One of the great things about living in North Wales is the wonderful scenery. I live on the coast, great for sunsets, but with a short drive inland I have access to the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. So come on a journey with me from the coast, passing through Llanrwst to Betws-y-Coed and then Bethesda back to the coast. From the A55 at Llandudno I’ll be following the A470 and A5 back to the A55 at Bangor.
On the way along the A470 I did a quick detour to photograph the bridge allowing the Gower Road to cross the River Afon. If you follow this route cross the bridge and immediately turn right. About 75 metres on your RHS there’s a sort of dirt lay-by where you can park and walk down to the river. From here you will get a good view of the bridge.
Cross the bridge again and turn right onto the A470 heading for Llanrwst. Look for the sign advertising free parking, where there is also public toilets; the car park will be on your right-hand side. You can’t miss it because the Police Station is also there and sign-posted. Once parked follow the signs to the river walk. You should be walking away from the Police Station. Follow the river path towards the Stone Bridge. There are swans, ducks, gulls in the river and quite a few birds in the woods at the side of the path, so always be aware of the opportunity.
WARNING – WARNING – WARNING
- Conwy Council has a policy regarding dogs fouling pathways. It’s a shame they don’t enforce it. I’m a dog-lover and it saddens me to see the state of the path. Just be careful where you put your feet.
- When I visited the river had obviously risen very high and then receded. What looked like dry, stretches of grassy river-bank, were very muddy underfoot.
Don’t be put of by the warnings though, the photo opportunities are too good too miss
Continuing along the path takes you nearer the bridge and on your left-hand side you will see St. Crwst’s Church, which we will be visiting later. The best vantage point I found for the bridge was on the opposite side of the river. However that was for my time of day and year and obviously it will change as the year goes on. Anyway, climb the steps just before the bridge, cross the river and go down the steps beside the tea-room which will be on your right hand side. be careful crossing the bridge. There isn’t a footpath and you share it with cars.
Whilst you are on this side of the river, head back to the bridge and then cross into the park on the opposite side of the road. There’s a large stone circle worth having a look at.
I don’t think this is an authentic one because it sort of looks out-of-place here, immediately behind where I took the photograph was a children’s play area and the Rugby ground. Cross the bridge, follow the road to your left and after about 200 metres you will come into the small market square. As soon as you enter the square, go to your left and follow the narrow lane, passing the alms houses down to the church-yard. It’s worth the visit; within the Gwydir Chapel wing of the Church (built by the Wynn family), also lies the sarcophagus of Prince Llewelyn – the Prince of Wales.
From the church you can walk back to the Car Park by crossing the market Square and following the main road which goes to the left. However I preferred to walk back along the river it’s so much more scenic. It’s time to leave Llanrwst . Leaving the car-park turn right onto the A470 and follow the signs for Betws-y-Coed. When you get there, drive until you see the stone bridge, which will be on your right hand side. Cross the bridge and follow the road to the left. There is a car-park with public toilets here. £1.00 for two hours parking. It’s not a big var-park so it will probably be busy in the summer time.
You can’t miss it. The river will be dropping over the rocks here and you can either photograph it from the bridge (the safe option) or you can climb over the rocks (the unsafe option). Another warning here. The rocks can get very wet, They’re smooth and there is some moss on them. That makes them slippery. If you choose to climb on the rocks it’s at your own risk. Whatever option you choose it’s worth it.
This is not the famous Swallow Falls, they are another two miles further on from this waterfall. Like all waterfalls the best time to visit is after heavy rainfall or when the snow is melting on the mountains. Then they are at they’re most powerful. There are walks along the riverside and another beautiful church to visit, but I was conscious that it’s winter and you lose the light very quickly at this time of year. I really wanted to get into the more rugged landscape of Snowdonia, so it was time to leave. Cross the bridge again and turn right. You are on the A5 and this will take you back to the A55 and Bangor.
I didn’t stop at the Swallow Falls but if you have time it’s worth the visit. You can park in the lay-by just before the falls and then you have a short walk (25 metres) to the entrance barrier. It’s an unmanned turnstile, £1.00 per person entry fee, but it’s well worth it. Staying on the A5 you will go through some small hamlets before finally breaking out into what I think is an absolutely beautiful stretch of road, with plenty to see and photograph either side of you.
As you travel along the A5 you will eventually see a long lay-by (500 metres at least) on your left hand side. You should also see the start of a lake directly in front of you, but in reality as you get nearer it will be on your right hand side. If you don’t mind the walk park in the lay-by and walk to the lake. I’ll leave it up yo you to decide if you want to do that. There are further car parking spaces along the side of the lake, so you might decide not to use the lay-by.
There are some really good photo opportunities all along this road but I would like to recommend that whatever you do stop when you see the boat shed, which is almost at the end of the lake as you get closer to Bangor.
The A5 starts to bend to the right just past the boat shed but on your left hand side there is a small Pay and Display Car Park. Pull in and stop. Trust me it will be worth it. There are public toilets here if you require them. At the left hand side of the building there is a stone pathway going up the hill, it’s not steep, but it was muddy and a bit slippery. After about 100 metres you will come to an iron gate, with a wooden bridge just beyond.
The scenery here is fantastic so I’ll let the photographs tell you the rest.
The four photographs above were all taken in close proximity to the wooden bridge, so if you are not equipped for walking in the hills you should be OK at this point. However, as always, weather conditions can change suddenly in the Snowdonia National Park and the decision to venture beyond the car park is at your own risk.
I’d like to leave you with this last image of that Wooden Bridge. I found it great to photograph from all angles and I was really lucky that the light was pretty good.
Well, that about wraps it up. All that remains for me is to tell you how to get back to the A55. It’s simple really. Leave the car park and turn left onto the A5. Follow the A5 through Bethesda heading towards Bangor and you will come to the junction of the A5/A55
I hope you enjoyed this journey with me through a really beautiful part of North Wales. If you like what you have seen and read here today, why not sign-up for regular updates by e-mail. I promise I won’t spam you and I’ll never release your e-mail address to anyone else.
All images in this article were processed using Machinery HDR Effects. Post processing was done with Corel’s PaintShop Pro X4 and in the main consists of cropping and re-sizing for web use. Where applicable I have done additional processing using NIK Color Efex Filters (Glamour Glow, Tonal Contrast or Darken/Lighten Centre).