area now falls within the Snowdonia National Park, and is dotted by nature reserves, areas owned by the National Trust and sites of special scientific interest.
The Mawddach trail, a well surfaced track built on an old railway bed, runs from Dolgellau to Barmouth along the southern margins of the estuary and is a great route for cycles, trailers, wheelchairs and feet. Coed Cae guests are able to rent bikes and access the trail by crossing the historic toll-bridge at Penmaenpool. The track also provides useful access to either side of the estuary thanks to the Penmaenpool and Barmouth toll-bridges. This trail forms part of the South Snowdonia Greenway, a 43 km route from Llyn Trawsfynydd to Barmouth on the coast, making use of quiet back-roads and straightforward off-road cycle tracks.
For something a little different, why not explore some of the remains of 20th century military activity in the area. From hill-top memorials to beach defences, there are over 50 different sites in and around the Mawddach Estuary to be explored on foot, by bike or by car. See here for further details.
Walking: The hills have always been a major draw to the region. In the 1800’s a well-known local guide, Robert Edwards, enthusiastically described his job as “by the all-divine assistance, a conductor to and over the most tremendous mountain, Cadair Idris”, and this mountain remains a popular focus in the area. While the peak rewards a demanding ascent with daunting views, it is only a small part of what the area has to offer. At Coed Cae we have a selection of laminated route cards for walks of all grades in the vicinity and these are available for our guests to borrow.
The Dolgellau to Barmouth Mawddach Trail walk was highlighted by Julia Bradbury as she completed this trail (meeting Coed Cae's very own Jacky en-route) on the BBC's "Railway Walks" program (which is now out on DVD - Railway Walks with Julia Bradbury)
For the more serious walkers, why not try the Mawddach
Way - a three day 50km circular footpath walk right around the Mawddach
Mountain Biking: Compared to other activities in the area, mountain biking is a relative newcomer to the outdoor scene, but the sport has taken the area by storm. The renowned purpose-built mountain bike trails of the Coed y Brenin forest are close at hand (7 miles, ~10 min away) , and in easy striking distance are the Cli-machx trail (Corris, 15 miles, ~30 min), Mach 1-3 trails (Machynlleth, 20 miles, ~40 min), Marin trail (Llanrwst, 36 miles, ~50 min) and Nant yr Arian (40 miles, ~1 h). Further details about these developments can be found on the Mountain Biking Wales website.
For those who like their mountain biking gravity-fuelled, the the Antur Stiniog downhill courses run through the slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog, about a 30 min drive from Coed Cae. These are 4 full-blooded downhill courses with a dedicated uplift service, and not for the faint hearted! The two red graded runs are, with the appropriate skills, do-able on a long travel trail bike, although the two black runs up the demands on bike and body. Full face helmets and body armour are strongly recommended for all trails, as is pre-booking your uplift ticket.
For those who like a bit of endurance in their riding, there is always the Mawddach Big-8, an epic 2-day bike ride of 160 km (99.4 miles) with 4500m of climb. Following National Cycle Network Route-8 on simple tracks and quiet back lanes in a figure of 8, with the Mawddach estuary at its centre, you will ride for around 8 hours and cover around 80 km each day. It's octastic!
Cycling: There is lots of great cycling on easy trails and quiet back roads in the area including The Mawddach trail and South Snowdonia Greenway. Coed Cae has a number of bikes, a tag along, a toddlers trailer and even a tandem for guests to rent a bike to explore the estuary.
Swimming: In addition to fabulous Blue Flag beach swimming along Cardigan bay there are also plenty of lakes for Wild Swimming. For the indoor swimmer we have the swimming pools at Bala Leisure Centre and Harlech Leisure Centre.
Indoor Climbing: The Harlech Leisure Centre boasts an impressive climbing wall and bouldering room and a great cafe run by local volunteers making fresh dishes from locally sourced ingredients.
Zip Wires: North Wales is home to some amazing zip-wire experiences, both taking advantage of the rugged landscape left behind by generations of slate excavation. At Penrhyn Quarry near Bethesda (about 1.5 h drive) is 'Zip World Velocity', home to a mile-long 100 mph zip line. Closer to home at Blaenau Ffestiniog (40 min drive) is 'Zip World Titan' where up to four riders can slide in parallel.
