“ In the Nantcol Valley 2 miles from Shell Island and a mile from the rugged Rhinog Mountains. „
I love it here!!! I have camped with my family here many times and I think I will still be coming here when I am 90! To put it simply this small family ran site is simply beautiful. The site sits in the hills and is really sheltered from the elements. Within the site are the waterfalls and a lovely clean river which is great for swimming and fishing if you are brave you can even jump of the rocks into the waterfall! There are new shower and toilet blocks built this year which as with the rest of the site are absolutly pristine and the buildings really compliment the area. Theres a no groups rule here which mean whilst a lot busier this year its still quiet at night for children. The local area is also fab and I really recommend treath beach (on the way to barmouth) and the Victoria pub in te nearby village of Llanbedr .
~~ Nantcol Waterfalls ~~
We had a lovely week away camping in North Wales; its what we call our Doggy holiday as we take the dogs to the seaside. This year we took Chloe our 4 year old Golden Retriever and we left Jessie the puppy with our daughter. At the beginning of the week I popped into information and picked up loads of tourist leaflets and the one for Nantcol Waterfalls caught my eye and it was Dog friendly, a bonus.
The leaflet told me that the natural waterfalls are on privately owned farmland which has beautiful woodland and falls. The owners have created four different walks and opened the land to the public at a small charge. Not only do they have these walks, they also hire out holiday cottages and a static caravan and they allow camping on site too.
Before I tell you about our experience here, I will tell you a little about what Nantcol Waterfalls have to offer.
~~ The Walks ~~
The leaflet we had kindly provides you with a simple map to help you navigate your way around the walks, if you forget to take this which we did, they there is a large map on a board as you enter the picnic site.
You will also find that there are information boards and coloured posts around to help guide you, so hopefully you wont get lost.
The Nature Trail: is a circular walk of approx 1½ km with information plaques, this is the main walk as all the others appear to be extensions of this one. This walk also takes you past the first waterfall (this one is steep), which has two levels, we did see some people that had climbed over to the other side of the falls and were jumping into the river and enjoying the adventure (very welcoming in this current heat wave), It was a spectacular sight, thats the waterfall not the half naked male bodies jumping in the water. 
The Riverside Walk: this is approximately 2km long and does as it says it follows the course of the River Nantcol and then back towards the car park. If you love waterfalls then this is the walk for you, hope you dont mind heights as it does get a little steep in parts. It takes you past both waterfalls and they are both definitely worth looking at.
The Woodland Walk: a short walk through woodland. The walk is attached to both the nature trail and the riverside walk. The woodland area is completely enclosed and is around 10 acres; it was officially opened in 1995 by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Childrens Island Nature Trail: this is a very small walk on a small island situated near the picnic area. The walk is a short circular one, this can take as long or as short as you like it to, it al depends on what you are looking for. You can make it fun and educational for your children as they have a variety of different plants.
The Picnic Area: this is the heart of the park all walks start and end here or very close to it, apart from being a nice area to stop for a spot of lunch, get out your rugs and picnics (there are only a couple of tables). It is also an area where the children can play in the river, there is even a rope swing for them to swing out into it, so dont forget their swimming costumes.
Prices to experience the waterfalls at 2006 prices are £3.00 per vehicle or £1.00 per adult for walkers and cyclists. They have an honesty box in the car park if no attendant is on duty, (they usually arrive around 11 am).
~~ Camping ~~
I did mention that you can camp here, didnt I, well tents and caravans are welcome, but the site is very, very basic, no electric hook-ups, no fixed toilets blocks and showers, but there are port-a-loos and you can always use the river to wash. There were a few tents and caravans set up on our visit each one had little circles of bricks where they had outside camp fires (reminded me of my camping days with the girl guides). The site provides logs for your camp fires at a nominal cost.
Oh, I should mention that the road to this is a single track and is extremely narrow, but you can get a caravan up and down it, (but I certainly would not like to have to reverse the caravan if I met something coming the other way, it is quite high up).
Prices for this year 2006 are:
£3.00 per adult per night
£1.50 per child (ages 4-16yrs) per night.
~~ Holiday Accommodation ~~
I have no personal experience of using the accommodation on offer in this 600 acre farm, but we did drive past them and they are lovely stone clad buildings (apart from the static caravan of course). I can also state that where they are situated they do have wonderful views.
