1. Walks in & around Blaenau Ffestiniog

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    20 walks/44 pages

    Until the mid-18thC Blaenau Ffestiniog was the name of an area of remote mountain land in the old parish of Ffestiniog, where there were some farms and sheep-walks but little else of significance. However, when Diffwys Quarry, the first large slate working in the locality, was opened there during the 1760s, it soon became apparent that these uplands, after being quarried and mined, were capable of satisfying an increasing, world-wide, demand for slate. Indeed, in order to service the fast-growing number of quarries, it would soon be necessary to build a town high in the mountains above the Vale of Ffestiniog, to be called Blaenau Ffestiniog. By 1836 the need to transport the roofing slates, and other products of Blaenau’s burgeoning industry, resulted in the town becoming connected to Porthmadog by the Ffestiniog Railway; and by 1883 the London and North-Western, and Great Western, railways had opened stations in the town, which continued to expand until the turn of the 20thC. Subsequently the slate industry gradually declined and most quarries closed, leaving only one or two workings in operation during 2017.

    Today, evidence of Blaenau Ffestiniog’s involvement in the slate industry is inescapable: the awe-inspiring spoil-heaps, decaying inclines, drum-houses and tramways, the derelict quarry buildings, and the old tracks and paths used to get to the quarries by the workers, and into town by their families. Districts of the town, Maenofferen for example, were named after the farms of pre-quarry days, and the terraces of houses built for the quarry workers, and some of their many chapels, have survived. The Ffestiniog Railway and Llechwedd Quarry have been re-born as attractions suited to the needs of 21stC visitors. All of which, together with its wonderful mountain scenery, makes Blaenau Ffestiniog, and its neighbourhood, a fascinating place to visit. And what better way to explore the area than by using the local footways, many now preserved as rights-of-way in recognition of their use by past generations of Blaenau Ffestiniog townspeople?

    The twenty walks in this book are aimed at those who arrive in the area by train, bus or car, intending to spend a few hours on a walk, rather than a whole day. The walks vary between 1½ and 4½ miles in length, and introduce visitors to places they would otherwise be unlikely to find during a short visit: minor paths in the town leading to unexpected viewpoints; rights-of-way past magnificent waterfalls; tracks which follow old tramways past mountain lakes; historic settlements, including one high on Manod Mawr; the precipitous gorges of the Cynfal and Teigl rivers.

    Information is provided on getting to Blaenau Ffestiniog by bus and train, and the neighbouring villages of Tanygrisiau and Llan Ffestiniog, by connecting buses. For car-drivers, directions to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Tanygrisiau and Llan Ffestiniog from nearby towns are provided, as are details of parking places convenient for the starting points of the walks.

    Just a wonderful area to explore.

Authors
The Unique Kittiwake Style