Caldicot to Chepstow
Huge bridges and small villages with big histories.
Industrial and natural heritage
Start at the CADW car park in Furnace, finish at Borth or Ynyslas visitor centre.
10 miles / 16 kilometres
This walk starts at a very well conserved example of Welsh industrial heritage.
Built around 1755, the charcoal-fired blast furnace at Dyfi Furnace was used for smelting iron ore. One of the best-preserved buildings of its type in Britain, its waterwheel harnessed the power of the River Einion to drive a huge set of bellows. These blew air into the furnace to create the very hot temperatures needed to process the ore.
To reach the Wales Coast Path from here we join a small lane and head steeply uphill, through the beautiful woodland of Cwm Einion, which was also dubbed Artist’s Valley by the Victorians.
The trees here are part of the Celtic Rainforest and the area is a scarce habitat recognised as internationally important and one of the best examples of its type in Britain.
After half a mile we turn sharply right to join the Wales Coast Path along a wide track. If we reach a Wales Coast Path sign on the left, we’ve gone a few metres too far.
The route from here is not well used, so it’s likely we’ll have the place all to our own. However, because it’s less frequented, the path can sometimes be a little unclear.
It goes through some fields, woods and along a forest track before dropping back to the main road after about two-and-a-half miles at Tre’r-ddôl. The community-run shop and cafe Cletwr here is a good place to replenish supplies or stop for a drink and The Wildfowler pub has been serving food and beer for around 150 years.
Now we head on to the small former lead and copper mining village of Tre Taliesin and turn right to reach Cors Fochno, one of the largest and finest examples of a raised peat bog in Britain.
When we reach a boardwalk in the bog, it’s worthwhile taking a slight detour to the viewing platform to get a sense of the scale of the whole raised bog. Peat started to accumulate here around 7,500 years ago when the area was covered by forest. But as sea levels rose, the forest was replaced first by reed swamp and then peat bog.
Then we reach the small seaside resort of Borth. At low tide the stumps of long-dead trees from the former forest can still be seen on the beach here forming a fossil forest. This ties in with the legend of the “Welsh Atlantis”, Cantre’r Gwaelod.
We can choose to finish the walk here, but if we still have enough energy, it’s worth pushing on for another mile or so to Ynyslas Visitor Centre and Dyfi National Nature Reserve. As well as the sand dunes at Ynyslas, this 2,000-hectare reserve also includes Cors Fochno and the Dyfi estuary.
The dunes at Ynyslas are home to a rich population of orchids, mosses, liverworts, fungi, insects and spiders, many of which are rare, and some which can be found nowhere else in Britain.
The beautiful Dyfi estuary has vast areas of internationally important mudflats, sandbanks and saltmarsh that provide important feeding and roosting areas for wetland birds. And keep an eye out for ospreys fishing in the estuary – they have made their home at the nearby Dyfi Wildlife Centre and Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve.
Nigel Nicholas, Wales Coast Path officer, said: “This is a walk of stark contrasts. Starting with a well-preserved example of industrial heritage it moves upland through a fabulous woodland and on through farmland and forestry to the incredibly special natural spaces of a raised bog, sand dunes and a beautiful estuary. And once the initial climb out of Furnace has been completed it’s either downhill or flat most of the way.”
The first toilets and food options on this route are at Tre’r-ddôl. There are public toilets, cafes and pubs in Borth and a cafe, shop and toilets at Ynyslas Visitor Centre.
Car parking near CADW’s Dyfi Furnace site, a large free car park in Borth by the lifeboat station and at Ynyslas Visitor Centre (tide dependant).
There are no direct bus services between Borth and Furnace. However, both communities are served by frequent services and most bus journeys require only one change and take around 45 minutes.
There is a train station in Borth linking with Machynlleth, Dovey Junction (two miles from the start of this walk) Bow Street and Aberystwyth. Using two cars may be a convenient alternative.
Download the Furnace to Borth map (JPEG, 2.77MB)