In the footsteps of the Gwynedd Princes from centuries ago, the A487 winds its way from Dolgellau to Machynlleth.
Nestling beneath the modern road is the picturesque village of Corris, squeezed into a narrow valley flanked by precipitous slopes, thick with gorse, bracken and trees, both broadleaf and coniferous. Tumbling through the valley are the swift waters of the River Dulas joined near an old bridge by an equally turbulent tributary.
Virtually every building in Corris, from foundations to roof, is made from slate, befitting a village whose livelihood from the beginning of the 19th century was the slate industry. Corris and its population, relied heavily on production from Gwynedd’s most southerly slate quarries and on closer inspection of the woodland slopes, the scars of extensive slate workings can be seen.
The Quarried slate was originally transported by horse and cart to the River Dovey for export worldwide, but increased production called for a more efficient means of transport and in 1859 a horse-drawn tramway was opened. For almost a hundred years Corris slate was transported to Machynlleth by rail, the horses being replaced in 1878 by steam powered trains. In 1948 the railway was closed, but today a body of enthusiasts, The Corris Railway Society, has reopened a section of the narrow gauge railway and once again steam and diesel engines trundle through the pretty valley. The village station is also home to an interesting collection of railway and slate mining memorabilia.
The nearby Corris Craft Centre is home to six craftspeople each with their own workshop and retail space to exhibit their wares. Also on the same complex is King Arthur’s Labyrinth, an intriguing journey by underground boat through a waterfall and deep into spectacular caverns to tell the stories of King Arthur and his Welsh connections. The Bard’s Quest, on the same site, is a story-telling maze, which challenges its visitors to search for lost legends.
A short distance further down the valley is the Centre for Alternative Technology. Open to the public since 1975, the centre is a showcase exhibition of sustainable living. On a seven acre site, the centre is run by a charitable community focussing on educating the public in renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmental building, organic growing and alternative sewage systems. The site entry is via an amazing cliff railway, ascending 180ft and powered entirely by water. There is a wide array of exhibits, many of them interactive, an adventure playground, picnic sites, play zones, restaurant and shop. The centre is an enjoyable and educational day out and well worth a visit.
Corris is thought to be a corrupted form of the Irish name Corus, so it is believed the village was probably named after a 7th century itinerant monk. Corris is an ideal base to explore both Southern Snowdonia and further afield. Various footpaths and picnic areas are scattered around the area to enable today’s visitors to be enthralled by the natural beauty of the area, just as Corus was 1400 years ago.