Cwm Bychan and Aberglaslyn Pass walk
You'll also see stunning views of the mountains of Snowdonia, a wealth of plants and wildlife and indicators of the farming history in the area.
National Trust car park in Nantmor village, grid ref: SH597462
Follow the sign for Cwm Bychan after you go through the gate to the left of the facilities in the car park. Follow the path underneath the old railway bridge. You'll notice two huge concrete circles known as 'buddles'. Make your way up the valley through the woodland.
The large concrete circles were intended to be used as a mechanical way of panning copper ore in the valley. The mines of Cwm Bychan were in their heyday between 1782 and 1802 and worked intermittently until 1930. The most visible remains (including the buddles and an arial ropeway) date back to the 1920s.
Dotted around Cwm Bychan you'll see several trees that seem alien to the landscape. They probably derive from nearby estate gardens that were planted in Victorian times. The Lawson Cypress now seen on these slopes were most likely brought here by birds carrying their seeds.
Industrial heritage and wildlife
You can see four pylons from the valley's ore-transporting ropeway. Historical accounts show that the system wasn't a complete success, with buckets often said to hit the ground, spilling their loads. The remains of the ropeway adits, spoil heaps and other buildings hark back to the area's industrial past. This internationally scarce heathland can only be found in western coastal areas of Europe. The area is home to insects, butterflies such as the grayling butterfly and birds including the wheatear and whinchat (pictured).
You'll see here the remains of traditional farming methods. Pwll Golchi Uchaf (Upper Washing Pool) was once used by the local farms when washing their sheep. The stream nearby was dammed to form a deep pool to wash the sheep. Until the 1960s, it was common for farmers to wash their sheep before shearing to ensure a higher price for their fleece.
Llyndu copper mine
This was a relatively successful mine in the first half of the 19th century. To the left of the path you'll see a large paved area. In 1839, 20 girls were employed to work on this 'cobbing' floor to break the ore. The manager at the time was quoted describing the girls as 'the cheapest thing we have on the mine and without them it is hardly possible to know what we should do'.
As you climb higher up the valley along the path you'll notice several pylons within the landscape. These are the remains of the arial ropeway built in 1927 to carry ore from the upper end of Cwm Bychan down the valley where you started.
The copper sulphate of the hills where you were walking gives the Glaslyn River its distinctive turquoise tinge. The spray from the river and the coolness of the gorge provides ideal conditions for ferns, mosses and liverworts. The river itself is home to otters, salmon, kingfishers and dippers.
At the crossroads, you have a choice to descend via the picturesque Llyn Dinas and follow the river Glaslyn to Beddgelert or turn left for Beddgelert and continue with the copper mining story. Cross a stile, turn immediately left and follow the path towards a steep descent. At Bwlch Sygun keep to the ridge until you reach a large cairn on Mynydd Sygun. From here you'll start heading downwards. Descending the slope through the rhododendrons, you'll go through a kissing gate and the path continues down. A wooden gate marks the end of your descent. Wind your way to the village green by zigzagging right, then left, then right. Here you'll see a footbridge over river Glaslyn. You can take a well-earned break at this point by taking advantage of the facilities in Beddgelert village. Otherwise, turn left immediately before the footbridge along the bank of the river Glaslyn.
Ty Isaf shop
The Ty Isaf shop in Beddgelert was renovated and is owned by us.
Continue until you reach the railway tracks and take great care when crossing: the Welsh Highland Railway service travels between Caernarfon and Porthmadog along this route. Continue along the Fisherman's path. You should now head towards the grassy path near to the river. This fisherman's path will take you along the side of the Aberglaslyn gorge. Great care should be taken when negotiating this part of the path especially the stone buttress above the river.
The building on your right is a former sheep dipping bath now used to share information about Aberglasyn.
You're now in the Aberglasyn Pass. After crossing the wooden bridge you climb away from the river into mature oak woodland high above the gorge. Turn left up the steps and follow the path through the woodland back to the car park at Nantmor.
Until the early 19th century when William Maddocks built the cob at Porthmadog, the sea came into within metres of the Aberglaslyn Bridge below you. Llyn Glas lies just below the bridge and shows the former existence of a harbour that was used to transport copper ore from Cwm Bychan and other local goods.
Nantmor car park, grid ref: SH597462
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