of the Third Age,
The Strollers Group purpose is to explore many of the hills, beaches and woodland in the area, at a leisurely pace, as well as enjoying picnics or often finishing the walk with lunch or a drink at a local pub.
Organiser: Patricia Percival (01341 280225)
Time: 2nd Tuesday of each month, start time variable.
Photos are taken on every trip and can be found here.
March (12th)- Llanbedrog
The weather forecast had said that storm “Gareth” was on its way for the day of our March Strollers Walk and we set off for the 10-00am train on a very wet Tuesday morning. As often happens, by the time we arrived for the start of the walk at Llanbedrog the sun had come out with blue skies and we completed most of our walk in brilliant sunshine with less than five minutes of light rain.
Arriving on the train at Pwllheli our first call was for morning coffee at Wetherspoons. We then caught the bus for the short but pleasant journey to Llanbedrog for the start of our walk.
From the bus stop we headed towards the village then through gate posts into the grounds of Plas Glyn-y-Weddw with the impressive house housing an Arts Centre and Cafe which are open in the summer months. In the grounds we passed a Tram which was said to be the only surviving Horse-Drawn Tram which once carried passengers between Pwllheli and Llanbedrog. Continuing towards the footpath we came to the John Andrews Open Air Theatre which has a capacity for 250 people and in the summer accommodates a varied programme of concerts.
We then found that the coastal footpath had been closed due to forestry works. Christine negotiated with the workmen and they allowed us to pass. The excellent stone paved path took us along the coast with distant views of Saint Tudwal’s Islands until we came to the Statue, also known as “The Tin Man”. This is the third Statue to be placed on the site, the previous two being destroyed by vandalism and decay. We then took a diversion up to a viewing and trig point where the weather changed and we had a few minutes of rain, but were rewarded with the sight of a full rainbow over the mountains.
The rain soon stopped and the sun returned as we made our way inland back to Llanbedrog village just in time for our bus back to Pwllheli. After our usual return visit to Wetherspoons we caught our train home. Another good walk – thank you Christine for leading it.
February (12th)- Porthmadog to Borth-y-Gest
After meeting on the 10-00am train from Barmouth to Portmadog we arrived at the station on a rather misty but dry morning. From the Station we crossed the main road onto a footpath passing a stream alongside several allotments and joined a road leading to the footpath around Llyn Bach. Towards the end of the path we crossed a bridge over the flood defence system and then followed a narrow steep path to a view point. From here we had excellent views over the town, The Cob and the Ffestiniog Railway site.
Our walk continued round the harbour, and up the eighty one steps to the top path leading to Borth- y Gest. Since it was lunch time and a light rain had started it was decided to take advantage of the shelter facing the sea for our lunch break. This just held our party of twelve Strollers.
After our lunch break the rain had stopped and we continued our walk towards the “Powder House”. As time was short for catching the return train we turned back before reaching the “Powder House” and diverted through the village of Borth-y-Gest, this time taking the lower path back to Porthmadog in time for our train home.
January (8th)- Pwllheli
The January Strollers Walk was led by Louise and Eric. From Pwllheli Train Station Louise and Eric led thirteen members on a walk along the coast in perfect walking weather, and returning through the Golf Course.
As usual for walks at Pwllheli, the day ended with lunch at Wetherspoons before catching the train home.
*** 2018 ***
December (11th)- Pensarn
Again the weather was good for our December Strollers Walk which took us from Pensarn to Llanbedr. Twelve of us arrived at Pensarn on the 10-17am train taking advantage of the free winter trains.
From the station we crossed the road to follow a narrow road heading up into the hills. As we got higher we were rewarded with lovely views over Pensarn Harbour and Shell Island with the Llyn Peninsula in the distance. After passing several cottages we came to two silos with a path to the right where we had a short “drinks” break. The path led us through fields of cows and sheep which appeared to pose for us as we passed. Continuing past houses nestled in the hills we eventually dropped down onto a lane taking us to the “Ty Mawr Hotel” in Llanbedr where we all had lunch in front of a lovely open fire.
After a prolonged lunch and chat we walked down to the end of the road in the centre of Llanbedr in time to catch the convenient number 39 bus back to our various destinations.
November (13th)- Pwllheli
Walks at Pwllheli are always popular and our November beach walk was no exception with fourteen members joining us. An added attraction of the Pwllheli walks is Wetherspoons where we visited for morning coffee and returned later for our lunch.
Our day started with the pleasant and convenient journey to Pwllheli on the 10-00am train from Barmouth. On arrival and following our morning coffee, we set off in brilliant sunshine under blue skies towards the beach. Reaching the beach the tide was well out. As well as walking along the beach, we amused ourselves collecting shells of which there were plenty available and playing with a friendly dog. After walking as far as we could along the beach we made our way up to the track running alongside the golf course which led us back towards the town. Following the path through the nature reserve we found that the path which we had used on previous Strollers Walks, together with the road were completely under water. Luckily the footpath we were using was at a higher level and dry.
Arriving at Wetherspoons, we were lucky to find a table to accommodate our party of fourteen hungry Strollers. Tuesday being “Steak Day” at Wetherspoons, this was the favourite and we all enjoyed a good meal. Following the meal we had a short time for shopping before catching the train back to our various destinations.
We all had had a good day with perfect weather for a beach walk with good company.
October (9th) - Tanygrisiau
Following requests from members who missed our previous walk to Llyn Cwmorthin, for our October walk we repeated a walk which we last did in June 2014. After meeting at Tan y Bwlch Station we started the day with a short pleasant ride on the Ffestiniog Railway which took us to the starting point for our walk at Tanygrisiau.
Looking back as we started the climb towards Llyn Cwmorthin gave wonderful views over Tanygrisiau Reservoir and the hills beyond. The steadily rising path took us through the old slate mine workings following the fast flowing river with its many waterfalls. As we approached Llyn Cwmorthin, we saw the remains of thirteen mine workers cottages. This provided us with a convenient place for our picnic lunch.
After our lunch break we walked down one side of the lake, passing the ruins of a rather remote chapel, as far as the Mine Managers Residence with further mine workings and buildings to explore. Here we had a short drinks break while watching an amazing waterfall on the opposite hillside. We then retraced our steps to the start of the lake.
During our previous visit we noticed considerable activity at a disuse mine on the other side of the lake. On investigation we found the mine to now be gated with the entrance flooded due to the recent rain. We later found that there is a YouTube video of the mine here and that tours are available from Tanygrisiau Lakeside Cafe for £25 including Land Rover Transport to the mine and a meal at the cafe.
We then made our way back down to the Lakeside Cafe at Tanygrisiau where we had time for a quick drink before catching the train back to our cars at Tan y Bwlch.
September (11th) - Llyn Cwm Mynach
As often happens, the threat of rain put off many of our Strollers for our September Strollers Walk at Llyn Cwm Mynach. It the event the early morning rain cleared in time for the start of the walk and we had a most pleasant walk in the dry.
We have previously had two Strollers walks in this area, which has many good forest paths, in July 2013 and April 2014. This time the walk was reversed and extended with a different starting point.
We parked the cars about two miles along the narrow road from Taicynhaeaf from where we started the walk along forest tracks to the lake. On approaching the lake we were surprised to see that the views had completely changed from when we last visited the area. Due to a massive operation of cutting down trees, the lake was now clearly visible from the footpath which on our last visit was officially “closed” due to fallen trees. This time we had no problem walking down to the lake where we had our lunch stop at the same bench that we had used on our previous visit. As we sat eating our sandwiches overlooking the lake the sun came out and our coats came off.
Following lunch we continued our walk around the lake, now visible due to the tree felling, and back to our cars. An enjoyable walk of about five miles.
July & August - no walks in July and August
June (12th) - The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
The day of our June Strollers Walk at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct started with the convenient and pleasant journey on the Double Decker T3 bus which took us through Llangollen, following the River Dee for most of the route, from Barmouth to Acrefair. A short walk then brought us down to Trevor Basin on the Llangollen Canal for the start of our walk.
Due to people having other commitments on the day of our walk we only had three Strollers on this walk. After discussing the proposed walk, which would have been back to Llangollen, we found that the three of us had previously walked in this direction and it was agreed to change the proposed walk and follow the canal in the opposite direction towards Chirk.
First came the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which is a navigable Aqueduct carrying the Llangollen Canal over the river Dee with its eighteen stone arches and cast iron structure dating back to 1805. From the narrow towpath we had fantastic views on both sides of the river and Dee valley far below. Having crossed the Aqueduct we passed the old wind up bridge which allowed traffic to pass over the canal.
Speaking to a boat owner, we were told that Chirk Village was only a few miles along the canal and was within walking distance, although we would need to pass through two long tunnels. After a short coffee break we set off along the canal towpath with constant waves from passing boats. The first tunnel was the Whitehouse Tunnel which is 191 yards long and although dark, has a good towpath with handrail for the entire length. As we walked through we were met by a stream of boats coming towards us with their white lights helping to light our way. The second tunnel was the Chirk tunnel which was even longer at 460 yards but again had a good towpath with handrail although we noticed that we stepped through a few puddles which we couldn't see in the dark.
Coming out of the Chirk tunnel we could see the Chirk Aqueduct and Chirk railway Viaduct running side by side but with the railway viaduct being built at a higher level, said to denote the superiority of rail travel. After our lunch break we walked the Chirk Aqueduct on its much wider towpath than the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. We noticed from the sign post that on entering the aqueduct we were leaving Wales and at the other end we entered England. We then turned round and returned to Wales crossing the aqueduct once more.
A path from the canal brought us to Chirk town centre where we found a cafe for refreshments before catching the number 2A bus back to Acrefair. From here we caught the number 5 bus to Llangollen where we had time for a quick look around the Museum before catching the T3 bus back to Barmouth.
A good day out unfortunately missed by most of our Strollers. Maybe we could repeat both this walk and the planned walk at a later more convenient date.
May (8th) - Blaenau Ffestiniog with a Trip on the Ffestiniog Railway
The day of our May Strollers Walk followed the hottest Bank Holiday Monday on record. Unfortunately we had a complete change in the weather for the day of the walk with constant rain from start to finish.
Most of us joined the 10-45am train at Tan y Bwlch with others already on the train from Porthmadog. Arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog we started the walk heading down the High Street to join a section of the “Slate Trail” which is 85 miles in total length.
Shortly into the walk we were told that due to a miss communication three of our party had missed the start of the walk and were still waiting at Blaenau Ffestiniog Station. While we had an early coffee break Lyndsay and Trish went back to find the missing three and we were soon reunited.
An interesting part of the circular walk followed the now disused railway line that once linked Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd. It was hoped that this line could be reopened, possibly as an extension to the Ffestiniog Railway, but it is now very overgrown although the original tracks are still in place. Due to the misty conditions we had to imagine the lovely views which would have extended to Trawsfynydd Power Station and beyond.
Before catching the train home we called at the “Isallt Coffee House” in Blaenau Ffestiniog for refreshments. We were made most welcome with excellent service and good food, while we dried off.
We all agreed that this was a walk worth repeating in better weather but we had all still enjoyed the day.
April (10th) - A Walk from Ganllwyd
Starting from Ganllwyd Christine’s April Strollers Walk took us past waterfalls in full flow and up through National Trust land including the Gwndwns.
Having heard a terrible weather forecast for the day, we all came prepared in our waterproofs. In the event we only encountered minor showers and kept dry for most of the walk even seeing a little blue sky on occasions.
The first section of the walk took us up a fairly steep path beside a series of waterfalls which we saw at their best due to the overnight heavy rain. This also unfortunately meant several muddy paths on parts of the walk although many had “stepping stones” or wooden blocks laid to minimise the problem. We stopped briefly to see a rock inscribed in Latin (with an English translation) by the poet Thomas Grey. Then continuing through a wooded area we stopped for a drinks break, sitting on stacked logs felled from the forest, with lovely views across the valley. The walk continued through a more open area of fields passing old gold mine workings where we stopped for our lunch.
After lunch we made our way down the mountain, reaching a path which brought us past Dolmelynllyn Hall, which is now a hotel, then through a field bringing us back to the car park where we had left our cars.
A good walk of just under six miles. Thank you Christine for leading. To finish the day some of us drove on to Trawsfyndd Lake Cafe for a drink before continuing home.
March (13th) - Criccieth to Llanystumdwy
Louise was joined by five members and four friends for our March Strollers Walk which she led, taking them on a five mile circular walk from Criccieth to Llanystumdwy. With perfect "summerlike" weather this was the perfect day for the walk offering clear views in all directions.
The walk started from Criccieth Railway Station, first walking along the beach and coastal path then heading inland to Llanystumdwy where we stopped for our picnic lunch. Continuing the walk along quiet country lanes, with lovely views of the castle, brought us back to the sea front in Criccieth. To finish the day we called at the "Beach Cafe" where we enjoyed tea and cake.
Arriving back on the train at Barmouth at 5-00pm it had been a long day. Thank you Louise for leading a good walk and also Joan for providing the photographs.
February (13th) - Barmouth Bridge
Our February Strollers Walk took us over the ever popular Barmouth Bridge to Fairbourne where the Strollers who braved the dreary early morning weather were rewarded with a lovely lunch at the "Penrhyn Bar and Grill".
Starting from Barmouth Railway Station, where we met up with Strollers arriving on the 10-00am train from Tywyn, we made our way through the harbour to the start of the bridge walk. Unfortunately the views from the bridge were not at their best due to the low cloud but the rain soon passed and it remained dry for the rest of the walk.
Having crossed the bridge we first had a circular walk through "Arthog Bog", where we stopped to feed the horses who came over to greet us, before continuing along the footpath to Fairbourne. On reaching the sea front we walked along the promenade footpath to the recently opened "Penrhyn Bar and Grill".
Having enjoyed a good meal we made our way to Fairbourne Railway Station where we caught the train back to Barmouth. A good day enjoyed by all in spite of the weather.
January (9th) - Pwllheli
A perfect day for the beach walk which we had planned for the January Strollers Walk at Pwllheli. On arrival, our first stop was the usual coffee break at Pen Cob (Wetherspoons) where we were lucky to find a table to take our eleven Strollers. Suitably refreshed we set off along the Marina heading towards the beach while we caught up on the news since we last met.
Walking along the beach we had the gentle wind behind us, thinking it was nice to be out in the fresh air. The tide was well out giving us the opportunity to collect interesting shells as we walked. At the end of the beach we climbed up to join the path from the Golf Course. We then managed to find a path which we hadn’t walked previously, passing horses which came over to greet us. Following the path through the Nature Reserve brought us back into the town.
