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Swallow Falls Walk from Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed

By Dave Roberts   

on March 1, 2019    No ratings yet.

Swallow Falls Walk from Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed

Further Details

Route Summary:

An interesting circuit that starts from the Llyn Sarnau Car Park, then descends to follow the Afon Llugwy past the honeypot of the Swallow Falls before reascending through the Gwydyr Forest to your starting point.

Route Start Location: Llyn Sarnau picnic site or Betws-y-coed

12.12 km 454 m 3 hours

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

Activivity Type: Easy Moderate Walk, Trail or Fell Runs

Summits and Places on this Route


None at start, but the route includes an optional diversion into Betws-y-coed.


The riverside path parallel to the road is hazardous in places, but perfectly passable with care. Sections of riverside path can be flooded when the river is in spate.

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 :

Llyn Sarnau picnic site provides limited free parking.

Public Transport:

Snowdon Sherpa buses pass Ty Hyll /  Ugly House and Betws-y-coed ,with ByC making a better option for this walk if using public transport.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


Swallow Falls Walk from Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Swallow Falls Walk from Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed

Rhaeadr Ewynnol, or Swallow Falls in English, is one of the most popular landmarks in North Wales. That’s not surprising considering that it can be visited by the masses directly from the A5 road, near the Swallow Falls Hotel. Those of you looking for a more satisfying outing could follow this route from either Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed that takes in some of the footpaths of the Gwydyr Forest in a half day’s circular walk.

Swallow Falls Walk from Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed Route Description

1 From the Llyn Sarnau picnic area, take the forestry track right, passing Llyn Sarnau after a few 100m. There’s a good view towards Moel Siabod here on a clear day. Continue descending on the forestry track, avoiding taking any of the paths/tracks to either side. The track we’re on is the obvious one, and navigation shouldn’t be a problem. Once the track reaches an obvious junction at SH781 586, take the track that descends to the right. This descends steeply, in a number of hair-pin bends.

2 The track now passes some mining remains, and joins the route of the Pen yr Allt waymarked trail. This is clearly marked in blue and can now be followed with ease down towards Betws-y-coed. It continues along the forestry track before taking a right hand footpath through open farmland and around the shoulder of a hill before descending past the remote farm at Diosgydd-uchaf. The track descends back into the woodlands before levelling off into a pleasant track.

3 Once the track reaches the minor road, you can follow the blue way-marks and descend towards the Afon Llygwy, or just turn left on the road into Betws-y-coed. This section is optional, and those wishing to can turn right at the minor road and continue directly to the Swallow Falls.

4 Descend to the Miner’s Bridge and either follow the footpath along the Afon Llygwy towards Betws-y-coed or the blue way-markers that take a higher route and join the country lane for the final section to Pont y Pair.  Return along the river bank, following the red way-markers initially, with the terrain varying between woodland, open farmland and finally woodland as you reach the Miner’s Bridge again.

5 From Miner’s Bridge, ascend the slope on the steep path to the minor road where you turn left. Continue on the lane for around 1km before taking a track left. You can alternatively drop from the lane to follow a narrow footpath that takes a more interesting route, but this is narrow and needs care in places.

6 Follow the track, which soon joins a footpath way-marked now in yellow. This is the Swallow Falls Trail that can now be followed easily for most of the remaining distance. The first section brings you along a narrow ledge high above the Llygwy, and to the Swallow Falls viewing platform. Allow some time here, but it can be busy in peak periods and the space is rather limited. Those wanting to stop for lunch would be best continuing on the route to a flat area above the falls.

7 From the viewing platform, continue following the yellow way-markers as the trail follows a forestry track before leaving this to pull steeply up the hillside on a good trail. This crosses one of the mountain bike trails, so keep an eye for mountain bikes on this section.

8 The Swallow Falls Trail finishes at the Ty’n Llwyn viewpoint. This is a good point to stop, if a bit close to the end of the walk. However, there’s an excellent view from here. To return to the start, take the minor road right and follow this to Llyn Sarnau. Continue past a junction where a road descends steeply right (this is the road to Betws-y-coed) and at the next junction, continue ahead (rather than left – this is to Llyn Geirionnydd). Llyn Sarnau is around 1km from here.

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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3 thoughts on “Swallow Falls Walk from Llyn Sarnau or Betws-y-coed”

  1. What a great walk this is – did it after some foul weather forecast for the mountains. Interesting throughout and possible to hang out in Betws for a coffee as well!

    1. Funny that – looking like foul weather end of the week (for the two days I’ve free rein/rain) and this looks like one of the walks i might take! At least the falls might look their best! I’m yet to walk these in the summer, always a winter plan b for me, but think that i might be missing out.

  2. Cracking walk, thank you for the route. GPX worked perfectly. Route is a nice mix of woods and river. Took our two daughters (9 and 12). Nicely tired by the end.

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