13 Sep 2017

Bala to Llanuwchllyn Ramble (part of Snowdonia Leisure Network)

The aim of today’s ramble was to walk from Bala to Llanuwchllyn and get the Bala Lake Railway back. There is also a bus service that runs on this route, if you miss the last train back.

Bala to Llanuwchllyn Ramble (part of Snowdonia Leisure Network)

We started this walk from the Abercelyn Country House where we were staying for a week long self-catering holiday.

We crossed the road to access the walking/cycling path that runs along the A494 from Bala to Glanllyn. There is a plan in place to extend this path all the way up to Llanuwchllyn, which will perhaps make this walk a lot easier and less adventurous than it turned out to be.

We set off walking along this well-laid out path. M was soon grumbling about how it wasn’t challenging at all to walk on a pavement alongside a busy A road. So he kept wandering down some of the many footpaths that led to the lake and then wandering back up to join us again. J kept going, distracted by the wild blackberries that were growing everywhere. We even managed to put together a silly rhyme about baking a blackberry pie to break the monotony. 

As I mentioned before, this path came to an end near the Glanllyn lakeside campsite.

We now had two options. We could either walk along the edge of the incredibly busy A494 or take a detour through the countryside and avoid the traffic. The former would have been a quicker and shorter option but not wishing to expose a six year old to the vagrancies of A-road drivers, we chose the latter.

Carefully crossing the road, we headed across a field to emerge near a static caravan park. The next bit of the plan was to follow the route map (T11) for the Snowdonia National Park Leisure Network.

So we turned right on the quiet road after emerging from the caravan park and walked a short distance up to the Pentre-felin cottage and farm. Leaving the road, the path now continued left just beyond the cottage, through a metal gate. We followed the well laid-out farm track signposted for the Leisure Network, passing through farms on either side and sheep blocking our path at times.

We soon arrived at another Leisure Network sign, this one pointing left through a very overgrown path. The farm track, however, carried on right. We were a bit flummoxed, unsure as to which path to follow. We decided to follow the farm track, simply because it looked more straightforward.

A word of caution. Do not follow the farm track as it curves right. It leads to beautiful views but is a dead end, at best looping back towards Bala. To reach Llanuwchllyn, you have to carry on along the overgrown, at times boggy and very muddy path. As M sagely commented, “The obvious choice is not always the right one!”

We carried on, hacking through brambles and struggling to keep off the nettles. J was very brave to soldier on despite being stuck by thorny brambles on more than one occasion.

The overgrown path ends at a wooden bridge. We crossed this bridge and continued in a straight line across a field and through a metal gate at the other end.

Turn left as you emerge through this gate and walk a short distance to another sign-post.

Turn right through here and carry on to reach a wooden gate.

The next part of the ramble took us through this gate, across a field with some fierce-looking cattle, with farm buildings visible on the left behind the cattle, to another wooden gate on the other end.  

The path continues through this gate and veers right downhill  to reach a bridge across a stream. Cross the bridge and walk left along a farm track to emerge out of the farm, Fron Castell.

Now walk left along the road to reach the A494.

We may have avoided walking along a large chunk of the main road, but there is no escaping the A494 from here on. Take care now, as you cross this very busy road and carry on walking towards Llanuwchllyn.

A few metres along the main road brought us to an opening in the brambles on the left that led onto a footpath. This must be part of the planned route extension. We carried on along this path, passing a sign that meant Llanuwchllyn wasn’t too far now!

Unfortunately, the footpath came to an abrupt end as we reached a sign for the Eagles Inn. We had to continue on the main road now, crossing the bridge over the River Lliw, and following the road left. My heart was in my mouth for most of this part as  we walked in single file and J had instructions to stay close to the inside line. He is well-behaved for the most part, but is as unpredictable as any 6 year old.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief when we reached a pavement a hundred or so metres beyond the bridge. The ramble became more relaxed now as we entered Llanuwchllyn by turning left on to Church Street, just beyond a petrol station on the main road.

Llanuwchllyn is a pretty little village, with a school and a church and neat houses. J was getting tired but the lure of a steam train kept him going. We walked through the village, turning left on Station Road for the Bala Lake Railway.

Our ramble came to an end with delicious Aran ice-cream and a ride back to Bala on the narrow gauge Bala Lake steam train.

As always, remember the essentials on any family ramble. And don’t forget the Ramblers countryside code of conduct. 

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