Ceunant Cynfal National Nature Reserve, near Blaenau Ffestiniog

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Welcome

Ceunant Cynfal is one of the finest gorges in Britain.

This narrow, deep gorge was created by the River Cynfal which descends from its source in central Eryri (Snowdonia) and becomes a raging torrent with steep cascades and waterfalls.

Rhaeadr Cynfal is one of the most dramatic of these waterfalls and you can view its tumbling waters from the restored Victorian viewing platform.

The oak woodland here is a remnant of a vast Celtic rainforest that once extended down the western side of Britain and Ireland.

Distinctive plant life thrives in the shady and humid conditions beneath the dense oak canopy and Ceunant Cynfal National Nature Reserve is a site of international importance.

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Walking trail

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trail.

Find out about walking trail grades.

Rhaeadr Cynfal Waterfall Walk

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 1.4 miles/2.2 kilometres (there and back)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Trail information: Follow the public footpath from Llan Ffestiniog village (signposted to Cynfal Falls) to the reserve entrance. The walking trail is not waymarked.

Watch the waterfall from the Victorian viewing platform and feel the spray from the waterfall.

Marvel at the deep ravine and its damp-loving plants and take in the atmosphere of this ancient oak woodland "rainforest".

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What to see on the National Nature Reserve

Ceunant Cynfal is a National Nature Reserve.

National Nature Reserves are places with some of the very finest examples of wildlife habitats and geological features.

The landscape and wildlife varies depending on which time of year you visit – here’s what to look out for.

Geology

This is an ancient landscape – enormous flows of glacial meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age sculpted this gorge.

You can still see the tell-tale ‘hanging valleys’ (a valley cut across by a deeper valley or a cliff) and numerous geological features with names like ‘pot holes’, ‘slots’, ‘arches’ and a rock ‘stack’ – Huw Llwyd’s Pulpit.

Mosses, liverworts and lichens

The gorge boasts an impressive 154 different mosses and liverworts.

Several are scarce: look out for the uncommon bun moss, which forms cushions on the woodland floor and tree trunks.

Lichens are also abundant, including the rare disc granular lichen, which grows on the bark of mossy, mature oak trees.

Bats and birdlife

The woodland provides an ideal feeding ground for bats.

During evenings in summer and early autumn you may spot them feeding along the edge of the woods and in open glades.

The rare lesser horseshoe bat has its British stronghold here in North Wales, and it depends upon catching dung flies in the treetops courtesy of grazing animals within the woodlands.

The woodland sustains a healthy bird population, and notable summer visitors include redstart, wood warbler and pied flycatcher – the typical ‘upland oakwood’ species.

National Nature Reserves in Wales

There are over 70 National Nature Reserves in Wales.

Find out more about National Nature Reserves.

Meirionnydd Oakwoods

Ceunant Cynfal is one of six large Meirionnydd Oakwoods which are protected as National Nature Reserves.

These oakwoods are as globally important and as vulnerable as some tropical rainforests and are a remnant of a vast Atlantic ’wildwood’ that once extended down the western side of Britain and Ireland.

Two of the other Meirionnydd Oakwoods may be visited with care:

Dense vegetation and steep access mean that the other three Meirionnydd Oakwoods (Coed Camlyn, Coed Cymerau, and Coed y Rhygen) are not suitable for visitors.

Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park

Ceunant Cynfal is in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Eryri is the largest National Park in Wales and is home to picturesque towns and villages and the highest mountain in Wales.

It is looked after by the Eryri National Park Authority.

For more information about visiting Eryri (Snowdonia) go to the Eryri National Park Authority website.

Visiting safely

We want you to return home safely after your visit here.

You are responsible for your own safety as well as the safety of any children and animals with you during your visit.

Please note:

  • rugged terrain with rocky outcrops, cliffs and crags, often concealed by long vegetation - wear footwear with a good grip and keep to paths.
  • the river can rapidly become a raging torrent in wet weather and there is a danger of being swept away - keep away.
  • no mobile phone reception in the gorge.
  • rock surfaces within the gorge are extremely slippery when wet.
  • be careful along unprotected path sections next to sheer drops into the gorge.

For advice and tips to help you plan your visit here go to Visiting our places safely.

Changes to visitor facilities

See the top of this webpage for details of any planned closures or other changes to visitor facilities here.

For your safety, always follow instructions from staff and signs including those for trail diversions or closures.

We may divert or close trails whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations and we may need to close other visitor facilities temporarily.

In extreme weather, we may close facilities at short notice due to the risk of injury to visitors and staff.

How to get here 

Location

Ceunant Cynfal National Nature Reserve is 3 miles south of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

It is in the county of Gwynedd.

Ordnance Survey map

Ceunant Cynfal National Nature Reserve is on Ordnance Survey (OS) Explorer map OL18.

The OS grid reference for the start of the trail is SH 703 418.

Directions

Take the A470 from Blaenau Ffestiniog towards Dolgellau.

After 3 miles enter Llan Ffestiniog village where there is a small parking area on the left just before the railway bridge.

Follow the public footpath from the village (signposted to Cynfal Falls) to the reserve entrance.

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Penrhyndeudraeth.

For details of public transport visit Traveline Cymru's website

Parking

There is no car park at the reserve.

Please park considerately in the village of Llan Festiniog and follow the public footpath from the village to the reserve entrance.

Contact details

There are no staff at this location.

Contact our customer team for general enquiries during office hours, Monday to Friday.

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