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Section 6: Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

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6. Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

Distance: 8.4km, 5.2mls     Ascent: 110m, 350ft      Time; 1.5 - 2.5hrs

This leg follows the recently established Lon Gwyrfai all the way. It is a pleasant and easy walk along way-marked paths and forest trails, with views of Snowdonia's highest mountains

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An overview of the section by Vicky Anne Jones

From Rhyd Ddu station car park, cross the road, go through the ornate gate and just follow the signs to Beddgelert. After crossing the refurbished causeway and skirting Llyn y Gader, enter Beddgelert Forest. Take the well-marked path and track, which crosses the Welsh Highland Light Railway many times as it zig zags down the steep incline into the Glaslyn valley. 

On the other side of the valley, you may hear the hoot of the Welsh Highland Railway, and, weather permitting, you might see the summit of Snowdon, together with the small column of smoke from a toiling Snowdon Mountain Railway steam engine. 

When you reach the village of Beddgelert, you will have ample choice of refreshment and accommodation.

Information about the places along the route in this section.
Note that Grwp Gweithred Cymuned Cwm • Cwm Community Action Group is not responsible for third party websites.

Lon Gwyrfai path
This is a multi-use 4½ mile recreational path created especially for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The path leads through a variety of landscapes offering fantastic views of the Gwyrfai Valley and the surrounding area including stunning views of Snowdon.
The path from Rhyd Ddu to the opposite side of Llyn y Gadair is even and wide and therefore suitable for some powered Tramper type vehicles or power-assisted wheelchairs. However the remainder of the path has some steep sections, and there is a footbridge or ford to negotiate within Beddgelert Forest.

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Beddgelert translates as Gelert's Grave which is located in the park south of the village
The story, as written on the tombstone reads:

"In the 13th century Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, ‘The Faithful Hound’, who was unaccountably absent.
On Llewelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince alarmed hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood.
The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry.

Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".

Despite the presence of a raised mound in the village called Gelert's Grave, now a tourist attraction, there is absolutely no evidence for Gelert's existence. The "grave" mound is ascribed to the activities of a late 18th-century landlord of the Goat Hotel in Beddgelert, David Pritchard, who connected the legend to the village in order to encourage tourism. Similar legends can be found in other parts of Europe and Asia.[3]

The Beddgelert Meteorite
On September 21st, 1949 a meteorite struck the Prince Llewelyn Hotel in the early hours of the morning, causing damage to the roof and a bedroom in the hotel. About 3 a.m. on the morning of September 21st, a piece of metal weighing about 5 pounds fell through the roof of Prince Llewelyn Hotel to a bedroom below. The proprietor of the hotel, a Mr Tillotson, subsequently sold half the meteorite to the British Museum and half to Durham University, which had placed an advertisement in the local papers asking for information and offering a reward for any recovered fragments of the meteorite.

Beddgelert Forest

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The Forest is a popular spot with mountain bikers, and most of the routes take in part of the Old Welsh Highland Railway. Cycle hire facilities are available. Mountain bikes, tandems, child seats and trailer bikes, with which to explore the area can be hired at reasonable rates from Beddgelert Bikes, the Bike Barn, which lies two miles from Beddgelert village.

Forest Enterprise (formerly the Forestry Commission) runs a well-appointed campsite in the forest in association with the Camping and Caravanning Club.


Yr Wyddfa, or Snowdon, is the highest mountain in Wales, at a height of 1,085m (3,560ft) , and the highest point in the British Isles south of the Scottish Highlands. It is been described as "probably the busiest mountain in Britain". It is designated as a National Nature Reserve for its rare flora and fauna.
The cliff faces on Snowdon, including Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, are significant for rock climbing, and the mountain was used by Edmund Hillary in training for the 1953 ascent of Mount Everest.
The summit can be reached by a number of well-known paths, and by the Railway. The summit also houses a cafe called Hafod Eryri, open only when the railway is operating and built in 2009 to replace one built in the 1930s.
The name Snowdon is from the Old English for "snow hill", while the Welsh name – Yr Wyddfa – means "the tumulus" or "the barrow", which may refer to the cairn on the summit thrown over the legendary giant Rhitta Gawr after his defeat by King Arthur.

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Snowdon Mountain Railway
Plans for a railway up Snowdon from Llanberis were first proposed by Sir Richard Moon, Chairman of the London & North Western Railway, after a branch line from Bangor to Llanberis had been completed in 1869, met with stiff opposition from the landowner George William Duff Assheton-Smith. However, plans in 1877 to promote a railway from Porthmadog to the summit of Snowdon, and the opening of a narrow-gauge railway to Rhyd Ddu in 1881, led to a significant loss of trade to Llanberis.

This prompted Assheton-Smith to change his mind and Sir Richard got his way, The Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Company Ltd. was formed, and the scene was set for one of the world’s great feats of engineering to begin in 1894.

150 men with picks, shovels and dynamite built two viaducts, carved out a 100-metre cutting from solid rock, constructed several bridges and laid almost eight kilometres of track up a one-in-seven gradient to the top of a mountain – all in 14 months.
A patented rack-and-pinion (cog) railway system, perfected by Dr. Roman Abt, was reliably working in the Swiss Alps and on the Manitou & Pike’s Peak railway in America. There were no other likely contenders and Abt’s system is the one still working today. So why not buy the locomotives from the same source? Of the original Swiss-built steam locos, four are still chugging up and down the mountain today. It has been calculated that No. 2 locomotive, Enid, has covered a distance 3,075,200 kilometres, equal to four journeys to the moon and back, since entering service in 1896.

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