We were lucky to again find a table at Wetherspoons where our party of eleven could sit together. Being “Steak Day” this was the favourite and we all had an excellent meal before catching the 3-37pm train back to our various destinations.
*** 2017 ***
December (12th) - Atlantic Woods
Seven of us enjoyed the brief snowfall in the Ponderosa woods followed by lunch at the George III hotel, Penmaenpool. It was not cold, we could see the estuary and the bridge, and the Robin waiting for crumbs when we stopped. Christine R.
November (14th) - Llanbedr
The November Strollers Walk started with thirteen strollers meeting at Llanbedr Railway Station for the arrival of the 10-00am train from Barmouth. From here we had the option of two walks, either around Shell Island or if the weather was not favourable Maxine and Ian had offered to lead a more sheltered woodland walk in Llanaber. We had a vote on which walk was preferred and the decision was taken to follow the woodland walk led by Maxine and Ian.
From the Station we followed the river into the village from where we crossed the main road and branched off towards the woods. The walk followed roads and footpaths, managing to avoid mud resulting from the previous night’s heavy rain. At the top of the hill we stopped for our coffee break where we had sea views and we were told that we should have had an excellent view of Moelfre but due to the low cloud on the day this was not visible. After a couple of hours walking we arrived back at Llanbedr Village. We then had our second vote of the day, this time on where we should have our lunch. It was decided to try the “Ty Mawr Hotel” who made us very welcome and we all enjoyed our meals, freshly cooked to order.
Thank you Maxine and Ian for a good walk.
October (10th) - Ben Twthill
For six of our members the October Strollers Walk started with a ride on the number 39 bus from Barmouth with four others joining us at Porthmadog to continue our journey to Caernarfon on the number one bus. The number one bus was a double-decker allowing us to spread out on the top deck which we had to ourselves for the full journey.
On arrival at Caernarfon our first stop was at Wetherspoons, as usual, for a quick drink before our walk to Ben Twthill. The walk took us through the town across a road bridge to the start of the hill with a reasonable path taking us to the top in record time. Ben Twthill rises up above Caernarfon offering exceptional views of Anglesey, the Menai Straits, Snowdon Mountain Range and over the Town. At the top is the "Caernarfon Boer War Memorial", which was erected by public subscription in memory of those from Caernarfon who died serving their country in the South African War 1899-1902. It takes the form of a Wheel Cross mounted on a tapering shaft on a three-tiered plinth with twenty four names listed.
Following the walk up Ben Twthill we had a change from our original plan which had been to have lunch in Caernarfon and return home on the Welsh Highland Railway. Since several of our members didn't have the residents discount card for the Welsh Highland Railway (making it rather expensive) and in view of the poor visibility on the day, the decision was taken to continue by bus to Pwllheli where we could eat at Wetherspoons and return home on the mainline train. This worked very well even allowing time for an extra walk along the Harbour in Pwllheli before catching the train home. At Wetherspoons the staff kindly put tables together to accommodate our party of ten for a very pleasant lunch. At the Station we were treated to a viewing of the arrival of the train brought in especially for the 150th Anniversary of Barmouth Bridge.
September (12th) - Tan Y Bwlch
The planned Strollers Walk for September was to take the Ffestiniog Railway train from Tan y Bwlch to Penrhyndeudraeth and walk back through the woods to Tan y Bwlch. In view of the very wet weather prior to the walk and the fact that logging operation were being carried out in the woods, resulting in very muddy paths, it was decided to find an alternative walk on drier paths.
Our alternative walk took us to the Dams at Tanigrisiau. Still meeting at Tan y Bwlch Station, we caught the 10-45am train to Tanigrisiau in the opposite direction to which we had previously planned. While waiting for the train we were entertained by an employee of the Ffestiniog Railway who told us of his many years experience working with the railway - he now just looks after the gardens.
The first walk after getting off the train took us to the end of the lower dam at LLyn Ystradau with views across the lake to the Power Station. Looking up from the dam we could see the upper Stwlan dam which feeds the Power Station and was to be the destination for our second walk of the day.
After returning to the village we set off under blue skies along the tarmac track which is the main access to the upper dam. The track took a most interesting route up the mountain, through the old mine workings, with wonderful views looking down on Blaenau Ffestiniog and the lake at Tanygrisau where we had walked earlier in the day. In the distance we could see the lake and Power Station at Trawsfynydd.
At the top we climbed the steps to the viewing point with even more distant views before finding a convenient place to have our lunch overlooking the lake and dam.
Walking back down, five minutes before reaching the village the weather unexpectedly changed and we got caught in a very heavy rain shower. Rather soaked, we called at the "Lakeside Cafe" for a hot drink while we tried to dry out before catching the train back to our cars at Tan y Bwlch.
A complete change from our original planned walk but still enjoyable (apart from the rain at the end!). Hopefully we will do the walk from Penrhyndeudraeth in future when conditions are more favourable.
August - no walk in August
July (11th) - Barmouth
The Weather forecast had predicted heavy rain which arrived as expected, but allowed us to complete half of our July Strollers Walk in Barmouth before it started. The added incentive this month was that Trish promised homemade cream cakes and coffee at “Tan y Bryn” to follow the walk.
Starting the walk from “Tan y Bryn”, we first walked down to Barmouth Railway Station to meet any Strollers arriving on the 9-55am train from Tywyn direction. From the Station we walked north to the end of the promenade in fairly light rain. The plan was to cross the main road and take a footpath up into the hills to join the “Ardudwy Way”. We would then follow the path back to the “Mynach Steps” which would lead us down to “Tan y Bryn” for our cakes and coffee.
Rather than take the path that we knew, we thought that we would explore and try an alternative signposted footpath which we none of us had walked previously. Unfortunately this very steep path deteriorated rapidly, not taking us where we expected. It was then decided that since the rain was obviously set in for the day and that we had had sufficient exercise climbing the steep path, to return to the main road via a different route. We then walked back along the main road to “Tan y Bryn” where Trish had prepared a selection of cakes for us to enjoy while we were able to have an extended chat in the dry.
June (13th) - Criccieth
Our June Strollers walk was a "one way" river and coastal walk at Criccieth. Taking the number one bus from Criccieth to the starting point for the walk, about two miles along the B4411 Caernarfon road, removed the need for us to retrace our steps.
Some of our Strollers caught the "Double Decker" bus at Porthmadog, with others joining us on the bus at Criccieth. The friendly driver kindly stopped at the river bridge as requested to allow us to scramble down the stairs from the top deck.
From here we started the walk along a lane for a short distance, then under an arch which brought us onto the riverside footpath following the fast flowing River Dwyfor. After negotiating a fallen tree, we found a clearing where we stopped for a drinks break while watching the fish jumping. The footpath brought us out at David Lloyd George's grave at Llanystumdwy with its poem by Dr William George, his nephew. After a short walk down the road we arrived at the village where there is a museum dedicated to the life of David Lloyd George, where he lived as a boy. He went on to become Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Here we crossed the river bridge for a quick look at St John the Baptist Church with its old grave stones. Unfortunately the church wasn't open. Continuing our walk, again following the River Dwyfor, we crossed the main A 497 road, passing a farm with cows and a planted field of turnips. Eventually we came to the sea, joining the coastal path which we have walked on several previous Strollers Walks. Here we found a sheltered spot with a view out to sea where we ate our packed lunch before continuing along the coastal path into Criccieth.
Before going our separate ways we called at the "Idris Cafe" in Criccieth for drinks and delicious cream cakes while we had our usual chat, discussing the days walk and attempting to decide where the next Strollers Walk would take us.
May (9th) - Ponderosa Woods
The May Strollers Walk was kindly led by Christine. We all met at the lay-by at the Ponderosa Drive on a gloriously sunny day, where two very large pigs and a horse came to greet us. Walking down the drive and through the livery yard we saw some beautiful well cared for horses. We then headed along a good woodland track and past some wooden chalets, stopping at an information board (can't remember what it said!). Continuing along the track we worked our way to the Mawddach Estuary where we had lovely views through the trees. We found a nice clearing and stopped for goodies. Following the pathway, we made a full circle back to the livery yard at the Ponderosa and back down the drive to the cars. Some lucky people then headed to the "George lll" for lunch. All in all it was a lovely walk on quite level ground. Thank you Christine. (Ian Hall)
Christine also provided some notes:
Twelve Strollers enjoyed the Atlantic Woods for the two hour wander on well defined paths. The day was sunny and bright, the air filled with birdsong and glimpses of the Mawddach estuary on our circular stroll. Information boards with picnic benches were along our route. This would be totally different at another time of the year, and worthy of another visit. These woods were new to everyone and we ended at lunch time with a meal at the George III at Penmaenpool. A beautiful day!
April (11th) - Llanfachreth
A cool dry day for our April Stroll which Christine led for us at Llanfachreth. Twelve of us met at 10-00am in the car park next to Llanfachreth School, which is now closed. Setting off along the road we passed under the Stone Archway entrance to the Nannau Estate, passing a lonely house with fantastic views over the valley, to join a footpath which took us to the main Precipice Walk car park. Here we had our first break of the day with morning coffee at the provided picnic tables.
After a short break we joined the Precipice Walk path, first walking the length of Llyn Cynwch before taking the path to the right. Here out party split for a short distance with some members diverting up a steep embankment to view an ancient fort while the rest of our party continued on the lower path. We met up again at the view point where Barmouth Bridge and the sea could be seen in the distance. Continuing along the Precipice Path we were surprised at the poor condition of the path considering that it is known as a tourist attraction for the area, however we all managed it safely. We then found the path down to the Old Copper Mine and after passing through a gate, found a sheltered spot, where we could sit on convenient tree stumps, for our lunch stop.
Following lunch we set off for the Old Copper Mine, negotiating two trees which had fallen across the path. After a short stop to look down on the ruins of the Old Copper Mine Workings we continued to the Forrest Garden which the Strollers Group last visited in May 2011. Here the many interesting trees are labelled with details of their characteristics. Also in the Forrest Garden we listened to the history lesson played on the "wind up" speaker at Deers Leap.
The road back to our cars took us through Llanfachreth Village with its lovely old Church and houses. An interesting resident came to talk to us as we admired his garden informing us of the history of the village.
Thank you Christine for a most enjoyable and interesting walk.
March (14th) - Llandecwyn
Again taking advantage of the free winter train for our March Strollers Walk at Llandecwyn, our day started on the 10-00am train from Barmouth. After the short walk from the station to the village the walk followed the pylons up a gradual but quite long incline. We had told our Strollers that the uphill section would be worth it for the wonderful views from the top. Unfortunately we chose the wrong day for our walk with a heavy mist restricting the distant views so we had to use our imagination.
Following the pylons and stream the reasonable footpath made its way through the valley to Llyn Tecwyn Uchaf where we stopped for lunch at the end of the dam. The heavy mist still refused to clear in spite of quite a strong wind.
After lunch we made our way back towards St Tecwyn’s Church, stopping briefly by Llyn Tecwyn Isaf to watch a post office van driving through the mud to negotiate a tight bend. We all expected him to get stuck, but no problems – he probably does it every day.
Out next stop was the interesting St Tecwyn’s Church which was open and we spent some time looking around the Church and Graveyard. The mist had now started to lift and we got a taste of the views of Portmeirion, the estuary and the distant hills.
After exploring the church we headed back down the road to the village and station with time to spare before catching our train home. Everybody agreed that it was a walk well worth repeating when the weather conditions were more favourable.
February (14th) - Tywyn
In order to fit in with the train times we had an early start for our February Strollers Walk at Tywyn with seven members travelling on the 8-50am train from Barmouth and a further three members joining us at Tywyn Railway station.
From the Station we set off down the High Street, passing the traffic chaos resulting from a Convoy system imposed due to major road works in the area. On reaching the Cinema we turned left heading out of the town towards the Broad Water. From the long straight path we got views of Bird Rock, but unfortunately the hazy conditions restricted views of the more distant mountain.
Reaching the Broadwater there were Birds and Swans on the water, which we were told were nesting under the bridge further up the river. Following the path we crossed a narrow plank bridge, all managing to cross it safely with Tricia’s help. This led us down onto the coast road which took us back towards the Town. From the railway crossing we made our way to the Sea Front finally coming to the Tallyllyn Railway Station.
Unfortunately on the day of our visit the Railway Museum was closed, but we all enjoyed a meal and a chat in the cafe before catching the 1-25pm train home.
January (10th) - Bala
Since Trish wasn’t available to lead the January Strollers Walk, Louise and Eric kindly offered to repeat a walk at Bala which we last walked in June 2015. This walk proved very popular at the time and has since been done by other walking groups in the area.
This was a great opportunity for any of our members who missed the walk last time and well worth repeating by those that had done it previously. It was nice to see two new members, Steve and Pat, joining us for the walk. We hope that they will become regular members of our group.
The most interesting walk included the river walk from the end of Bala Lake to the junction of the River Dee with the River Tryweryn, a visit to the top of “Tomen y Bala”, one of the largest medieval mottes in Wales, and the extensive, but relatively unknown “Bala Caves”. This time there were no volunteers to walk through the caves.
Thank you Louise and Eric for leading the walk.
P.S. As the group photographer was not on this walk we have included a few images from the June 2015 walk in the Gallery.
*** 2016 ***
December (13th) - Criccieth
For our December Strollers Walk we took the train to Criccieth Station where twelve of us enjoyed our first break with home made mince pies kindly provided by Dave while Misty, our visiting dog for the day, watched in anticipation of any left overs. Our walk then started by walking a short distance along the high street to join a bridleway which took us onto the coast path. Here we stopped briefly to admire the interesting gardens and lovely sea views from a newly built house.
The footpath finally came out onto the north promenade where, after stopping to admire the art in a shop window and the ornate tiled frontage of what was the Chapel of Art (now a private house), we went down to walk along the beach. Misty enjoyed a run on the beach until we came to a steep drop. Two brave members of the party managed to climb down, bur the rest of us retraced our steps to take the easy route up the steps. Continuing along the promenade we came to the Castle.
Lyndsay and Trish had planned our second treat of the day with Mulled Wine and more Mince Pies to be eaten at the Castle. Unfortunately on arrival at the castle we couldn’t open the gate until we were told the technique by other visitors – a good kick at the base as it sticks in damp weather. After enjoying our feast we spent some time exploring the Castle ruins and grounds before continuing along to the South beach and into town for our lunch.
