Betws-y-Coed: Snowdonia National Park
I recently returned home to Liverpool for a couple of months in the summer. Even though I had been around the world I still had an urge to visit my favourite weekend getaway from when I lived at home. A place that is very special to me, I’m talking about the small Welsh village, Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia National Park.
No matter where you live in the world, we each have a special place to get away from it all and have a break. My youthful summers were always spent in Betws-y-Coed with my Dad and Brother. Camping, fishing, hiking. I even lost a tooth there mountain biking! It was also the place of my first camping trips away with just me and my mates from school. The ultimate freedom for thirteen year olds bordering adolescence. We would spend hours exploring old mining caves and jumping from rocks into the refreshing waters that snake their way through the village. Challenging each other to greater heights after each leap. It was just innocent fun at the time but looking back now, these were probably the early building blocks for my lust of adventure that has become my life as I know it today. So yeah this small village means a lot to me.
Whether you are seeking a relaxing getaway with the family or a date with the outdoors then Betws-y-Coed has it all. Hidden away deep within a beautiful forested valley on the outskirts of Snowdonia National Park. Anybody who has visited Snowdonia has likely driven straight through the village unknowingly without even blinking. The village is so small that to an outsider it probably doesn’t appear to offer much. But just the surroundings should be enough to at least make you pull over and take time to look around. If you need a bit more help then stick with me and I will tell you all you need to know about this secret spot in North Wales.
Things to do in Betws-y-Coed
If the sun is shining then the River Llugwy that runs through the centre of the village will likely be flooded with children and adults splashing around. Near the bridge, beneath the falls has a great swimming hole and is usually the most popular place to take a dip. If you are like me and you prefer a bit more peace then cross the bridge away from the village and follow the river upstream for a mile or so until you reach the miners bridge. There you will find a small but secluded swim hole beneath the bridge.
Recently opened under a new name is Zip World Fforest located just outside of Betws-y-Coed on the A470. They have some good activities to choose from. A longer connected zip line that takes you through the forest and two quick but gut wrenching rides. The Plummet and Skyride. The plummet is a 100 foot free fall from the top of a tree, a good test if you’re thinking of a bungee jump. The Skyride is a large metal beam which you are harnessed to and catapulted above the forest. Both should definitely get your stomach turning and can be purchased in a package for just £15. Zip world will soon be opening a track run toboggan at this location.
If you head west up the A5 you will find the more captivating Swallow Falls. Continue on even further through Capel Curig to find the base of Snowdon, The highest peak in Wales at 1085 metres.
If you have any children then pass through Betws-y-Coed train station. There you will find a miniature railway that weaves through flower gardens and small lily ponds. A must for any small children. There are also trains that link to Blaneua Ffestinigog if you’re feeling adventurous enough to take on the zip line at Zip World Titan or Llandudno if you fancy a day by the sea side.
Walks in Betws-y-Coed
Behind the train station is a small suspension bridge which is also the beginning of a relaxing trail alongside the river following the outskirts of the golf course. If you want more of a strenuous hike then head up to the Llyn Elsi reservoir. There are several trails to get to the top but the trail that begins behind the church is probably the easiest to pick up. This hike may only be short (30 minutes or more) but it is extremely steep so only attempt it if you are in good enough shape. If you do manage to make it to the top then you will most likely have the place to yourself. As busy as the village gets, very few people are either unaware or simply can not be bothered to make it to this secluded spot. There is a trail that loops around the lake which also offers some fine trout fishing, however you do need a permit to fish. There is also a similar lake on the north side of the village called Llyn Parc. This too is a nice a hike and a less strenuous alternative.The Gwydyr Forest covering the hills around Betws-y-Coed are full of many more hiking and bike trails.
Food in Betws-y-Coed
When the sun is setting and your days activities are over then you have several choices for something to eat. You can simply grab something from the bakery in the Spar and head to the park for a picnic. The very last place to get the rays of the sinking sun. There is also the famous village fish and chip shop which always has a queue stretching out of the door way. Find yourself a seat on the rocks next to the waterfall to wind down. If you fancy something a bit more formal then the stables bar is a lively pub with a huge outside dining area. But don’t worry it’s not too formal, muddy hiking boots are welcome! There are more options around the village but these are my favourites.
For such a small village you can find all types of accommodation in Betws-y-Coed. From huge five bedroom slate cottages to a patch of grass beneath the stars. You should have no problem finding something suitable for yourself. The Stables hosts cosy loft converted rooms if you want to stumble to bed after one too many drinks. There are several caravan and campsites in Betws-y-Coed, if you want to camp in the village, but a family favourite is a bit further afield at Capel Curig. There is nothing nearby with very little facilities but the surroundings are perfect. That’s what I love when I’m camping. A proper campground.
My Dad came to Betws-y-Coed when he was a boy and later took me. Even though I am now in Canada I am sure I will always visit when I’m home and who knows, maybe I will take my own kids there one day. I hope you appreciate Betws-y-Coed as much as I do.