Farming Cader Idris
En Route to Maes y Wennol, Cader Idris Holiday
A trail of the villages and hamlets surrounds Maes y Wennol which nestles under Cader Idris on the southern edge of the Snowdonia National Park dotted with churches, and ancient sites, while the super countryside prvides a wealth of wildlife.
....on foot, bike or car and discover the heritage, traditions and culture of this unique part of Wales
Maes y Wennol is a single storey stone faced dwelling and commands a privileged position in an area of outstanding natural beauty with a panoramic view from the Dysynni Valley towards Cardigan Bay set within the beautiful Snowdonia National Park with the backdrop of the Cader Idris mountain range. It really is a beautiful rural and peaceful setting but has the advantage of being close to the popular beaches of Tywyn, Aberdyfi and Fairbourne where you can use a little ferry over to nearby Barmouth which offers the stunning Mawddach and Dyfi estuaries.
This property is the perfect base for both rambling and hiking and offers miles of tranquil and interesting, historical public footpaths as well as mountain biking, riding, fishing, bird watching and beautiful dark nights with no light pollution to explore the night sky. Nature can be appreciated fully.
The area has a great variety of amenities including golf courses, sandy beaches, leisure centres, cinemas, bowling greens, tennis courts, sailing, wind-surfing and swimming within a short distance. In addition there are more unusual attractions some of National importance, including the Centre for Alternative Technology and the Talyllyn Railway.
Maes y Wennol is an integral part of the of the family farm where the Welsh language and Welsh culture are part of everyday life. The past and present are brought together as Ken Markham is now the third generation to farm this land, with Colin Markham (17) preparing his route to follow his father, grandfather and great grandfather.
The property is situated on Bodilan Fach Farm and Pennant Farm which focuses on rearing Welsh Mountain sheep, Welsh Black Cattle and Welsh Cobs with working Welsh sheepdogs which play an important role in the working of the farms extending to the summit of Cader Idris.
Background to Cader Idris
Cader Idris is an imposing mountain that stands majestically at the southern edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Its slopes descend into valleys of breathtaking beauty and its streams and rivers flow through lakes and falls, sandy beaches into the Cardigan Bay. The beauty and diversity of this unique landscape must not be missed. Spring and Summer arrive early making the verges to the lanes rich with wild flowers. There are pools and waterfalls in the lovely Dysynni Valley combining to make the area totally inspiring in a way that lifts the spirits.
No one is certain where the name Cader Idris (Idris' chair) originates. Some maintain that Idris was a national hero, killed in battle against the Saxons round about 630 AD. Some insist that he was a giant and yet others link Idris with the legend of Arthur.
The slopes of Cader Idris have fascinated walkers and climbers for over 200 years. If the sun is shining or the often specacular cloud formations and the constantly changing colours as shown in the photographs, the views are truly breathtaking and extend over the Snowdonia National Park, north to Snowdon, south to Plymlimon and sometimes give a glimpse of the Wicklow Hills in Ireland.
The Dysynni Valley and the surrounding area
Travelling up the Dysynni Valley to Maes y Wennol, the imposing Craig yr Aderyn (Bird Rock) dominates the landscape. This is considered to be the only inland nesting site for cormorants and has attracted the interest of scientists like Charles Darwin, who spent some time here studying the cormorants. Geologists have proven that the sea at one time, came up to the rock and although the sea has retreated by being artifically drained to get more farmland, the birds have stayed.
History comes to life through CADW sites like Castell y Bere (Castle) which can be seen to the left from Maes y Wennol. One of the few remaining castles built by the princes of Gwynedd. An early 13th century fortress built by Llywelyn Fawr - Prince of Wales to defend the mountain pass above. This was the last fortress in Gwynedd to fall into the hands fo Edward I after 1282.
You will pass Castell y Bere on the way to the head of the valley, and between the two farms, is the small village of Llanfihangel y Pennant which stands in shady woodland and has a very interesting, beautiful church overlooking the valley which has an excellent display about Mary Jones as well as the superb Bro Dysynni Relief Map.
In the ruins of Ty'n Ddol cottage, there is a monument to Mary Jones - a young girl who walked 6 miles to Bala in search of a Bible. Her story led to the formation of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
The village of Abergynolwyn has a history of being a slate mining village with the purpose built miners' cottages and the site of Bryn Eglwys Quarry to be seen today. The slates were carried down an inclined track to the Talyllyn Railway and on to Tywyn which is the home of the Talyllyn Railway and a Museum is located at the station depicting the line's history.
Between Abergynolwyn and Bryncrug the river falls through a beautiful ravine named The Dolgoch Falls. This haven of peace and tranquility with moss carpeted earth and lichen covered rocks with stray sunlight glistening through the trees provide an ideal place for walking.
Tywyn is a busy, thriving seaside town with historical evidence that it was also an important centre centuries ago. St Cadfan's Church is of Norman architecture and contains many interesting effigies including that of Gruffudd ap Adda whose eyes seem to weep when wet weather is approaching. Carreg Cadfan is reputed to be the earliest monumental inscription in Welsh.
Tywyn was the location where Marconi's long wave wireless service to New York was set up with signals being relayed to London and was operational for 10 years.
Taking the road out of Tywyn towards Aberdyfi follow the signpost for Cwm Maethlon - Happy Valley - another typical rural Welsh valley. From this point you can walk up to Llyn Barfog (The Bearded Lake) into which a magical cow and all her offspring disappeared according to a local fairy tale. Near to the lake stands Carn March Arthur - suggesting that the footprint of Arthur's horse is still to be seen in the stone.
Aberdyfi stands on the shore of the Dyfi river as it flows into Cardigan Bay. Its history is closely linked with the sea and still has a busy harbour and is a fishing port. A well known Welsh ballad 'Clychau Aberdyfi (The Bells of Aberdyfi) recalls the story of a town called Cantre'r Gwaelod that was drowned under the sea and as legend has it the bells can still be heard in the village on quiet evenings.
Along the Dyfi is a small village called Pennal. In 1406 Owain Glyndwr, the Welsh Leader, sent a letter to the King of France from Pennal and a copy is held in the church and also at Cefn Caer, a Roman Fort which can be visited in Pennal.
The nearby tranquil village of Llanegryn also has a famous Church of St Mary and St Egryn and it is worth having a look at the magnificent intricately decorated rood screen which originally was a Rood Loft at Cymmer Abbey near Dolgellau and was relocated to Llanegryn during the dissolution of the monasteries. This is where I was christened, confirmed and married and was my very own playground as a child because I lived next door in the house with the red chimney pots.
Near Llanegryn, there is an old Roman Road - 'Y Ffordd Ddu' - This Roman Road goes from Llanegryn to Dolgellau which is part of the Dysynni Hertiage Cycle Way which links with the Dysynni Valley. Many a lone travellers were robbed along this route. This track is dotted with Bronze Age burial mounds, prehistoric settlements and impressive standing stones diverting over to Cregennan Lakes which nestle under Cader Idris enjoying panoramic views over the Mawddach Estruary and the Cardigan Bay opens up before your very eyes. This area is steeped in history with many standing stones located on the hills above. In the past, small boats used to carry peat from Arthog - a picturesque village on the banks of the Mawddach - to Barmouth across the river.
Indeed, a holiday at 'Maes y Wennol' is the perfect place to explore the Dysynni Valley and the surrounding area.