On finding the Cafe where we had planned to eat rather crowded, we found the “Lion Hotel” which had a reasonable menu and plenty of room where we could have a chat before catching the return train.
November (8th) - Llanbedrog to Pwllheli
Not a good weather forecast for our November Strollers Walk but at least it wasn’t raining as we started our day with the train journey to Pwllheli. As usual on arrival at Pwllheli, our first stop was to call in at Wetherspoons for morning coffee before catching the number 18 bus for the short journey to Llanbedrog, surprising the bus driver with our party of twelve in addition to his one additional passenger.
Arriving at Llanbedrog we walked down through the interesting village to the beach. Unfortunately the weather forecast proved correct and as we reached the beach the rain started. Walking along the beach the light rain continued to come and go, but didn’t detract from the lovely cliff and sea views with St Tudwal’s Islands in the distance.
At the end of the beach a flight of steps took us up onto the coastal path following the route of the horse drawn tramway which once ran from Llanbedrog to Pwllheli. The Tramway was opened in 1894, initially to carry stone for construction purposes. It later became a passenger carrying service but was destroyed by a major storm over North Wales in 1927 and never reopened.
The coastal path took us past Pwllheli Golf Course, until we came out along the front at Pwllheli promenade. As we walked back through the town the rain came on slightly harder but on reaching Wetherspoons we soon dried out with a hot meal, managing to get two vacant tables for our group which had now expanded to fourteen with two additional members joining us for the meal.
Most of us took advantage of it being Tuesday Steak Club Day with the alternative of a special offer on Fish and Chips to bring an end to a most enjoyable day.
October (11th) - Ffestiniog Railway
For our October Strollers Walk we planned a full day out which included a ride the full length of the Ffestiniog Railway and a walk in the woods at Tan y Bwlch followed by a meal at Wetherspoons in Pwllheli. Members had the option of joining us for either the full day or any part of the day as they wished.
A perfect clear day for both the walk and views from the train as we met at Porthmadog Station and boarded the 10-05am train. We intended to first complete the full ride to Ffestiniog and break the journey at Tan y Bwlch on the return. On arrival at Tan y Bwlch Station we walked down the footpath to Llyn Mair which provided the ideal spot for our lunch stop, with picnic tables provided and a lovely view across the lake.
Following lunch we set off to find the footpath to the view point which we last visited in May 2012 following the winter gales which had resulted in the path being obstructed by many fallen trees which we somehow managed to climb through or over. This time we found the previous footpath to be completely closed. After a few failed attempts to find an alternative route we found a way up to the view point and were rewarded with wonderful views down to the sea at Porthmadog and across the valley to Maentwrog.
After a short break we made our way back down to Tan y Bwlch for our train back to Porthmadog. The decision was taken to cut our day short and postpone our meal at Wetherspoons until after the following months walk when we would be closer to Pwllheli.
A good day out enjoyed by all who joined us.
September (20th) - Beddgelert
For our September Strollers Walk we again walked the very popular 4.5 mile level path from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert which, as previously, we combined with a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway.
This has now become a yearly event due to it’s suitability for all walkers with the added interest of the railway.
Fourteen of us met at Porthmadog for the 10-45am train to Rhyd Ddu. The train journey to Rhyd Ddu is probably the most interesting section of the Welsh Highland Railway offering views of the River Glaslyn through Beddgelert, then mountain views of the Snowdon range, generally following the path which we were to use for our walk back.
From Rhyd Ddu Station we crossed the road onto the start of the Lon Gwyrfai footpath which is also used as a bridleway. The path goes round the opposite side of the lake to the railway and here we made our first stop for lunch, finding suitable stones to sit on, with views of Snowdon across the lake.
Following lunch we made our way through the forest and continued along the interesting route over bridges with streams below and crossing the railway tracks where we had passed on the train only a short time before.
Having made good time to Beddgelert we has time for refreshments and a quick look around the village before catching the train back to Porthmadog.
All agreed that it had been a very enjoyable day which we will probably repeat next year.
August (9th) - Around Barmouth
The Strollers had no walk planned for August as this is when we usually take our summer break. Since the weather forecast was good Trish decided to have a local walk around Barmouth with the added incentive of homemade cream cakes and drinks at “Tan y Bryn” following the walk.
Starting from “Tan y Bryn” we walked through Wern Mynach, passing the football ground and the sculpture by Joney Easterby of a Tall Ship, as once built in Barmouth, before crossing the railway line and walking into the town. Here we met up with members arriving on the 10-00am train. From the Station we walked through the harbour, with a brief stop at the “Dolphin Fountain”, and continued to Aberamffra Harbour. Crossing the road, we entered Orielton Woods, passing the stainless steel sculpture by Jim Sadler showing a fossil of a Trilobite (one of the earliest forms of life in the area) and followed the steep winding path with steps and bridges to the Bird Hide and picnic tables at the top where we had a drinks stop allowing us to catch our breath after the steep climb.
Emerging onto Panorama Road we continued our walk with the popular Panorama Walk, continually stopping to take in the wonderful views of the Cader Idris range of mountains to the South across the Mawddach Estuary and of Barmouth Bridge. For several of our Strollers this was the first time that they had done the Panorama Walk and they were most impressed by the views.
Back on Panorama Road we stopped at “Gwastad Agnes” once the home of John and Daphne Dix who were members of the Barmouth U3A for many years. The site has now become the “Bunkorama”, a bunkhouse and campsite. As we passed, the friendly present owner invited us all in to look at the conversion of the building to a bunkhouse which was very impressive.
Further along the path we passed the “Slabs”, well known by outdoor activity groups in the area for rock climbing and several groups were climbing as we passed. Our next brief stop was at a holiday cottage having a “horse turntable” in the garden where horses once walked in circles to generate power to drive a grindstone in an adjacent building.
Continuing our walk above Barmouth brought us to the ruins of “Gell-Fechan”, a farm which had been run as a bed and breakfast business until the 1950’s. We stopped here for our lunch with views overlooking the sea. A short distance from Gell-Fechan, along a very overgrown path, brought us to the flag and “Monument to the Birmingham Soldiers” with a plaque dating back to 1st July 1916.
Our final section of the walk brought us down the Mynach Steps to “Tan y Bryn” where Trish treated us all to a Cream Tea, as promised, to bring an end to a most enjoyable day.
July (12th) - Blue Lake
After all the recent wet weather we were expecting a wet, muddy walk for our July Stroll to Blue Lake in the Goleuwern Slate Quarry above Fairbourne. Instead we had perfect weather, with only a little mud, for our walk which was led by Christine.
Most of us travelled to Fairbourne Station by train where we met up with Christine to start our walk. From the Station Christine let us up a steep flight of steps and through a farm yard, then across fields with sea views over Fairbourne before dropping down to the start of the main path up to Blue Lake at Fford Panteinion.
The approach to Blue Lake is a steep climb offering further views over the valley and Fairbourne. Due to the recent heavy rain the path under the old slate bridges had become a stream. By making use of the raised rocks as stepping stones, we managed to get through without getting our feet wet. The path continued through the old mine workings to the top where we had a short break to admire the views before going through the tunnel to Blue Lake.
Through the dark wet tunnel brought us to Blue Lake which didn’t disappoint, looking even bluer than when last seen. Opinions seem to differ for cause of the blue colour, some saying it is due to dissolved minerals while others have said that it is due to the diffraction of light and the great depth. Here we stopped for lunch while we watched the fish in the clear blue water and rock climbers way above us.
Continuing the walk upwards we came across a house, at the highest point of the walk, having fantastic views and an outside map showing the distances to various locations. Travelling downhill we passed a large cage which we were told was used for breeding pheasants although none could be seen.
Back at our starting point with an hour to spare before catching the train back, Christine kindly offered us drinks in the garden at her home nearby. This brought an end to a very enjoyable day. Thank you Christine for the walk and drinks – you have a lovely garden.
June (14th) - Morfa Nefyn
Our June Strollers Walk was to be a full day out, with transport to Morfa Nefyn either by bus or car and a beach walk passing the well known Ty Coch (pub on the beach). Six members went by car and eight of us travelled on the three very convenient buses changing at Porthmadog and Pwllheli (where we had time for a quick drink at Wetherspoons), to meet up at Morfa Nefyn.
The day had started rather wet, passing through heavy rain as we travelled on the bus. As we reached Morfa Nefyn the rain stopped and thankfully it remained dry for our walk.
After taking the obligatory photographs of our group we set off down to the beach. As we walked along the beach we watched the Sand-Martin birds going in and out of holes which appeared as if they had been drilled in the sandy cliffs. After passing a rather muddy patch, where the cliffs had fallen near some holiday cottages, we came to Ty Coch (The Pub on the Beach). Here we were able to get refreshments and sit on the sands while we ate our lunch.
Continuing our walk along the coast, passing the small museum, the impressive new Lifeboat Station at Porthdinllaen came into view. Since it was open to visitors we stopped a while to admire the boat. To the side of the Lifeboat Station was a small jetty. From the end of the jetty we were able to view the Lifeboat Station as if from the sea. A short walk across the Golf Course brought us to a view-point from where we were able to watch the Seals and Cormorants on the rocks.
Retracing out steps brought us onto the path across the top of the cliffs, a most attractive section of our walk through the Golf Course with water on both sides and lovely coastal views. This took us back to where we had started the walk.
Since we had time before our bus was due and the rain had just returned we went in the “Caffi Porthdinllaen” for a drink. The return bus turned up on time and again the three buses linked up well to get us back to Barmouth for 5-00pm.
Despite the wet start to the day we didn’t get wet and the lovely walk was enjoyed by everyone.
May (12th) - Caernarfon
Unfortunately the date of our May Strollers Walk coincided with a day when many of our regular strollers were preoccupied with other events and only four managed the walk together with two who joined us for the ride on the Welsh Highland Railway.
The convenient bus service took us to Caernarfon, arriving at 10-30am for our walk. Our first stop was the Welsh Highland Station to purchase our tickets for later in the day. Although we had used the footpath down to the station previously, this time we encountered a fallen tree which we all managed to struggle through.
Tickets bought, we proceeded to make our way over the bridge to “Ben Twthill” which rises up above Caernarfon with exceptional views of Anglesey, the Menai Straits, Snowdon Mountain Range and over the town. At the top is the “Caernarfon Boer War Memorial”, which was erected by public subscription in memory of those from Caernarfon who died serving their country in the South African War 1899-1902. It takes the form of a Wheel Cross mounted on a tapering shaft on a three-tiered plinth with twenty four names listed. At the top we had a break while we ate Chocolate Doughnuts kindly bought for us by Dave. Thank you Dave.
Back down the hill we crossed a different bridge over the bypass bringing us to the Harbour. Finding a sheltered spot under the Castle Walls we had our lunch looking down the Menai Straits. After a quick coffee at the Tafarn y Porth (Wetherspoons) we had a brisk walk on the other side of the river, coming back through the park in time to catch our train from the Station.
The nice relaxing ride, with drinks served at our table, brought us back to Porthmadog where we caught our bus home. It was a shame that many of our usual Strollers missed a most interesting day.
April (12th) - Dolgellau
Christine Radford kindly offered to lead our April Strollers Walk at Dolgellau covering paths that she had previously found when walking with the “Fairbourne Friday Walkers”.
Twelve of us met in Dolgellau at the junction of the A470 and A493 on a dry cloudy morning. The walk started by following the river into town where we made our first stop at the public toilets only to find the gents and disabled toilets closed for maintenance. Trish stood guard on the door while we all paraded through the Ladies.
Christine led us through the town and up by the river heading into the hills with magnificent views looking back over Dolgellau. We followed footpaths that were new to the entire group working our way through fields, woodland and over stiles and streams until we found a convenient place for lunch. Continuing the walk we met a friendly farmer who spent some time telling us of his plans to renovate his outbuildings and convert them into holiday accommodation – an ideal place for those wanting a quiet holiday.
Finally we dropped down into Dolgellau close to where we had parked our cars, a total distance of about six miles. Thank you Christine for a most enjoyable walk.
One puzzle - nobody could identify this item...
March (8th) - Morfa Bychan
The Strollers are losing their reputation for "dry" walks with now three wet walks on the run. The March Strollers Walk from Porthmadog to Morfa Bychan was no exception with a dull wet misty morning as we went for the 10-00am train to Porthmadog.
Nine of us got off the train at Porthmadog to be met with even heavier rain. Asking if we wanted to abandon the walk, the decision was made to continue to Borth y Gest and see if the weather improved before going further. So off we went following the river to the harbour and up the 83 steps to the top road. Here an added attraction was a 1929 Austin Seven parked at the side of the road. After a thorough inspection of the car we moved on dropping down into Borth y Gest where we again discussed the options of a drink at the cafe and abandoning the walk or continuing. Since we were all wet anyway it was decided to continue and have our drink at the cafe on our way back.
After a short walk around the back of the village we joined the Coast Path which took us, with a slight detour due to a partially closed footpath, past Morfa Bychan to Black Rock Sands where the rain finally stopped. Here we turned back and made our way down to the "Powder House" which is now residential and was for sale. The "Powder House", Cwt Pwdr in Welsh, has an interesting history. The original part was built in the mid-18th Century as the "Powder House" where gun powder was unloaded from passing ships for use in the local slate mines, rather than taking it into Porthmadog Harbour. The redundant gunpowder store was converted into a dwelling house in 1897.
We wouldn't have believed it when we started the walk, but we then made our way down to the beach where we sat on rocks below the "Powder House", enjoying our picnic lunches in the dry.
Retracing our steps we made our way back along the coastal paths to Borth y Gest, where due to shortage of time we had to miss the cafe and continued past the boatyards to Porthmadog where we caught the more convenient 39 bus back home.
Despite the wet start to the day we all enjoyed a most interesting coastal walk through lovely scenery.
February (9th) - Pwllheli
For our February Strollers Walk we returned to Pwllheli, again taking advantage of the free winter train. The day before the walk we heard that the trains had been cancelled due to storm "Imogen" causing a problem on the line. Fortunately the trains were running again on the day of the walk and we hoped for a drier walk than on our two previous visits to Pwllheli.
Arriving at Pwllhelli Station at 11-17am our first stop was across the road at Wetherspoons for a coffee before starting our walk. Trish again managed to find a different walk to that on our previous visits. From Wetherspoons we set off along the Cob, passing the Marina, towards Gimblet Rock. At the rock we stopped a while to take in the lovely views over the Marina and Beach. We made our way down to the beach and wandered along the sands with the wind in our faces as we chatted amongst ourselves. Half way along the beach the rain started. Rather than get wet, we took shelter in one of the shelters along the promenade until it eased off.
