Grade: fairly difficult, mostly on minor roads and good tracks, well waymarked, but a long day.
Transport links: Buses to Bangor, Aberystwyth, Barmouth and Wrexham run along the A470 a short walk from the Abbey. The Bangor-Aberystwyth bus also passes Trawsfynydd.
See http://www.traveline.cymru for details.
Walk back down the road from the abbey. At SH 71888 19222 turn left on the road towards the Precipice Walk, then left again and back down to the Mawddach river. The road winds along between the woods and the river bank for about 5.5 km. Ignore the turning to the right to Llanfachreth.
At SH 73008 23367 the road bends sharply left to cross the Mawddach. Continue straight on here, along a good forest track on the east bank of the river. In about 1 km a lane to the left leads to a footbridge across the river to the village of Ganllwyd. The quickest route from here is to walk along the main road through Ganllwyd and cross back over the Eden river by another footbridge at the top of the village. However, this involves half a mile on the busy A470. Ganllwyd has lost its shop; it has a good hotel (Plas Dolmelynllyn) but no pub or other facilities. You may prefer to stay on the east bank and walk for about half a mile up the Mawddach then cross the footbridge to your left (the stepping stones marked on the map are not recommended). The St John Roberts trail and a geological trail both go up to your right - well worth exploring.
To stay on the main Cistercian Way, turn left on the minor road. At SH 73110 25078 turn right on a forest road then rejoin the track up the Eden.
At SH 72703 25440 take the right fork and walk up the hill through the forest.
At SH 72758 26010 a lane goes right to Cefndeuddwr. Keep straight on and slightly west of north, along the forest edge and back into the forest again. You are now back on the line of Sarn Helen.
At SH 72390 27704 look out for a milestone about 1.25 km after you re-enter the forest. This is not a Roman milestone but an eighteenth-century one, indicating that this track continued as the main road from Dolgellau to Trawsfynydd until the modern metalled road was built.At a clearing to the left, look down the slope and see if you can spot the foundations of some circular huts, all that remains of an Iron Age settlement. The more modern farm below you is called ‘Bwlch-y-Ffordd’, the pass of the road, indicating again that Sarn Helen continued in use after the departure of the legions. Do not go down towards the farm, though, but keep to the right, on the same bearing just west of north.
At SH 72278 28158 the path divides three ways. Take the central track (the right-hand one is fainter). At SH 72100 28873 the path divides. Take the right fork. Walk along the edge of a small clearing and bear up to the left into the trees again. The stony track climbs through the forest and past another milestone (encouragingly marked ‘Dollgelly 8 miles, Trawsfynyd 4 miles’) then emerges to pass along the right edge of the forest and eventually to open moorland.
At SH 72448 30815, about1.5 km after leaving the forest, the road forks. Take the right-hand turning and walk down the slope to join the metalled road at a chapel by a small plantation of trees. This is Pen-y-stryt Chapel, and Pen-y-stryt Farm is a little further along the road. The name means Head of the Road, and from this point Sarn Helen goes gently downhill towards the fort at Tomen-y-Mur. Below you to your right is Bedd Porius, a standing stone recording the grave of an early Christian. (The original is in the National Museum in Cardiff and there is a replica on site.)
Walk past the plantation to the road junction. The line of Sarn Helen goes north from here to run parallel to the metalled road but between 50 and 100 metres east of it. A little further to the east of the road junction are two Roman kilns. From this point, the Roman road heads off to the right across the moors, but there is no right of way along it. Instead, when the road divides, take the right fork. A footpath is waymarked to the right - we have not explored this, but it should lead round Fridd Wen and down to Plas Capten (a farm traditionally named after a Royalist leader in the Civil War). From Plas Capten you can walk down a minor road and across the A470 to Trawsfynydd.
Trawsfynydd has shops, guest houses and the amazing Llys Ednowain hostel and heritage centre.
|Cymmer to Trawsfynydd|