The Coed-y-Brenin Forest, which translates as the Forest of Kings, lies at the heart of the Welsh gold prospecting area and is the oldest and most extensive forest in Wales, containing some spectacular scenery. The forest covers 16,000 acres, (6,480 ha) There are 50 miles of marked tracks, ideal for walking and mountain biking, as well as picnic areas. The forest was renamed from the original Vaughan Forest to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V in 1935.
There are numerous trails through the forest, but best walk is that from the car park to the bridge to the atmospheric waterfalls of Pistyll Cain and Rhaeadr Mawddach, which lie within two hundred yards of each other about half an hour’s walk from Tyn y Simdde.
A number of rivers flow through the forest including the Afon Mawddach and Afon Wen. Coed-y-Brenin’s show trees, are Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga Menziesii) which are known as the ‘King’s Guards’. The Douglas Fir was discovered in 1791, in North America’s Rocky Mountains by Archibald Menzies. The Scottish explorer, David Douglas sent the first seed back to Britain in 1827. The widest tree in the forest is known as ‘the king’ and measures 148 feet (45 metres) high, with a diameter of 39 inches (100cm). The tallest tree at Coed-y-Brenin, ‘the champion’, stands by the Afon Mawddach near Ty’n y Groes stands at a height of 161 feet ( 49 metres) and has a diameter of 32 inches (80cm). Ty’n y Groes has a car park, riverside picnic site, playing field and toilet block.
Snowdonia (Welsh: Eryri) is a region in north Wales and a national park of 838 square miles (2,170 km2) in area. It was the first to be designated of the three National Parks in Wales, in 1951.
The English name for the area derives from Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales at 3,560 ft (1,085 m). In Welsh, the area is named Eryri. One assumption is that the name is derived from eryr (“eagle”), but others state that it means quite simply Highlands, as leading Welsh scholar Sir Ifor Williams proved.
In the Middle Ages the title Prince of Wales and Lord of Snowdonia (Tywysog Cymru ac Arglwydd Eryri) was used by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd; his grandfather Llywelyn Fawr used the title Prince of north Wales and Lord of Snowdonia.
Prior to the designation of the boundaries of the National Park, the term “Snowdonia” was generally used to refer to a much smaller area, namely the upland area of northern Gwynedd centred on the Snowdon massif, whereas the national park covers an area more than twice that size extending far to the south into Meirionnydd. This is apparent in books published prior to 1951 such as the classic travelogue Wild Wales by George Borrow (1862) and The Mountains of Snowdonia by H. Carr & G. Lister (1925). F. J. North, as editor of the book Snowdonia (1949), states “When the Committee delineated provisional boundaries, they included areas some distance beyond Snowdonia proper.” The traditional Snowdonia thus includes the ranges of Snowdon and its satellites, the Glyderau, the Carneddau and the Moel Siabod group. It does not include the hills to the south of Maentwrog. As Eryri (see above), this area has a unique place in Welsh history, tradition and culture.