Walks in North Wales with Waterfalls
Autumn is upon us and the best time of the year to undertake a walk to one of the many waterfalls in North Wales. Waterfalls are often at their best this time of year, and as most waterfalls are found in woodland, you’ve also got the autumn colours to make things even more spectacular. Of course, the very best time is when they’re frozen over, but that’s so few and far between that we’ll take what we’re given. Some of these walks involve a lengthy walk, sometimes up a mountain and even a couple that are found on a Long Distance Footpath. Others can be reached in a stroll from a nearby car park, and may be coupled with a longer walk for a day out.
We’re not going to get obsessed with the highest, especially as defining it can be difficult. One reliable source states that the Devil’s Appendix in Twll Du (Devil’s Kitchen) is the highest single fall waterfall in Wales, rather than the often quoted Rhaeadr Fawr. So we’re not even going to go there!
So these may or may not be the highest falls in Wales, or even in North Wales, but are well known as well as being mostly spectacular or scenic or may even be a series of smaller falls that are often ignored. It’s likely that we’ve missed some of these out – we’d still be writing this if we included them all.
Height Gained – 150 metres, Distance – 4 km, Time –2 hours.
Rhaeadr Fawr, or Aber Falls, is one of the most famous waterfalls in Wales. It is reached by an easy path of a couple of kilometres that’s suitable for pushchairs and on a reasonably easy gradient.
Height Gained – 630 metres, Distance – 8.3 km, Time –5 hours.
Pistyll Rhaeadr is best enjoyed on this walk up into the Berwyn Hills, can also be walked as an easy walk. It’s often mistakenly noted to be the highest in Wales, but that’s the Devil’s Appendix in Twll Du (Devil’s Kitchen) near Ogwen which can be difficult to walk to so you can actually see it, so not included in the list. Highest or not, it’s still one of the most beautiful sights and worth the visit. There’s a cafe and a campsite at the start of the route.
Height Gained – 50 metres, Distance – 1km, Time –30 min.
Many visitors are surprised to find this waterfall, which is very well known to the locals in the area, which is well hidden on the outskirts of Llanberis. More surprisingly is that this walk and the Llanberis Path up Snowdon both start at exactly the same spot – and we know which one will be the busiest!
Height Gained – 350 metres, Distance – 9 km, Time – 3 hours.
These falls on the Llygwy near Betws-y-coed are one of the most popular visitor attractions in Snowdonia. Yes, the term visitor attraction fills us with a cold dread as well. While the hordes can pay (yes, pay) to visit the falls from the southern bank from the A5 – the more discerning can walk to the falls from Betws-y-coed, Llyn Sarnau or Ty Hyll. This proximity to the A5, a superhighway in it’s time, and Betws-y-coed has contributed significantly to their popularity.
Height Gained – 1000 metres, Distance – 12 km, Time –5-6 hours.
The initial section of the Watkin Path passes close to the multiple cascades of the Afon Cwm Llan as it falls to join the Afon Glaslyn. There are numerous shallow pools along the way, which prove very popular with those wanting to cool off after walking up Snowdon and those who are there for the purely hedonistic purpose of cooling down from the sun. Our own Tryfan had of course deserved his dip after completing walking the Watkin Path and Snowdon’s South Ridge.
Height Gained – 560 metres, Distance – 11 km, Time –3 hours.
From the walk above you can reach these waterfalls by adding a short dog leg down to the picnic area. Alternatively this is a very short walk from the picnic area on the B5186 near Llanrwst.
Height Gained – 120 metres, Distance – 2.3 km, Time –1.5 hours.
Located near the main A470 in Coed y Brenin near Ganllwyd, Rhaeadr Du is reached by a short walk. It can also be used as the start for an approach into the Rhinogydd – Y Diffwys from Ganllwyd – for those looking for a wilder walk. There are also falls higher up the Afon Gamlan that can be added to the walk.
Height Gained – 280 metres, Distance – 6 km, Time –2 hours.
The waterfalls of Pistyll Cain and Rhaeadr Mawddach are both quite close together, and can be reached via this walk from the Coed Y Brenin visitor centre. Pistyll Cain is found on the Afon Gain (note that Gain is a mutated form of Cain in Welsh) and Rhaeadr Mawddach on the Afon Mawddach just before these rivers join. As they are situated far from the road, in the heart of the forest, they should be a quieter proposition than some of the more well known falls in Snowdonia
Ffos Noddum – Fairy Glen
This is more of a waterfall you can visit than a waterfall walk, but if you’re in the Betws-y-coed area then it’s well worth a visit. You do need to pay a paltry 50p in order to visit, and we’d recommend you visit outside the high season unless you like viewing natural wonders with the back of people’s head in the foreground.
Rhaeadr y Graig – Conwy Falls
While you’re visiting Fairy Glen, you may as well visit the Conwy Falls nearby. It starts off from the Conwy Falls Cafe on the A5 and you need to pay £1 admission to the Conwy Falls Forest Park which also has a number of short walks.
The Dolgoch Falls can be found between Abergynolwyn and Tywyn in the south of Snowdonia. You can reach the falls from the Dolgoch station on the Talyllyn Railway on a clearly waymarked path.
Height Gained – 190 metres, Distance – 3 km, Time –1 hours.
Starting from Abergynolwyn, this is arguably more of a river or woodland walk, but can be coupled with the Dolgoch Falls and a trip on the Talyllyn Railway to join both walks for a day out.
This is a way-marked walk starting from the Cwm Nantcol campsite car park near Llanbedr. It’s reached by a pleasant riverside walk along the Afon Cwmnantcol.
Height Gained – 300 metres, Distance – 10 km, Time –3 hours.
One of only a few of the featured falls outside Snowdonia are the Dyserth Falls at Dyserth near Prestatyn. They can be easily reached from a car park, so no walking needed, but we’ve included a walk for good measure.
Height Gained – 30 metres, Distance –1.3 km, Time – Under 1 hour
These popular waterfalls near Llangollen are unique among all the others in this article. They are not actually a waterfall, but a man-made weir built by Thomas Telford in order to feed water into the Llangollen Canal. They are still wildly popular, as they are only a very short walk from the A5.
Rhaedr Ogwen Falls
These falls are close to the A5, and while they don’t quite count as a ‘walk’ in the Mud and Routes sense, still worth a visit after any of the Walks From Ogwen. You can also visit them directly by following the old road past Ogwen Cottage YH and heading downhill over open access land to view the falls from below.
These waterfalls along the Ceunant Cynfal, near Llan Ffestniog can either be walked as part of the Snowdonia Slate Trail or reached by an easy walk from Llan Ffestiniog in the case of Rhaeadr Cynfal. Rhaeadr y Cwm is higher up the same river and is an easier walk from the road for those looking for a shorter option. Those visiting Rhaeadr Cynfal can also visit a well hidden set of falls further upstream that are possibly more impressive.
Height Gained – 930 metres, Distance – 10 km, Time – 5 hours.
While not a named fall – the initial section of the Minffordd Path follows a sustained cascade from the Nant Cadair that may not be an officially named fall but a scenic walk nonetheless. For non mountain walkers, you can walk up to Llyn Cau and back again for a round trip of around 5km.