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Walk the Lon Gwyrfai from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

By Dave Roberts   

on March 18, 2023    5/5 (1)

Walk the Lon Gwyrfai from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

Route Essentials

Route Summary

Multi-use track from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert that’s suitable for anything from walking to cycling (though you’ll need a mountain bike or a hybrid bike)

See the end of the article for local information about parking, public transport facilities, pubs and cafes.

Distance

7.9 km

Ascent

115 m

Time

2 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Start Location

Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

Difficulty

Easy Moderate Walk

Hazards

Just keep an eye out for the trains!

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

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Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need. 

Walk the Lon Gwyrfai from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

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Walk the Lon Gwyrfai from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

The Lon Gwyrfai is a mixed use trail and cycleway between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert and is ideal for a family walk or day out with the kids. Lon Gwyrfai was initially conceived as a longer distance cycle trail from Caernarfon to Beddgelert, but it appears that this section along with the Lon Gwynant will now be part of the Snowdon Circuit Trail instead.  The initial section from Caernarfon to Waunfawr is at the following link Lon Las Gwyrfai – Caernarfon to Waunfawr,- which is a little confusing. It would be great one day for the trail to join Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu, as the valleys of Eryri (Snowdonia) often lack decent routes for walkers.

There are a number of highlights along the walk which are mainly when you leave the plantations and the track finds some ancient woodlands. There are also a few decent viewpoints across the valley that are worth a shot or two and the stating point below Crib Nantlle (Nantlle Ridge) is also quite a spectacular setting as well as Llyn y Gader.  These are just enough to distract you from the sections of plantations. Nevertheless, this makes a pleasant enough route between these villages and one that can be used to extend walks from Moel Hebog or the Nantlle Ridge.

Lon Gwyrfai – Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Route Description

1 – The Lon Gwyrfai starts off at the Welsh Highland Railway Station / Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) car park in Rhyd Ddu, crossing the main road towards the obviously signposted path to Beddgelert. This is a new multi use track that makes this first section exceptionally easy to follow as it’s signposted all the way including distances in Kms only, welcome to the 21st Century! The signpost notes 7.6km, but we found it closer to 8km as we clearly haven’t found the racing line on this one just yet.

2 – The route heads over some boggy land, but no risk of wet boots on this excellent path, with the view of Crib Nantlle (Nantlle Ridge) dominating the view ahead.  It continues towards a causeway, complete with overkill eyesore mesh fence alongside Llyn y Gader towards the ruins of Llyn y Gader Quarries. There are some excellent views towards Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) even if it isn’t the mountain’s most dramatic angle.

At the end of the causeway, you’ll pass through a gate and the path continues along the lakeside. This is an excellent spot for an early break, and it would simply be rude not to make use of the provided benches.

3 The route continues along the pleasant path which wends through and around the sparse trees and through a stream (with a bridge for those scared of wet socks) before entering the forest proper (at around 1.5km from the start of the route). 

4 The path starts off narrow, before joining a much larger forestry track. Keep an eye out for the way markers as they make the going much easier as well as providing useful distance information. Ignore the first junction right and you’ll come to join a larger forestry track with the route ahead waymarked to your left. Continue downhill on this track, reaching a crossing with the Welsh Highland Railway and you’ll arrive at the main road at Pont Cae’r Gors.

5 Turn right along the track, with the view ahead towards Moel Hebog providing some interest at least. The section parallels the WHR, so you may be lucky and spot the train. This is also the access track to the Beddgelert Forest car park, so beware of cars.

Continue past the entrance to the car park, past a chalet on your right and a farmhouse to the left. Immediately past this the route takes a 90 degree turn right and you’ll soon reach the old bridge at Pont Rhyd Ceffylau. Keep an eye out for the track before this to the left that actually fords the river and is the original Rhyd Ceffylau (Ford of the horses). Despite the modernity of the route underfoot, this bridge is one of the few indications of how this route follows sections of what was the historic route between these villages. 

6  From Pont Rhyd Ceffylau, the route continues by crossing the WHR again and pulls slowly uphill towards the viewpoint at the junction for Hafod Ruffydd Uchaf Farm. It is surprising that all three of these farms; Isaf, Canol and Uchaf have survived to this day despite being surrounded by forestry. This is a good spot for a breather, as it has a bench or two as well as the views. You may get lucky, as Hafod Ruffydd Uchaf occasionally do hot rolls and food, so keep an eye out for the sign!

7 The path descends, following a tedious forestry track for 400m before the route finally leaves the wider forestry track and winds its way through the forestry, bringing some much needed interest back into the route. Again, keep following the way markers.

The path continues by crossing yet another ancient bridge over the Afon Meillionen, with the short section feeling much older and more authentic than the rest of the recently constructed paths. A delightful descent follows as the path winds between the trees before joining a wider track down to the Forest Holiday development and the railway halt at Meillionen.

9 The track turns right here (or you’ll end up in the middle of the chalets!) The eagle eyed among you may spot the remains of taps in the right hand fields that date back to when this was a sprawling Forestry Commission campsite in the 80s, when the camping experience was certainly more rustic and without a doubt less ‘big business’ and sanitised. At least we’ve still got the option to wild camp (which is something that’s currently under threat). The track veers right and up another plantation track, which is a bit of a tedious slog at this point, ending up at a recently built bridge and ford across the Afon Glochig. On crossing the river, and walking through the gate, you emerge on more open hillside with a final scenic descent to Beddgelert ahead.

9 The path continues alongside a wall, and the sparse trees soon thin out completely. There are now extensive views up towards Moel Hebog to the right and towards Mynydd Sygyn and Cnicht in the other. The path passes through a wall before continuing past the path up Moel Hebog and reaching the start of the tarmac road.

10 The lane winds down pleasantly, alongside the babbling Nant Cwm Cloch. The road passes over the WHR twice in this section as the railway loops on itself to gain height. After around 700m, the track leaves the lane right and after crossing the WHR one final time (underneath this time) you’ll be in Beddgelert in a matter of minutes.

The route finishes at the WHR railway station in Beddgelert and the large carpark nearby, which is pretty much central to the facilities in the village. You can extend the walk to Pen y GwrydMynydd Sygyn or around Yr Aran to return to the start. Alternatively, you can make it a lazy day and after a cream tea in Beddgelert, or double the fun and return the same way to Rhyd Ddu.

Remember, you can also return to the beginning via the WHR, but you may need to pre-book to ensure your ticket.

Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Route Summary:

Multi-use track from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert that’s suitable for anything from walking to cycling (though you’ll need a mountain bike or a hybrid bike)

Route Start Location: Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

Distance
Ascent
Time
7.9 km 115 m 2 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Easy Moderate Walk

Summits and Places on this Route

Facilities

There are Pubs, cafes and toilets both ends.

Hazards

Just keep an eye out for the trains!

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking :

Paid parking available both ends.

Public Transport:

Snowdon Sherpa can be used, or the WHR trains as the trail runs between the two stations at Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. There’s a bike carriage on most WHR trains, though you’ll need to book ahead to check.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps

Guidebooks:

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Dave Roberts

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