A stunning strip of woodland carving its way up a mini valley, the many bouncing cascades of the Afon Ysgethin fill the ambience with a tiny roar to compliment the bird song and gentle rustling of the leaves - if this sounds like something you would enjoy, then today's walk is absolutely perfect for you. Today's walk should not be limited to a quick amble along the river, as beyond the extent of the stunning woodland, you will ascend to open fields where there are spectacular views out over the bay and beyond - a perfect adventure for a clear sunny day. Plus, with the added bonus of Cors-y-Gedol burial chamber sitting just off the roadside at the top, if you are a bit of a history buff you can take a break alongside a neolithic wonder. This walk is a treat for all abilities and can connect through to some of our other favourite places, but I am getting ahead of myself; to begin, we must go to the pub...
The walk starts out from The Ysgethin Inn, with its dedicated car park a viable option for any customers of the pub - you could always grab some light refreshments before heading out/on your return, but if you don't plan to patronise the pub then there is another public car park right next to the entrance of the Ysgethin Inn's car park, adjacent to the public toilets. The entrance is easy to spot, just keep an eye out for the Ysgethin Inn's water wheel near the narrow bridge in Tal-y-Bont - turn off of the A496 here and take the first right for the public car park, second right for the Ysgethin Inn. From either car park, you are just a short stroll away from the pub, so no matter which you opt for you won't have far to walk. Those looking to travel via public transport are in luck, as the aforementioned public toilets are right next to a bus stop with routes linking through from Barmouth and Dolgellau or Harlech and Porthmadog beyond. Another option, and the one we opted for on our day out, is the beaches - the start of this walk is only a short trek up a lane from the beach (about 0.7 miles along the Fford Glan-Mor that links to holiday sites such as Islawrffordd, Barmouth Bay, Sarnfaen etc), so of course, you can connect through along the coastline if you fancy linking the woodland walk with a wander along the sand.
This walk is a little unassuming to begin with, past a pub and tucked away behind a couple of old stone buildings it feels like a hidden secret, but immediately opens up to a lovely area of cascades with a clear path up the side. (Looking at the images above follow them clockwise, from the Ysgethin Inn wheel you walk up the path and past the pub, between the buildings and out onto the start of the walk itself). At the start are a couple of bridges over the torrent, should you wish to take a photo please bear in mind that one is a private bridge and the other is public, but the private bridge is clearly signposted. Otherwise, keep following the path as it gently makes its way uphill, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Afon Ysgethin with a healthy sprinkling of natural wonder from the surrounding woodlands. The route is easy to follow and reasonably easy-going, unless you want to explore the many paths that explore the trees, you simply need to keep the river on your right as you progress upwards. There may be gates to pass, narrow sections and the typical array of roots and rocks making the paths a little uneven, but for most walkers, this route should be an absolute breeze. In parts, you may veer away from the river but there are ample little cut-throughs that allow you to get nice viewpoints of the torrent and beyond, as well as little hidden gems like a rope swing we discovered a little off the beaten path.
For our summer visit, the ground was generally dry along the riverside but as we ventured away and into the trees we did encounter a few boggy spots - something to consider should you visit in the winter months. The main route is fairly well maintained and will take you all the way to the top without too much bother, just keep trekking uphill into you can see the hopefully blue sky at the end of the path. Once you arrive at the house and country lane that marks the end of the woods, you can either head right and explore the lanes beyond the Pont Fadog bridge, a charming listed relic dated by its engraved stone to 1762, or, as we did, take a left. Following the road to the left, you will ascend a small hill along the paved lane and will almost immediately be greeted by stunning views out to sea. You can also see our next destination, Cors-y-Gedol Burial Chamber on the left side of the road, little to mark its existence and no information boards to take in this is truly a part of history that feels forgotten.
This collection of unassuming old rocks may not look like much, but this is an area absolutely drenched in history if you know where to look. OS maps alone list Iron Age field structures, an ancient settlement and hut circles, all within a short distance of Cors-y-Gedol, but the burial chamber is the clearest and easy to visualise. You could try to navigate around and find some of the other sites, but for the most part, they are piles of rock with even less to see, unless you know what to look for. Cors-y-Gedol is a type of Chambered cairn that may look like little more than a stack of old stones, but the most prominent of the stones that are propped together would have formed the entrance to a kind of burial chamber that likely dates back to 4000 BC. It is hard to find too much about this particular burial chamber but generally, they would act as the final resting place for multiple people, kept nearby to a local settlement and acting as the equivalent of a local graveyard.
The return journey is as simple as retracing your footsteps back down the hillside, keeping the river on your left and savouring a much easier journey compared with your original ascent. Alternatively, you can follow the lane at the top, beyond Cors-y-Gedol, through the gate, from here you have the choice to take a left back down to the main road, or take a right and continue on to one of our favourite spots in the area: Llyn Bodlyn. Opting to continue to the lake will add a good few miles to your journey but is well worth it. If you do want to head on to the lake then you are in luck, this gate at the end of the lane is almost exactly where the car park for Llyn Bodlyn is, so simply follow the walk detailed in that article as if you are at the car park to continue. Otherwise, make your way back down to the pub and drop in for some refreshments if you fancy it - we wholeheartedly recommend the Ysgethin Inn for a bit of something to eat and something to wet your whistle in a rustic pub with a wonderful beer garden, and at the end of a long walk it is much appreciated.
This is one of those great little tucked-away gems that is full of charm and tends not to draw in the crowds, so if you just want a slice of nature in a convenient location then this is the walk for you. The beauty of arriving at the top of the walk up the hillside means you can really extend your walk as far as you want, and with the beach a short walk from the start then you long-distance walkers will absolutely love this for a bit of a cut-through. If you are looking to extend your day then you could always continue through to the wonderful town of Barmouth, where you can soak in some amazing views, walk that spectacular bridge and even continue over the bridge to check out Arthog Falls. Heading north you should check out Harlech Castle, another beautiful piece of history and only a short hop away from Tal-y-Bont with the amazing Rhaeadr Nantcol in between. This area is truly a thing of beauty, with so many hidden gems it means that every single walk is one to remember...