Dinas Mawddwy is a village at the southern edge of the Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd, North Wales. The village stands amongst the most spectacular scenery at the convergence of the Rivers Cerist and Dovey in the shadow of the hills of Foel Benddin (543m) and Foel Dinas (478m). The A470 North Wales to South Wales road by-passes the village en-route between Dolgellau and Caersws.
There is an abundance of attractions in the area, especially for those who enjoy the outdoor life, with hiking, cycling, golf, sightseeing, horse riding, and shooting – all available in the surrounding area. You can be at the glorious beaches on the west coast of Wales in around 20-30 minutes by car. Or for those who like a challenge you may prefer to climb Cader Idris which at 893m is one of Wales' most popular peaks for hill walking.
But you don't need to travel far for good walks, as the Dovey Valley and the area local to Dinas Mawddwy is criss-crossed with trails and rights of way.
Mountain bikers will appreciate either the Coed y Brenin Forest Trails or the Machynlleth Trails. Both are just a short drive away and there are trails to suit both families and the more serious mountain bikers.
Red Bandits of Mawddwy (Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy):
In byegone days the Mawddwy district would have been described as anything but peaceful, Dinas Mawddwy being home to the Red Bandits of Mawddwy (Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy). A band of highway robbers and bandits from the area of Mawddwy, who in the 16th century became famous for their murderous deeds. They were called red as most of them were said to have had red hair. The Gwylliaid were supposedly the dregs of society, who came to the Dinas Mawddwy area having been excommunicated from their own areas. Principally they were cattle thieves and sheep-stealers, but they terrorised the district to such an extent that scythes with their blades pointed upwards would be built into chimneys as protection from the bandits. Some say that chimneys built in this manner were found in the early 20th Century.
In 1554, Sir John Wynn of Gwydir and Baron Lewis Owen, vice chamberlain of North Wales, were given a commission to put an end to the terror, and on Christmas Eve they captured more than eighty of the gang. All were condemned to death. Among them were two brothers, and their mother, an old woman, begged Owen to spare one of them.
When he refused she screamed at him in rage. She tore her dress open and bared her breasts. “These yellow breasts,” she cried, “have given suck to those who shall wash their hands in your blood.”
In 1555 Owen was on his way to Montgomeryshire Assizes and at the spot now called Llidiart-y-Barwn (Baron's Gate) the road was barred by felled trees. The remnant of the bandits had ambushed him. Flights of arrows came from all sides and Lewis fell with one through his face. The bandits attacked him where he lay and he received more than thirty wounds; and the story goes that the remaining sons of the old woman actually fulfilled her prophecy and dabbed their hands in his blood.
As a footnote to the story - should you visit Dolgellau town square you will see the old ironmongers shop – once home to the Sheriff of Meirionnydd or as we know him from the story ….Baron Lewis Owen.
For modern day adventure in Dinas Mawddwy you could do worse than take a trip from the village to Llanuwchllyn. The unclassified road climbs up through the mountains to cross Bwlch y Groes at its highest point, the highest road pass in Wales. I journeyed in the reverse direction in the late 1960's and I wouldn't fancy doing it again in a motor vehicle....unless they have passing points every 100 yards (the drop at the side of the road is horrendous). However, I would enjoy the downward journey on a mountain bike!
Although the population of Dinas Mawddwy might be small you will receive a big welcome in the village with three hotels in close proximity. The Red Lion has a good old fashioned bar, and the Buckley Arms and the Brigands Inn also offer good beer and good hospitality.