Activities Around Dolgellau

Local attractions in the area surrounding Dolgellau include walking and cycling (there is a Sustrans cycling route running parallel to the house), fishing, the popular mountain bike trails at Coed y Brenin, numerous narrow gauge railways, romantic castles and the Italianite village of Portmeirion where the cult series The Prisoner was filmed. For those who enjoy viewing low flying aircraft, we are in a perfect location and the cottage gives a bird’s eye view of air traffic through the valley.

  • Portmeirion Italianite village (20 miles)
  • King Arthur’s Labyrinth and Craft Centre (6 miles)
  • Mawddach estuary and trail (3 miles)
  • Castles of the Welsh Princes such as Castell y Bere and Castell Dolwyddelan; also those built by Edward I such as Harlech, Caernarfon and Conwy
  • Cader Idris, the second highest peak in Wales, which rises majestically over Penybryn
  • Narrow gauge railways at Ffestiniog (24 miles), Talyllyn (10 miles) and Bala (18 miles)
  • White water rafting at Bala (18 miles)
  • Ty Siamas Welsh Folk Music Centre at Dolgellau (3 miles)
  • Historic Cymer Abbey (founded in 1198) (4 miles)
  • Centre for Alternative Technology (13 miles)
  • Coed y Brenin mountain biking centre and trails (6 miles)
  • Torrent Walk (2 miles)
  • Precipice Walk (5 miles)
  • Sesiwn Fawr Folk Festival in mid July
  • Several historic mines, e.g. Copper Mine at Glasdir, a pleasant 3 mile walk / cycle ride along a nice quiet road
  • The area boasts abundant wildlife, including two Osprey nest sites about an hours drive away (one to the north at Glaslyn and another one to the south by the river Dyfi). There is a great deal of bird life around the Mawddach Estuary and the woods and countryside.
  • Eryri National Park has just gained Dark Sky status and Penybryn is in a dark sky-at-night valley where you can take full advantage of star gazing.

Walking Around Dolgellau

Dolgellau is in the southern part of Eryri National Park, at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain range with three main routes to the summit. Indeed, Penybryn cottage nestles in the foothills of the mountain and can be seen from the cottage. Dolgellau town itself is a great base for touring the area or further afield, with many popular walks only two or three miles from the cottage. These include the Torrent Walk (Llwybr Clywedog in Welsh) and Precipice Walk (Llwybr Cynwch in Welsh) You must also have heard of the breath-taking Mawddach Estuary walk, where you can walk or cycle along the old railway line, stop off at the George III Pub or walk further over the Barmouth Bridge into the harbour town of Barmouth itself, and perhaps get the bus back! For more information on various walks around the estuary, visit:

Sustrans Cycle Route 8 goes past Penybryn Cottage and is part of the wider cross-Wales Lôn Las Cymru. The inland route passes through Dolgellau, Coed y Brenin Forest and Trawsfynydd. The route past Penybryn is mostly flat and suitable for young walkers and cyclists.

Dolgellau is a town immersed in history, from the remains of old gold, copper and manganese mines in the hillsides to ruins of old mills harking back to the woollen trade when the town and surrounding area was one of the country’s main producers of coarse woollen cloth for export throughout the world, and became quite prosperous as a result.

Cycling Routes Dolgellau

In addition to the cycle routes in and around the Dolgellau vicinity, including those along the Lôn Las Cymru Sustrans Route (North) (see above), the area also boasts the Natural Resources Wales’ mountain-bike Mecca, Coed-y-Brenin, a large and atmospheric forest which is home to an ever-increasing network of all-weather single tracks, graded green, blue, red and black according to difficulty. They include imaginative names such as Beast of Brenin, Dragons Back and Tarw. The Beics Brenin centre is very family friendly, there is a good play area and a Visitors Centre / cafe serving good food, and you can also hire your own bikes. Visit

History of Dolgellau

The first mention of Dolgellau is in 1253 when it was included in a survey of Merioneth (Meirionnydd) carried out by Edward I. The town was probably not inhabited until the late 11th century or later, as a serf village (maerdref in Welsh). The town was part of the tribal lands of the Ordovices, a Celtic tribe who held sway over most of North Wales and who were conquered by the Romans in around AD 77-78.

Cymer Abbey was founded at Llanelltyd at the confluence of the Mawddach and Wnion rivers (‘cymer’ meaning confluence) in 1198 by the Cistercian order of White Monks under the patronage of Maredudd ap Cynan, a grandson of Owain Gwynedd who was King of Gwynedd and ruler of most of Wales in the 12th century. The abbey ruins are today in the care of Cadw (the historic environment service) with free admission.

Near Dolgellau at Llanelltyd is the house of Hengwrt, where its 17th century owner, Robert Vaughan the famous antiquarian (1592-1667), collected and copied ancient manuscripts and created a library. Robert Vaughan could trace his ancestry from Cadwgan, Lord of Nannau, son of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Prince of Powys. Vaughan was actually born at Wengraig which is in the same valley as Penybryn, where he lived until he married and which housed his original library. He collected and transcribed many of Wales’s most important Welsh manuscripts including the Book of Taliesin (Llyfr Taliesin), Black Book of Carmarthen (Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin), and the White Book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch), which were among the chief manuscripts to be donated to the National Library of Wales for safe-keeping and one of the main reasons for its establishment. At Hafod y Meirch where we ourselves live, and again in the same valley, a certain Dafydd Ellis was born in 1740 and was a poet, translator, collector and transcriber of Welsh manuscripts.