We then made our way back along the footpath by the school and along Lon Cob Nature Reserve where we stopped briefly to watch the ducks and swans. Back at Wetherspoons we all enjoyed a hot meal before catching the train back home.
On the three recent occasions that we have walked at Pwllheli we have had rain. Fortunately this time we managed to avoid getting drenched. Maybe on our next visit the sun will shine for us.
January (12th) - Llanbedr
Despite a dull damp morning our January Strollers Walk at Llanbedr, led by Kevin Hall, was well supported with four members meeting on the 10-00pm train from Barmouth and a further eight joining us outside the Victoria Hotel in the village. As we walked up from the station we saw workmen and machinery beside the road. It was pointed out that this was the proposed route of the new Llanbedr bypass.
From the Victoria Hotel we followed the fast flowing River Artro to the right, passing the school to our left. We stopped a while to watch a large pig happily munching a patch of brambles. It completely ignored us.
Taking a right turn where the two rivers meet, we crossed the bridge and headed uphill through a wooded area. Coming out of the woods we had a view of the sea and mountains with a few houses dotted around. Heading down the lane we passed a field with a couple of bulls (decided not to cross that field) followed by a field with unusual black sheep having a white cross on their face.
Now back into the village where we all enjoyed our lunch at the Victoria Hotel. Another enjoyable walk despite the damp conditions and light showers of rain.
*** 2015 ***
December (8th) - Pwllheli
For the December Strollers walk, after starting the day with a train ride from Barmouth, we combined a walk through the nature reserve and along the beach at Pwllheli with lunch at Wetherspoons.
On arrival at Pwllheli the rain started and it was decided to call in Wetherspoons for a coffee to allow time for it to stop. The rain turned to a light drizzle so we set off heading for the Nature Reserve, passing the dykes and stopping to watch the ducks. Unfortunately the heavy rain then decided to return and we all ended up absolutely soaked. Being a hardy lot we carried on with the walk with the slight variation of walking through the housing estate rather than along the now muddy paths, which had been originally planned.
On reaching the beach the rain had stopped and with the brisk wind behind us we soon dried out. With now blue skies above we walked the full length of the beach to a rocky area where we discovered large shells in the rock pools.
After a short rest we headed back to Wetherspoons, arriving just as the next heavy shower started again. With the option of steak or Christmas dinner we all had an enjoyable lunch. We then had time for a quick look around the Pwllheli shops before catching the train back home.
November (10th) - Pont Brewit
Since Trish was unable to lead the November Strollers Walk, Eric and Louise kindly stepped in to lead the Walk from Llandecwyn, over the new Pont Brewet Bridge and around the Cooks Nature Reserve.
Unfortunately the damp misty start to the day appeared to put off our usual group of Strollers and only three turned up for the walk. However the walk still went ahead in the reverse direction to that originally planned with a look around the remaining sheds, the Pendulum Shed in particular, from the days of the munitions workings. Although the early rain kept off, the weather remained misty and views were limited and no photographs were taken on this walk.
The day finished with a visit to the Cafe on the Cooks site.
We will have to ask Eric and Louise to repeat this interesting walk, when the weather conditions are more favourable, for those who missed it this time.
October (13th) - Rhyd Ddu to Bedgelert
Due to popular demand from our members who had missed our previous walk from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert (Lon Gwyrfai), we repeated the walk for October this year. As previously, we combined the walk with a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway. This time we were able to overcome the problem of parking our cars at Porthmadog Station by using the recently introduced number 39 bus service from Barmouth to Porthmadog.
The weather couldn't have been better for our walk which started as we met on the bus from our different villages along the A496 coast road from Barmouth. Arriving early at Porthmadog Station, we bought our tickets and still had time for a coffee in Spooner's Cafe at the station before catching the 10-45am train. Always an interesting journey as the train follows the river to Beddgelert followed by views of Snowdon. The on-train catering service came round offering "bacon butties" which were popular, the smell of which travelled throughout the carriage.
Arriving at Rhyd Ddu we started our 4.5 mile walk back to Beddgelert. The path starts through an ornate gate onto an excellent path. The lake immediately comes into view. We walked around the lake, past old slate mine workings until we found a suitable spot by the lakeside to stop for our lunch. While eating we had great clear views of Snowdon and were even able to see the Snowdon train coming down the mountainside from the cafe at the peak.
The path continued with a varied landscape of distant mountains and wooded areas, crossing streams and passing the Oriel Hafod Ruffyd Gallery until we eventually came out at Beddgelert station. Since we had almost an hour to spare before our train was due, we wandered down into the town for a drink, then back to the station for the 3-40pm return journey to Porthmadog.
At Porthmadog, again we had a short break giving us time for shopping before catching the convenient number 39 bus back home.
September (8th) - Corwen and Llangollen
For our first Strollers walk after the Summer break we planned a full day which included a bus ride, a train ride and two walks.
Our day started on the 8-25am T3 bus from Barmouth where we joined a bus full of well behaved school children as far as Dolgellau. From here on we had the top deck of the recently introduced double-decker bus to ourselves. Unfortunately from Bala onwards the mist came down and restricted the lovely views that we would have got as the bus followed the River Dee towards Corwen.
At Corwen we had our first walk of the day up the Pen-y-Pigyn Trail. By the time we got to the top, the mist had cleared allowing us to see the distant views. The monument at the top was built by the inhabitants of Corwen to commemorate the marriage of Edward VII, prince of Wales, in 1863. It was said to have been restored in 1911, but appears to have had much recent work carried out. After a short “drinks stop” we descended down the many steps coming out through an old turnstile gate into the churchyard. The church, dedicated to St Mael and St Sulien, and graveyard proved most interesting.
The short walk across to Corwen Railway Station left us with plenty of time to buy our tickets. Here we had a pleasant surprise when we were offered a further pound off the price of our tickets as a “Group Discount”. The steam pulled train travels alongside the River Dee with interesting views, passing “Barmouth South”, the old signal box previously located next to the level crossing in Barmouth, and now rebuilt on the Llangollen line. Our attempts to photograph the signal box failed as we were past so quickly. To save time on the next walk, we ate our packed lunches in the comfort of the train before we arrived at Llangollen.
For our second walk of the day we walked up to Castell Dinas Bran, a once magnificent stronghold built in the 1260’s by the local Welsh ruler Prince Gruffudd ap Madoc on the site of a prehistoric hillfort. It had a very short active life being burnt by its Welsh defenders in 1277 in the face of a threatened English attack. In order to make the walk into a circular we walked up the road, crossing the canal then followed the road as it wound round the hillside. A steep footpath then took us up to the castle ruins. Here we met a group of youngsters who said they would race us to the top. They set off running while we plodded on and passed them while they were taking a rest before reaching the castle. Unfortunately the clouds came over and the distant views were left to our imagination, but we were content with exploring the castle ruins. After a drink we started the steep descent straight back into the town where we watched the kyaks passing through the rapids and under the river bridge.
Since we had time to spare before catching the bus home we called in a café for a snack and drink. We also had time for a quick look around Llangollen Museum, where we saw a model of Castell Dinas Bran as it had been. We then caught our bus back to Barmouth, again a double-decker where we had the top deck to ourselves for most of the journey.
July (14th) - Moelfre
The wet morning didn't discourage our Strollers from the July Strollers Walk around the base of Moelfre with fourteen Strollers and two dogs meeting at the View Point at Dyffryn.
Ian Hall led this walk which took us in a clockwise direction round the base of Moelfre, a 589 metre high hill on the western edge of the Snowdonia National Park, being three miles from Dyffryn Ardudwy village.
The rain stopped for the start of our walk which led us up a long gradient offering distant views of mountains with two lakes below. Finally the path met up with the Ardudwy Trail. Nowhere can you escape the traffic these days. We were most surprised when a "Welsh Water" vehicle drove past us along the path. At the base of the hill to our right we passed the ruins of what was thought to have been a Coaching Inn, dating back to when the path was used as a drovers track.
Along the trail we found suitable stones to sit on while we had our lunch under the mist covered peak of Moelfre with views over the sea extending as far as the Llyn Peninsula. As we were ready to set off again, the mist cleared and the weather brightened up for the rest of the walk with only intermittent light rain showers The "Welsh Water" vehicle passed us again on its return journey.
The sea remained in view for the remainder of the walk. We commented on the excellent view that we got of the St. Patricks Causeway which extends fourteen miles out to sea. The path finally brought us out onto a tarmac road where we stopped at "Ffynnon Enddwyn", a Well thought to have healing properties. A short uphill walk brought us back to our cars.
A good walk which from Roy's GPS was said to be about 5.5 miles.
June (9th) - Bala
As promised by the weather forecast we had a lovely day with blue skies and sunshine for our most interesting June Strollers Walk at Bala. Most of us started our day with a bus ride on the 9-50am T3 bus from Barmouth to Bala. Others joined us at the meeting place in front of Bala Cinema.
The walk began with a stroll past the end of Bala Lake to join the river walk, taking us from Bala Lake to the junction of the River Dee with the River Tryweryn where the flow of water from Llyn Celyn is carefully controlled to allow white-water sports further upstream.
Continuing along the path brought us into the town where we took a detour to "Tomen y Bala", one of the largest medieval castle mottes in Wales with a base of 40 metres by 16 metres and 8 metres high. Here we had a "drinks break" while we took in the distant views over the surrounding hills and town, as far as Bala College which we were told was built in 1867 using stone taken from the Bala Caves which we were to visit later.
After a short walk across the town with its quaint cottages, we headed to the hills where we found a suitable place on a grass bank for our lunch stop in the brilliant sunshine.
Below our "lunch site" were the Bala Caves. As we walked through the caves, everybody was amazed at how extensive they were and the way that pillars had been left to support the roof (well worth the visit to see them).
We then made our way back into Bala town in time for a refreshing drink and chat sitting in the sun, before catching the 2-56pm bus back to Barmouth.
May (12th) - Tanygrisiau
The May Strollers Walk combined a short ride on the Ffestiniog Railway with a walk from Dduallt to Tanygrisiau. Twelve of us met at Tan-y-Bwlch Station where we discussed our planned walk with another Barmouth U3A member who was on a different walk. We were advised to take an alternative route to that intended due to "boggy paths" on the original route.
Arriving at Dduallt we first walked up to a view-point within the "Spiral Loop" used by the Ffestiniog railway to gain height before the lake at Tanygrisiau. At the centre of the view-point a stone pedestal gave information on the surrounding mountains. After admiring the views we retraced our steps, passing an unusual house with painted windows, to Dduallt Station.
From the Station the footpath to Tanygrisiau was signposted. This was a good path and shorter than the original intended route. We therefore arrived at Tanygrisiau earlier than expected and so decided to save our sandwiches for later and eat at the Lakeside Cafe. We all descended on the cafe and were soon served with our meals which we enjoyed in the warm while looking out on the views across the lake.
After our lunch we still had over an hour before our train back was due, so Trish led us on an additional walk along the dam, and then back through the village to the station just in time to catch the 3-10pm train back to Tan-y-Bwlch.
Again the weather had stayed fine for an walk which everybody said they had enjoyed.
April (14th) - Barmouth and Llanaber
Our April Strollers Walk took us on a circular route from Barmouth to Llanaber starting with the rather strenuous climb up the Mynach Road steps to the Flag and Cairn which is a monument to the Birmingham Soldiers. With several stops to admire the views and catch our breath, we all made it to the top, with another short rest while we took in the distant views.
A short walk from the monument brought us to the Gell-fechan ruins where we found shelter from the rather strong wind while we had a drinks break. The ruins were lived in and used as a Guest House until the late 1950's but left because there was no electricity.
From here we continued upwards, joining the "Ardudwy Way" in a northerly direction. Passing some National Park Rangers, busy replacing rotten gateposts, we stopped to enquire how they had managed to get their vehicle up the path. They admitted that it was "a bit tight at times". We made our lunch stop at the base of an Iron Age Hill Fort, although there was not a lot to be seen other than piles of stones which gave us shelter from the wind. Continuing along the "Ardudwy Way" we came to a sign for Barmouth and then one for Llanaber Church, both written on stones in the walls. This led us down to the main road coming out near Llanaber Church. A short walk along the road and round the graveyard brought us to a wooden footbridge over the railway line. Following the footpath brought us onto the beach and promenade with sea views.
The walk finished by following the stream through Wern Mynach past the pond and up the steps to Tan y Bryn where Tea, coffee and cakes were served on the patio in the sunshine.
March (10th) - The Blue Lake
Due to requests from our Strollers, for our March Strollers Walk, we repeated a walk to "Blue Lake" above Fairbourne, which we last did in April 2011.
Most of the Strollers met on the train to Fairbourne Station where we joined up with the other members ready for the strenuous stroll up to "Blue Lake". Since it was a lovely sunny day, we started the walk by walking the length of the beach, passing under the railway bridge to come out onto the main road by the old Toll House which it was nice to see was going through a process of renovation (Grade II listed building).
A short distance along the main road brought us to the lane on the right which took us up to the start of the track to "Blue Lake". The steep path up is now part of the Wales Coastal Path and everybody made it to the top without too much trouble. Before going through the entrance to the Lake we stopped a while to look at the interesting machinery from the old quarry workings and to admire the wonderful views.
Once we were all through the tunnel leading to the lake we had a refreshment stop, looking at the clear blue water and watching the fish swimming. After a game of seeing who could spin stones furthest on the surface of the water we went back through the tunnel with Trish at the entrance taking everybody's photograph as they emerged back into the bright sunlight.
Not content with just walking up to the lake, our Strollers decided to go higher, walking up the old rail track to the next level. We were rewarded with views looking down on "Blue Lake" and entertained by watching RAF Cadets abseiling down the old quarry face.
The descent down to sea level, with a slight detour to "Penteinion Waterfall", was made in record time after Evelyn kindly invited us back to her house for drinks and homemade cakes. Here we sat in the garden in brilliant sunshine while we enjoyed our lunches and cake. We then had an extra treat of seeing some of Jack's excellent paintings which are distributed around the house.
Again we managed to pick the best day of a rather wet week for our Strollers Walk which was enjoyed by everybody.
February (10th) - Penmaenpool & Abergwynant Woods
The Strollers welcomed Christine Radford from the "Friog Friday Walkers" who joined us for the February Strollers Walk from Penmaenpool. Christine had kindly offered to lead our February walk through Abergwynant Woods.
