The Mawddach Trail is a 9-mile sign-posted trail along the river estuary between Dolgellau and Barmouth. The trail follows the route of a disused Great Western railway line and is suitable for walkers, cyclists, wheelchairs and pushchairs. If you don’t fancy the entire trail, or if your visit is short, there are plenty of free car parking places along route (e.g. A493/A470 junction). If you are a keen bird watcher, then the estuary is a real magnet for migratory birds and the trail takes you through RSPB protected areas.
Starting at Dolgellau the walk hugs the river for the first mile, crossing it twice, before the landscape changes to woodland. You then get to enjoy views of the magnificent estuary before heading for the coast crossing the preserved wooden railway bridge into Barmouth. The views really are spectacular and it’s not surprising that the trail made it onto the BBC’s Railway Walks.
I park-up in Dolgellau (the long stay car park near the Rugby ground is £3.50 for the day), hire a bike, and cycle to Barmouth over the toll bridge – a real boneshaker. Whilst all the signs indicate this is a toll bridge I understand the Council stopped collecting the toll in 2013 although it might be worth keeping some change handy just in case they start manning the toll booth again. Prices in 2013 ranged between £1 (pedestrian) and £1.50 (cyclist) with children half price.
Barmouth is a very pretty traditional seaside town with a lovely sandy beach. If you have children with you, then there is a fair in Barmouth with which you can tempt any reluctant children to make the journey – dodgems anyone? Have a walk around in Barmouth and enjoy a fish & chip lunch or pub meal before cycling back. The Mawddach Restaurant, George III at Penmaenpool, Cross Foxes at Brithdir are all recommended stopping-off points if you are feeling peckish. If you are walking from Dolgellau to Barmouth (or vice versa) but don’t fancy the walk back, then look for the number 38 bus (a single adult fare is £3.60). However, be careful if visiting on a Sunday as there is a restricted service. The bus service is operated by Express Motors.
Cycles can be hired at the Dolgellau Cycle shop Dolgellau Cycle shop (£13 for half day or £20 for a full day) or Birmingham Garage in Barmouth (£14 for a full day). I would recommend that you hire your bike in advance as the Mawddach Trail is a very popular route.
Download a trail guide from Visit Snowdonia.