Caernarfonshire Branch

Visit to Cwm Cynfal

June 28th

A party of 9 members from 3 branches of north-west Wales gathered  in Llan Ffestiniog for an interesting afternoon exploring Cwm Cynfal.

First, was an  excellent  light lunch at Y Pengwern, a flourishing community pub in a handsome  building of 18C origin.

Kathy Laws, archaeologist with the National Trust, then escorted the group two miles up the B4391 into the wild moorlands to the east.  We went to a viewpoint at 1200ft to  inspect the magnificent falls, Rhaeadr y Cwm,  where the Afon Cynfal  flows  out of the desolate Migneint to plunge  500ft down a gorge into the lower valley. The site is celebrated in Welsh folklore  including the Mabinogion, as well as by a well known  19C painting by David Cox. It has been the subject of three refused or withdrawn planning applications for a controversial hydro scheme, while  a fourth attempt is now pending following a public consultation. The scheme would  involve abstraction of water by  a concrete weir at the top of the falls to run 1200m down the hillside in a pipe buried beneath a precipitous section of the Slate Trail to a small turbine house at Cwm Farm. There remain concerns led by Cymdeithas Eryri that this would cause unacceptable visual damage and disruption to a unique landscape including impact on stream flow and the ecology of the gorge. The local CPRW branches have  generally supported the many small hydro schemes in Eryri that have an insignificant impact on the landscape, but consider the risks of this project unacceptable, particularly given its relatively small (600kw) potential contribution to renewable capacity.

The second part of the afternoon provided  a fascinating insight into the archaeology of ironworking in the area about 2000 years ago. This took the party up a section of Sarn Helen, the Roman Road linking to the nearby Roman Fort at Tomen y Mur. The Cantiorix stone, a copy of an inscribed  C5/6 gravestone, was noted on the way. Most of the party climbed the small prominent hill of Bryn Castell to study the walled excavations of iron age workshops and huts and savour the breathtaking views of Llŷn from the top.

This was a rewarding and sociable outing to a striking but little known area of the North Wales countryside.


[instagram-feed feed=1]