Llyn Elsi is a scenic mountain lake that’s barely an hour’s walk from Betws y Coed, and that’s taking it easy. You can also reach the lake by following the Llyn Elsi Trail from near the back of the Royal Oak hotel, or extend this route by walking around the lake in it’s entirety by following the while waymarkers. It would make a decent trail run, but take the Jubilee Path if you don’t like your routes muddy!
The route starts at a bus stop between Pentre Du and the start of the shops towards Capel Curig.
1 There’s an obvious gap in the wall where the path starts off steeply on concrete steps. This soon gives way to a proper footpath up through the forest. Cross the first forestry track you reach, following the footpath arrow, and continue to climb steadily. There are a number of narrow streams to cross as well.
2 At the second forestry track, you can turn left to find the Jubilee Path. We decided to cross the forestry track and took the footpath there. This isn’t marked on the maps and provided good but rather rough going! There are a couple of places where you need to clamber underneath a tree or two, but nothing difficult. It is sometimes unclear where the path is leading you, but it finds the easiest route up to the higher ground and a forestry track at SH788 563.
3 Turn left up the forestry track, which meets the Jubilee Path in a couple of 100m. Turn right along this footpath rather than continuing along the forestry track, and the views soon open out to your right towards the Carneddau and Moel Siabod. This track ends in a small car park (not for the public!) and the dam and Llyn Elsi is just along a path to the left. There’s a tiny name nailed onto one of the nearby trees.
4 A path continues to your left under the diminutive dam, and pulls up to the Monument to the building of the dams in 1914, and the highpoint of the walk. The view over the lake and the shire-like islands is impressive, as well as towards Moel Siabod, the Glyderau and Carneddau. It was also particularly windy today, so while it would make a fine lunch stop with the pair of benches, we headed on.
5 An easy track follows the eastern shore of the lake, which this route follows as far as the dam at the southern end of the lake. We turned left on a footpath waymarked with yellow tape (with the Llyn Elsi Trail around the lake marked in white) which you only need to follow for 100m before veering left rather than following the yellow tape waymarkers downhill.
6 You’ll pass the old farm of Llanerch Elsi, which would surely have been an impressive residence in its time but is a rapidly deteriorating ruin despite being Grade II listed and is fenced off. Continue on the footpath, reaching a forestry trail after around 200m.
7 Continue on the forestry track, ignoring the first junction, until you arrive at a crossroads of sorts at SH788 548. We continued directly across the track along a slightly overgrown path that could be borderline bushwhacking in the summer. An easier option is to turn left at the crossroads along a forestry road.
8 The slightly overgrown footpath comes out onto an easier track just above the farm of Mynydd-bychan. Turn left on the track, which has some blue waymarkers for the Clogwyn y Gigfran path, which can now be followed all the way into Betws y Coed along easy tracks and trails.
9 The path emerges just behind the Royal Oak, which makes a fitting end to the walk. You only then need to follow the main road through Betws y Coed to the starting point.betws-y-coed Conwy Gwydyr Forest