Gwydir Forest Park - Betws-y-coed

What's here

All trails leading from this car park will be closed on Saturday 30th October due to the Cambrian Rally. Please be aware there will be road closures and no access to some other areas in Gwydir Forest Park. The Llyn Elsi Walk remains open.

 

The boardwalk on the Coed Tan Dinas Trail will be closed from 2 November for repairs.

 

Some orienteering control posts are not accessible - please follow all signage and instructions on site.

Welcome

Gwydir Forest Park surrounds Betws-y-coed, one of the prettiest villages in Snowdonia National Park.

Our waymarked walking trails set off from the village and include an easy boardwalk stroll, steep climbs up forested hillsides with far-reaching views, and walks around beautiful lakes.

Look out for our information panels in Pont y Pair car park or buy a walking guide from the Snowdonia National Park Information Centre in the village centre.

The permanent orienteering courses through Gwydir Forest Park begin just outside Betws-y-coed.

Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trails.

The walking trails start from the Pont y Pair car park in the centre of Betws-y-coed (apart from the Llyn Elsi Walk which starts behind St Mary’s Church).

Find out about walking trail grades.

Coed Tan Dinas Walk

  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: ¾ mile/1.2 kilometres
  • Total climb: 20 metres
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Trail information: Start the trail opposite the Pont y Pair car park along a boardwalk, 1.5 metres wide, meandering through the giant Douglas Fir trees parallel to the Afon Llugwy, until you reach a riverside picnic area. The trail gradually climbs through the woods before descending to retrace the route back along the boardwalk to the car park.

Take this short, easy walk, under tall and majestic Douglas fir trees - some are up to 100 years old.

Find the signs along the trail to discover facts about the trees.

You can also pick up a leaflet at the start of the path for the Animal Discovery Trail or you can download a copy from the bottom of this page.

Cyrau Walk

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 1½ miles/2.5 kilometres
  • Total climb: 135 metres
  • Time: 1½ hours
  • Trail information: The Cyrau Walk starts from Pont y Pair car park. This is a circular route on a combination of forest roads and a steep narrow footpath, less than 50 centimetres wide in some places, on an unmade and uneven surface, where you can expect mud, rocks and tree roots. There are a number of unfenced cliff edge viewpoints which are signposted. This short trail ascends and descends steeply in places, making this walk a great work-out for your legs and your lungs. There are no benches on the trail.

Leave the bustle of Betws-y-coed on this walk with a stunning view over the town after taking a winding path through majestic Douglas firs.

Despite being high above the town, you can sometimes hear cars passing below.

Many decades ago, the background noise would have been very different: the clatter of work from the surrounding mines as mining was a big industry in this area.

Pen yr Allt Walk

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 4½ miles/7.1 kilometres
  • Total climb: 357 metres
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Trail information: The Pen yr Allt Walk starts from the Pont y Pair car park. This is a circular route which follows a series of forest roads and steep narrow footpaths, 70 centimetres to 1 metre wide, on an unmade and uneven surface, where you can expect mud, rocks and tree roots. There are a number of sets of steps both on ascent and descent, a number of stiles, and two kissing gates. There are two benches on the trail allowing you to get your breath back on this mini-mountain walk.

From mountains to rivers and meadows - discover this walk full of variety.

It has something to suit all tastes with shady fir forest, upland meadows, abandoned mines, a ravine-top path and a stretch along the river.

There are also breathtaking mountain views of the distinctive Moel Siabod.

It returns along the River Llugwy where there is a diversion if the path has become flooded after a lot of rain.

Llyn Parc Walk

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 6½ miles/10.6 kilometres
  • Total climb: 500 metres
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • Trail information: The Llyn Parc Walk starts from the Pont y Pair car park. The trail follows a combination of forest roads, and steep narrow footpaths less than 80 centimetres wide in some places, on an unmade and uneven surface, where you can expect mud, rocks and tree roots. There is a bench at the southern end of Llyn Parc, a bench and picnic bench at the Bowling Green, and a bench next to the Oak Towers sculpture.

Enjoy lake views, a vista over Llanrwst, and some forest artworks.

Follow the waymarkers on a steadily ascending trail to Llyn Parc lake.

Continue on along a forest road that takes you high above the Conwy Valley with beautiful views towards the town of Llanrwst.

The return journey meanders along the bank of Llyn Parc, a natural lake that was dammed to power mining machinery in the Aberllyn gorge.

From here follow the water down through the gorge, past several mine entrances and back into the bustle of Betws-y-coed.

Llyn Elsi Walk

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 4 miles/6.2 kilometres
  • Total climb: 230 metres
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Trail information: The Llyn Elsi Walk starts on the forest road behind St Mary’s Church in the centre of Betws-y-coed. The trail rises and descends steeply from the village and follows a combination of forest roads and narrower footpaths, less than 100 centimetres wide in some places, on an unmade and uneven surface, where you can expect mud, rocks and tree roots. There are numerous benches and perches on the steep ascent from Betws-y-coed, and several benches positioned around the lake.