Orienteering: When clouds shroud the highest peaks (which happens from time to time) the nearby Coed y Brenin forest is well worth a visit. Waterfalls at the confluence of the rivers Gain and Mawddach in the heart of the forest become thunderously impressive after heavy rain (which also happens from time to time). The woods offer important habitats to a wide range of creatures and there are other spectacular walks, orienteering facilities, and an 8 km geology trail. Leaflets with directions are available from the Coed y Brenin visitor centre.
Trail Running: The Coed y Brenin forest as established itself as a popular trail-running venue, hosting several events throughout the year and hosting a range of way-marked running routes to suit all abilities.
Geocaching: Set somewhere between orienteering and a treasure hunt, geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to explore an area, and to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a GPS unit. Caches have been set up all over the world by individuals and organizations and in their simplest form contain just a logbook of visitors. The locations are posted on the Internet and GPS users can then use the given coordinates to find the caches. Further information and a list of caches in the area around Coed Cae can be found at www.geocaching.com by typing in our postcode (LL40 2TU).
Bird watching: The RSPB has two reserves on the Mawddach Estuary. The Coed Garth Gell reserve lies immediately west of Coed Cae on the opposite side of the valley, and is in easy walking distance. In the spring pied flycatchers, wood warblers and redstarts can be heard in the deciduous woods while ravens and buzzards are present throughout the year. There is an attractive 3½ mile circular walk through oak wood and scrub land, making use of some of the tramways left over from long gone mine workings. A second reserve, Arthog Bog wetlands is situated near the southern end of the Barmouth Bridge and has disabled access.
Researching Family History: With the local Dolgellau records office holding such a wide variety of documents stretching back to the 14th Century, researching family history is a popular activity for our visitors. The office is currently open during office hours on weekdays except for Wednesday - Click here for more information on researching Welsh Family History. Details and further information about the men and women listed on the area's War Memorials can be found here.
Seaside: For a good old-fashioned day at the seaside, then you need look no further than the blue-flag beach at Barmouth. The beach is patrolled during July and August, and there is a dedicated area away from the swimming area for jet-skiers and powerboats. For a fresh-water soaking, the National canoeing and rafting centre on the dam controlled river Tryweryn offers a range of activities guaranteed to get you wet.
Boat handling skills and qualifications - Meirioneth Yacht Club, located
on the harbour at Barmouth, is a RYA training centre and offers courses
ranging from children' sailing to personal watercraft tuition and powerboats
(including the International Certificate of Competence, powerboat level
2). Shore based tuition on varying items such as VHF radio and navigation
is also available. For further information Click
At King Arthur’s labyrinth legends of King Arthur are retold during a trip by boat and on foot through old slate caverns near Corris. The development also boasts an impressive craft village above ground. A little further down the road, the Centre for Alternative Technology, one of Wales’s biggest attractions, pioneers technology for a more sustainable lifestyle.
Nestling on a wooded headland, just east of Porthmadog, lies the unique Italianate village of Portmeirion. Perhaps most famous as the backdrop for the cult 60’s TV series “The Prisoner”, this was the creation of Clough Williams-Ellis. The eccentric architect salvaged (some say plundered) unwanted buildings, played around with perspective, and created this attractive if curious montage of building styles.
Coed Cae B&B sits in the heart of narrow gauge railway country, with the railways at Tywyn-Talyllyn, Corris and Fairbourne being closest to home. Plenty of additional information on the narrow gauge railways of North Wales can be found here.
further afield are:
As well as all the above, there are two further specialist railways in the area: the unique water-balanced cliff railway at Machynlleth’s Centre for Alternative Technology and Britain’s longest electric cliff railway at Aberystwyth.
Local Events - A well maintained events guide as to what's on in and around Dolgellau, Barmouth and along the Mawddach Estuary.
Discover Dolgellau - The gateway to Southern Snowdonia
Dolgellau, North Wales - Pictures and nostalgia as well as a comprehensive listings of accommodation, businesses and events.
BBC Dolgellau - Dolgellau stories and photos.
BBC Machynlleth - Find out more about the town where Owain Glyndwr held Wales' first Parliament
Welsh Translations - Welsh place names and their meaning.
AA Route Planner - A good route planner to find your way here (and back home again)
Dolgellau Weather - Detailed weather forecast so you can plan your trips out.
Live Weather from Cadair Idris - Cadair Idris web cam.