Nant Gwynant and Craflwyn

Through Bylchau Terfyn to Craflwyn, returning along the shores of Llyn Dinas

NEAREST LOCATION

Nant Gwynant

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

6.5 miles (10.6kms)

ASCENT
1320ft (400m)
TIME
3hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Medium
STARTING POINT
SH627506

About the walk

Encircled by high mountains (including Snowdon to the north), Nant Gwynant is one of Wales’s most spectacular valleys. This exhilarating walk across the valley slopes provides the perfect combination of views and history. You will pass through a historic landscape shaped by centuries of hill farming and lined with traces of the valley’s 19th-century copper boom. Beckoning below are the shores of Llyn Dinas, a magnificent lake surrounded by oak woods, rhododendrons and the crags of Snowdon’s foothills.

The Watkin Path

You begin on the Watkin Path, one of six ‘classic’ routes to the summit of Snowdon. The path is named after Sir Edward Watkin, a Liberal MP and railway entrepreneur who retired to Cwm Llan. As there was already a track through the valley to the South Snowdon Slate Quarry, Sir Watkin decided to create a path linking the quarry with Snowdon’s summit. The trail was officially opened in 1892 by William Gladstone, who despite his advanced age – he was 83 at the time – delivered a speech to over 2,000 people from a rock on the side of the path (now known as Gladstone Rock). The lower sections of the path are especially pretty and offer impressive views of the tumbling Cwm Llan waterfall.

Dina Emrys

Later in the walk you will pass close to Dinas Emrys, a wooded hillock rising some 250ft (76m) from the floor of the valley. On top of the hill are the scant remains of a native Welsh castle, believed to have been built by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last sovereign prince of Wales, to guard the mountain pass below Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). Like many medieval castles, however, Dinas Emrys appears to have been built on top of a much older fortification. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of several periods of habitation dating back to the Iron Age.

These archaeological finds tally chronologically with the Welsh literary tradition, which identifies Dinas Emrys as the stronghold of the 5th-century British warlord Vortigern. According to legend, Vortigern’s initial attempts to build a fortress on the site ended in failure, with each day’s work collapsing overnight. A young Merlin explained to Vortigern that this was because of a hidden pool below the fortress containing two dragons, a white dragon representing the Saxons and a red dragon representing the Britons. Each night the dragons fought for control over the island of Britain, rocking the foundations of Vortigern’s fort. The white dragon had the upper hand at present, but Merlin prophesied that it was the red dragon who would be the ultimate victor. This must have reassured Vortigern, who had been forced out of Lloegr (England) by the invading Anglo-Saxons.

Walk directions

From the car park, walk towards the main road and turn left. Shortly, cross to a footpath sign and keep ahead up stone steps on to a path marked ‘Llwybr Watkin Path’. Follow a pleasant woodland path as far as a black metal gate, where you are joined by a wider track from the right.

Continue climbing along the Watkin Path, which provides good views of a river and falls in the valley to the right. After swinging sharply left, the track crosses the line of a former incline, then curves rightwards to cross it for a second time. Immediately before this point, turn left on to a clear path signed to Craflwyn.

Keep trending upwards, your new path running roughly parallel to a dry-stone wall on the right. After a ladder stile, the path climbs through moorland to a level pass between rocky prominences (Bylchau Terfyn). Waymarks lead across wild, open moorland, the path crossing one more ladder stile before reaching the stone ruins of a former mine.

Bear left from the mine, heading downhill alongside a stream. Before long, the path becomes a clear track, passing through two gates. After the second gate, turn right and cross a footbridge over the stream. With a stone ruin ahead, bear left and join a waymarked path across the side of the mountain.

The path crosses two further ladder stiles, eventually reaching a small wooden gate by a stone ruin. Take the path heading left, steeply downhill, into the trees of Coed Craflwyn. Turn sharp left at a marked fork to continue downhill through the forest.

After a winding descent, emerge in the Craflwyn National Trust car park on the valley floor. Turn left along the approach road to Craflwyn Hall, keeping ahead where the tarmac splits to pass in front of the building. Bear right and descend to the A498.

Bear slightly right across the road to a wooden gate and join a path bearing left between the road and Afon Glaslyn. Return to the main road by the entrance to Sygun Copper Mine and turn right to cross the river. Once across, turn immediately left, on to a signed path continuing up the valley.

After passing into National Trust property, the path follows a more rugged route around the shores of Llyn Dinas. Join a track by Llyndy Isaf farm and continue to a lane. Turn left and then shortly right, at a T-junction with the A498. Follow the roadside verge past Caffi Gwynant and back to the Pont Bethania car park.

Additional information

Well-maintained paths and tracks, some potentially muddy sections

Rocky hills, oak woods, river valley and lake

Dogs to be kept on lead on National Trust property

AA Walker’s Map 4 Snowdon & The Conwy Valley

Pay-and-display car park at Pont Bethania

At Pont Bethania and National Trust car park at Craflwyn

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About the area

Discover Gwynedd

The county of Gwynedd is home to most of the Snowdonia National Park – including the wettest spot in Britain, an arête running up to Snowdon’s summit that receives an average annual rainfall of 4,473mm. With its mighty peaks, rivers and strong Welsh heritage (it has the highest proportion of Welsh-speakers in all of Wales), it’s always been an extremely popular place to visit and live. The busiest part is around Snowdon; around 750,000 people climb, walk or ride the train to the summit each year.

Also in Gwynedd is the Llyn Peninsula, a remote part of Wales sticking 30 miles out into the Irish Sea. At the base of the peninsula is Porthmadog, a small town linked to Snowdonia by two steam railways – the Welsh Highland Railway and the Ffestiniog Railway. Other popular places are Criccieth, with a castle on its headland overlooking the beach, Pwllheli, and Abersoch and the St Tudwal Islands. Elsewhere, the peninsula is all about wildlife, tranquillity, and ancient sacred sites. Tre’r Ceiri hill fort is an Iron Age settlement set beside the coastal mountain of Yr Eifl, while Bardsey Island, at the tip of the peninsula, was the site of a fifth-century Celtic monastery.