Distance: 15.4 km
Climbing and Descending: 408 m up and 458 m down
Technical Grade: Initially Easy/Moderate followed by Challenging with Long climbs and demanding descentsSection Description: The Greenway starts with an easy 3.8km following the Route 82 cycleway markers along a beautiful meandering track through the woods along the shores of Llyn Trawsfynydd. The views across the lake to the hills beyond are dramatic whatever the weather and there are plenty of picnic benches to stop and enjoy this setting. The section can be slippery in the wet, with leaves and mud on the trail, and there are a couple of narrow bridges to negotiate.
After departing the banks of the lake, the Greenway uses the cycleway on the pavement alongside the busy A470 to access the village of Trawsfynydd (approx. ‘Traus-vin-eth’). There is no physical barrier between the Greenway and the road, and there are a number of laybys where traffic could be crossing, so a bit of care needs to be taken on this section, especially with inexperienced riders.
Before long the route turns onto a small road leading into the ancient settlement of Trawsfynydd. This sometimes bleak moorland settlement has, from the earliest of times, been traversed by important trade routes and even the name which translates to ‘cross mountains’, suggests a journey. Excavations in the area have found settlements dating back to 300 BC and both the Romans and Normans have left traces of their time here.
On leaving Trawsfynydd, the Greenway is at it's most challenging with steady climbs on quiet back roads onto the moors above Bronaber. Stops for a breather are rewarded with views back over the lake to the start.
Near the cross-roads at the top of the first climb, the route crosses over Sarn Helen, a Roman road running from Aberconwy in the north, via the Fort at Tomen y mur close to the start of the Greenway and all the way to Carmarthen in the south.
Around this point the road enters what was, for a large part of the 20th Century, a large artillery range, served by a camp lower down the hill at Bronaber. The remains of guard posts and barriers next to the road can be spotted by those with a keen eye.
Dropping down from the climb is a steep tarmac descent, which needs care and a good set of brakes and, like all good river crossings, it is uphill again once over the bridge. The stands of trees mark the northern borders of the Coed y Brenin Forest, and before long the Greenway turns off the tarmac onto a loosely surfaced forest road which drops back down to the river again. The irregular surface of loose stone makes this another part of the ride to exercise great care.
Having crossed the river, the trail climbs over the next rise and swings around over the hill before dropping down to the Coed y Brenin Visitors' Centre. Phew! The centre, run by Natural Resources Wales, is an extremely popular spot with mountain bikers, and boasts a particularly good café for a spot of refuelling. There is also a good bike shop should there be a requirement to attend to any running repairs.
Things to See and Do:
- Llyn Trawsfynydd:
- Tomen y Mur:
On the bleak hills above Trawsfynydd stands Tomen y Mur, a Roman fort Complex built in AD 78 and abandoned in AD 140. A Norman-era Motte now dominates the site, demonstrating the strategic importance of the location. The site is also an important one in Welsh mythology, being the legendary palace of Ardudwy (Mur-y-Castell) in the fourth branch of the Mabinogi (a collection of stories from medieval Welsh Manuscripts).
- Hedd Wyn:
Hedd Wyn was a famous Welsh language poet from Trawsfynydd. Originally named Ellis Humphrey Evans, he was born in 1887 in a small house on the main road through the village (a plaque marks the building). Taking the bardic name Hedd Wyn (Welsh: blessed peace) he had been awarded several chairs for his poetry, and was posthumously awarded the bard's chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod following his death during the Battle of Passchendaele in World War I. A commemorative statue stands in the village centre. The family farm, Yr Ysgwrn, a building dating back to 1519 and lying about 1.5 km to the east of the village, has passed into the care of the Snowdonia National Park, thanks to funding from the Welsh Government and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
- Llys Ednowain Heritage Centre:
This small museum in the centre of the village hosts a mulitymedia, interactive exhibition concerning the rich history and folklore of the surrounding area.
For those in need of refreshment and prepared to do a little more pedalling, a short detour down the hill at Bronaber will take you to the Rhiw Goch Inn. Tracing it's origins back to the 12th Century, this coaching inn also served as the Officers’ Mess of the Bronaber Artillery Camp.
- Llech Idris:
Idris’s Stone is a leaning slab, 3.1m high by 1.5m by 0.3m.
According to legend, the giant Idris, who used nearby Cadair Idris as his chair, kicked this rock to its present position.
- Mountain Biking:
The Coed y Brenin Forest is home to one of Britain's oldest and best mountain biking trail-centres. From straightforward green and blue trails to difficult black runs, there is something to suit everyone
- High Ropes Course:
Set high in the canopy above the Visitors' centre, a high-ropes course will bring out your inner monkey.
- On-Foot trails:
The Natural Resources Wales Coed y Brenin site is home to a number of walking and running trails, along with 3 orienteering courses. You can hire GPS units to try a bit of geocaching and there is even a trail-running shop!
The Coed y Brenin Visitors' Centre is home to a great Cafe serving freshly cooked and locally sourced meals and snacks.