Newest Review: ... so. The falls themselves are situated in 9.5 acres of woodland, and entrance is gained through the café at the top. There is a modest en... more
A little hidden gem in the Conwy Valley
Conwy Falls (Conwy)
Member Name: pumfster
Conwy Falls (Conwy)
Date: 29/08/11, updated on 20/02/12 (165 review reads)
Advantages: Free car park and only £1 entry. Falls are impressive during wet spells
Disadvantages: Unsuitable for the less mobile. Caution urged with younger children.
Taking advantage of the one good weather day and the fact that we both had a week off work, we decided to take a drive out into the Welsh mountains, and into the Snowdonia National Park. To this end, we decided to stop in and have a stroll around the Conwy Falls.
The Conwy Falls are rather unsurprisingly a waterfall on the River Conwy just outside of the quaint little tourist spot of Betws-Y-Coed. They are easily accessible on the main A5 route but aren't signposted particularly well. Approaching from the Corwen side of the road, they are located on the left as the road descends into the town on the junction of the B4406 to Penmachno. There is a small car park, which isn't particular busy most of the time, as the Conwy Falls are one of the "forgotten treasures" of the area as most tourists flock to the more publicised Swallow Falls a few miles down the road. The car park is also free which is an added bonus. Buses also stop just outside of the café, and can be caught from either Betws-Y-Coed or Llanrwst, although they are relatively infrequent, on average every 90 minutes or so.
The falls themselves are situated in 9.5 acres of woodland, and entrance is gained through the café at the top. There is a modest entrance fee of just £1 per person, and this gives you unlimited access to the woodland. It has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the diverse selection of wildlife that live in and around the falls and so no improvement or access work is allowed. As a result, the trails are all rather uneven and steep and so this place is definitely not suitable for the disabled, elderly or those with mobility issues. I would also urge caution to those with small children, as some of the routes are high and slightly dangerous. A few fences have been put up in some areas a few years ago, as a result of a tragic accident where a young boy fell into the river and died. I would stress that the area isn't really inherently dangerous, but due caution and judgement is advised with smaller children.
The route itself is a circular one, which will take about 30 minutes to complete fully, with a really top view of the falls about half way through. As I said they are slightly steep in places, with tree roots and boulders making the route awkward especially in the wet. When you get to the viewing area, there is one interesting thing to keep an eye out for apart from the main attraction, a small cave entrance at the bottom of the falls. This was man made to assist salmon in their quest to get upstream to their spawning grounds, as the falls themselves have become too sheer over the years to allow them up safely. This has been constructed as a replacement for an older Victorian version, which was destroyed many years ago by the force of the river.
The café at the top is also well worth a visit, as they specialise in home made food and it was constructed by Clough Williams-Ellis, the same architect responsible for Portmeirion. Amongst their highlights are their daily specials and the large variety of teas that they offer, home brewed of course, and the stunning views down the valley into Betws-Y-Coed itself. It does a brisk trade, but is rarely heaving in my experience, and so you should be able to get a table pretty easily.
For the more adventurous tourist, there is also a company that operates from the café called the Go Below Adventure Trip. They offer an adventure caving experience into the mountains themselves and seemed quite popular judging from the number of people being kitted out when we arrived the other day. Although it's not really my thing, it may be worth checking out when you visit the area if you fancy a bit of caving.
So the main question now is would I recommend a visit here? To be honest, the Conwy Falls are not the most spectacular waterfall that you will ever set eyes on, especially in the summer or after a prolonged dry period. However the circular walk through the forest is more than worth the modest entrance fee in itself, and there is always the off chance of seeing an otter or wading bird playing in the pools underneath the falls, and if you are really lucky see a salmon trying to jump up, although sadly I have never seen either of these. There are also plenty of other birds to see, and as it only takes around 30 minutes to complete the full circuit, it is more of a short stop off, to get your day going before proceeding further into the national park, or Betws-Y-Coed itself. It's definitely a little hidden gem and well worth a brief stop off.
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Summary: A good place for a short country walk.
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