Waunfawr straggles between Caernarfon and Beddgelert. The present village brought together a number of pre-existing hamlets under the spiritual and economic influence of the Chapel and surrounding quarries. Until half a century ago, Waunfawr was still the “big moor” of its name. This was an extensive, unyielding patchwork of heathland from which the occupants of small farmsteads (“tyddynod” in Welsh) wrought a precarious living from the land, supplemented by the quarryman’s “bargain.” What was once a bleak and exposed village is today increasingly a wooded vale where woodpeckers and flycatchers reign supreme. From the remains of Parc Dudley granite quarry, we have today a popular nature reserve under the benign care of the local authority.
Although the cultural life of the village is only a shadow of what it once was in the golden age of chapel and quarry, in recent years the village economy has turned a corner. This has been largely thanks to the arrival of the Welsh Highland Railway, the founding of the Antur Waunfawr project and the tavern on the outskirts of the village after a long absence. The train has brought many new opportunities to a village which may have seen better days, but we hope that you will appreciate some of the best of the past and the present by following our series of circular waymarked walks.
All the waymarked walks start at Y Ganolfan (the Community Centre in the centre of Waunfawr). The waymarks are displayed on the Announcement Board, where you will also see route maps.
You may also join the walks at Antur Waunfawr, a local social enterprise established in 1984, offering work and training opportunities to adults with learning difficulties. There is a cafe and a warm welcome available here during the week.
Yr Hen Waun This is a short walk around the old village.
Hafod Olau A longer walk passing Hafod Olau, the home of the 18th century map maker John Evans who lived among the Mandan Native Americans when mapping the Missouri river. There is a small exhibition at Antur Waunfawr, viewable by request, depicting the short but remarkable life of this little known adventurer. For the more observant, there are the remnants of medieval cultivation strips on the slopes between the homesteads of Grasbil and Ty Pellaf.
Y Groeslon A walk around the “suburb” of Groeslon Uchaf. Groeslon arose as a small hamlet serving the early Cefn Du Quarrying community. It passes near the pioneering installations erected by Marconi for his early radio transmissions.
Pompren ‘Redog or Y Bompren A longer walk crossing the Gwyrfai river at Bompren Wredog (“pompren” being a corruption of pont bren now replaced by the present rather unlovely metal structure!) The bompren bridge was well known among local children for the deep pool which provided a cool swim on hot summer afternoons.
Moel Smytho Another long walk which takes you over to the neighbouring parish and into the author Kate Roberts’ country. Y Lôn Wen (the white road) dissecting Moel Smytho was immortalised by this writer, the road which leads “to Waunfawr…and to heaven”!