Thirteen Strollers (plus Patch the dog) joined us on a rather cold, dull, but dry Tuesday morning. Starting from Penmaenpool Bridge we passed the George III Hotel, leading onto the Mawddach Trail, a footpath along the track bed of the old railway line which ran from Barmouth to Ruabon from 1865 until it was closed in 1965. A short distance along the track Christine led us through a gate to the left (said to have been made from windblown oak trees from the woods), into Abergwynant Woods.
The good footpath, which was reconstructed between 2004 and 2005, took us up several sets of steps (also constructed from windblown oak trees) until we came to a View Point with a picnic table. Here we had a short drinks break while we got our breath back and took in the lovely Mawddach estuary views. We then continued, following the river, past old estate workers cottages to the "Green Lake" (not green anymore). The circular path then led us down past an old Lime Kiln back to the gate onto the Mawddach Trail.
To finish an enjoyable walk we called at the George III for food and drink before picking up our cars. A "Thank You" to Christine for leading us on an enjoyable walk and we hope that you will be able to join us again in the future.
January (9th) - Shell Island
I awoke to the sound of rain lashing against the window. Looking out, I thought "nobody will turn up in this", then I heard Maxine say "nobody will turn up in this". We decided to make a flask and sarnies and head off to Llanbedr Station, just in case anyone was mad enough to turn out in such awful weather.
By the time the train arrived, the weather was decidedly better - a good thing too because fifteen people (plus Patch) turned up ready for the stroll.
We left Platform One and turned left over the level crossing towards the car park. From here we followed the banks of the River Artro towards the estuary. On the way we passed a bridge, which is reported to be a good place to spot Salmon and Sea Trout in the Autumn. We then crossed the rail track again and continued down the river bank.
Along this stretch of river I noted a Mallard, a Cormorant, an Egret, a young Swan, and Geese in a field and also heard the sound of a Curlew across the river.
Here the good level pathway bent to the left towards the road and crossing, passing the end of the main runway - no flights that day so no need to duck. As we passed by, a big old raven sitting on a fence post gave a couple of grunts. We then went through a small gate onto Shell Island. This part of Shell Island is noted for its abundance of wild flower species in the Spring and Summer (but not in January).
Looking back from Shell Island gave a splendid view of Moelfre, Y Llethr and the two Rhinogs, Fach and Fawr, all dressed in a bright white blanket of snow. We stopped for a quick coffee break during which I spotted tracks of a rabbit and otter in the dunes. After coffee we headed along the tarmac track which afforded good views across Tremadog Bay to Criccieth and the Llyn Peninsula.
With one eye on the tide I decided that it was time to leave before the road off the island was covered by the sea, so we headed back along the road, past the Airfield entrance to the Station.
I don't know if it was the lack of toilets or the thought of food and drink by a roaring log burner, but the pace suddenly quickened here and the Victoria Hotel was reached in record time.
Thanks to everyone who turned up in such bad weather, I'm glad that the sun decided to shine at just the right time. Cheers!
*** 2014 ***
December (9th) - Corris
Our November Strollers Walk at Corris was led by Eric and Louise with thirteen Members (plus Patch the dog) meeting at the Corris Craft Centre on a dull rather wet morning.
Hoping the weather would improve, we set off down the winding path to Corris Village, coming out near the Railway Station and Community Cafe, where we had a quick drink and learnt of the village history from the friendly Postmistress, before continuing on our way. Eric led us through the village to the river, where we walked along the river bank. We then headed back through the graveyard and along the old disused railway track which dated back to the 1880's.
Passing another ancient cemetery on the side of a hill, we followed a forest track until we came to a most interesting house known locally as "Little Italy". The tiered garden of the house contained about thirty miniature buildings spread over a large site together with a large collection of bricks from various manufacturers. The site was built in the 1970's by Mark Bourne and based on photographs that he had taken while on holiday in Italy. Sadly Mark Bourne died in 2009 and the house and gardens are now falling into disrepair but well worth viewing.
Unfortunately the rain continued, but we managed to remain reasonably dry while we ate our lunch under the shelter of the fir trees further along the track. We then continued through the ruins of the old mine workings, stopping to admire an impressive waterfall, and made our way back down to our cars at the Craft Centre.
Despite the rain we all enjoyed a most interesting walk.
Thank you to our guides Eric and Louise.
November (11th) - Pwllheli
The November Strollers Walk at Pwllheli was another attempt at the walk which had been planned to coincide with the opening of the new Wetherspoons Pub at Pwllheli last year. This had to be postponed due to transport problems, with the train not running as a result of severe weather damage to the track. The train is now back to normal and we were able to take advantage of the free train travel offered again this year.
As we waited for the 9-58am train on a wet Tuesday morning at Barmouth Station comments were made that we couldn't expect many Strollers to turn out in such awful weather. Those that did were rewarded with an enjoyable day out. Between Barmouth and Portmadog twenty one strollers joined us in the front carriage of the train which was also occupied by a large group of well behaved Barmouth Schoolchildren who were on a day's outing to the Lloyd George Museum at Criccieth.
On arrival at Pwllheli it was still raining so we called in Wetherspoons for a coffee while we discussed if we should continue with the walk. On checking outside the weather appeared to be improving and so the decision was made to go ahead.
Shortly after starting the walk the rain stopped and kept away until we were on our way home. The walk took us down to the beach where we noted the large Clam Shells rarely seen on our shores. At the end of the beach we made our way onto the footpath through the Dunes. We then headed back toward the town, taking a detour through the Nature Reserve where we stopped to feed the ducks and swans with our emergency rations which wouldn't be needed today.
Back at Wetherspoons we had an enjoyable lunch, Tuesday being "Steak Day", and Wetherspoons coped very well with such a large party arriving together. After lunch we had an hour to spare before our train arrived so some of us had an extra walk around the Marina. Catching the 15-37pm train back home brought an end to a very enjoyable day.
October (14th) - Beddgelert
For our October Strollers Walk we combined a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway with a walk back between stations from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert. The recently constructed path between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert, known as the Lon Gwyrfai, has an excellent surface for the full length and in the direction in which we walked it, is generally downhill. Again we managed to choose the best day of a week of rather changeable weather for our walk, the sunshine and blue skies lasting throughout the day.
After parking our cars at Porthmadog, we met on the Platform of the Welsh Highland Railway where we purchased our tickets to Rhyd Ddu. The enjoyable train journey took us past green fields, mountains, rivers and lakes. At Rhyd Ddu the path started through an ornate gate just across the road from the station. The path led around Llyn Gader crossing bridges and passing through the old quarry workings.
We found an attractive spot by the water to stop for our lunch break, finding convenient rocks to sit on. After lunch under the brilliant sun we continued on our way into the forest, crossing the line of the Welsh Highland Railway and getting a better view of the scenery that we had passed through on our train journey.
About half way along the path brought us to the entrance to the Oriel Hafod Ruffyd Gallery. Due to time restrictions we decided not to visit the Gallery. From here the land opened out, with distant views of the Snowdon Mountain Range as we continued, crossing more bridges and generally following the route of the Welsh Highland Railway.
Arriving in Beddgelert, we had just enough time to spare for a quick drink at a local cafe before walking back to the station to catch the 15-40pm train back to Porthmadog, where we were lucky to get a complete carriage for our party only. A full day out with a relatively easy but pleasant walk which we all enjoyed.
September (9th) - Llanbedr
Our first Strollers Walk following the summer break was well supported with eighteen members taking part. The walk was led by Ian and Maxine, starting from their home at Llanbedr where we parked our cars.
The very pleasant walk took us through woods and followed the Afon Cwmnantcol River with its splendid waterfalls to the attractive dam and reservoir. Here on crossing the bridge we noted the natural fountains below us, produced by leaks in a water supply pipe. These apparently form a most unusual display when they freeze in winter. We then continued on to open country offering wonderful coastline and hill views. A most attractive spot was found for our lunch stop, where we sat on convenient stones overlooking the coast, with a back drop of the 589 Metre high Moelfre hill.
After our 5.58 mile walk we returned to Ian and Maxine's home where we were made most welcome, sitting in the garden enjoying tea and homemade biscuits and cake in glorious sunshine.
Many thanks to our guide and hosts for an enjoyable walk and for their hospitality.
August - No stroll in August
July (8th) - Talybont
For July the strollers stayed closer to home with a circular walk from Talybont to Pont Fadog.
From the meeting point for the walk at Talybont Car Park, we followed the Afon Ysgethin past the Ysgethin Inn onto the good footpath which runs through the woods alongside the river. On route one of our dogs decided to take a cooling dip in the river - rather too cold for the rest of us.
On reaching the road we took a minor detour to the left to see the views across the bay. At this point two of our members left the main party to return by a shorter route. Retracing our steps and continuing along the road brought us to Pont Fadog Bridge, an ancient stone bridge on one of the old Drovers roads. Here we had a short rest while we looked at the coin inserted in a hole in the bridge - we decided that it was a modern coin. A short walk on we turned off to go through the farm yard, with its many gates, leading to the footpath which would take us back.
Rather than take the planned route from here an alternative was suggested by Dave and Vic, who kindly offered to take over the lead. This route was most interesting, passing through a field with several piles of stone known as Cairns, and lovely sea views. This proved an ideal place to stop for our lunch, the stones providing useful seating.
Following lunch we continued down, through the fields of cattle, onto the road. From the road we turned right over the footbridge, bringing us back to our cars just in time as the rain arrived. A relatively easy and pleasant stroll of 3.5 miles
June (10th) - Tanygrisiau
For the June Strollers Walk we arranged a short trip on the Ffestiniog Railway followed by a walk at Tanygrisiau. This proved very popular with members of the Strollers group and it is hoped to arrange a similar walk, combined with a railway trip, later in the year.
Most of the group met at Tan-y-Bwlch Station to catch the 10-50am train to Tanygrisiau. After the pleasant railway journey we arrived at Tanygrisiau to find several more strollers waiting for us who had travelled by car.
Although the weather forecast had predicted heavy showers, we set off under blue skies following the rather steep path running alongside the river, leaving the wonderful views across Tanygrisiau Reservoir behind us. The river was a continuous series of magnificent waterfalls to the left while the slate mine workings were to the right of the path, an interesting feature being a picture of a climbing man set into the slate waste possibly made by the miners. A garden area on the other side of the river was no longer accessible due to the poor condition of the bridge across.
We soon approached Llyn Cwmorthin where we had a "drinks stop" while exploring the ruins of thirteen mine workers cottages, some built of slate and some stone. Continuing along the left side of the lake, past a large patch of water lilies, brought us to a ruined Chapel and a large house, thought to be the Mine Managers residence.
Past the end of the lake, near more cottage ruins, we found a sheltered area to stop. Here we had our lunch, sitting on convenient stones, with views of the lake and directly opposite a spectacular waterfall starting from the top of the mountain.
Following lunch we retraced our steps and explored more ruins and gated mines before walking over the top of the slate spoil heaps back into the village. A slight detour through the village brought us back to the railway station. Since we had half an hour to spare before the train was due we had a quick drink at "The Lakeside Cafe" before returning to Tan y Bwlch on the 15-05pm train.
As we boarded the train the predicted heavy showers arrived. Once again we had managed a dry and enjoyable walk despite the forecast.
May (13th) - Barmouth to Penrhyn Point, Fairbourne
Local walks around Barmouth are usually popular, but it was a surprise when a total of twenty one strollers joined us for our May Strollers Walk from Barmouth to Penrhyn Point at Fairbourne on a rather dull cloudy morning. The flexibility of the walk allowed participation in sections without having to walk the full distance, coping with all abilities. This proved an added attraction.
Starting from the park opposite "The Last Inn" in Barmouth, we walked over Barmouth Bridge, stopping several times to admire the wonderful estuary views, to Morfa Mawddach Station. Just before reaching the station, the train passed us bringing one additional Stroller to join us together with others who had parked their cars at the station.
A quick look at the station shelter, which has been decorated by the local school children, then we followed the newly constructed dyke footpath into Fairbourne. This path follows the route of the old path, but is wider, has a good surface and the old stiles have been removed making it suitable for cycles and horses which we saw on route.
After passing the Fairbourne Golf Course, we turned right following the miniature railway line towards Penrhyn Point, while four of our Strollers turned left to take the next train back from Fairbourne to Barmouth. At Penrhyn Point we found picnic tables on which to relax while we had our lunch. Here the weather brightened up and we enjoyed our lunch in brilliant sunshine overlooking Barmouth Harbour.
Following lunch, four of our members decided to take the easy way back to Barmouth and caught the Ferry, while the rest of us walked on the beach round the point, over the sand hills and across the fields to join the footpath back to Mawddach Station. The return walk over Barmouth Bridge brought us back into Barmouth. A nice flat walk of almost seven miles.
April (8th) - Taicynhaeaf
We have often commented on how few people we meet on our Strollers Walks. Our April walk at Taicynhaeaf was no exception, not seeing a single person from start to finish.
The circular walk of about six miles started from the forest parking area after climbing 1.3 miles up the most attractive narrow road off the A496 opposite Penmaenpool Bridge.
Shortly after passing through the gate to the forest we were made aware of the devastation caused by the recent gales. Although the paths were clear, many trees had fallen. On reaching the cross-roads we took a slight detour to see the mountain views. While we had our drinks, Roy passed on his considerable knowledge of the geology of the area and named the distant peaks. Thank you Roy.
Retracing our steps back to the cross-roads, we continued on to the path until we reached the path down to Llyn Mynach lake where we had planned to have our lunch. Unfortunately we found a "Path Closed" notice at the start of the path down, due to fallen trees. Our determined group decided not to let a few fallen trees stop us, and battled our way through them down to the lake. Here we enjoyed our picnic lunches while we looked out on the views across the lake, viewed the masses of frog spawn at the side of the lake and watched a couple of Canada Geese swimming in the distance.
Following lunch we again had to force our way up through the fallen trees back to the main path. This led us to the narrow road which we followed down to our parked cars.
The end of another enjoyable Strollers Walk in fine weather.
March (11th) - Gellfechan Ruins
It was a lovely day for our rather strenuous March Strollers Walk in the hills above Barmouth taking in the Ruins of the Gellfechan Farm House and the Television Mast.
We started the walk with the seventy steps by the side of St Tudwal's Catholic Church in Barmouth leading onto Gellfechan Road where a further "stroller" joined us as we passed her home. Continuing up we joined the footpath leading to The Ruins of Gellfechan passing two old mine workings on route. On reaching the Gellfechan Ruins we stopped for a while, exploring the buildings and listening as Lindsay gave us a talk on the most interesting history of the property, reading from the book "Gellfechan and its Last Family" by Carol Skelton. The house was used as a Bed and Breakfast in the 1950's, transport for visitors arriving by train at Barmouth being provided by Pony and Trap.
