Llan Ffestiniog, also known as Llan or simply Ffestiniog, is a small village in the county of Gwynedd, approximately 3 miles south of Blaenau Ffestiniog. The village consists of rows of dark stone and slate roofed houses with a few shops and as many chapels. It stands amongst some dramatic scenery; to the east there is the open moorland wilderness of the Migneint; to the south and west is the beautiful Vale of Ffestiniog, a deep sheltered valley of thick woodland, tumbling rivers and green meadows.
My pictures of the village were taken on a late autumn day when the travelling fairground came to town, and, although it was a bit nippy, when the setting sun shines on this westerly facing landscape the striking views certainly warm the heart. I particularly like two pictures of Llan Ffestiniog residents. In the first picture the local lads are juxtaposed against an old stone built shop with a date of 1726 above the doorway. What would the original shopkeeper have thought of the youth's mobile phone The second picture has another bunch of locals, a group of well-behaved Welsh sheep, who kindly posed against a backdrop of the rolling slopes of Manod Mawr.
Cynfal Waterfalls: The Afon Cynfal forms the valley of the Ceunant Cynfal Nature Reserve. The wooded valley is home to the picturesque Cynfal Waterfalls. A large pillar shaped rock above the falls is known as Huw Llwyds pulpit, named after a 17th century wizard or preacher who was renowned for his sermons from atop the rock. The site and sound of the river pounding its way through the gorge is an added attraction. The falls are a delightful hidden gem well worth a visit if you are in this part of north Wales.
Ceunant Cynfal Nature Reserve: The Ceunant Cynfal Nature Reserve is an internationally important scientific site and is a remnant of the vast woodlands that used to cover all of Wales. Ceunant Cynfal is one of several woodland reserves in the Vale of Ffestiniog that runs from the coast at Porthmadog inland to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The reserve is actually a steep narrow gorge carrying the Afon Cynfal down a series of spectacular waterfalls as it descends to the Afon Dwyryd in the Vale below. This type of Atlantic woodland is often described as “temperate rain forest” due to the prevailing damp humid climate and associated abundance of ferns, lichens and rich growth of mosses and liverworts.
High rainfall and the spray from the turbulent river helps create humid conditions and encourages a diverse community of mosses - one of the special features of the reserve. The humidity in the gorge is amplified by the deep nature of the ravine, the fast flowing waters and the dense oak canopy overhead. This all provides an ideal habitat for mosses and liverworts and about 150 species have been recorded at Ceunant Cynfal. Common and abundant species cover boulders, rocks, tree stumps, rotten logs and much of the woodland floor, but there are also a number of rare and uncommon species, some found in only a few restricted areas in Britain.
To visit the Ceunant Cynfal National Nature Reserve, park by the Pengwern Arms in the centre of Llan Ffestiniog, and walk 50 yds down the B4391 towards Maentwrog. Go through the kissing gate on your left and follow the way markers to the Falls.
Ffestiniog Railway: The narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway that links Blaenau Ffestiniog with Porthmadog on the coast. The Ffestiniog Railway ( originally horse drawn ) opened for freight traffic in 1836 and transported the slate from source at Blaenau Ffestiniog to harbour via a 21km journey through meadows, woodlands, lakes and waterfalls within what is now the Snowdonia National Park. The ride is spectacular as the line twists and turns its way through the countryside.
Conwy Valley Railway: At 27 miles long the Conwy Valley Railway offers one of the most beautiful rail experiences in Britain. It was constructed in 1879 and links the town with the north Wales coastal resorts. Part of the National Rail Network, it takes you via a 3 mile ( 5km ) tunnel below the Crimea Pass, alongside the banks of the turbulent river Lledr, down to the river Conwy, one of the great rivers of Wales. A breathtaking range of scenery unfolds before your eyes, from majestic crags and pastoral delights of the upper valleys to the historic castles of Dolwyddelan and Conwy, through an estuary rich in wildlife, You glimpse fairytale landscapes, ancient quarries and tracks, forests and the high peaks of Snowdonia before eventually reaching Llandudno the Queen of the Welsh resorts.
Ffestiniog Power Station: The Ffestiniog Power Station at nearby Tanygrisiau was the first pumped storage station built for the CEGB - an example of modern technology set against the dramatic backdrop of old slate quarries. There is an exhibition, and tours.
January 2010: In 2010 Llan Ffestiniog is suffering from a shortage of beer. Well to be exact the village, as with many other Welsh villages, has lost its pub. Volunteers are trying to raise £200,000 to save the village pub the Pengwern Arms. The local pub was forced to close but the villagers are not taking this hit to the community lying down and are organising public meetings to try and raise enough money to run the pub and restaurant as a cooperative. If you pass through this village on your way through Snowdonia do your bit, call in for some refreshment and a chat, and feel good thinking that you are doing your bit to save a Welsh community. Iechid Da