Five rea­sons this is the per­fect moun­tain base camp

Trail (UK) - - Contents -

For the gate­way to Snow­do­nia

1 There’s no bet­ter base for ex­plor­ing Wales’ largest na­tional park than Betws-y-Coed. En­cir­cled by the dense Gwydyr For­est, this idyl­lic vil­lage of­fers un­ri­valled ac­cess to North Wales’ finest sum­mits, in­clud­ing Moel Si­a­bod, Try­fan, Carnedd Llewe­lyn and Snow­don it­self. Longdis­tance walk­ers will also en­joy pick­ing up the Snow­do­nia Slate Trail from Betws as the newly opened 85-mile route passes through the vil­lage.

For scenic views from a moun­tain lake

2 Sit­ting roughly 250m above Betws is Llyn Elsi – a 30-acre reser­voir that serves the vil­lage for its wa­ter sup­ply. Be­ing at this el­e­vated height af­fords visi­tors a chance to glimpse the Carned­dau and Gly­derau moun­tain ranges, as well as the peak of Moel Si­a­bod. The lake area, which is roughly a four-mile stroll along stony paths and tracks from Betws, is as pop­u­lar for walk­ing and cy­cling as it is for bird­watch­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy.

To ex­plore his­tory

3 Betws-y-Coed is steeped in Welsh his­tory and much of it can be ex­plored in a sin­gle af­ter­noon. The vil­lage’s name trans­lates to ‘prayer house in the woods’ and this is thought to re­fer to the 14th cen­tury St Michael’s Old Church – the old­est building in Betws – where the sur­round­ing yew trees have stood for 500 years. There’s also a 4,000-year-old Ne­olithic burial cham­ber to ex­plore and the pic­ture-per­fect Pont-yPair bridge, where in au­tumn (if you’re lucky) you might spot salmon leap­ing up­river in the falls be­low as they head back to their spawn­ing grounds.

For re­tail ther­apy

4 Gear­heads and equip­ment en­thu­si­asts will find Betws to be some­thing of a won­der­land, with as many as 10 out­door re­tail­ers lin­ing the high street and stock­ing all the kit, footwear and cloth­ing you could ever wish to need. It might be a good idea to hit the shops with a pre­set bud­get in mind, though, other­wise a few hours brows­ing could end up be­ing a very costly ex­pe­ri­ence!

For play­grounds and wa­ter­falls

5 A two-mile am­ble south from Betws along the banks of the River Conwy will lead you to Fairy Glen (above) – a beau­ti­ful na­ture spot said to be the haunt of myth­i­cal sprites. This gor­geous din­gle is a pho­tog­ra­pher’s par­adise and ideal for light scram­bling. An­other daz­zling spec­ta­cle is Swal­low Falls, a dra­matic water­fall sys­tem reached by head­ing west from Betws and fol­low­ing the me­an­ders of Afon Llugwy. It’s set amid a for­est of conifer, beech and birch trees, while jagged rocks cut the river into a suc­ces­sion of stun­ning cas­cades. Ad­mis­sion is £1.50 for adults, but we think that may just be the bar­gain of the year!

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