After taking in the fantastic views we continued up to our next stop at Gell-Fawr holiday cottage. In the garden we found a cast iron wheel which it was thought was pulled round by horses to grind flour. We also noted what we thought were two interesting underground cold stores a short distance from the house.
Still continuing upwards we reached the high point of our walk overlooking the television mast and the Mawddach Estuary. Here we found a sheltered spot with stones to sit on while we had our lunch, and recover from the two hours of upward climb.
After lunch we followed the path down past the television mast until we joined up with Panorama Road. Here a lazy grass snake crossing the road entertained us for a while. A short distance down the road we took a footpath to the right past several cottages. This led us back into Barmouth finishing with 127 steps down into the town.
A coffee at Davy Jones Locker on the Harbour, sitting out in the lovely sunshine, brought an end to a very pleasant day.
February (11th) - Bontddu Gold Mine walk
It just shows that you can never trust the weather forecast. In a week of dreadful weather the forecast for our February Stroll was poor, but we still went ahead and enjoyed a pleasant stroll to the Gold Mines above Bontddu. We didn't get wet and the sun shone for most of the walk, although Cader Idris and the surrounding hills were covered in snow.
Starting from the "Old Post Office" at Bontddu, we followed the river, with its waterfalls, which were spectacular to see after the recent heavy rain. Continuing up we came to the Clogau Mine, famous for the supply of Welsh Gold to The Royal Family. The entrance was gated so we couldn't explore further although we did look through the "spoil" heap for any gold left behind. I am sure what we found was only "fools gold".
We then walked on to the mine workings with further "spoil heaps". Here we found a sheltered spot, next to another mine entrance, where we stopped for our lunch break, with distant views of the Mawddach Estuary. This mine entrance wasn't gated allowing limited exploration with the aid of Lindsay's torch.
After lunch we followed the old rail track, passing yet another mine entrance, until we met up with the road heading down towards Bontddu. A footpath to the right, past several cottages, brought us back to the river which we followed back to our cars, all agreeing that it had been good to get out and walk again after the recent terrible weather.
January (14th) - Llanfair
Unfortunately the proposed January Strollers walk at Pwllheli, with a visit to the newly opened Wetherspoons pub, had to be postponed due to problems with the railway resulting from the recent storms. In its place, for the first walk of the New Year, we had a pleasant walk from Llanfair to Harlech, mainly on tarmac roads so avoiding the very muddy footpaths at this time of the year. This proved very popular with the sixteen Strollers (plus Patch the dog) joining us for the walk.
Most of us met on the number 38 bus from Barmouth, getting off at Llanfair where we joined up with several other members. From Llanfair we walked the top road (cycle route) to Harlech taking in the wonderful distant views over the Llyn Peninsula, and stopping to take a closer look at the Baptist Well built in 1841.
Once in Harlech we walked down past a house with a Duck Pond in the garden and through the Park with its stream and bridge. Continuing down we passed the house which is known as "The smallest house in Harlech" (and is currently for sale) until we came to Harlech Swimming Pool where we had our lunch.
The staff at Harlech Pool Restaurant were rather overwhelmed with so many customers appearing at once but coped very well and were pleased at our support in their campaign to keep the pool open. After an enjoyable leisurely lunch we left to catch the 2-30pm bus home.
*** 2013 ***
December (3rd) - Pensarn
The Strollers group continues to grow. Although several of the regular Strollers were unable to join us for the December Strollers Walk, we welcomed several new members to make a total of fourteen for our walk from Pensarn to Llanbedr.
Most of us met on the train to Pensarn on a dry dull morning with others joining us at the station. We started the walk with half an hour's gradual uphill gradient on a narrow tarmac road, taking us up into the hills. From here we went across a rather muddy field to visit an ancient Burial Chamber, where we stopped for a while for a drinks break.
Back on the road we followed a footpath with distant views of the coastline and Moelfre in the hazy mist. A herd of cows looked up at us as we passed then went back to feeding.
From here a deviation to the planned route was suggested by one of our members, taking us past this home. This took us across a wooden bridge onto a very pleasant riverside and forest walk.
We finally came down into Llanbedr where we walked through the village to The Victoria Inn where we had our lunch, soup and sandwiches being the favourite of the day. For convenience we then caught the bus back to Barmouth. Another pleasant Strollers Walk.
November (12th) - Aberdyfi
For our November walk we welcomed three new members to our group making a total of eleven strollers for our Aberdovey stroll plus Patch, Peter's dog, who is also now a regular member of the group.
We started our day on the early 8-50am train from Barmouth to Aberdovey. From the railway station we set off under the rail tunnel and onto the beach heading for the wooden jetty. Here we all went down the steps to see the recently installed Tidal Bell which rings at high tide. Carrying on along the front we passed the Harbour Masters office and fishermen repairing their lobster pots.
We had planned to call at The Dovey Inn for lunch, but as we passed we noticed that they did not open on Tuesdays. Fortunately as we were looking for alternatives, a lady came out of the Britannia Inn and kindly offered to take our orders for lunch so that it could be prepared for our return.
Our next stop was the most interesting Literary Institute Reading Room, which was the old Bath House dating back to 1882, with many photographs showing the history of the area together with a spectacular view across the estuary to Borth and Ynyslas.
Continuing our walk along the front we passed the mussel cleaning bath which was once used to wash the mussels caught locally, after filling at high tide. Just before the railway bridge we took a path to the right past a line of pretty cottages and gardens. This led us onto the rocky coastal path to "Picnic Island" with lovely estuary views. At the end of the path, known as "Picnic Island", we went down onto the beach where we had our coffee break. We then retraced our steps towards the town, some of us taking a detour up the steps alongside Penhelig Arms Hotel, leading to a footpath above the main road before dropping down into town by the Britannia Inn.
As promised, our lunches were already prepared for us on our arrival. Due to the prompt service at the Britannia Inn, this gave us time for some of us to take an extra short walk up to the bandstand with lovely views overlooking the town and estuary. We then made our way back down in time to catch the return train.
October (8th) - Dolmelynllyn
The early morning mist cleared to give a very pleasant day for our October Stroll in the grounds of Dolmelynllyn Hall. The starting point for the walk was the car park alongside the river on the edge of the Coed y Brenin Forest on the outskirts of Ganllwyd. From here our party of eleven Strollers and three dogs set off under the blue skies.
From the car park we crossed the river bridge and turned left along a footpath which brought us to the main road across from the entrance gate to the Dolmelynllyn Estate. A short distance up the estate road we turned right onto a footpath leading through fields, with some mud from the overnight rain, to the manmade lake. Here we had a break for our morning coffee while the dogs enjoyed playing in the water.
Continuing our walk we passed Dolmelynllyn Hall which is now used as a hotel and owned by the National Trust, stopping to view a stone said to have been taken from King Arthurs Grave. We then came to the most interesting Bee Wall, built in the second half of the nineteenth century and thought to be the largest example of its type in Britain.
The spectacular Dolmelynllyn Waterfall then came into view looking its best after the recent rain. Here we spent some time taking photographs while getting wet from the spray.
Crossing the wooden bridge brought us to the ancient lichen covered rock overlooking the waterfalls. The rock is inscribed in Latin with a line by the poet Thomas Gray. Alongside the stone is an English interpretation on a slate plaque.
The path down brought us past the black clad former church building into Ganllwyd Village, where we had our lunch stop by the River Mawddach at the picnic tables provided. Refreshed after our lunch we crossed the river bridge and made our way back to our cars following the river along the forest road.
An enjoyable walk of 3.9 miles (from Vic's GPS) with many interesting features on route.
September (10th) - Barmouth
The first Strollers Walk after the summer break was across Barmouth Bridge and along the estuary to the Mawddach Trail. Although most of us had walked the area before this is still one of the most pleasant walks in Barmouth.
Starting from the very attractive gardens opposite "The Last Inn" in Barmouth, we walked up the main road to join the footpath down to the Bridge passing the old Lifeboat Station and Toll House. After crossing the Iron Bridge the views up the estuary and over Fairbourne are amazing, made even more attractive by the high tide on the day. Part way along the bridge the train came rumbling past at the same time as jet planes flew overhead.
At the end of the bridge, just before Morfa Mawddach Railway Station, we followed the footpath which joined the road leading to the Edwardian Mawddach Crescent. Here we passed between the Sentry Boxes left by the army after its wartime operations. On reaching the Crescent we turned right following the estuary until we came to the Mawddach Trail path where we stopped at a picnic area for a for a quick drinks break.
Continuing along the Mawddach Trail we noted the considerable work being carried out on the sea defences before finding a picnic area by the water's edge with lovely views across the estuary. Here we had our lunch before retracing our steps along the Mawddach Trail until we came to the "Arthog Bog". The short detour, following the footbath through the bog, brought us back to Barmouth Bridge where again a train passed at the same point as on our outward journey.
Back at "The Last Inn" we went our separate ways having enjoyed our walk, especially Sam and Patch, the two dogs who accompanied us and led the walk most of the way.
August - No stroll in August
July (9th) - Llyn Cwm Mynach
A lovely hot summers day for our July Strollers Walk to Llyn Cwm Mynach, mainly on forest roads on a circular route around the lake. The walk started from a newly made parking area, two miles drive off the A496 road at Taicynhaeaf along narrow winding track.
The walk was well supported with thirteen members taking part. Starting with a gradual but steady uphill walk along forest paths where we were grateful of the shade offered by the overhanging trees. One unexpected interruption was the passing of two large Forestry Lorries while we stepped aside. A path to the right then took us down steps to the view point and the lake where we took a welcome break on the bench provided while we watched the fish jumping in the lake and took in the lovely scenery.
The short path up the steps took us back to continue our route round the lake. At the end of the lake the paths crossed, one going off to open hills with views of Craig Aberserw, which we all admired while catching the lovely breeze to cool us down.
We took the path back down the other side of the lake although we were unable to see the lake through the trees. The path then opened out offering distant views of Cader Idris. Taking a branch off this path to the right led us past the house "Blaen Cwm Mynach" about which Anne L Hill wrote her book "Four Fields, Five Gates" in 1954. We then stopped in the shade of a large Sycamore tree to have our lunch while the sheep grazed around us. After lunch a short walk along this path brought us back to our cars.
June (11th) - Tonfanau
After a week of very hot weather the day of our walk was cooler and more pleasant for walking, just a gentle breeze and dry.
We all met up on the train, getting off at Tonfanau Station from where we started our walk. The walk mainly followed the Welsh Coastal Path which now crosses the newly constructed Pont Tonfanau Footbridge, said to be the longest span Vierendeel Truss Bowspring footbridge in the UK.
A short walk along the road from the railway station brought us onto the new Welsh Coastal Path, the new footbridge soon coming into view alongside the old Cambrian Railway Bridge. The bridge was very impressive, with a span of 50 metres over the Afon Dysynn, linking the Tywyn Bridleway with Tonfanau.
From the bridge our route took us along the Broad Water where we saw Cormorants, Gulls and Swans and Dave pointed out the rare Ragged Robin plant. We could clearly hear the Swifts which were nesting in the grass. A gentle flat walk, which brought us out at the Magic Lantern Cinema in Tywyn. Across the road from the cinema was the White Hall Hotel where we had lunch, fish and chips being the favourite of the day.
Refreshed after our lunch and having a further hour to wait for our train, we decided to do another short walk. This walk took us back over Morfa Army Camp Site to the Dykes, returning along the promenade where Dave pointed out the Thrift, better known as Sea Pink growing on the foreshore. A short walk from the seafront brought us to Tywyn Railway where we caught our return train.
May (14th) - Caerdeon
The poor weather forecast did not deter our Strollers for the May walk at Caerdeon and they were rewarded with quite reasonable weather and clear views.
After parking the cars at the forest car park above Caerdeon, we first went to look at the tadpoles in the attractive manmade lake. We then set off across the road and onto the forest path passing a newly refurbished house which was a burnt out shell only a couple of years ago. The path led over fast running streams and over stiles before dropping down onto the road with views over the Mawddach Estuary.
A short walk down the road brought us to Tyddyn Pandy farm gate. We walked down the farm drive as far as the farmhouse then turned left through a field where the bluebells were just beginning to appear. The next gate led into a field of friendly horses which came over to say hello, finally leading over a stile onto the road.
From the road we took the forest path which would lead back to our cars. A stack of logs proved ideal seating for us to stop and have our picnic. The more energetic members of the party then decided to take a detour to a viewpoint overlooking the Mawddach Estuary, well worth it for the wonderful views looking down on Farchynys. We then retraced our steps to join the others at the car park. The GPS indicated that we had walked 4.83 miles.
April (24th) - Foel Caerynwch
In place of the usual Tuesday Strollers Walk, for the April walk we opted for the Buffet Lunch at Dolgellau College, later in the month, followed by a short walk in the area. The first year students at Dolgellau College again put on an excellent Buffet Lunch.
Following the lunch the planned walk was the new Foel Caerynwch path from Brithdir (also known locally as the Pimple Walk), a two mile circular walk which has only been open for twelve months. The route was said to offer striking panoramic views of Meirionnydd together with exceptional wildlife. Unfortunately on our visit the views were obscured by the low cloud.
Starting from Brithdir Village Hall we followed the well signposted route hoping that the mist would clear. The path ascended quite steeply to the peak from where we should have been able to see the wonderful views as far as Snowdon and Bala. Coming back down the path was more gradual, taking a total of just an hour and a half back to the Village Hall.
Although we enjoyed the walk, we were disappointed that on this occasion we had to use our imagination for the views and it was agreed that it would be nice to repeat the walk on a clear day.
March (12th) - Shell Island
We all wrapped up warm for our March Strollers Walk to Shell Island on what was probably the coldest day of the year, although in brilliant sunshine.
Starting from Llanbedr Railway Station, Vic led the well supported walk, heading towards Shell Island. Just before the start of the Causeway we took the footpath to the left. This formed part of the Wales Coastal Path and was well surfaced (no mud today).
When the sea came into view, it was commented that from the shade of turquoise we could have been in the Mediterranean if the temperature had been twenty degrees warmer. Snowdon and the distant mountains showed a sprinkling of snow on their peaks, not quite so much as seen on the Strollers previous visit to Shell Island in 2009 when the weather was similar but the same mountains were covered in snow.