The following info on each property I have got from their internet site www.nantcolwaterfalls.co.uk you can also find pictures on here, descriptions and links to other sites for booking and prices. They are all self-catering.
Caerffynnon Farmhouse a 4 star accommodation in a 19th century farmhouse that was renovated in 2004 to have 2 double and 2 single bedrooms, so sleeps up to 6. Bath/shower room, dining room, lounge and a fitted kitchen. Also provided are a washing machine, a microwave, TV and video, electric fire and the option of central heating at a small usage cost. But, youre on holiday and you wont need all this will you, lol.
Caerffynnon Cottage again this has been given 4 stars by the Welsh Tourist board and this is a self-contained annexe to the farmhouse. It sounds really rustic from the description given with its low ceilings, beams and a twisting stone staircase all being the original features. It has also recently been renovated to have one double bedroom which is ensuite, there is a sofa bed provided in the living room, so it will sleep 2-4 persons. It also provides a kitchen complete with washing machine and microwave. TV and video are provided and a choice of electric fire or oil burning central heating.
Cefn Uchaf Cottage is a 16th century cottage that sleeps up to six persons, is situated in the valley. It boasts a 19th century range in the lounge and like the others it provides adequate heating and cooking facilities. Upstairs has 3 bedrooms.
Cefn Uchaf Static Caravan also located in the valley. This is a 34 long caravan that has 3 bedrooms which sleeps 4, one double and 2 singles. It comes with TV, microwave, upright fridge/freezer and bed linen. Gas and electric usage are also included in the price which is £180 - £200 per week at 2006 prices, or short breaks at £40.00 per night.
Please if you get time drop onto the web site, the cottages are worth taking a look at, really rustic and very beautiful (in my opinion and from the exterior anyway).
Looking at the website they all appear to provide parking, and are dog and children friendly.
Sadly due to the properties being old and having steep staircases they are not suitable for disabled.
~~ Our Visit ~~
Hopefully I have covered everything they have on offer, so now its time for the bit I really enjoy, that is telly you all about our visit. We went on our visit the Tuesday after bank holiday and the weather was sunny and slightly overcast at times, with a slight breeze to cool us down on our walk, perfect (apart from it was still muddy in parts due to the past weeks heavy rainfall). That heavy rainfall also meant that the river would be higher and hence the waterfalls should be more active, even more to look forward to. Like I said earlier we went here with our dog Chloe, so I really wanted it to be dog friendly, I have to say here that there are parts that are difficult for your dog. We forgot to take our map with us, so we thought what the hell, we took a look at the big map and saw the general directions we needed to go in. So with my new picnic rucksack on my hubbys back off we started on our little adventure.
We walked through the picnic area and there were some children playing in the water, we went right to the wall where we came across what I can only describe as a ladder of about 5 rungs (this was a very large stile), which went up over the wall, then the same down the other side. This is where we found our first obstacle with our Chloe, she is not a small dog so we could not carry her (This is the shortest route to take to the first waterfall, it is also on the Nature Trail and the Riverside Walk).
Anyway back to our walking adventure, faced with those steps and our dilemma we turned tail and went back to the small bridge we saw earlier, crossing the river. If we had taken our map with us we would have realised that this bridge didnt take you far, it only took you to the childrens Island Nature Trail, plus you could also get a little closer to the other side of the river so it would only be a small amount of water to wade through to get to the other side. Not realising this we were now facing our next doggy dilemma with the bridge, this was no normal bridge it was made like a cattle grid to stop the free range sheep getting onto the island. We really did want to see the falls so we tried picking Chloe up, but she was just too heavy for us, my hubby went over the bridge and tried to coax her into wading across the river, but she refused. At this point we decided that I should cross the bridge and try to coax her to wade over, but whilst I was crossing to my total shock and amazement she followed me, shaking all over, she tentatively placed each paw on the cross bars of the cattle grid bridge and followed me to the other side. I was so proud of her, I could have cried, (I will be telling this story for many years to come, I can tell you).
With Chloe and us over the bridge off we went to explore and find an alternative route to the waterfall, only to be disappointed that we couldnt get to it, but not disappointed with the little island itself, great for the children to explore and learn about nature.
