Strenuous Leader: Andrew Mayer Distance: approx. 10 miles Height: 950 ft
The walk heads out away from the car park towards Miners Bridge and follows the path towards the National Park. There is a continuous steady climb for about 1 mile through woods and sometimes on a rough path to a height of 780 ft. We stop for a quick break then continue towards the Gwydir Castle and onto Hafna mine where we stop for lunch. Onwards and upwards towards Outdoor Centre where we can enjoy the views over the valley etc. We continue downwards to join the path by the river which takes us back to Betws y Coed and a well earned drink.
Moderate Leader: Jackie Gudgeon Distance: About 9 miles
We will leave the coach as near to the crossroads at Capel Curig as possible (where there are toilets). We then follow a rising footpath across open country to Llyn Crafnant. From here we take a footpath uphill through woodland to reach the southern edge of Llyn Geirionydd from where we follow lanes to reach Ty-hyll (Ugly House) on the main A5 road. A rugged but pleasant walk follows along the River Llugwy back to Betws y Coed (passing a free viewpoint of Swallow Falls along the way).
Fairly good tracks, although there is sure to be some boggy bits), woodland, lanes, and riverside.
Leisurely Leader: Derek Lee Distance: 6.5 miles (or less!)
For the first 1.5 miles, we climb steadily (occasionally it is rather steep) gaining 650 ft in height, northwards from the town, through woods and passing several derelict mines, to the dam at the south end of Llyn y Parc. After that achievement, we can relax with a mostly level 1.5 mile circuit around the plateau, including woodland tracks and all the eastern shoreline of Llyn y Parc, returning to the dam for lunch at the picnic site thoughtfully provided for us. For the third 3.5 mile leg of this walk, we turn west across the plateau, reasonably flat for 1.5 miles, before dropping down through woodland to Miners Bridge and the riverside path back to the teashops. Once we have managed the initial climb, we have the opportunity to shorten the walk if necessary by selecting from the three legs of the walk.
Easy Leader: Philomena Walker Distance: About 4 miles
Leaving Betws y Coed and taking path through woods, and also along the road, before crossing a bridge at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre by Ugly House. We then follow the curves of the River Llugwy, enjoying the scenery, back to Betws y Coed.
Notes On The Area
Betws y Coed, the name meaning “the oratory in the forest”, is situated in the heart of the great Gwydir Forest which is in the Snowdonia National Park. It is the meeting place of three valleys, the Conwy, Llugwy and Lledr. Because of the scenic beauty of the area, it attracts many visitors each year.
There are picturesque glens and falls, the most famous being the Swallow Falls, the falls at the Miners Bridge and those at Pont-y-Pair. Betws y Coed was made famous by the Birmingham watercolourist, David Cox, and the sign he painted for the Royal Oak Hotel has for many years been preserved within the building.
Betws y Coed has several bridges, the Pont-y-Pair (Bridge of the Cauldron) a rugged five-arch bridge over the Llugwy; a suspension footbridge hidden behind the old church; and Telford’s cast iron Waterloo Bridge, taking the A5 road over the River Conwy.
Lead mining was carried on in the area from the mid-19th century until World War I when lead from the United States and elsewhere put Welsh lead out of business.
The 14th century ‘Old church’ of St Michael & All Angels is situated behind the railway station. In it’s nave lies the effigy of Gruffyd ap Dafydd, the great nephew of Llwellyn the Last, who fought in the wars of Edward III and the Black Prince.
The Miners’ Bridge over the Llugwy is inclined as a ladder from one bank to the other at an angle of about 30 degrees to the horizontal. The bridge originally served as a convenient route for miners living nearby at Pentre-du, south of the river, to reach their work in the lead mines situated on the higher ground to the north. The present bridge was erected about 1983 and is the fifth or sixth on the site.
A survey in 1975 showed that the Swallow Falls were visited by about 690,000 people annually. The majority of visitors approach the Falls from the road on the south side, where a car park has been provided, paying a fee for the privilege. The Falls can also be viewed from the north bank free of charge, using the public right of way; here the view is admittedly poorer but the walking much more exciting.
Some of the trails in the extensive forestry both north and south of Betws y Coed are open for ramblers, and we should be able to find decent walks today for all of us! Betws y Coed itself has cafes and gift shops as well as attractive stretches of river and waterfalls.