We returned to Llanbedr along the causeway for a well deserved lunch at the Victoria Hotel before heading home by either train or car.
February (12th) - Cors-Y-Gedol
The February Strollers Walk at Dyffryn was led by Dave Rowley with contributions from the other Strollers. The aim of the walk was to see the Snowdrops at Cors y Gedol Hall and we couldn't have chosen a more perfect time to view them in full bloom.
Meeting at Dyffryn Railway Station, some members arrived on the 10-15am train, some by car and others on foot to make a total of fourteen Strollers.
From the Station we headed up hill, crossing the main road by the Post Office, until we joined a footpath which took us high above the village, passing through muddy fields and finally coming out onto Cors y Gedol Drive. Walking up the Drive we passed white carpets of snowdrops under the trees on both sides, lining the drive to the house. From the Hall we descended towards the main road passing through the woods and down Bellaport Farm Drive where we passed a field of rare Alpacas, and bungalows where we stopped to admire the garden with a pond and wooden bridge (nice garden Alan).
Now back at the main road, it was decided to follow the Coast Path route back. This took us past a field with Welsh Blacks chewing the grass and then in the next field two sheep, each with their new lambs (spring has arrived).
Now still following the Coastal Path, through open fields, over styles, across the railway crossing and through the woods brought us to the Cadwgan Hotel where we had our lunch before going our separate ways.
We were surprised to learn that, according to Vic's GPS, we had walked 4.83 miles. Not bad for the Strollers.
January (16th) - Lunch & Stroll, Dolgellau
As an extra to the usual January Strollers Walk this month we went to Dolgellau College for a Buffet Lunch which was followed by a short walk.. This was the third time that the Strollers had enjoyed the Buffet Lunch at the college and the first year students put on as good a spread as ever.
After an enjoyable lunch we changed our shoes and set off on our walk following the path round the back of the college, past the greenhouse leading onto the Mawddach Trail. This took us through a tunnel under the Dolgellau Bypass and over the New River Bridge. We then followed path between the river and the playing fields, with views of the snow covered Cader, which took us into the town.
From the town we walked up Maes y Pandy following the river to the end of the road at Pandy. Here we crossed the river bridge and followed the footpath along the other side of the river back towards town with many lovely distant views. This brought us out through Coed Aberneint woods near to the hospital and Community Gardens.
The walk back across the town took us through the park where our Strollers couldn't resist a detour to play on the outside Adult Gym equipment. We then retraced our steps along the river bank back to our cars at the College.
January (8th) - Aberdovey
The planned January Strollers walk, which was to have been a walk from Tonfanau to Tywyn, had to be cancelled due to a delay in the construction of the new bridge. This was replaced with a walk at Aberdovey. Although we had good directions for the walk, known as "Panorama Walk", it hadn't been possible to check it out before the day and so the Strollers had to become the Explorers.
Due to illness and a bad weather forecast only seven brave Strollers met up on the 8-45am train from Barmouth to Aberdovey's Penhelig Railway Station. True to the weather forecast, it was raining when we got off the train and this continued throughout the walk.
Leaving Penhelig Railway Station we walked towards the town, taking a path on the right which led us on to Copperhill Street. After passing under the railway bridge a path to the left took us high above the town, across fields, over styles and through deep mud, made worse by the wet weather. Since the rain continued, it was then decided to shorten the walk and head back into town down a farm track which led us to the Golf Course. A short walk across the Golf Course brought us to the Dovey Inn where we went for our lunch, soup being the favourite of the day.
We then walked to Aberdovey main Railway Station where we caught the 1-10pm train back to Barmouth. In spite of the rain everybody had an enjoyable day.
*** 2012 ***
December (11th) - Tywyn
An early start on this sunny, cold, frosty winter's morning for the December Strollers Walk at Tywyn, meeting on the 8-45am train from Barmouth.
From Tywyn main line railway station we started the walk heading towards Talyllyn Railway Station and then down to the promenade. This led us onto the coastal path in a northerly direction, passing the fisherman's cottage where until recently fish from the mornings catch could be bought. From the end of the tarmac path we headed inland over the railway line and across the former Army Camp fields, following the wide drainage dykes and taking advantage of the frosty ground which could otherwise have been rather muddy.
Finally we came to the lane leading back into Town, coming out behind the "Magic Lantern" cinema, opposite to the White Hall Hotel where we were to have lunch.
Since we were slightly early for lunch, this allowed us time to extend the walk with a short wander around town, then back to the White Hall Hotel for lunch before catching the 1-24pm train back home.
November (13th) - Criccieth
The November Strollers Walk at Criccieth proved very popular with fifteen members meeting up on the 10-00am train from Barmouth, the weather being dull but dry.
From Criccieth railway station we crossed the railway line and made our way through the park towards the water front, on our way picking up a small girl who wanted to join our party. She was quickly rescued by her mother.
We walked the coastal path to Ynysgain where the path started to deteriorate then went down on to the beach for a short drinks break. Walking along the beach we paddled across a small stream before going back up to rejoin the coast path towards Criccieth. Here we intended taking a path inland, but due to the previous nights rain this path was too muddy to use. A slight detour along a bridleway and across fields brought us to the main road.
Crossing the road, we made our way up the hill with views over the town and distant views of Criccieth Castle and the coast. The loop brought us back into the town where we made our way to the original Cadwaladers Cafe, famous for its ice-cream, which now has branches as far afield as the Trafford Centre in Manchester. Here we enjoyed our lunch with lovely views over the bay before catching the return train back to Barmouth.
October (7th) - Caernarfon
Due to the normal Tuesday date for the Strollers Walk this month coinciding with other U3A activities, this months walk was held on Sunday 7th October. Taking advantage of the Sunday only bus service from Barmouth to Caernarfon, we met up on the number two bus at various points along its route to enjoy the pleasant journey to Caernarfon.
After a rather wet previous week, the Sunday turned out to be sunny with blue skies.
We got off the bus at the stop before Caernarfon where Lyndsay kindly called in at Tesco's to treat us all to a cake to eat during our walk. We then set off down Coed Helen Lane, crossing the Welsh Highland Railway Bridge, and with views of Caernarfon Castle across the fields. This led us down on to Aber Foreshore Road along the Estuary. As we passed the Swing Bridge we were entertained, while having a rest, by the swing bridge opening to allow the passage of a masted yacht. Continuing along the Estuary we found a bench, overlooking the Menai Straits and Anglesey, to eat our lunch.
After lunch we continued along the water front finally turning inland across a football field and narrow path leading us through a caravan site to a Tower on the hill. The Tower appears to be a lookout tower, but is nothing more than a folly. It was built during the early Victorian period by the Coed Helen Estate landowner Rice Thomas Esq, as a summerhouse. It now houses a mobile telephone mast. The short detour up to the Tower offered fantastic views of Caernarfon Castle and over Anglesey.
We then made our way back through the park, over the swing bridge and round the town walls to Wetherspoons where we enjoyed a coffee before catching the bus home.
A most enjoyable day out.
September (11th) - Llanfair
A bright and breezy day for the strollers return, after the summer break, for a walk around Llanfair, Pensarn and Llandanwg.
Most strollers met on the 38 bus between Barmouth to Llanfair. Others joined us at the bus shelter at Llanfair.
The first section of the walk took us up over the hill at the back of Llanfair with wonderful clear views of Shell Island and the bay. We then came down at Pensarn where we crossed the main road and the railway line into the Pensarn Activity Centre with its canoes and boats.
Back at sea level, we wandered past the harbour and along the estuary, in part following the new Welsh Coastal Path, until we found a sheltered spot overlooking Shell Island to eat our lunch in the pleasant sunshine.
Continuing along the Estuary we came to a jetty extending out towards Shell Island. Trish insisted that we walk to the end of the jetty for a group photograph. Finally coming to Llandanwg beach where we continued past St. Tanwg's Church, situated in the sand dunes, bringing us to Y Maes Cafe. Again sitting in the warm sunshine we enjoyed a drink at the cafe before walking back up the hill to catch the bus back from Llanfair.
July and August - Strollers take a break.
Due to holidays and other commitments, there will be no Strollers Walks in July and August. Back in September.
June 2012 - Mawddach Trail & Arthog Falls
We had perfect weather for the June Strollers Walk to Arthog Waterfalls led by David Dorling.
Eleven of us met at Morfa Mawddach Railway Station, most arriving on the 11-00am train from Barmouth. David pointed out the interesting plants, such as Fennel, still growing at the station, probably planted by a Station Master from the past.
After leaving the station we made our way along the estuary, noting the wild Iris and stopping to admire the old Sentry Boxes which were used by the military during WW2.
We then followed the road and footpath past the Victorian Mawddach Crescent, to cross the Mawddach Trail by the river bridge, finally coming out onto the main road by St Catherines Church at Arthog.
Rather than climbing the steps to Arthog Waterfalls, David led us by an alternative easier route past Arthog Hall with its eagles on the gateposts. Upwards we walked following the river and magnificent waterfalls in full flood due to the recent heavy rain. Reaching the interesting stone clapper bridge across the river, it was decided that this was a good place for our lunch break, where we sat on the convenient rocks in the sun.
After our well deserved rest David led us back down the other side of the waterfalls to his home where we had a tour of his most interesting garden followed by Bronwen inviting us to tea and homemade cakes on the lawn in the lovely sunshine.
We then said our farewells to Bronwen, and David led us back to the station in time for the 3-45pm train back to our various stops.
Thank you David and Bronwen for a lovely day.
P.S. For those that saw it sitting on the Mawddach Trail as we returned to the station - the little creature was a vole.
P.P.S. This stroll up to the top of Arthog Waterfalls was also done in January 2011 when it was a bit colder and icier as can be seen in these pictures.
May 2012 - Plas Tan Y Bwlch
The May Strollers walk took us to Plas Tan y Bwlch to explore the tracks and footpaths through the woods above the hall, taking in the three lakes, LLyn Mair, LlynHafod y Llyn and Llyn Trefor. Little did we know what was in store for us!
The intended gentle stroll turned into more of an Assault course. The recent high winds had uprooted trees in the woodland, many of which had fallen over the footpaths. We climbed, ducked and fought our way through the foliage.
After a short break at Trefor Lake we continued to fight our way through the fallen trees to the view point where we were rewarded for our efforts with fantastic estuary views to Porthmadog, Portmeirion and Harlech Castle in the distance. Here we sat at the picnic table, kindly provided for our use, and had our lunch. The return walk proved no easier with an unbelievable number of fallen trees blocking our way.
Due to the problems we decided to cut the walk slightly short missing out Llyn Mair. When we got back to our cars we drove the short distance to Llyn Mair and sat at the picnic tables, watching the ducks while we recovered from our days experience.
Some described it as "A Stroll to remember" others as "A Stroll they would never forget". Not exactly the intended gentle stroll but all said they had enjoyed their day.
April 2012 - Dolgellau
Following the success of last month's trial "lunch and a Stroll" at Dolgellau College, it was decided to repeat this for the April Strollers Walk with a different walk.
After an enjoyable lunch at the college we drove the short distance to the car park by the river at Llanelltyd near Cymer Abbey. After walking over the old road bridge, a footpath running by the side of the river brought us up past the grade two listed parish church of St Illtyd to the main road.
Across the road a series of steps took us up to another road with lovely mountain views, including Cader Idris, with the green valley below. This was the starting point for our forest walk.
The forest track was a gradual incline leading us up into the hills with wild violets, wood anemones and primroses at the side of the path. Finally a rather steep section took us up onto a tarmac road which provided an easy decent, again with wonderful views, back to our starting point.
The weather had been kind to us and everybody enjoyed the walk and lunch. We hope to repeat the "lunch and a Stroll" theme after the college return from their summer break.
March 2012 - Aberystwyth
To show that Aberystwyth has more than shops and the university, our March Strollers Walk took us to the Wellington Monument to the south of the town, travelling by bus to Aberystwyth.
Some of us braved the very crowded 8-25am school bus from Barmouth, while others joined us at Dolgellau for a quick coffee before catching the 9-20am X32 bus for Aberystwyth. A very pleasant bus journey, arriving at Aberystwyth at 10-40am in time for a bacon roll and coffee at Wetherspoons before starting our walk.
A short walk through the town then before crossing the River Rheidol footbridge to join the footpath up to the Wellington Monument where we had a brief rest. Despite the rather hazy weather the high position offered excellent views over the town and harbour. After our rest we started the descent on the sea side of the hill down to the harbour and stone jetty where dolphins are often seen.
We then had a walk along the south coastal path running between the river and the sea until the path turned inland. Back then along the river with distant views of the Wellington monument, over the River Rheidol road bridge and across town back to Wetherspoons.
A late fish and chips lunch before catching the 3-40pm bus back home brought an end to a very enjoyable day.
February 2012 - Porthmadog to Borth Y Gest
This was the first time the Strollers had used the train for transport and it proved popular with fifteen members joining the train at various points along its route to Porthmadog.
The weather was kind and warmer than recently experienced.
From Porthmadog Main Line Railway Station we set off down a side street to join the footpath over the dykes, passing the water control station and leading on to the harbour.
Following the harbour we passed the Harbour Masters office to the square where it was decided to take "the high road" to Borth y Gest. The 83 steps to the top road presented no problem to our Strollers group, although we were grateful for a rest at the top while we admired the wonderful views over the estuary and harbour with Harlech Castle in the distance.
Then on to Borth y Gest, walking across the front and a short distance along the coastal path, watching canoes below and with more lovely views before turning back, this time taking the lower Oakley Wharf path back to Porthmadog.
Lunch at Spooners Restaurant at the Festiniog Railway Station ended the day for several of the group while others extended the walk by walking the length of the Cob following the Festiniog Railway Line to Boston Lodge Works, and returning to Porthmadog along the other side of the Cob.
January 2012 - Barmouth
The damp dull start to the day resulted in an extended coffee break at Tan y Bryn. Once the rain had stopped, we put on our shoes and started the walk to the Old Barmouth Town.
From Tan y Bryn we walked down Mynach Road and then up the steep Gellfechan Road with lovely views over the town. From Gellfechlan Road the path past St John's Church took us to the Dinas Oleu Viewing Point. We then descended the steps through Old Barmouth past Local sculptor, Frank Cocksey's home and the many quaint houses built into the rock, to the Last Inn.
Through the Harbour and past Frank Cocksey's Carrara marble sculpture and the Dolphin Water feature brought us to the Bar, passing the "Wooden Man of Barmouth" in the sand dunes on Ynys y Brwdd. From there we walked almost the full length of the beach before crossing the promenade and up to the main road along a narrow lane. Then back to Tan y Bryn for a further coffee and sandwiches.
