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Coed Felenrhyd & Rhaeadr Ddu

Monday, 27 September 21

Rhaeadr Ddu, The Black Falls waterfall in Coed Felenrhyd, Snowdonia

A couple of years ago we discovered one of Wales's ancient forests, and deep within it, a beautiful waterfall and pool. It was so humid and we were hot after our walk up the forest path so we felt sad that we hadn't brought our swimming things. BUT the water was so inviting and I mean, we hadn't seen a single soul all morning. We were all alone in the most magical place, we'd be crazy not to just strip off and get in...

Just as I took my shoes and socks off, three gorge scramblers in luminous wet suits appeared out of nowhere, on top of the waterfall, ready to abseil down it. So that scuppered that!

I made a promise to myself to come back and swim one day. Today was that day.

wood sorrel covered in dew

This forest is actually a temperate rain forest, also known as Atlantic or Celtic rain forest and as soon as you close the woodland trust gate behind you, you can feel it. It's deep and lush and humid. It smells of wet earth and wood and fungi and looks extra green. It makes you breathe deeply and sigh. Thank goodness we are here.

Maentwrog, the bridge covered in ivy

We parked in a lay-by opposite the Maentwrong water power station and we followed our footsteps from our last visit,

sword ferns by the river at the celtic rainforest

walking along the river and then climbing up and up and up lots of steps through the trees.

a tee stump covered in thick moss and wood sorrel, coed felenrhyd

This place is home to some rare mosses, lichens and liverworts and is a site of global scientific interest.

lichen on a log at Coed Felenrhyd, woodlast trust, maentwrog

Apparently some of the lichens in the gorge have been there since the ice age!

moss on a log at the celtic rainforest

Now, I wouldn't know a rare one if I saw one but I marvel at the most everyday species anyway so there was no pressure to spot anything.

common hair moss flowers

Look at these, like little periscopes surveying the area!

tawny grisette fungi in the moss

We found some fungi friends

sulphur tufts toadstools growing on a mossy log
stag beetle on a fern

and a rather splendid stag beetle.

Coed Felenrhyd, Maentwrog

Once we had climbed quite high we had to listen out for the waterfall below. We only found it last time because we heard it and we could just make out the pebbly river beach through the trees. 

dewy grass and ferns by the river

It was a scramble down a bank to get there but worth it.

swimming at Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall

We finally, made it back to the waterfall. We didn't hesitate to get in and swimming was every bit as magic (and as cold) as I expected.

I think we had about ten minutes of bliss and peace before some more gorge scramblers arrived (obviously the place for it) but by that time we were 'refreshed' and ready to warm up with a flask of tea. We were buzzing, from the cold water but also from the keeping of a promise!

Moon dog at Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall, Coed Felenrhyd

We told my son and his girlfriend about this place and they visited the other day with their dog Moon. Here he is looking very happy. They also discovered a much easier route to the waterfall, coming in from the other side of the river. We'll try that next time but our scramble down the bank added to our sense of adventure.

You can find this incredible wood near Maentwrog in the Vale of Ffestiniog in Snowdonia. You can read more about it on the Woodland Trust site and find all the directions. It's well worth a visit.

Tags: nature

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Hannah Nunn

Welcome to my blog

I'm Hannah Nunn, designer/maker of papercut lamps, wallpaper, fabrics and window film all inspired by the beautiful details of nature. Find out what inspires me and join me for walks in the woods and other adventures...

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2 Comments

  • Simply beautiful Hannah, I feel like I have been on that walk today through the woodland observing everything, without getting wet. I love the smell of wet woods, I tell my friends that I think I was a woodlander in a previous life but I don’t think they understand : )
    Thank you for your story,
    Penny

    Penny Fitzmaurice
  • What an adventure you had! It sounds like a truly magical place and your photos captured that perfectly 🌳💚🍄 xx

    Lyn