Around The Mawddach Estuary
Coed Cae B&B nestles amongst the trees overlooking the beautiful Mawddach estuary at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. Revered in past-times by the likes of Wordsworth and Ruskin, the estuary itself is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is noted by the more contemporary Rough Guide as “Wales’ finest” and features amongst their list of Welsh “must sees”.
Coed Cae B&B nestled into the hillside
of the Mawddach Estuary.
The area has been inhabited since the earliest of times, and the hills either side of the estuary are punctuated by prehistoric burial mounds, standing stones and Iron-age hill forts.More recently industrial activities have left their mark, with the mining of precious metals featuring prominently.
Prehistoric Burial Mound
There are scattered remnants of the local gold mining industry, including the famous Clogau mine, which has provided the Welsh gold for recent royal wedding rings.
You also do not have to look too hard to find a very real and thriving Welsh culture. The character of the scattered working hill farms has not changed greatly in generations, and the Welsh language is in everyday use for many in the community.
The lower reaches of the estuary were an important ship-building centre, but the industry has long since left these shores. Perhaps the only surviving remnant of this activity is that Barmouth (Abermaw) harbour still formally extends 8 km upstream to Penmaenpool (opposite Coed Cae) where in 1879 the toll bridge was built with a central span wide enough to allow the passage of sea-going vessels.
The Cerrig Arthur Stones
In the nineteenth century Barmouth, at the mouth of the estuary, moved on from its manganese-mining past and found a new lease of life as a sea-bathing resort for the English Midlands, spawning a fresh wave of development in the region. An area known as Dinas Oleu (fortress of light), set in the cliffs above Barmouth, became the National Trust’s first property in 1895 and children with whooping cough were traditionally taken to these rocky tops to benefit from the sea air.
A B-17G Flying Fortress from 511th Bomb
Squadron, 351st Bombardment Group,
crashed on Craig Cwm Llwyd on its way
from Polebrook to RAF Valley - the first
leg of its journey back to the USA.
The ravages of World War II left their mark even on this, the most placid of places, and numerous air bases and training camps were in place along the coast. A group of 6 unknown sailors found their final resting place in the churchyard at Llwyngwril, on the southern margins of the estuary, after they were torpedoed in the bay, and a hillside plaque bears testimony to another tragic episode where a B-17 flying fortress heading home in 1945, crashed into the hillside above Arthog with the loss of all crew.
The ancient wool-trading town of Dolgellau, 5 km west of Coed Cae, is a bustling hub for outdoor activity, and people have come to the area to escape the city and view the spectacular scenery for hundreds of years. The hills are criss-crossed with old mining tracks and pack-horse trails just begging to be explored, and the area is home to Cadair Idris, perhaps the second most famous peak in the Snowdonia National Park. As early as the 1800’s there were guides with ponies selling tourist trips over this dramatic peak.
Not far away the purpose-built and popular mountain bike trails of Coed y Brenin offer spectacular biking at all levels, and local mountain bike guides can help you find the less well known hidden-gems also present in the area. The challenging Lôn Las Cymru long distance cycle route, which traverses Wales from Holyhead to Cardiff passes close to our door, as does the Mawddach trail, a disused railway bed running the length of the estuary and offering easy cycling and walking for all.
The Dolgellau to Barmouth Mawddach Trail walk was recently 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 available on DVD - Railway Walks with Julia Bradbury )
Barmouth harbour is popular with the jet-ski and yachting fraternities and is also the starting point for the famous 3-peaks yacht race, where teams of yacht-crews and fell-runners tackle the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland.