Size:

382.43 ha (944.98 acres)

Grid reference:

SH682226

Map reference:

Explorer 18

OS Landranger 124

Cwm Mynach is a hidden valley running through the wild and beautiful Rhinogydd mountain range. Follow a woodland pathway and discover breathtaking views of lakes, streams and mountains while relishing the tranquillity of Snowdonia’s best kept secret.

Explore diverse habitats, immerse yourself in the stillness of legions of conifer, and see the stunning upland lake, Llyn Cwm Mynach.

Features

  • Parking nearby
  • Public access
  • Autumn colour
  • Marshland
  • Moorland

How to get to Cwm Mynach

Covering almost 400 hectares (1000 acres), Cwm Mynach sits at the southern edge of the Rhinogydd foothills, with the impressive Cadair Idris Mountain in the distance.

The nearest village is Bontddu, close to the market town of Dolgellau in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. Llyn Cwm Mynach, a six-hectare (14.8-acre) lake, lies to the north of the site, and from here the river known as Afon Cwm Mynach flows south to meet the Mawddach estuary.

From the A496 Llanelltyd to Barmouth road, take the uphill turn opposite the toll bridge that connects the A496 to Penmaenpool, then proceed uphill along a steep and narrow minor road for about one and a half miles through the village of Taicynhaeaf.

The nearest railway station is in Barmouth, around 13km (8.1 miles) from the wood.

Visit National Rail for more information.

The nearest bus stop is on the A496.

Visit Traveline Cymru for more information.

Facilities and access

It is advisable to access Cwm Mynach on foot. 

There is space for a small number of vehicles on the right before the road bride, by the main entrance to the wood.

If continuing uphill to the old lay-by at the end of the tarmac road, please take care to shut all gates and not obstruct access.

Parking is also available at a number of locations along the A496 Dolgellau-Barmouth road, including the National Park's Fiddler's Elbow picnic site, where an information panel details a day walk through Cwm Mynach and the RSPB’s Garth Gell reserve.

The nearest public toilets are at the Dolgellau Marian car park, around 8km (5 miles) from the wood.

Wildlife and habitats

Animals

Cwm Mynach is brimming with diverse wildlife. Birdlife is plentiful, with several upland species red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Lucky visitors might just catch a glimpse of the playful otter fishing in the llyn (lake), or water birds in the streams that criss-cross the wood. Fallow deer also roam the wood in small numbers, and the elusive red squirrel has even been recorded here in the past.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi 

Considered a ‘Celtic rainforest’ due to the almost constant rainfall (200 days a year), Cwm Mynach is an important site for plants which thrive in moist conditions. In the spring, there are pockets of bluebell glowing in the trees’ dappled shade, along with dog’s mercury and delicate wood sorrel. The many mosses and filmy ferns thrive in the cool, wet soil alongside stream edges.

Look out for:

Habitats

With habitats as diverse as ancient woodland, streams, bogs and grassland, Cwm Mynach provides homes for wildlife all year round, and the changing seasons bring a riot of colour and life to the wood.

Explore:

About Cwm Mynach 

History

Cwm Mynach has a fascinating history, and echoes of its past haunt the site today. As you wander through the wood, look out for historic sheepfolds and standing relics of deserted mines such as old levels, shafts and winding houses, many of which are now home to lesser horseshoe bats.

In 1198, a group of Cistercian monks founded Cymer Abbey. Cwm Mynach lay within the abbey’s estate and the monks made use of its natural resources. Cattle were brought to the wood for shelter, and the Order turned to the trees to fuel their fires. They cared for the land, grazing sheep on the slopes of the hills, and breeding horses for the 12th-century Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great).

The valley was a refuge during the Second World War for two teachers from war-torn Liverpool who settled here to renovate an old farm house and try to make a living from the land. They left an account of their experiences in the book Four Fields, Five Gates.

Things to do in Cwm Mynach

Walking

Take in the wood’s past on the network of paths at Cwm Mynach, and you can combine them with walks around the nearby RSPB reserve and the Diffwys or Clogau gold mines.

Hillwalkers might also like to combine a visit with a trip along the New Precipe Walk over Foel Ispri from Ganllwyd or with a circuit of nearby Diffwys. The Mawddach Trail can also be accessed nearby by crossing the toll bridge to Penmaenpool. OS Explorer map OL18 provides details of the public footpath network and adjacent access land.

If history is your thing, head along the Old Diffwys Mine tramway – a beautiful walk and a useful link to the summit ridge of the Rhinogydd.

Early purple orchids

A lasting legacy

This wood is just one of many to have been protected by gifts in wills, securing it for generations to come. Your legacy gift could also make a real difference to woods, trees and wildlife.

Learn what your gift could mean
Cwm Mynach - Management plan

Download

Cwm Mynach Management Plan

PDF  (204 KB)