July 24th, 2019
If you’re staying in North Wales this summer then a visit to the Italianate village of Portmeirion is a must-see day out. So why not enjoy this easy walk to explore the beautiful surroundings of Portmeirion.
Distance/Time: 7.5km / 5 miles. Allow 3 hours (longer for a visit to village)
Start: P&D Car Park in Porthmadog (from the southern end of the High Street, turn into Madog Street then turn right). For a shorter walk, park at the Boston Lodge parking area at the eastern end of the Cob and resume walk from point 3 below
Grid Ref: SH 570 387
Ordnance Survey Map: OS Explorer OL 18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Y Bala
1: Leave the car park to pass a supermarket on the left. At the junction, turn left, then very soon left again at the next junction by the petrol station, to cross the railway and walk over the bridge. Cross the road by the record shop and walk towards the Ffestiniog Railway platform.
The Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest independent railway company, and was established in 1832. Its original purpose was to transport slate from the Ffestiniog mines to the harbour at Porthmadog.
2: Stay ahead to follow the railway line away from the station and follow this along the top of the embankment (Y Cob) for almost one mile.
The Cob is a sea wall, built in 1811 by William Alexander Madocks. Its construction meant that acres of land were reclaimed from the sea, on which Madocks built Porthmadog and Tremadog.
Just before Boston Lodge sidings follow some steep steps down to the road and cross carefully. Go down the steps/ramp and onto the path. Turn right, passing an old toll house.
3: Soon after a lay-by cross the road and bear right at a bridle-way signpost up a track.
Turn left at the top but then very soon bear right to cross the railway and follow the footpath sign through a gate for a stony path uphill. At a fork stay left to reach a metal gate.
Go through it and stay ahead to eventually reach another gate at a cross-road of bridle-ways (see sign on your right).
The farm to the right is called Penrhyn Isaf and in 1812 was the scene of a brutal murder. A man known as Hwntw Mawr (meaning “Giant Southerner”) was working on repairs to the cob when he walked up to the farmhouse, hoping to steal money and valuables. However he encountered a maid there, Mary Jones, whom he fatally stabbed in his panic. He was eventually captured and charged with murder, and was publicly hanged in Dolgellau the following April – one of the last executions by hanging in the county.
Go straight over and follow a path alongside a stone wall on the left. It will descend to a larger stone wall, so go through the gap and gate and stay ahead to another large wall and pass through the gap/gate.
The path now winds along the edge of a fence on your right. When you reach a wooden gate don’t go through it, but turn right through some staggered posts and follow the path to emerge at the car park (to visit the village follow the signposts from here. Charges apply. Dogs are not permitted).
It’s certainly well worth visiting the beautiful village of Portmeirion. The village itself is unique and curious, but the surrounding land, known as The Gwyllt (The Wilderness) is a delight to explore, not least because of the large number of rare and tropical plants that grow there. Don’t miss the Dog Cemetery or the beach.
4: Continue ahead to follow the exit signs, bearing left to leave car park, then turn left along the exit drive.
Eventually pass tennis courts on the right and then Castell Deudraeth. Just after the Give Way sign, turn right, through a car parking area, then right again down the lane.
5: At a yellow arch seat turn left and follow the track to its end (stay straight ahead at bridle-way sign by a cottage and again at the next).
The track soon becomes a tarmac lane so continue ahead, then at the junction turn left to the main road. Go straight across (use the pedestrian crossing on the right if busy) for a narrow lane that leads between the end of a terrace and another house. Follow this downhill.
6: Cross railway line, then at the bottom of the hill with a terrace on the left, turn left along a wider lane. Follow this to meet the main road at a t-junction, where you bear right along the pavement towards Boston Lodge.
Boston Lodge is so named because William Madocks was also an MP for Boston in Lincolnshire.
7: At the end of the lay-by stay right for the footpath and cycleway and pass under the wooden arch, then pass the Toll House.
8: Follow the bottom of the cob all the way back to Porthmadog. Re-trace your steps to the car park.
Precariously balanced on the coast, as if a quintessential Italian village has been picked up and thrown at the hill to land chaotically, this bizarre, but beautiful place has been attracting tourists, artists, philosophers and Hollywood for years.
Portmeirion is the work of eccentric, but talented Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis. After the end of the First World War he bought a crumbling old estate, describing the land as “a neglected wilderness” and set about transforming it into his idea of utopia; a perfect coastal village that pays tribute to the glamorous air of the Mediterranean. It became his life’s project and between 1925 and 1975 he worked tirelessly on designing, building and renovating the village.
Today, the village is run as a tourist attraction and includes a hotel, apartments, restaurant, cafes and shops.
The Portmeirion Pottery brand is almost as celebrated as the village itself. It was created when Clough Williams-Ellis asked his daughter Susan to create a range of pottery for the Portmeirion village gift shop. The range was a huge success and in 1961 Susan and her husband Euan Cooper-Willis acquired potteries in Stoke-on-Trent where the ranges were produced.
Susan went on to become one of the world’s most respected pottery designers. Her ranges for Portmeirion have been numerous, but perhaps the most well known is the instantly recognisable Botanic range. It was launched in 1972 but is still produced and sold across the world today.
**These directions are for guidance only. The Oakeley Arms can accept no responsibility for any loss, damage or injury resulting from the use of this information. The information quoted is correct at the time of writing. Always take a map with you and be prepared for the weather for turn. Do not venture out in bad weather.