Set in what was once the county of Meirionydd, the Dolmelynllyn Estate, or Coed Ganllwyd, is a kinder, gentler landscape than the rugged terrain of Snowdonia to the north.
The village of Ganllwyd, which lies where the old Roman road used to ford the River Eden just before it joins with the rivers Mawddach and Gamlan has 3 large waterfalls and many smaller ones all within Coed y Brenin (the forest of the king).
The village includes Dolmelynllyn Hall (now a Hotel and owned by the National Trust), and the area is also referred to as Dolmelynllyn. One author suggests an Arthurian link to the village but there is no other corroboration.
The village is now surrounded by Forestry Commission and National Trust parkland of conifers and oaks. A large area of surrounding ancient oak woodland is a designated SSSI and has a particularly rich temperate maritime Bryophyte community. The forest has a group of Wellingtonia planted in the early 20th century and Dolmelynllyn has two trees dating from the 1850s in the meadow, one being the second largest in Wales . The forests are full of wildlife, with deer, red squirrels, pine martens, polecats, otters, and other mammals, and a variety of birds from black grouse to merlins, buzzards, and red kites. There are many walks from the village into the forest, and several free car parks.
Coed Ganllwyd National Nature Reserve is situated behind the village of Ganllwyd on the A470, about 9 kilometres north of Dolgellauin, Wales. A stunning island of broadleaved deciduous trees amidst a sea of conifer plantations, it includes a steep wooded gorge and high tumbling waterfalls. Along this ravine the famous ‘Rhaeadr Ddu’ or ‘Black Waterfall’ can be seen.
In addition to being considered the richest site in Western Europe for mosses and liverworts, it is also an important home for certain rare species of bats, like the lesser horseshoe bat.
Dolmelynllyn Estate walk. A moderate walk that will take up to 4 hours.
Start at the Ganllwyd car park. Cross the road from the car park towards the recently-restored corrugated iron village hall. Follow the tarmac road alongside the River Gamlan to its junction with a stoned footpath, waymarked towards a wooden bridge. As you follow this path look out for a rock inscribed in Latin with a line by the poet Thomas Grey.
River Gamlan. The rock outcrops along the river create turbulent rapids, waterfalls and torrents and is very impressive in high water. Cross over the bridge and veer right to Rhaeadr ddu: the Black Falls. There are two separate waterfalls, both spectacular in all seasons. These cascading falls have inspired generations of artists and writers. They are one of the wonders of Wales and are breathtakingly beautiful in all weathers with a refreshing soundtrack.
Continue along the path, following the waymarkers through a kissing gate. A little further on, take the path to your right and cross the wooden footbridge. Carry on along the path to your right, up a tarmac road and through a gate into Forestry Commission woodland.
After about 110 yards (100m) turn left through a recently thinned conifer plantation. Follow the waymarkers over a rustic oak footbridge and onto the open mountain. From here the waymarkers will take you past the the 19th-century gold workings. Look out for the early and more recent stamping mills, the barracks and a powder hut. The path will lead you down to the ruined cottage of Berthlwyd. The discovery of gold in Wales in the 19th century led to a gold rush. Cefn Coch was one of the richest mines in the Merionydd gold belt, an area known at the time as New California.
Walk downhill along the tarmac road as far as the stone house on the left. Take the path to the right and cross a step-over stile into the woods. Carry on along this path until you reach a junction. Take the second path to the right and follow the waymarkers through the woods. This path will bring you to the Merionydd National Trust Workbase.
Continue on along the tarmac road to the Tyn-y-Groes Hotel. Cross the busy main road and take the path opposite, towards the River Mawddach and the Tyn-y-Groes bridge. Go left along the tarmac road back to the main road. Cross over to the pavement and turn right, back towards the village and the Ganllwyd car park.
Ornamental Lake walk, Dolmelynllyn. This ornamental lake has recently been restored with a new circular path and viewing platforms extending out over the lake edge. It's a fantastic place to watch wildlife and has been developed with accessibility in mind so is perfect for wheelchair users. Classified as Easy, the walk will last between 30 minutes and one hour.
Once again, start at the Ganllwyd car park. Make your way to the disabled car park beneath the conifer trees then follow the path on to the donation box and turn right. The National Trust received 1700 acres of land, known locally as the Dolmelynllyn Estate in 1936. The estate included the remains of formal gardens including the lake, which was made by damming a stream running down through the woodland.
As you go round the newly restored lake take time out for a picnic or to peer into the water to see what fish and insects you can spot. Salmon, sea trout and dragonflies are all found here. In time, the numbers of animals and plants will increase to make this lake a real haven for wildlife. When you've completed the circuit, retrace your steps back past the donation box to the car park.
The lake was created in the 19th century and had become silted up and overgrown over the years. It has been given a new lease of life with an accessible trail around it.
Toilets - there are toilets, including disabled facilities, in the car park at Ganllwyd. There is disabled parking at the Ganllwyd car park.
Assiostance dogs are welcome, as are dogs in general as long as they are on a leash.
Location : Ganllwyd, Gwynedd
Transport : Barmouth (National Rail) 10 miles or Bangor then Bus. Bus Routes : T2 from Bangor
Opening Times : Dawn till Dusk.
Tickets : Free
Tel : 01341 440238