This is a lovely little family picnic spot and circular walk. The car park is about 10-minute drive out of Porthmadog: simply turn left by the Oakley Arms where the road is sign posted Rhyd.
A little way up the road there is a car park on the right with enough space for about 6 cars, across the road is a lovely picnic spot next to Llyn Mair (Mair, Mary in English) and apart from a couple of aggressive geese this is the perfect spot – lakeside views, plenty of picnic tables and benches.
On our most recent visit we took along a Coleman stove, bread rolls, sos coch (ketchup in Welsh, the literal translation being red sauce), a flask of tea and various treats. Mr N had a great time tinkering with the petrol stove and cooking the sausages to perfection, the kids enjoyed swishing the dirty pots in the stream well out of the way of those geese.
After our epic picnic we crossed the road back to parking area, we headed up into the woodland towards the Tan y Bwlch station on the Ffestiniog Railway, a beautiful narrow-gauge railway and one of the longest running in the world.
The Ffestiniog or Welsh Highland Railways are a must visit for any self-respecting visitor, if you’re feeling flush a trip in the first-class Pullman carriage is quite a treat, don’t forget to pack your hamper with some smoked salmon and fizz!
For us the first-class carriage would have to wait, today we were on foot so we headed down the drive back to the road which we followed for a short while before branching left onto a forestry track. There is no pavement on the road so please be vigilant, this is not a busy road, but local traffic tends to zip along.
Back on the forestry road there is a lovely sense of peace and quiet there is no traffic sound, if you linger long enough you might hear the toot-toot of a steam train. The forestry road encircles a lake called Llyn Hafod y Llyn. The lake has steep wooded sides and there are view points along the way.
This is a special place for Mr N, as a young lad he and his mates would ride up to the lake on their mountain bikes, skinny dip in the lake, hang out and chill. In those days there wasn’t a forestry road and not nearly as many hikers. Mr N tells me it was much more private, these days I’m sure there are better places to go skinny dipping.
At the lake there is a little jetty and a couple of picnic tables, it’s a great place for skimming stones and relaxing. After stopping a while to chat to a fellow walker we re-joined the forestry track for about 20 yards then we headed left downhill. A fallen tree blocked our path, we scrambled over tree then carefully negotiated our way over the railway, track a short ramble downhill brought us back to Llyn Mair and the car.
This walk is in Maentwrog Forestry there are many trails to explore, Wales Trails will be back on another day when we have more time to explore further.
Check out the map: http://walestrails.com/my-routes/walk-llyn-mair-llyn-hafod-y-llyn/ WalesTrails maps are a guide only, do not rely on them for navigation. I recommend purchasing the appropriate OS Map.