Bicycling The mountain bike trails in the Coed-y-Brenin forest match those anywhere in Europe. Some are challenging for even the most hardened bikers. The Beast, a particularly arduous route, comes within 300 yards of the house. But, like a good ski resort, the forest also contains much easier trails accessible to people with little or no experience. Bikes can be hired at several shops locally, including Beics Brenin at the Coed-y-Brenin centre. A link to the visitor centre is here. This site also shows you route maps and descriptions of the main trials.
At the end of the day, December 17th 2016. View from the nearest hill, looking towards the Rhinog mountains with mist in the intervening valleys.
You can walk straight from the front door and there’s no need to drive to get to interesting countryside with clear waymarked walking trails. An OS map can be found here. (The house is about 0.5 km from the route marked red on this map). Examples of the local walks are the Gold Rush route and the Volcano Trail, both featuring examples of very interesting local geology. The nearest points on both these trails are less than half a mile from Maes-yr-eglwys-wen. Slightly further afield is the Precipice Walk, a much-loved local trail about 3 miles long and within the competence of most adult and teenage walkers.
A little further away is a more challenging walk that should only be attempted by the reasonably fit. Cader Idris, the mountain visible to the south from the gate into the Maes-yr-eglwys-wen field, is within half an hour’s easy drive. A public car park marks the beginning of the walk. On a clear day the rewards of reaching the top include wonderful views over Snowdonia and the sea (featuring at the end of Gwion’s video of the house – scroll down the page).
Beaches The open sandy beaches at Barmouth and Fairbourne are very busy in the summer school holidays. At other times of year they are gloriously empty and perfect for long walks. Both are Blue Flag for 2016.
North Snowdonia Snowdon is about an hour away and the ‘fastest zip wire in the world’ in Bethesda is roughly 80 minutes drive. Harlech Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is somewhat closer, but avoid trying to drive through Barmouth, which can be extremely crowded.
Mawddach Estuary Fifteen minutes away by car is the superbly beautiful Mawddach estuary, admired by Coleridge and Wordsworth among many others. A number of online guides suggest walking and bicycling routes, e.g. The Mawddach Estuary, The Mawddach Trail, and Jackie and Graham O’Hanlon’s Mawddach Way.
Trail running has become a fast growing sport in the Coed y Brenin area in the last few years. The annual Marathon and Half Marathon (June) and other races during the year are hugely popular with runners. More details of the races here.
While Maes-yr-eglwys-wen was being rebuilt we stayed at Coed Cae, Jackie O’Hanlon’s extremely comfortable B+B on the road to Barmouth a few miles away. Jackie’s web site gives an excellent guide to things worth doing locally at all times of year. (If you need more accommodation when staying at Maes-yr-eglwys-wen, we’d recommend Coed Cae).