St Tydecho, Mallwyd, Gwynedd: The Red Bandits Walk
Chosen by : Arfon Hughes, local historian and tour leader
Mallwyd church was founded by St Tydecho in the 6th century after his arrival from Cornwall, and rebuilt in the early 17th century by one Dr John Davies, who also rebuilt the rectory and three bridges specifically with the purpose of encouraging his parishioners to attend the church.
Dr Davies lived in turbulent times and the aftermath of the Red Bandits that used to torment locals and travellers alike still haunted the area.
The clash between King and country, Catholicism and Protestantism even reached Mallwyd. Parliamentarian soldiers camped in the new church soon after John Davies passed away and this attack created a stir in the neighbourhood which resulted in a stand off across the river Cleifion next to John Davies’s bridge between the soldiers and a throng of local inhabitants keen to stop the soldiers from passing through.
Local historian and tour leader Arfon Hughes knows the area well, and his favourite walk starts at the iconic Brigands Inn in Mallwyd. The full loop walk is 8 miles, but shorter lengths can easily be done, starting from the old pack horse road from Mallwyd and along the Cambrian Way up through Cwm Dugoed, The Black Woods where the Red Bandits had their lair.
The circular walk takes in magnificent views of the dense wooded valley, the tump where reputedly 80 bandits were hung and buried later in a nearby field called Rhos Goch. The walk takes a south easterly direction and comes back on itself on the Llanbrynmair to Mallwyd road where you can see buzzards, red kites, and pheasants in abundance. You will be crossing from Gwynedd to Powys and back again and you will appreciate the difficulty of navigating through this area in days gone by and even today!
The route carries on down the Clywedog river valley and passes the independent chapel at Pen-Rhiw-Cul and nearby site of the Red Bandits hideout, until the walk nears Mallwyd where you can still see the old singled arch moss covered bridge of John Davies before entering the village of Mallwyd and the Brigands Inn once again.