It was a fine sunny weekend for the long walkers who spent the weekend based in Porthmadog. The Saturday walk led by Steve Hull involved a linear walk from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. Most off the group travelled to the start by taking a train journey on the Ffestiniog Railway before taking a route often parallel with the railway back to Porthmadog.
The Sunday walk was led by Peter & Georgie Everson and involved a car shuttle between the village of Trevor and Nefyn. This was followed by a walk following the Wales Coast Path from Trevor to Nefyn with some of the group climbing Yr Eifl en route.
Blaenau Ffestiniog lies at the eastern terminus of the Ffestiniog Railway. The town is synonymous with the slate industry and during its heyday was the largest town in the old country of Merionethshire. During the 1860’s and 1870’s the slate industry was booming such was the demand, but the decline came during and after the First World War when many quarry men went to war. Today, numerous tourist attractions have opened up in the surrounding area.
The train arrives at Blaenau Ffestiniog carrying most of the ramblers. The Ffestiniog Railway is 13.5 miles long and was originally built between 1833 and 1836 to transport slate between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog where it was shipped all around the world. The original railway was built on a gravity system and had a gradient of around 1 in 80 most of the way. Originally horses rode on the wagons en route to Porthmadog but then had to pull the empty wagons back to Blaenau Ffestinog.
This was the panoramic view the group got from the area of highest group west of the hamlet of Rhyd. From left to right, the summits are Moel ddu, Moel Hebog, Nantlle Ridge (background), Snowdon (background but in centre of photograph), Cnicht, Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach.
Trevor was the start point for our Sunday walk. We parked the cars just above the harbour. Trevor, which lies some distance above the harbour was a quarrying village and only the scares on the hillside above now remain.
Initially we had a coastal walk before a long ascent out of Trevor towards Bwlch yr Eifl.
The summiteers who made it to the top of Yr Eifl 564 metres and well worth the effort for the views. I have drawn a blank on what the metal structure on top of the trig point is. A big metal ‘4’ and smaller letters ‘A’ and ‘H’ attached.
Just east of Yr Eifl on the lower hill named Tre’r Ceiri is an important Iron Age Hill Fort. The fort dates from around 200BC and continued to be occupied during Roman times. The stone walls stand to a height of thirteen feet. Ruins of around 150 houses have been found within the enclosure.
The village of Nant Gwrtheyrn is hemmed in on three sides by steep hillsides and a steep road leads down into the village. It was first occupied by a Romano-British leader who sold out to the invading Saxons and fled to this hidden valley. During the 1860’s the valley had a thriving industry of supplying paving setts for the streets of many cities in the north of England. Today, the buildings in the valley have been restored to a Welsh Language and Heritage Centre.
The coastal path southwest from Nant Gwrtheyrn skirts this secluded bay and on our visit it was a real suntrap.
The secluded little church of St Beuno at Pistyll dates mostly from the 15th century and is named after the hermit St Beuno who found solitude here in the 6th century. It is one of the stopping off point for pilgrimages to Bardsey Island at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula. Coincidentally our visit was timed with the Lammas service when the is lit by candles and the floor is covered in rushes for the service which is held to mark the annual wheat harvest.
Finally can I and on behalf of everyone on this weekend thank Peter, Georgie and Steve for arranging and leading two excellent walks.