Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? Autumn is here and brings with it a whole load of rain… hello epic waterfalls! Blaenau Ffestiniog is well known for being one of the wettest places in Wales. Combine this with being in the mountains, it give you the best recipe for creating some stunning waterfalls! So having done some research I’ve come up with the Vale of Ffestiniog Waterfalls!
(Take a look at the map below).
In my mind there are three Cwmorthin waterfalls nestled in between the Moelwyns and Nyth Y Gigfran – the bottom waterfall just off the carpark, the Llyn Cwn waterfall up the first hill, and the third one at the top of the hill as the river leaves the lake. All are fed by the water from Llyn Cwmorthin.
Park at the carpark a little way up from Dolrhedyn (if you find room as it’s very popular spot!) and walk along the bottom footpath to see the best of the waterfalls. When it’s been raining a lot (happens often in Blaenau after all) the water cascades and creates beautiful white waves. Absolutely stunning!
Carry on up the hill to see the water run into Llyn Cwn. Apparently the story behind the name Llyn Cwn (literally translated it means “dog lake”) is that when the farmers had too many puppies they would throw the surplus pups into this lake to drown them. I have no idea if this is true or not but it’s what my Dad told me and no doubt Taid told him. Quite a grisly story and I hope it’s not true. Also, can you spot the face in the rock?
Keep walking up to Cwmorthin and you will come across the next waterfall. You can walk along the flat to reach the river at this point. There used to be a bridge that you could cross here to get to the footpath to the left of the river but it was washed away years ago. I remember the bridge, I remember the rain and I remember finding the bridge downstream (Dad used to work at Cwmorthin quarry when it reopened).
However, double back on yourself and head up hill towards the lake. At the top there’s a mini damn and the waterfall. It might not be the biggest waterfall but there’s something about it. It’s probably the setting as on a fine day (you’ll be lucky!) you can see the old Cwmorthin Terrace houses (also known as “Tai Llyn”).
This is my absolute most favourite of the Ffestiniog waterfalls! It has a very special place in my heart. You can only really see it from the Ffestiniog Railway train these days due to trees and overgrowth but back in the day you could see the waterfall from the road below. Back in my youth I have walked up through the river to it as there was a nice little pool at the bottom. DO NOT TRESPASS ON THE RAILWAY TO SEE IT! (Or you’ll be told off… like I was, and I wasn’t even trespassing!). Book yourself a ticket via the Ffestiniog Railway’s website.
Once you’ve taken a trip on the train to see it, disembark at Tanygrisiau station and walk to Lakeside Cafe for a lovely cooked breakfast! It’s the best day out!
Now technically I don’t know what this waterfall is called but I refer to it as Wrysgan waterfall for ths simple reason it’s not far from Wrysgan incline. And it isn’t a permanent waterfall – it’s only really seen when we’ve had a decent amount of rain. It’s usually a little stream but when we get the rain boy does it swell! Bonus of this one is that you don’t need to walk to see it as it can be seen quite clearly from Lakeside Cafe.
This one is another waterfall which carries water from Tanygrisiau. It’s half way down the hill (Allt Dolwen) and the easiest way to see it is to park at the layby and walk along the verge to get to the bridge. At the bridge you should see the upstream waterfall and the top of the downstream waterfall. If you continue down the main road a bit you can see the lower waterfall of these two as it passes the old pumping station. It is now a private residence and in order to fully see the waterfall you’d need to walk down the drive. As I say, it’s a private residence now so I wouldn’t recommend randomly walking down their drive without permission! It is a beautiful waterfall when there’s a lot of water though.
I consider this to be the middle waterfall of the Afon Goedol trio. It might be the most stunning of the three in my opinion. The best way to get to this waterfall is to park at the layby near Cymerau Isaf Farm. From there it’s a gentle enough walk with a slight hill. When you reach the river you’ll need to cross Pont Cymerau after which you take an immediate right and after a very short walk reach a clearing from where you can see this stunning waterfall. You can get much closer to this waterfall by climbing the rocks but great care must be taken as they get very slippery when wet!
Rhyd Y Sarn Waterfall
This is the bottom waterfall on the Afon Goedol route. To get to this one you park at the Rhyd Y Sarn layby at the bottom of the hill. You need to cross the road to get to the footpath – be VERY careful as it’s a busy trunk road and you’re crossing at a blind corner. The waterfall is a little way along the footpath. You will walk passed a house on the left before coming to a kissing gate. After the gate you need to carry on along the footpath straight ahead (don’t turn right and head uphill as you’ll eventually get up to Cymerau Isaf Farm. After a little walk you will reach a wooden bridge.
This one is a tricky one as I’m pretty sure you can’t get to it these days without fighting some solid undergrowth, but trust me there is a waterfall on the Afon Barlwyd. It’s just a little way down from the old Moelwyn Mills. The Barlwyd river winds it’s way down through Glan Y Pwll and to Tanygrisiau where, at the road by Barlwyd Terrace the river used to feed the watermill of the Moelwyn Mills. The waterwheel can still be seen but it’s long been dormant. The river continues downhill under the bridge for Afallon house and behind the back of Castell Barlwyd where it falls down quite a big drop.
It’s one of these places where I’ve explored as a child and thanks to the freedom of growing up where I did, I used to go play at the river and in the rhodedendrons around there. I may have to go exploring again to see if you can see the waterfall these days.
Now this one is on the other side of the valley near Llan Ffestiniog. I haven’t done this walk for years so I’m not entirely sure of the exact way to it. If memory serves me correctly you park by the church at Llan Ffestiniog, walk downhill along the B4391 (towards Allt Goch) and a little way after the cemetery there should be a signpost to the footpath (around about here). The footpath is signposted and it should be relatively easy to find… although if you do end up going the wrong way like Clare did, then you might just come across the disused Bala/Blaenau branchline. Technically the line hasn’t been decommissioned but simply mothballed.
The Bethania waterfall can be found on Afon Du Bach near Pant Yr Ynn mill in Bethania, Manod. The waterfall served the Pant yr Ynn Mill which was built in 1846 and and the earliest surviving mill of Diffwys Casson Quarry. It is possible to see the waterfall from Bethania but the best view of the waterfall is seen from the opposite side of town. There are some lovely walks around Bethania as well including up to Du Bach Quarry. Not one I’ve done but it’s on my list.
This one is known as “The Secret Waterfall” and can be found between Plas Weunydd and Llechwedd Slate Caverns (or ZipWorld Llechwedd as it is now). The waterfall has a drop height of 100 meters and drains the upper moorland of rainfall. Made by the Victorian miners, the waterfall served as a critical function during the days of slate mining as otherwise the mines would be flooded. It was hidden behind extensive rhodedendron growth hence why it is known as “Y Rhaeader Cudd” (The Secret Waterall).
This list isn’t exhaustive so if there are any others I’ve not included be sure to let me know!