Following the streets of the village, turn into Cwm Bowydd next to the secondary school. After a short steep walk down through the woods continue to the end of the Cwm. Just before the A496, take field paths past Pengwern Old Hall to the hidden gorge of Cwm Teigl. After this, walk up the field paths to Llan Ffestiniog and the Pengwern pub.
Along the way
Blaenau Ffestiniog was not always associated with the blue slate tips which surrounds it. It is hard to believe that in 1756, Lord Lyttleton wrote of Ffestiniog, or Llan Ffestiniog,
“If you have a mind to live long, and renew your youth, come and settle in Ffestiniog. Not long ago, there died in this neighbourhood an honest farmer who was 105 years of age. By his first wife he had 30 children, 10 by his second, 4 by his third and 7 by two concubines. His eldest son was 81 years older than his youngest and 800 of his descendants attended his funeral”.
Although the Ffestiniog Railway was an important factor in the growth of the slate industry in the area, oddly enough, it was securing the contract for supplying slates to Hamburg to re-roof the city following the disastrous fire of 1842 which brought Blaenau to pre-eminence, establishing itself as a leading supplier of slate to the international market. This fire, which raged between 4 and 8 May, destroyed three churches and many public buildings, and rendered some 20,000 people homeless. Reconstruction took nearly forty years, and most of the roofs were slated with Blaenau Ffestiniog slate.
Of interest and worth a few minutes is a quick visit to St Peter’s Church, where the Trail meets Blaenau Ffestiniog High Street. Here, the evocative stained glass windows depict quarrying scenes.
River of Slate
The River of Slate is a feature near the parking area opposite the railway station. It is made up of pieces of slates from quarries from around Wales. A fascinating and colourful piece of art
Pengwern Old Hall
This property was taken over by the MoD during the Second World War to house the military while they managed the transfer of art treasures from the National gallery in London to the Cwt y Bugail quarry, above Llan Ffestiniog.
The track passing the hall used to cross a bridge over the Teigl, leading to Llan Ffestiniog. Unfortunately, the landowner demolished it in a neighbour`s dispute, so our route now follows Cwm Teigl before climbing the hillside to the village.
Llan Ffestiniog has been an important watering hole since Roman times. It lies astride Sarn Helen, the Roman road connecting Canovium fort in the Conwy valley to the fort at Brecon, 160 miles away. The route was much used by drovers taking their animals to market and the Pengwern Arms was one of the major stopping places in the area. The Inn boasts a rich history and was visited by many travellers including George Borrow in 1854, while researching for his book, Wild Wales, published in 1862.
The pub was abandoned when it was felt by the owners to be unviable but was purchased in recent times by the image4 30community and is run, mostly by volunteers, as a cooperative social enterprise. It provides bed & breakfast, self-catering and bunkhouse accommodation. It is planned to include a restaurant and hotel.
Llan Ffestiniog provides a limited range of accommodation. More importantly, it boasts a village shop where basic supplies can be purchased. There is no shop between here and Penmachno, some 13 miles ahead.