Dolgellau (dol-geth-lye) is a charming little market town, steeped in history and boasting the highest concentration of heritage-listed buildings in Wales (more than 200). The county town of now-vanished Merionethshire, it was a regional centre for Wales’ prosperous wool industry in the 18th and early 19th centuries and many of its finest buildings, sturdy and unadorned, were built at that time. Local mills failed to keep pace with mass mechanisation, however, and decline set in – preserving the town centre much as it was then.
The region bounced back when the Romantic Revival made Wales' wild landscapes popular with genteel travellers. There was also a minor gold rush in the 19th century. Famous for its pink tinge, Dolgellau gold became associated with royalty and the gold for the wedding rings of the current crop of senior royals was mined here. Today Dolgellau relies heavily on tourism, especially walkers.