A short walk through the Coed Ganllwyd National Nature Reserve, at the remarkable Coed-y-Brenin Forest, leads to the spectacular Rhaeadr Ddu or Black Falls on the turbulent Afon Gamlan. A wooden bridge, further along the riverbank, offers exceptional views of this natural wonder. These impressive falls reach a terrific height of over sixty feet and take their name from the slab of black rock over which the water cascades. It inspired one visitor to inscribe a line of poetry by Thomas Gray on a rock near the bridge. The National Trust has reproduced the words in both English and its original Latin on a slate tablet at one of the viewpoints.
The reserve itself, situated behind the village of Ganllwyd, north of Dolgellau, is a stunning island of broadleaved deciduous trees amidst a sea of conifer plantations; not only does it boast high tumbling waterfalls, but it includes a steep wooded gorge. The woodland forms part of a larger Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is part of the Coedydd Derw a Safleoedd Ystlumod Meirion / Meirionnydd Oak woods and Bat Sites Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Greater rainfall and continuous river spray results in extreme humidity, which is prevented from evaporating by the dense oak canopy. This wet climate makes Coed Ganllwyd the richest site for mosses and liverworts in Western Europe. Sessile Oak, with occasional Birch and Ash, dominates this ancient woodland. In the spring the oak leaves emerge as a fresh green mantle, and by autumn they have turned a golden brown before carpeting the ground. Spring and summer mark the arrival of a host of woodland birds, such as Wood warbler, Nuthatch, Jay, Black cap, Redstart as well as the ever distinctive Pied Flycatcher. Dipper may be spotted along the river. Insects include the unusual and uncommon Brimstone Butterfly, found on the nearby Dolmelynllyn estate. The wood is also an important area for bats, specifically the rare Lesser Horseshoe Bat.
There is a small National Trust car park nearby, in the village of Ganllwyd. The paths running through the reserve are steep and rough. The route that takes you to the waterfall viewpoint is particularly steep.
|Coed Ganllwyd and Rhaeadr Ddu is a particularly special wildlife area as it part of the Snowdonia Centre of Excellence. This is a is a £4 million project creating and developing the best outdoor adventure opportunities the sector can offer through four key sites.
These four outdoor activity centres include Antur Stiniog downhill mountain bike trails, Coed y Brenin mountain bike centre, Glan Llyn multi activity centre and Prysor Angling at Llyn Trawsfynydd. The project is nearing completion and some exciting developments have been happening at each of the four sites. Click here
to find out more.