“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.” Henry David Thoreau
Some of you may know that I have recently damaged the ligaments in my right leg, not sure how and only know roughly when! The doctor recommended I rest, something I struggle with and for some reason I think everything can be fixed with a walk and fresh air. So knowing there was no way I could hike the coastal path and still wanting to be in Wales, I decided to tick a few things off my list of places/things to see/do in Betws Y Coed, including visiting Swallow Falls. There is a lot (as normal) of unnecessary images in this post, could have probably written the post in five pictures, instead I opted for something ridiculous like 25 photos! Good luck! 🙂
Starting the walk at the far end of Pont y Pair, next door to the Cunninghams outdoor store, the route is clear to follow. Head towards the Afon Llygwy and the good wide path along the bank. The initial section follows the way-marked Coed Tan Dinas track, with clear red arrows denoting the way. The first section continues through the woodland, with an area of boardwalk making the going fast and easy.
Beyond the woodland, the track enters open farmland along the river bank. There are some rather large warning signs here against letting dogs off the leash, which are distracting but it’s unfortunate that such obtrusive signage is deemed required. Continue along the riverside for another 0.6km until you re-enter the woodland.
Rocky road, obviously for energy!
Continue on a muddy path into the woodland, with the going a bit slower over all the tree roots. The path is now way-marked in blue as you join the Pen yr Allt Trail for a short distance. This now brings you up towards the famous Miner’s Bridge. Don’t cross the bridge, but instead head up the steep path to the right to join the minor road. This is the only really steep section of the entire walk.
Continue on the minor road for around 1km, ensuring you don’t get tempted by the numerous minor paths that venture off down left. While it’s possible to avoid much of the minor road, do so at your own risk as the path is narrow and slippery in places, especially towards the far end.
After 1km a wide track heads off left, take this track which soon becomes a good path. Keep your eyes peeled for a yellow way-marker as you now join the Swallow Falls Trail, which starts on a minor road near Llyn Sarnau. That makes a great alternative route, but the starting point is on narrow roads which might not suit all. The trail continues high above the Afon Llygwy, and with a sheer drop to your left. Fortunately, there’s a fence to keep you safe, but we wouldn’t trust it with your weight. It’s not immediately apparent, as the trees block the view, but this final section is along a ledge half way up a cliff – so make sure you also look up!
Finally – you’ll arrive at a set of wooden steps which take you down to the viewing area and a seat. It’s worth taking some time to enjoy the view, considering the effort taken to reach here. On the opposite side of the river, the tourists from the A5 flock to see the falls, with your view guaranteed to be quieter.
I can’t tell you how many times I nearly slipped on my arse, in the end I just walked through the river in my trainers.
The history bit…. In 1913 the Swallow Falls was given to the Betws-y-Coed council by the second Lord Ancaster. The council were more than pleased to accept it for they had incurred a debt of £15,000 through the installation of water and electricity supplies to the village, and it was anticipated that by charging to view the waterfall at close hand, it would provide a source of income to help pay off the debt. Over the years it certainly did. Once the debt was cleared the parish retained the waterfall as a source of income until 1974 when Local Government Reorganisation reduced the status of the parish council. But what an interlude that proved to be! An interlude when Betws-y-Coed was in the enviable position of being the only parish in Wales where its residents paid the lowest rates in the country!
What is wrong with me!
“I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall.” Mike May
“Have you ever stood where a stream spills into a river? The two become one. They laugh over the stones together, twist through the sharp canyons together, plunge down the waterfalls together. It is the same when a man and woman love one another. It is not always a pleasant thing, but when it happens, a man has little to say about it. Women, like streams, can be smooth one minute and make a man feel like he’s swimming through white water the next” .Catherine Anderson
The walk is only short and its nice but its not worth going out of your way for. If you happen to be in Betws Y Coed then great enjoy the walk if not its not really worth the trip out!