The earlier threat of rain had come to nothing and it had remained dry for our pleasant local walk.
*** 2011 ***
December 2011 - Portmeirion
The weather forecast had predicted gales for the day of our December Strollers Walk at Portmeirion, but the rain kept off and due to the sheltered location of Portmeirion we were protected from the strong winds and even enjoyed some blue skies and sunshine.
This was the fourth visit of the Strollers Group to Portmeirion, but we still found new territory to explore. Fifteen of us started the walk along the woodland path where the camellias were in flower and trees full of berries. Although the weather was calm at our level, the dramatic sound of the high winds in the trees above was always with us.
The path down to the view point proved to be very wet and slippery due to the recent heavy rain, it was said almost rivalling that on many of George's walks. The view point was exposed to the high wind and so only allowed a short visit, before returning to the village through the Pet Cemetery, round the Japanese lake and past the lighthouse.
Lunch at the Town hall Cafe followed by shopping for some, while a few of us had an extended walk along the coast path to the look-out at the top of the village, brought an end to an enjoyable day at Portmeirion.
Hoping for another return visit next year.
November 2011 - Morfa Mawddach
For most, the November Strollers walk started with a train journey from their local railway station to Morfa Mawddach.
Here we met up with others who had already started their walk by walking across the bridge from Barmouth.
Ten of us set off from Morfa Mawddach Station along the road, past the muddy fields of Sue and Jim Alger's pig farm, to the War Memorial at Arthog.
A few yards along the main road brought us to the start of the footpath leading up the hillside. Although the rain kept off for our walk, the recent rain resulted in the path being rather muddy and slippery in places but we all got through. The path over the hill, through fields and forest areas offered views over Fairbourne and the Mawddach Estuary through the trees. A fenced grass mound and door were thought to be access to an underground reservoir.
The path finally dropped down into Friog at Panteinion Waterfalls.
Following the road down from Panteinion Waterfalls a short distance brought us to a footpath which led us to the back of Evelyn's house where Evelyn kindly invited us in for tea and coffee and allowed time for a social chat before catching the 1-40pm train back.
October 2011 - Ynys
Rather a dull day, but at least the rain kept off for our October Strollers Walk at Ynys. We welcomed several non U3A members who joined us, including visitors to our area.
From the lay-by at Glan y Wern we crossed the main Harlech road to join the footpath to Ynys following the Afon y Glyn river on our left. Walking along the embankment and over several stiles brought us to the railway crossing where a well timed train passed in front of us. The village of Portmeirion and the Dwyryd Estuary then came into view as we turned left and crossed the footbridge over the river. Continuing then along the other side of the river to Ynys we approached a tall building which was originally a warehouse for the port of Harlech.
We then crossed the road and headed inland along a walled track, passing an unusual three way stone stile, to St Michaels on the Shore Church at Llanfihangel y Traethau, which it is said was probably on an island when first built. A short break then within the walled grounds of the Church while we viewed a twelfth century pillar gravestone, before continuing uphill, with lovely views across the estuary. Passing a concrete structure on the left, this was thought to be the access point to an underground reservoir.
Reaching the foreshore it was found that although the tide had receded it had unfortunately left the ground rather muddy and slippery. We slowly made our way over this slippery section before finding a suitable spot for our lunch break facing Portmeirion with views as far as Borth y Gest and the Moelwyn mountains. Refreshed after our lunch we continued along the foreshore to Ynys and back along the opposite side of the river to our cars at Glan y Wern.
Coffee at the nearby Estuary Lodge brought an end to an enjoyable walk.
September 2011 - Panorama Walk
Following a day and night of gale force winds it was thought that many of the Strollers group may have been put off by the weather for the first Strollers walk after the summer break. It was nice to see eleven join us at Barmouth Panorama Walk car park as the skies began to clear although still rather windy.
Leaving the car park we walked down the road past the start of the Panorama Walk to a footpath on the right taking us across fields with lovely views of the Mawddach Estuary. A slow gentle climb then, with wonderful views all the way, to the Slabs where a youth group were practicing climbing and abseiling on the rock face. While we had a rest and the climbers entertained us, some of the "fitter" members of the group continued up the hill to view a holiday cottage. On their return we walked back down the road to our cars.
After retrieving our picnic lunches from the cars we started the Panorama Walk and had our lunch at the top of the hill overlooking Barmouth Bridge and the Estuary, slightly breezy, but worth it for the view. Then back to our cars to end an enjoyable walk.
June 2011 - Llandudno
Only five "strollers" managed to get up in time to join us for our early start to catch the 7.30am number 38 bus on this warm sunny morning.
The day didn't start quite according to plan as, due to hold ups on the way, we missed the 8.40am X1 connection at Blaenau Ffestiniog to take us to Llanrwst. This gave the opportunity find a cafe for a coffee break before catching the next bus at 9.40am.
Getting off the bus at Llanrwst, we walked along the recently improved river bank walk to the next bus stop where we intended to catch the number 19 bus to Trefriw. Here a very helpful lady informed us that due to a recent change to the bus timetable we would have a rather long wait for the next number 19 bus, however she happened to be waiting for a newly introduced local service, which wasn't yet in the bus timetable, and would take us to Trefriw. When this arrived it was a smart 12 seat minibus. We travelled in luxury to Trefriw where our helpful lady acted as our guide to the start of the Fairy Falls walk.
The good path followed the waterfalls down to the Trefriw Woollen Mill where we took the most interesting and informative self guided tour of the working mill. A quick look around the shop and then back on the bus through Conway to Llandudno.
Getting off the bus in town, we walked the full length of the promenade and to the end of the pier in lovely sunshine. Back then to Wetherspoons for a late lunch, fish and chips being the favourite of the day.
Just enough time then for a walk along the main street before catching the 4.10pm bus for our return journey home.
May 2011 - River & Forrest Garden, Pandy
The weather forecast said "sunshine and showers". Unfortunately, on this occasion we got the showers. Eight of us braved the rain showers for our river walk to the Copper Mine at Pandy near Precipice Walk. This was followed by a return visit to the nearby Forrest Garden, across Deer's Leap Bridge, which was previously visited on a winter walk when there were no leaves on the trees. This time the trees were in leaf and it looked quite different.
After the walk we found a picnic table under the trees, which was still dry and enjoyed our picnic lunch. As we were all a little wet we then decided to call it a day.
April 2011 - Blue Lake
Starting from Fairbourne Railway Station with the arrival of the 11.00am train we set off past Friog School and across farmers land to the start of the path to Blue Lake. Since many were not familiar with the Panteinion Waterfall, we first took a slight diversion before starting the upward climb. With several stops on route, to admire the scenery, we all made it to the tunnel entrance.
Fortunately due to the recent dry weather the path through the tunnel was not too wet and we all made it with dry feet, although one or two heads suffered from the low roof.
We relaxed by the very blue lake in lovely sunshine, watching the RAF cadets abseiling down the rock face while eating our picnic lunch.
After exploring the surrounding area and viewing the lake from above, we walked back down the hill to Evelyn's house where she kindly provided afternoon tea with home made cakes in her garden (thank you Evelyn and Jack). Home then on the 3.40 train to our various destinations.
March 2011 - Torrent Walk
Ideal weather for our March Strollers walk at Torrent Walk, Dolgellau, which was well supported.
Before starting the walk we visited St Marks Church at Brithdir. A most interesting Church with an unusual beaten copper altar.
The sun shone as we retraced our steps back to the start of Torrent Walk. The recently restored path, originally built by Thomas Payne, follows the river Clywedog through the mainly oak woodland. The lack of leaves on the trees allowed wonderful views of the many waterfalls along the route.
After a short drinks break at Clywedog Bridge, where a passing motorist stopped to talk and offered to take our group photograph, we took a slight detour to visit the nearby ruins of the Dolgun Iron Furnace. The old iron furnace dating back to the early eighteenth century was built by Abraham Darby, the Quaker from Coalbrookdale.
Back then along the other side of the river, we stopped for our picnic lunch overlooking an impressive waterfall, and then finally back to our cars.
Next we drove the short distance to the newly refurbished Cross Foxes for a welcome drink.
As we were all to pass through Dolgellau on the way home, it was decided to stop off and visit the new outdoor gym. Back to our childhood we all had a fun time and used up any remaining excess energy.
February 2011 - Portmerion
A lovely day for our third return visit to Portmeirion, certainly the best weather of a rather wet week. We thought that we had covered most of the Portmeirion grounds during our previous two annual visits, but managed to find new paths in the "Ghost Garden".
Starting from the car park, nine of us walked through the village down to the coastal path where, for most of us, we saw for the first time the tide fully in and the bay looking quite different to previous visits. Then though the Ghost garden to a viewing point, a good place to have a coffee break and feed the Robin that came out to see us.
Then through the woods to the Dogs Cemetery, past the lake, over the bridge and back to the village. Finding new picnic tables overlooking the square, we had our lunch. A most enjoyable day.
January 2011 - Barmouth
First a coffee at Tan y Bryn, then we set off for a town walk around Barmouth.
Up the steep Gellfechan Road with the wonderful views over the town and beach, past the Church and on to Dinas Oleu. We then descended through the Old Town to the Harbour.
From the Harbour we walked the full length of the Promenade, finally crossing the railway line and back, making an enjoyable circular walk.
*** 2010 ***
June 2010 - Plas Tan Y Bwlch
A dreadful weather forecast for the day of our June strollers walk at Plas Tan y Bwlch probably put several people off as we only had six walkers.
Starting from the car park, we walked up the drive to the impressive building. First we watched a film show giving us the history of the area and the house. We then moved on upstairs following the self-guided tour to the Oakeley Room which had been the family dining room with lovely wood carvings showing the skills of Mary Oakeley (Russell). Then along the corridor, lined with family photographs, to the library with magnificent views across Maentwrog. A beautiful pitch pine staircase then led us to the Tudor lounge which had been the master bedroom. Back down then to the patio and after a general look around we started our walk.
From the back of the house we walked up to Plas Halt, on the Ffestiniog Railway line, where we saw the small station building with its fireplace. On then to Llyn Mair, a man made but lovely lake built in the grounds of Plas Tan y Bwlch. Stopping at the lake for a refreshment break we saw picnic tables on the other side. It was decided that we should go there for lunch. Following the edge of the lake we saw water lilies on the water and found our picnic area that we had seen from the other side. A very pleasant and well maintained site with two small bridges.
After lunch and a rest we walked on to Llyn Hafod y Llyn, a second lake set deep in the woodlands. We stayed a while listening to the cuckoo calling and watching the lake. After a minor argument over which path to take back was resolved we set off through the woodland to the car park without any of us having got wet, in fact the sun managed to shine through on several occasions. It just shows that you can't always believe weather forecasts.
The very pleasant day finished with a drink at the Oakeley Arms.
May 2010 - Aberystwyth
The Strollers May "bus and a stroll" trip to Aberystwyth was well supported. Meeting at Dolgellau, the 28 service double-decker bus arrived on time. The driver must have been amused to see the party all aiming for the top deck. It was worth it as the wonderful views started as we drove down the Mawddach Estuary to Fairbourne. From there onwards the clear sea views are unbeatable, seeing far more than from a private car or even the train.
Unfortunately the bus was delayed at Machynlleth while waiting for a change of drivers and this meant a late arrival at Aberystwyth. This wouldn't normally have mattered, but we had promised ourselves a Bacon Roll and coffee for a late breakfast at Wetherspoons on arrival. We knew that they stopped serving the breakfast menu at 12.00noon. Wendy and Rachael saved the day by jumping off the bus on arrival and placing an order for ten bacon rolls at 11.57am to the amazement of the staff.
After refreshments we set off on our walk. Through the castle ruins, along the sea front to Constitution Hill. Having climbed the hill, it was time for a rest and further refreshments from the cafe at the top.
A short walk then to the Camera Obscura where Patricia took the driving seat and gave us a tour of the surrounding area.
Back then to Wetherspoons for a late lunch before the party split, some returning on the earlier 32 service bus, others waiting for the later 28 to get a second helping of the coastal views, although this time not from the double-decker.
To finish the day we got off the 28 bus at Morfa Mawddach Station for a lovely evening stroll in brilliant sunshine across Barmouth Bridge back to Barmouth.
A very successful day.
On our return we read in the Cambrian News that Arriva are considering discontinuing the 28 service to Aberystwyth. This would be greatly missed, but at least we have done it!
April 2010 - Farchynys
The April Strollers Walk was one of our most enjoyable ones. Meeting at Farchynys car park in brilliant sunshine and under blue skies we set off across the main road and up the forest track. A gradual incline, not too strenuous until we reached our first obstacle, a fallen tree lying across the path. All over the tree successfully we continued on our way finally meeting up with the bridle path with wonderful views over the Mawddach Estuary and finally joining a road.
A short walk along the road then onto a forest trail passing a lake where many frogs had been spotted previously, but non today.
We then decided to take full advantage of the lovely weather and extend the walk. This was where we managed to get lost. A quick enquiry for directions at a local house put us back on the right track and we thought that the diversion had been worth while.
After a picnic lunch at a river bridge we made our way back down the bridle way to the car park.
A drink on the patio at Half Way House brought the day to an end.
March 2010 - Barmouth
Again a lovely sunny day for the March strollers walk. First meeting at Tan y Bryn for a coffee, we walked down the promenade to Barmouth Harbour where the railway engineers were working on replacing the old road bridge. We then walked the magnificent Barmouth Bridge to Morfa Mawddach with wonderful clear views of the estuary. From Morfa Mawddach we followed the estuary finally joining the Mawddach trail where we stopped for a picnic lunch. The walk back was just as enjoyable finishing at the Last Inn for a drink and chat.
February 2010 - Harlech
Blue skies and sunshine again for the February strollers walk. Starting from Harlech Castle Hotel car park we walked along the old Harlech-Llanfair road as far as Llanfair, then turning east to return to Harlech along the top road with wonderful views of Snowdon and noting the roadside Baptism Pool which we passed. The day finished with an enjoyable lunch at Harlech Castle Hotel.
January 2010 - Barmouth
A cold, dry, sunny day for the first strollers walk of the year. Meeting at Tan y Bryn for a quick coffee we then walked down to Barmouth promenade, crossing the railway line and continuing north viewing snow on the distant hills. Finally walking up to the main road and back to Tan y Bryn for a hot meal to warm us up.