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  Around the Lakes from Trefriw

The Conwy 'Lake District' where myth and legend meet wild, natural beauty.

Trefriw grew thanks to accidents of local geology. The Romans' 20th Legion discovered chalybeate wells to the north of today's village and, being devotees of natural healing and health, developed a spa there. It remains popular to this day. In the hills behind the village, rich veins of lead ore were worked until early last century; the gaunt remains of former mine buildings and spoil tips add a melancholy presence to the superb natural beauty of the countryside. Lakes, some natural, some reservoirs, fill valleys and hollows high above Trefriw, making the village ideal for a weekend break. This walk follows the Afon Crafnant to two such lakes, one nestling beneath the imposing cliffs and crags of the Carneddau range, the other reflecting wooded hills at a place where a renowned Dark Ages Bard was born.

Face the woollen mill at Trefriw and turn left. Just past the school turn right up a lane; bend left, then gradually right with it. Ignore a left turn to reach a junctions. Here turn right and descend to the bridge. Just before this, go left along Bro Geirionydd, passing through an old kissing gate beyond the play area. Trace the riverside path upstream, through a small oakwood, a gate then a flat bridge created from the roots of trees. Continue 200 yards upstream until you see a low river bridge off to your right. Look in the hedgerow for a narrow wooden gate (this field may be very muddy), take this and turn left along the sunken pathway. Cross the wooden river bridge and turn left up the lane beside a small waterwheel.

The lane passes foaming watershoots. Off to your left in a mile or so, note the solid old engine house of Klondike Lead Mine standing on the far hillside beneath wooded crags. Some superb waterfalls above Crafnant car park herald the lower end of Llyn Crafnant. Your way is right, but first visit the nearby monument commemorating the gift of the valley to the people of Llanrwst. Join the track that runs above the west bank of the reservoir, a wide forestry road from which are exquisite views to the sheer crags of Craig Wen and Crimpiau. Yellow-topped poles confirm your route.

Beyond the lake the track narrows to a rough path. Follow this to reach two closely spaced poles and a low way marked post. Fork left here, climbing a ladder stile into grounds behind a house. Take the widest path through the trees on the left, soon reaching a gate, then cross a footbridge. Turn left along the rough road past two chalets to a gate into a tarred lane. Follow this past two houses to reach an old barn and a telephone box. Your way is right, up the path signed to Llyn Geirionydd. In summer, 300 yards further along the lane, is a lakeside cafe with boats for hire.

Climb the ladder stile and commence a long steady climb. Blue-topped poles mark your route. At a sharp hairpin bend, right to continue up the steepening path through the birch and fir woods. It's a delightful route above a tumbling stream, with moss-covered old trees and walls adding atmosphere. Beyond a stile the path levels and leaves the woods to reach a graveled forestry road. Turn downhill. At the second blue pole take the narrow path on the left, dropping to the roadway lower down, go virtually straight across, again recrossing the forest road to find it lower down. Turn left to reach a wide turning area near an isolated cottage about 100 yards before the lake.

Below the cottage is a gate and stile. Climb this and walk to a stile into the woods beside Llyn Geirionydd. A delightful, pine-needle strewn path hugs the waterside (the roots may be slippery - beware!) to reach a rocky promontory. The way over this is to your left, over the back of the outcrop along a rough path. This rejoins the lakeside beneath old mine workings. Towards the end of the lake climb the ladder stile and take the waymarked path outside the wall to reach an old barn. Your way is right, but to your left is the old monument to Taliesin, a sixth century Bard, perhaps the most famous Wales ever produced, who was born and lived beside this lonely lake.

Pass by the barn to a lane and turn left. Remain with this lane through two gateways. About 100 yards past the second, take the footpath signed to the left down a rough track. Follow the footpath signs right, left, then right to find a fingerpost. Turn right to a gate and sheep pens. Behind these is a fingerpost showing your route up alongside a fence. Beneath the crags near the top of the slope, pause to look back for memorable views up the vales you've just walked.

Climb the ladder stile and walk ahead into the dip. The path here is undefined. You need to walk down this little valley, slightly favouring your right-hand. Keep just to the right of the little stream (sometimes awkward underfoot). Soon after entering the open woodland a more distinct path gradually forms, curving to the right and falling through the woods to join a wider path above a wall. Follow this right to a stile, then along the path beyond to gain a narrow lane. Turn left and then first right to drop back down to the village school.

Map - click to enlarge

DISTANCE : c. 8 miles (13 km)
TIME: 4 hours
TERRAIN: Mostly easy paths, forestry roads and lanes. Some short stretches are difficult underfoot - boots recommended
PARKING: Village car park, opposite the Woollen Mill.
REFRESHMENTS: Pubs, hotels, tearooms and shops in Trefriw.
Location : Trefriw is on the B5106 road, 2 miles northwest of Llanrwst and 9 miles south of Conwy.
O.S. DETAILS: Start from Trefriw O.S. Leisure 17
O. S. GRID REF: 780 630

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