The Mawddach Trail footpath walk and cycle route winds for 9.5 miles (15km) along the disused railway track on the southern edge of the spectacular Mawddach estuary. Whilst the trail can be joined at several points it starts at the picturesque market town of Dolgellau and finishes by crossing the iconic railway bridge over the mouth of the estuary into Barmouth.
The Mawddach Trail is a stunning multi-use path following the old disused railway line along the edge of the beautiful Mawddach estuary in Southern Snowdonia. The almost exclusively traffic-free route, which is owned by the Snowdonia National Park, is clearly marked, and can be easily followed. It is essentially flat, has a fairly even surface and for most of its length is at least 3 metres wide, and as such it is suitable for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users. The North Wales Society for the Blind has produced an audio guide to the Mawddach Trail which is available to download as a zip file - Click here for more details.
The trail stretches for fifteen kilometres (nine and a half miles) between Dolgellau (starting at the car park besides the bridge) and Barmouth and can be joined at several points, including Pont y Wernddu, Penmaenpool/Taicynhaeaf, Arthog and Morfa Mawddach.
Bus services run on either side of the estuary, and there are train stations at Morfa Mawddach and Barmouth. It is not, however, without its challenges, albeit small ones. There is a narrow footbridge with a steep up-ramp between Dolgellau and Pont y Wernddu, which may present a hazard for wheelchair and trike users, and the National Park suggests that such users join the trail at the Pont y Wernddu car park. Equally, the exit from Barmouth Toll Bridge to the busy A496 is very steep and joins the road on a blind corner with no footpath. Everyone needs to take care here. A series of ill-conceived bike gates present krypton factor challenges for anyone towing a bike trailer or tag-along; will YOU work out the best way to get through before the day is over?
In return for these small inconveniences, you get access to one of the most spectacular Railway Walks that Britain has to offer. There are stunning views across to Diffwys and the Rhinogs, and up the estuary to Y Garn and the Arans beyond Dolgellau. Pretty much the whole of the estuary is listed as a site of special scientific interest, there are two RSPB reserves (Taicynhaeaf and Arthog), and a whole host of historical sites to ponder over as you make your way through this beautiful landscape.
To find out more about the social, industrial and natural history of the estuary, why not take a guided cycle ride with a local historian or buy a detailed guide to the Mawddach Trail.