So back over the bridge we went, time to take stock of where we need to go (our objective) and how to get there easily enough for our Chloe. Standing still we took stock of our surroundings (wish we had bought the map). We knew we needed to get over the wall and we knew we needed to climb up.
Following the wall we saw a gate so this was our next destination and off we go walking across the camp site and through the gate, which luckily for us was not padlocked as others around the fields were. Common sense and no map would tell you to follow the wall and back to the steps to get back on track on to the riverside walk to see both the waterfalls. That would be just too easy and we have never taken the easy route so off we went and started walking up the hill in front of us.
This was fun and even though we are both petrified of heights we climbed up, if our Chloe can show courage then so can we. Up and up we went, it was an easy climb (I was not exactly dressed for mountaineering, wearing a skirt and casual pumps), I have to use a walking stick at times and I still managed this walk. We continued as far up as we could go, the views here were spectacular and a little scary when we realised how high up we were. Well we have got this far I am not going to give up, we will see the falls.
We knew they must be to our right from looking own towards the camp site, so off we went in that direction, luckily fore us we saw a family in front with small children, so we followed them, one of the children was only around 4 yrs of age, so I knew they would go a safe way (silly how when you are scared of heights, you get very nervous, it takes a 4yr old and your dog to put your fears into perspective).
Off we trotted, well ambled really behind this family and we eventually after going up and down dale, over the rocks and small obstacle courses of muddy ground we finally reached our destination, which was the waterfall, but not the one we expected to find, we had completely missed the large steep waterfall and ended up at the 2nd waterfall further up which is wide and the water cascaded over the rocks. This was an absolutely spectacular sight and well worth the climb up, we sat on a large rock to get our breath back, feeling slightly proud of ourselves for getting this far.
At this point my husband wanted to go back the way we came, but I caught sight of the family we followed this far in the distance. Being my new assertive self I opted to continue in there direction and my hubby being the darling he is, followed my direction and off we went over grassy and muddy mounds. It was at this point we noticed the markers in the ground (wooden posts painted blue), we now know we are on the right track, whew, so it is now follow the posts, lol.
So we are now on what we thought would be a long journey for our descent and with our fears going down was what we were more concerned about. By following the posts we found we walked in a gradual descent and there was a little downward climbing through some rocks, which apart from being muddy in patches it was not too bad, it was quite funny as in one of these patches the mud sucked the rubber end off my walking stick, which sent me into a fit of silly school girl giggles.
After following about 4/5 markers we came across a stile (one of those 5 rung ones which were more like step ladders), this also took you into the Woodland Walk. There was no way around this we would have to ask our Chloe to follow mommy up and down the steps, so I went in front encouraging her to follow me and my hubby stayed behind her in case she fell. Well, this was the second time she totally knocked me for six by following me up and over. I am the PROUD owner of Chloe.
The Woodland Walk was worth the effort, the descent here was slightly more aggressive but not too steep, the path took you down through wild flowers and trees, you had to climb over some natural mountainside rocks that had collected at the bottom, then over another stile and we were back in the filed with the one and only gate that was not padlocked.
We finished our walk and moved back over to the picnic area to have a well deserved rest and a spot of lunch, the walk had taken us about 2 hours to complete (I am slow, as I use a stick and have breathing problems). I recon a fit person could do this in half the time, depending how long you stop and enjoy the views. In our clumsiness we managed to cover parts of all the four walks.
We did return a few days later to try and get to the first waterfall, this time we went through the gate and followed the length of the wall to get to the steps (our Chloe had done enough heroics for one week). Sadly our fear got the better of us and after climbing two sets of steps, we saw the muddy ledge which was about 18 wide that we needed to go round and decided it was too dangerous and made our way back.
Maybe next year we will cross the river and try the other side to see the first waterfall. We will not let this beat us.
Please remember there are free range sheep everywhere, so please keep your dogs under control, also mind where you put your feet as with free range sheep comes free range mess, lol.
I would definitely recommend a visit here. The views are spectacular and children can play safely over the rocks and in the river, also they can learn to explore the natural surroundings.
10/10 from us.
~~ How to Find it ~~
located off the A496 8 miles north of Barmouth and 6 miles south of Harlech.
3 miles east of Shell Island and 1 mile west of the rugged Rhinog Mountains.
On entering the village of Llanbedr you will notice brown tourist signs directing you to the waterfalls.
Thank you for reading