Bearded Lake & Happy Valley

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This walk will take you up into the hills behind Aberdovey to Bearded Lake. The walk is approximately 10 miles and should take around 4 1/2 hours.
Starting place: Aberdovey Car Park Starting ref: 6127 9594 Distance: 10 miles Grade: Moderate to Easy Walk time : 4.5 Hours

1.      Starting at the Tourist Information Centre turn right onto the main street and then immediately left into Copperhill Street. Shortly after crossing under railway bridge turn left at public footpath sign and then right uphill until you come to a broad track. Follow this track until you emerge on a metalled road (Gwelfor Road). Opposite, you will find a stile and two public footpath signs; climb over the stile and follow the right hand footpath. This brings you to a sunken lane which you follow to another stile. Continue past a house (Mynydd Bychan) to a metalled road and follow this road as it swings left, ignoring the gate on the right. Go through another gate, past a disused reservoir and then turn right at a footpath sign. This track brings you out on the Panorama Road.

The reservoir was built at the end of the nineteenth century to provide the village with a new water supply scheme to replace the old village pump. Its holding capacity was three million gallons.

2.      You leave this road almost immediately to the left at a footpath sign and go left again just before a cattle grid to go through two gates along another sunken lane. As you leave this lane you will see the gentle mountains of Corlan Fraith and Trum Gelli in front of you. When you come to a double gate climb a stile by the gate on your left and then follow the fence on your right. You are now looking down on Cwm Maethlon (Happy Valley). Go through another gate and continue to bear right with the fence until you meet a track. Follow this track to the left downhill, through another gate, into some trees. (The track you will follow up to Llyn Barfog is clearly visible in front of you). Go through a gate into the trees until you come to a stream.

3.      Immediately before the stream follow a footpath sign to the right and head across a field to a gate and then follow a fence on your left. Go through two more gates and then bear right diagonally uphill to a sign posted stile. Go over the stile and follow the fence on your left. At the fence corner turn sharp left and make your way downhill to another stile. Go over the stile and head right towards another stile, crossing a small stream before you reach it. Cross this stile and another one almost immediately. You will find yourself now on a broad track. Follow this track uphill. Cross a stile, keep on the track and where it bends left, leave it to  keep straight ahead to yet another stile. You are now in full view of Llyn Barfog.

The Legend of the Lake

Once, a poor farmer and his family lived at a farm not far from the lake. One day, a very old lady called at the farm begging for food and although the cupboard was practically bare the farmer’s wife offered to share what they had with her. On leaving, the old woman thanked them for the meal and promised from that day forward the farm would prosper. That evening, the farmer found a milk-white cow grazing with the others. The white cow followed the farmer’s herd to the milking shed and was milked with the others. Her milk was rich and foamy and she yielded as much in one day as all the others in a week. Things began to improve for the farmer and before long he was a rich man.

The farmer, however, became greedy. When he realised that the white cow was growing old he decided to fatten her up for the butcher. The day of the slaughter arrived and all the neighbours gathered to see the kill. The farmer raised his axe to strike the fatal blow but, suddenly, his arm was paralysed. There followed a terrible cry and lo, on a rock above the lake stood a woman dressed in green with her arms raised. It was one of the Elfin dames come to reclaim her white cow.

As soon as the cow heard the cry she ran towards the lake, plunged in and disappeared for ever. The farmer never prospered again and soon he was as poor as he had been before.

4.      Skirt the lake to the right, go through a small gate and soon you will come to a slate slab with the words To Echo written on it. In a few yards you will find yourself looking down on a swampy plateau. Here, bellow to your heart’s content and listen to your own voice echoing among the rocks opposite. Directly opposite you will see one of the two stone cairns on the summit of Trum Gelli; the second cairn is out of sight.

5.      Retrace your steps round the lake to within 100 yards of the last stile. Then turn left to follow a path that meets up with the Panorama track. Turn right and follow the track uphill. Soon you will come to another slate slab with the words Carn March Arthur on it.

Carn March Arthur

How did Llyn Barfog get its name? Possibly the “bearded” refers to the rushes that grow around it. However, there is another possible explanation. It is said that a very large hairy monster lived in the lake and that the name “bearded” refers to this creature. Legend has it that this monster was dragged out of the lake by King Arthur’s horse, and in doing so a mark was left in a stone at the side of the track which can still be seen today. This is Carn March Arthur – Arthur’s Horse Hoof. Another tale explains that this mark was left when Arthur and his horse leapt across the Dyfi – highly unlikely though!

6.      Continue on the track and soon you will be looking down on the river Dyfi and across to Ynys Las and Borth. On a clear day the eye can follow the Welsh coast right down to Pembrokeshire. You will soon come to a solitary house (Bwlch) and the beginning of a metalled road. You go through a gate and follow the road all the way back to Aberdyfi.

Copper and Lead

Before the gate there is a track that leads back down to Cwm Maethlon. If you were to go down this track (there is no right of way) you would see the remains of copper and lead mines that operated in the area in the 18th century. Copper and lead were found here in 1752 but by the 19th century the mining industry had petered out. This explains the name of the street at the beginning of your walk – Copperhill Street.

Normally, a walk along a metalled road can be quite tedious especially at the end of your journey. Not so this one. As you walk along this high road you will be looking down on Cwm Maethlon (Nourishing Valley) and you will soon realise that the Welsh name is much more descriptive than the mundane English name of Happy Valley. You will notice the little chapel at the bottom (erected in 1885) and alongside it is the cemetery where Aberdyfi people buried their dead before the new cemetery was founded on the main Tywyn – Aberdyfi road. After today’s walk you will appreciate that the journey from Aberdyfi involved a long climb up the mountain behind the village and a steep descent on the other side. A horse bier was used to carry the coffins along the paths. You will also notice the narrow road snaking its way along the valley floor. In the old days, this was the main road between Tywyn and Machynlleth.

7.      As you continue on your way back towards the village you will see Tywyn peeping at you through a gap in the trees on Llechwedd Melyn and in the far distance you will see the Lleyn Penninsula and Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). The more spectacular view, however, is on your left as the Dyfi estuary and the sands of Ynys Las and Borth come into view once again. As you approach the village, turn right a few yards beyond the farmhouse of Tyddyn Rhys y Gader into Mynydd Isaf and at a T junction further down turn left to go down Copperhill Street. Once on the main street, turn right back to the car park.
Please follow the Countryside Code at all times and look after this special part of the world.
Cwm Maethlon (Happy Valley)
The Old Jetty (remains)
Walking the top of Happy Valley
Solitary house (Bwlch)
Panorama Walk
Carn March Arthur
Llyn Barfog
To Echo
Bellow to your heartís content
Posted: 13:53:46 - 11/01/2011

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