A few days’ break in North Wales with some great weather got me thinking about where I should visit with my camera. It’s been a while !!
A location I am always drawn to is Cregennan Lakes in the Snowdonia National Park just 5 miles from Dolgellau even if it is a good hours drive from where I was staying. Cregennen Lakes are National Trust maintained and situated in the foothills of the Cadair Idris mountain range at 800 ft above sea level. Not only are they already in beautiful surroundings but if you can make your way to the right spot, there are some undeniably breathtaking views. You can take a walk around these natural lakes, or head up to Pared y Cefn Hir to enjoy spectacular panoramic views over the mountains and Mawddach Estuary or take a different walk as I did.
Upon arriving I was pleasantly surprised that it was relatively quiet considering it is such a beautiful location. I put that down to what many would consider a difficult place to get to but if you don’t mind snaking your way up a few country lanes and having to open and close the odd gate then Cregennan Lakes is one of those spots where you can pull up at the car park and immediately be hit by stunning scenery.
I had selected a 4-mile walk that would take me away from the lakes and down and back up the Arthog waterfalls. Phew !!!. Here the Afon Artog plunges down a wooded ravine in a series of impressive falls. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my tripod with me so don’t expect any waterfall shots as they just would not work without using the tripod. A good excuse for another visit perhaps.
I mentioned before Pared y Cefin Hir which is just short of 1300 ft high. I didn’t climb it on this visit but the first image from the walk shows you the perfect view of it across the larger lake. Another reason to return not that I really need a reason.
Having arrived at the lakes from the Dolgellau direction the start of the walk follows that lane back down to a T junction where you turn in to access the lakes. But before I set off I turned my camera to the right for another shot this time showing Tyrrau Mawr at 2200 ft it forms the northern side of Cadair Idris range.
Eventually starting off on the walk it is not long before I spot another point of interest – a standing stone which I generally can’t resist taking a look at.
Carreg-y-Big stone is located next to a rocky outcrop near the Ffordd Ddu pass the ancient track from Tywyn to Dolgellau. It dates back to the bronze age and is thought to have had a ritual purpose. Carreg-y-big is a large, tapering standing stone measuring about 6 ft high and 3 ft wide. The name Carreg-y-Big means ‘stone of the peak’. Behind it stands the Tyrrau Mawr escarpment.
Progress on this walk was slow but I am not complaining with so many interesting places to check out. I continue along the lane until I reach the T Junction and turn right on the pass of Ffordd Ddu.
Before long there’s another surprise location which I certainly wasn’t expecting. An abandoned farmhouse in a magnificent location and what a tremendous view to wake up to.
Now a minor road of local importance only, the track once was the major access to the settlements on the coast to the west of Cadair Idris. It runs between the pair of walls just below the farmhouse. There is a National Trust sign adjacent to the road which says this farmhouse was the birthplace of musician and composer John Williams. No, not the John Williams – this one was born in 1740 and died in 1821 but presumably just as well known in his time.
Despite the slow but interesting start to the walk progress picks up now with less to draw my attention but just to take in the surroundings. The next distraction although isn’t really far away with a magnificent view over the Mawddach Estuary to Barmouth and Cardigan Bay.
It is close to this viewpoint that the walk allows you to return to the lakes or take the detour to Arthog Waterfalls, first crossing a stone clapper bridge over the Afon Arthog then entering a wooded ravine.
A delightful path beside the river drops by over 650 ft over a distance of about a third of a mile in several cascades. The path is winding and steep in places and zigzags down to join a track. Unfortunately, when the track split there were no markers so I carried straight on instead of forking right but still brought me down to the same point however I missed most of the falls until climbing up on the return to rejoin the walk. In fact, the wrong path I took was somewhat overgrown so I should have realised that I was on the wrong one. Still, I got there in the end.
Such a shame I did not have my tripod with me for this detour. I’ll have to try to make sure I don’t make the same mistake next time.
After the climb back up the falls, it was time for a much-needed break and lunch whilst sitting by the clapper bridge before following a track back round to meet the other lane which travels up to the lakes from the east. Upon reaching the lane it is then a steep climb back up the lane to the start of the walk at the Cregennan Lakes car park.
Before leaving I took a further stroll around when my attention was drawn to a small wooded island. One of the most picturesque features of the larger of the two lakes. Since my visit, I have been trying to find out more about this island which hasn’t been easy but I have established that it is sometimes known as Dragon Island which I believe is due to the top of the tree on the right resembling a dragon’s head.
The Cregennen Estate was gifted to the National Trust in 1959 by Major Charles Llewelyn Wyn Jones and the conifers on the island were planted in memory of his two sons who were killed in the Second World War.
Well, that is the end of this photo trip and now for that drive back which is no problem as it travels through some of the most stunning landscapes of Snowdonia of which you can view more images in the Snowdonia and North Wales gallery where you can buy prints, canvases and even image downloads for Personal or Commercial Use.