Our Favourite Gwynedd Walks To Try



As you might expect from the county that’s home to Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd is a popular destination for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. It’s got all the scenery, and lots of space too – this is one of the biggest counties in Wales, and also one of its least populated.

Naturally the national park draws much of the attention, but there’s much more to it than that – including an awful lot of gorgeous coastline to explore. And that means there should be something for all sorts of visitors here, from serious mountain scrambles to ice-cream-fuelled seaside strolls.

So whether you’re a planning a whole heap of hardcore hiking or seeking out something to fill an afternoon of a North Wales holiday, see if you can find something suitable among our list of favourite Gwynedd walks to try.

A hike to the peaks of Gwynedd (Cat Bassano on Unsplash)

Rhosgadfan and Moel Tryfan

Follow in the footsteps of three adventurous pioneers with a walk from the village of Rhosgadfan to the peak of Moel Tryfan. The route is relatively gentle in ascent and passes through some particularly rugged, remote and inhospitable landscapes.

The slopes of Moel Tryfan are dotted with abandoned slate quarries, one of which — Cors y Bryniau — gave its name to the first published work by Kate Roberts, a notable novelist of the 20th century. It was also used to shoot scenes for the 2002 movie Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, where Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) battled evil crime lords. That’s quite the fitting film title for this area – one that Charles Darwin visited in the 1830s to observe seashells high on Moel Tryfan to help form his theory of evolution.

A nine-mile circular walk starts at Cae’r Gors, the Rhosgadfan quarryman’s cottage that was Kate Roberts’ childhood home. The route heads along narrow roads, past silent woodlands and up heather-clad hills before the landscape becomes more barren as the summit of Moel Tryfan looms.

Once at the top, the views of Yr Wyddfa (aka Snowdon) and the Nantlle Ridge, Anglesey and the Llŷn Peninsula are pretty awesome. Pause awhile atop the notable rocky outcrop at the peak and snap a pic of yourself sat upon the trig point before heading back down the path that runs southwest from the top. The return leg meanders for a while until you reach a reservoir, pass quarry slag heaps and a slate works before reaching farmland with the mooing cattle welcoming you back to civilisation and Rhosgadfan. If you’re lucky, the bar at the village sports club might be open for a refreshing pint…

For all you need to know check out our guide to camping in Gwynedd and then check in to the best campsites in Gwynedd.

Walk the Mawddach Estuary

The Mawddach Way is a 30-mile circular walk around the estuary where the river Mawddach meets the sea. The three-day route can be split into sections for a day’s rambling along the banks and on the former railway line that once ran from Dolgellau to Barmouth. Much of the walk is flat, following in the old tracks, so it’s popular with cyclists too.

Where once ships were built and gold was panned for, the wide estuary is lined by sandy stretches, woodland and wetlands with the landscape rising all around into the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park. A 10-mile walk leads from Morfa Mawddach on the coast and passes the Cregennen Lakes to reach Dolgellau in the foothills of Cadair Idris. Leaving the railway halt at Morfa Mawddach, the trail reaches the medieval royal residence of Llys Bradwen and the Iron Age fort of Pared y Cefn-hir, before ending at the ruins of a railway man’s cottage. On your way, look out for peregrine falcons, buzzards, spotted flycatchers and waders.

Stay near the Cregennen Lakes and the Mawddach Estuary at a campsite in Dolgellau.

A view from the south side of the River Mawddach estuary (Simon J on Unsplash)

The Pyg Track to Snowdon summit

Whether you’re a keen hiker or an infrequent rambler, an ascent of Snowdon (or, to give it its preferred Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa) may well be on your walking bucket list. If you have a hiking itch to tick off Snowdon, then you may be pleased to note that the Pyg Track is the shortest of the six routes to the top. Do bear in mind, though, that this isn’t the easiest way to walk Snowdon (for that you’ll want the longer but gentler Llanberis route). Considered the ‘classic’ Snowdon path, the Pyg’s final ascent is quite tough so save your energy on the ‘easier’ early sections.

Pick up the Pyg Track from the car park at Pen-y-Pass. The name of the path comes from ‘pyg’, the local term for black tar that was carried to the copper mines of Snowdon. The immense cliffs of Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd tower either side of the route with the climb reaching the Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn lakes. The Pyg Track is signposted and the latter stages twist and turn, following sections of the Snowdon Mountain Railway. A final burst up the steps to the summit makes for a memorable experience. A different descent from the way up leads fulfilled and weary walkers down the Miner’s Track back to the start.

Naturally, Snowdon features as a ‘must’ along with several others in our guide to the best things to do in Gwynedd.

If you’re combining the ascent with a camping holiday then take a look at campsites near Caernarfon, the nearest town to Snowdon.

The Pyg Track towards the summit of Snowdon (Craig Davis on Unsplash)

Happy Valley and the Bearded Lake

A relatively short walk of four miles explores Happy Valley, as the Victorians called Cwm Maethlon vale. The walk offers views of the Dysynni Estuary, crosses the Afon Dyffryn Gwyn River, passes a prehistoric stone circle and reaches the Bearded Lake before returning via farmland along the line of the valley. Llyn Barfog, aka the Bearded Lake, is a local beauty spot filled with legends of King Arthur.

It’s said the mythical knight thwarted the ‘Afanc’ beast and dumped it in the water so it wouldn’t bother the local town and villages any longer. Look out for the Carn March Arthur rock in which it is said you can still make out the hoofprint of Arthur’s horse. An inscribed stone marks the spot.

Happy Valley is just a 10-minute drive from Tywyn, so book your pitch at a campsite near the seaside town.

The Porthor and Whistling Sands walk

If you whistle while you walk, do so literally on this easy trail of around a mile in length. The waymarked route heads above the sandy cove of Porth Oer, also known as Whistling Sands because of the unique squeak the dry sand makes when you step on it. Starting from the car park at Carreg, the circular walk loops around the base of the Mynydd Mawr summit. The signposted trail heads through farmland footpaths, then along a stretch of the Wales Coast Path above the beach with views of Dinas Bach and the Dinas Fawr headlands, before returning past a former quarry where distinctive red jasper was once dug for.

If pitches near the sea are on your Gwynedd camping holiday wishlist, then browse sites in Pwllheli.

Whistling Sands beach is a really popular one in summer. For quieter stretches, the best seaside strolls for dog walkers and to visit the so-called Welsh Riviera, check out our guide to the must-visit beaches in Gwynedd.