Historic Landscape Characterisation

Mawddach - Area 3 Wooded hill-slopes, north side of Mawddach (PRN 18333)



Historic background

The most significant features of this area are the two Registered Gardens just outside Barmouth, at the western end of the area, Panorama Walk and Glan-y-Mawddach house.

Panorama Walk is a grade II Registered Park and Garden (PG (Gd) 26 (GWY)), which comprises a well-made and well-preserved late Victorian footpath created to take advantage of the dramatic natural scenery around Barmouth; it has superb views and formerly incorporated a tea room and 'pleasure grounds'.

The history of Panorama Walk is not well known, but the Revd. Fred Ricketts, who was very active in promoting and developing Barmouth as a seaside resort in the early years of the last century, is said to have laid out the 'pleasure grounds' near the cafe, and may have been instrumental in the development of the walk. The route is, however, based on older roads and footpaths. It is a well constructed path designed to make an area with superb picturesque views accessible to most people. (In the early 1880s, a penny was charged by Mr Davies of the Corsygedol Hotel for entry via a toll-wicket' gate, causing people to grumble and write to the papers to complain.)

The area was known as 'Panorama Pleasure Grounds', and there was a view from the tea room, as well as higher up, although there is no record of there being actual gardens. Any planting must have been ephemeral as there is nothing on the site today which does not appear to be natural (apart from a few conifers on the knoll behind the site of the tea room). However, the young woodland which now clothes the site obviously post-dates the period of the walk's greatest popularity, and before it became established there would have been spectacular views over the estuary along almost the whole length of the path from the tea room to the high viewpoint. Now the woodland extends over the hillside both above and below the site of the tea room, and to obtain a good prospect one must go further along the path towards the viewpoint. There are now no traces of seats near the tea room site (early photographs show wooden benches outside the shack).

More generally-speaking, on either side of the northern part of the unclassified road there is older, planted deciduous woodland interspersed with fields, which forms part of the Glan-y-Mawddach estate. The western part of the unclassified road, leading from the minor road from Barmouth, is through open country, basically grassland with some bracken, trees and scrub. After the footpath leaves the woods and comes out to the higher ground with the viewpoint there is heath vegetation, with a little bracken at first, then heather, gorse, bilberry and grasses.

Immediately below this, Glan-y-Mawddach is a grade II* Registered Park and Garden (PGW (Gd) 62 (GWY)) comprising an exceptionally interesting formal and woodland Edwardian garden in an outstanding position on the Mawddach estuary. The garden contains unusual secret compartments, each one of a different character, all linked by an intricate network of paths. It is also very richly planted with trees, evergreen shrubs and hedges, the rhododendrons and azaleas giving a spectacular display. Glan-y-Mawddach house was built in the second decade of the nineteenth century and was altered and extended in the late nineteenth - early twentieth century. The garden was developed by Mrs Keithley in the early years of the twentieth century between 1900 and 1914.

Beyond these gardens, the (undated but mid-19th-century) Llanaber tithe map shows that the majority of enclosures were then much as they are today, larger on the wooded slopes and hill tops with smaller fields in the low-lying areas.

Other major mid-19th century houses here, all set along the frontage of the Mawddach and signifying the importance of the area at that time include Coesfaen Hall (built 1844), with its distinctive clock tower which gives it the appearance of a fairy-tale castle, easily visible from Barmouth, and Glandwr Hall (built c. 1840) further east.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Parks and gardens, 19th century mansions', wooded hill slopes, views

The wooded slopes which extend along the (northern and southern) banks of the Mawddach estuary (see also areas 06, 07, 12 and 25) are a mixture of deciduous semi-natural woodland and modern (20th century) conifer plantation. The slopes are, in most areas, so steep as to disallow evidence of human habitation. Behind these slopes, the hills and valleys north-east of Barmouth were the centre of several gold-rushes' in the mid and late 19th century, and some of the mines contain important ranges of surviving industrial archaeological features. The banks of the estuary itself are lined with mid 19th-century mansions' and gardens which are now flourishing, having reached maturity.

Back to Mawddach Landscape Character Map



Visit our social network sites
Ymwelwch a'n safleoedd rhwydwaith cymdeithasol