Leave the bustle of Betws-y-coed to discover a tranquil and scenic lake.

The scenery, wildlife and peaceful atmosphere as you walk around Llyn Elsi are really worth the hike up from the village.

Follow the path around the lake as it cuts in and out from the water’s edge until you join the main path to re-trace your steps back to Betws-y-coed.

Orienteering courses

Test your map-reading skills by navigating between wooden marker posts on one of the permanent orienteering courses in Gwydir Forest Park.

The courses begin just outside Betws-y-coed and finish in the centre of the village. 

All three routes are graded to British Orienteering Federation standards and were designed by Eryri Orienteers.

Orange Course 

  • Grade: Medium
  • Suitable for: Beginners who can understand a map
  • Distance: 2.1 kilometres

The Orange Course has medium navigational difficulty and 10 controls.

Green Course

  • Grade: Very hard
  • Suitable for: Experienced orienteers
  • Distance: 4.5 kilometres

The Green Course requires technically difficult navigation and has 16 controls.

Blue Course

  • Grade: Very hard
  • Suitable for: Experienced orienteers
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometres

The Blue Course requires technically difficult navigation and has 16 controls.

How to follow the orienteering courses

  • Download the maps and instructions (see below) and print at home. Or buy an A3 sized version of the map, printed on waterproof paper at a scale of 1:7,500, from the Snowdonia National Park Information Centre or Cotswolds Outdoor Shop in Betws-y-coed
  • Pick your course and navigate between the "controls" (wooden marker posts)
  • Complete the course in your own time
  • Check your answers against the answer sheet provided with your map or downloaded from this page

To reach the starting point, follow the minor road (Ffordd Craiglan) alongside Cotswolds Rock Bottom outlet out of Betws-y-coed to a lay-by (OS grid reference SH 795 559) on the left after around 150 metres – look out for the sign at the side of the road.

Gwydir Forest Park

Gwydir Forest Park lies in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park and encircles the village of Betws-y-coed.

Lead and zinc mining once dominated the area and the legacy of old engine-houses, waste tips and reservoirs are characteristic features of the forest landscape today.

Several of the most important mines have been partially restored and made safe for visitors.

In addition to the walks from Betws-y-coed, waymarked trails start from several other Natural Resources Wales car parks in Gwydir Forest Park:

  • Cae'n y Coed - easy-to-find picnic area and walk with panoramic mountain views
  • Cyffty Mine - short trail around abandoned lead mine
  • Dolwyddelan - views of Snowdonia’s peaks on walking trail along Roman road
  • Hafna - walking trail through lead mine ruins and red-graded mountain bike trail
  • Llyn Crafnant - walking trails around the lake and accessible riverside trail
  • Llyn Geirionydd - picnic site with walking trail around two beautiful lakes
  • Llyn Sarnau - picnic spot with a walk to two scenic lakes
  • Sawbench - two red-graded mountain bike trails and historical walk
  • Ty’n Llwyn – walking trail to the famous Swallow Falls waterfall

National Forest for Wales

Gwydir Forest Park forms part of the National Forest for Wales.

The National Forest will:

  • create areas of new woodland
  • enhance existing woodlands
  • restore Wales’ irreplaceable ancient woodlands.

In time it will form a connected ecological network running throughout Wales, bringing social, economic and environmental benefits.

For more information about the National Forest for Wales go to the Welsh Government website.

Closures and diversions

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or forest operations
  • Occasionally we may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff
  • Please always follow any instructions onsite and make sure you follow any temporary diversion signs in place

How to get here

Location

Betws-y-coed is located at the junction of the A5 and the A470, 5 miles south of Llanrwst.

It is in the county of Conwy.

Ordnance Survey map

Betws-y-coed is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map OL 17.

The OS grid reference is SH 791 567 (Pont y Pair car park).

Directions

The walking trails start from the Pont y Pair car park in Betws-y-coed (except the Llyn Elsi Trail).

Follow the A5 through Betws-y-coed village centre and turn onto the B5106 signposted to Trefriw.

Go over a stone bridge and turn immediately left onto a minor road and after 50 metres the Pont y Pair car park is on the right.

The Llyn Elsi Trail starts behind St Mary’s Church in the centre of Betws-y-coed, five minutes walk from Pont y Pair car park.

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Betws-y-coed.

For details of public transport go to the Traveline Cymru website.

Parking

Pont y Pair car park is operated by Conwy County Borough Council.

There is a parking charge.

The public toilets in the car park are managed by Conwy County Borough Council and there is a charge to use them.

Contact details

0300 065 3000

enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk 

Other places in North West Wales

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