Surrounded by mountains, the Mawddach Estuary must be one of the most beautiful in Europe.


Wooden ships were built in its creeks before the arrival of the Great Western Railway, which connected with the Cambrian Coast at Morfa Mawddach. After operating for 100 years the line closed in the 1960s. Nowadays the former railway track between Morfa Mawddach and Dolgellau is used for walking and cycling and it provides a delightful walk on a crisp winter day.

Barmouth, Wales, Located on the west coast of Snowdonia UK. Coast line and beach
Exposed sand on the estuary near Barmouth Bridge ©Getty

Mawddach Estuary walk

9.5 miles/15.3km | 5-6 hours | moderate–challenging

1. On to the trail

From the Morfa Mawddach railway halt, join the Mawddach Trail and pass through a gate. Look out for flocks of siskins and finches feeding as you pass the Arthog Bog nature reserve; peat was once cut here. At a clear cross path, turn right through gates to the A493. Bear right for 150m then go left on a lane and, before Arthog Village Hall, turn left on a bridleway. Follow the path uphill, take the access track to a lane and turn right.

2. Seeing the past

After a farm, go left at an open space and between walls to a gate then cross a stone bridge over Afon Arthog. A few metres to your right are grass-covered banks which mark the remains of the medieval court Llys Bradwen.

Turn left along a path through a succession of gates for a little over 1km to a lane. Turn right and follow the lane down to the lake of Llynnau.

3. Wings up high

Just before reaching the lake, turn left at a footpath sign post. Ignore the left-hand path up Pared-y-Cefn hir, with its Iron Age hill fort, and with the hill on your left, stay on the main path, passing through remote heather moorland. Scan the sky for buzzards, peregrines and raven.

More like this
Ravens circle above the estuary ©Getty

To your right is the Craig-las escarpment, an outlier of the Cader Idris range, which may carry a blanket of early winter snow. Further on, the path eventually descends to a ladder stile. Slant right through two wall gaps and follow a track to a lane. Turn left and take a path on the right downhill to rejoin the lane. Pass Kings Youth Hostel and stay on the road down to the A493. Because of the abundant mosses and lichens, this stretch of the Afon Gwynant is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

4. Beyond the jetty

Emerge on the A493 and turn left. Soon turn right along Abergwynant Farm access lane and follow the river to a gate. Slant right to another gate and bear left to the Mawddach Trail. Turn left and after a ruined jetty, the ruins of a railwayman’s cottage are on your right. Pass an area of salt marsh with ditches and pools where waders feed and go through two gates to shortly rejoin your outward route. Retrace your steps to the start.

Mawddach Estuary map

Mawddach Estuary walking route and map

Mawddach Estuary, Gwynedd map

More information


Level former railway track, bridleway, rough pasture, moorland and lane, with a moderate climb to Llynnau Cregennen. The Mawddach Trail is accessible to wheelchair users.


By car: From the A493, seven miles southwest of Dolgellau, take the signposted road to Morfa Mawddach railway halt. The car park is nearby.

By public transport: Morfa Mawddach is on the Cambrian Coast Machynlleth-Pwllheli railway line.


George III Hotel Penmaenpool, Gwynedd LL40 1YD

01341 422525


Dolgellau Tourist Information Centre – Ty Meirion, Eldon Square, Dolgellau LL40 1PU


01341 422888


Dorothy Hamilton
Dorothy HamiltonFreelance writer

Dorothy Hamilton is a freelance writer who has been writing about exploring the countryside for over twenty years.