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A Walk around Betws-y-coed and Llyn Elsi

By Dave Roberts   

on November 3, 2019    No ratings yet.

A Walk around Betws-y-coed and Llyn Elsi

Further Details

Route Summary:

A pleasant walk exploring the countryside surrounding Betws-y-coed including Llyn Elsi and Miner’s Bridge

Route Start Location: Start from behind St Mary's Church at Betws y Coed

8.75 km 366 m 3 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Easy Moderate Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Pubs, Cafes and shops in Betws-y-coed


The Miner’s Bridge was washed away during storms in February 2020. It should be easy enough to divert around by following the path or minor road on the north side of the river, or the main road into ByC on the south side.

Be aware of tree felling. Footbridge on lower section of Sarn Helen currently unsafe – use suggested diversion above. No diversion provided by the council or National Park on the ground

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking :

Plenty around the village, but it can fill up quickly.

Public Transport:

Betws-y-coed is served by a railway station and bus services.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


A Walk around Betws-y-coed and Llyn Elsi Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

A Walk around Betws-y-coed and Llyn Elsi

If you’re looking for a half day’s walk from Betws-y-coed that’s not too difficult, then a walk up to Llyn Elsi returning via Sarn Helen, the Miner’s Bridge and the Afon Llugwy is one of your best options. An easier option is the Llyn Elsi Way Marked Trail, which this walk follows to some degree.

Walk around Betws-y-coed and Llyn Elsi Route Description

1 The walk starts from St Mary’s Church or the Royal Oak Hotel in Betws-y-coed. Follow the lane uphill past the church where you’ll find a signpost for the Llyn Elsi Trail The path is good, but steep for the initial section. It’s around 700m in length but climbs 140m in that short distance.

2 Depending how fast you walk – after around 20 minutes you’ll reach a junction with a footpath to your right. You can identify it as the only right hand junction and immediately crosses a footbridge before climbing steeply up the hillside. This well-built path zig zags its way up around 70m of woodland, including going under a tree, before arriving at the derelict cottage of Gartheryr for which the path was clearly the access at one point. It would certainly have been a beautiful place to live from our perspective, but in reality, was remote and would no doubt have been a hard life for its occupants. The forestry has since blocked out most of the view and rhododendrons obscure most of the building, making it difficult to even visualise it. There’s a flat-topped wall here that’s perfect if you need a quick rest.

3 From Gartheryr, the walk becomes easier as the climbing is all but done. The path continues through shrubby woodland, wet in places. The path crosses two forestry tracks on the way to Llyn Elsi, with the path crossing directly across. After crossing the second forestry path, the views finally open out across Llyn Elsi and towards Moel SIabod before arriving at the Ancaster Monument.

At the monument, you can sit awhile on one of the benches and appreciate the view. The works to create Llyn Elsi from two previous lakes (Llyn Enoc and Rhisgog)  was competed in 1914, however it’s unclear when Llyn Elsi was actually created as Ordnance Survey maps published in 1899 show the lake much as it appears today and we couldn’t find any historical maps that show the previous lakes.

Llwybr Llyn Elsi Trail Walk from Betws-y-coed
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

4 From the monument, follow the good track clockwise around Llyn Elsi. However, it’s up to you if you’d prefer to follow the white markers and follow the Llyn Elsi Trail around as you end up back at the memorial whichever route you take. The trail joins a forestry track after 300m, which you need to stay on for another 600m before taking the path junction right. You can tell you’re going on the right path by finding the white way markers that point in the opposite direction.

5 The well-built path continues through low woodland, widening to a forestry track. Keep an eye out for the path junction right which is easy to miss. Again, there’s a way mark here but is only obvious for those walking in the opposite direction! The path crosses a footbridge as it now joins the lake’s shore proper and you finally feel like you’re walking around a lake! This section is shorter than you’d like it to be as the path brings you to some wooden steps and the dam just below the monument from step 3 above.

6 From the dam, take the path left which immediately joins a forestry track. Continue on this track for 1.5km until it crosses the Sarn Helen Roman road.

7 Turn right down Sarn Helen, which is a rough sunken track by now. It’s fared better than many similar tracks, and while the stones are loose, the track remains reasonably level. You can keep on Sarn Helen until you reach the white cottage at SH776 565, or you can take a short diversion on a track that takes a sharp left over an ancient bridge and an interesting diversion down via woodland and joining a track where you turn right over a bridge to rejoin Sarn Helen at the white cottage. NOTE – you’ll need to turn left at the track if following the safe diversion suggested in 8 below.

8 At this point you can continue along Sarn Helen, but there’s an unsafe footbridge half way down. There is a ‘road closed’ sign on the Sarn Helen, but as a pedestrian one can only assume this is to deter 4×4 drivers. However, it is currently technically closed and no diversion offered to the walker as you’d find on a road, emphasising clearly the second class status of the pedestrian.

To divert around, you need to turn left on the track over the bridge and after 500m, a sharp right to emerge out at Pentre Du and the shock of the A5.

9 Crossing the A5, there’s an obvious track ahead that leads to the Miner’s Bridge over the Llugwy. Climb the bridge (yes, climb) and then you can follow the footpath right along the riverbank to Betws-y-coed. Note that there’s a diversion in place at Miner’s Bridge if the river is in spate. Both routes are marked by blue way-markers.

10 On reaching Betws-y-coed, follow the road ahead and over the bridge of Pont-y-Pair before turning left at the A5 to return to the start.

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.
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