From the crescent behind St. Mary's Church (turn up by the Post Office) a forestry road is way marked as the path for Llyn Elsi. Follow this uphill for 600 yards to reach a bench and standing stone on your right beside a lively stream. Leave the way marked route here and turn right up the woodland path, cross the slab bridge and start a switchback of a climb up this adventurous footpath. This eventually emerges beside the mossy ruins of Gartheryr in woodland dappled with rhododendrons. Keep ahead beside the wall (right), a white-topped post confirming your route. The by now level path reaches a forestry road; cross straight over, and at the next one go straight across again. The trees soon give way to low crags golden with gorse, the path winding to the squat Ancaster Memorial above Llyn Elsi.
Your path is along the east (near) bank of this islet-dotted lake, with a majestic backcloth of Wales' highest mountains to take the eye beyond the conifers of Gwydyr Forest. Turn left from the Memorial along a graveled path that soon runs close to the water (right). Keep straight on as a forest road sweeps in from your left, and ahead again as a wide path forks left. Leaving behind the lake, the roadway bends right, left then right. As it bends sharp left again take the narrower graveled path off to the right, a short, steep climb beneath moss-covered oaks leading to a level path through an area of felled trees. At the far end pass through the upright stone barrier and continue along the forest road, a superb view across the lake soon revealed to your right.
Ignore the stone-guarded path off to your right and also the forestry road soon afterwards past the culvert. Keep ahead at the next junction below a rocky cliff and then at the next junction bear left up the well-used roadway to reach the edge of the forest. Keep right, and then swing left roughly beneath the line of power lines (but not along the farm road), this wide road soon sweeping downhill to the right. Pass by a track to the right, remaining with the roadway as it rises, bending round to the left (a fine view across the Llugwy Valley opening out) to fall to a junction just beyond a wooden barrier and way mark pole.
Up to the left here is the abandoned mining hamlet of Rhiwddolion. The way back to Betws-y-Coed, however, is sharp right and through the two solid wooden gates, gaining a rough track between stone walls. This is the route of one of the Romans' principal roads in North Wales, Sarn Helen. It is very uneven underfoot, and acts as a streambed in wetter periods. Perseverance will bring you to cross-tracks below an isolated cottage. Go straight across, the path descending through oakwoods to and across a footbridge. Trace the track beyond over a stile and through a gate to emerge beside the main A5 road near cottages.
Cross straight over and take the signed path, descend the
steps and then climb the renowned Miners (foot) Bridge over
the seething waters of the Afon Llugwy. At the top of the
bridge turn immediately right, the narrow path passing above
fenced old workings before braiding into a swathe through
the riverside woods. Simply follow the river downstream, the
well-waymarked path returning you to a car park at Pont y
Pair bridge. Cross this and turn left to return to the
main car park at the railway station.
Walking in Snowdonia ::: Walking in North Wales
Map - click to enlarge
DISTANCE : c. 5 miles (8 km)
TIME: 2.5 -3 hours
TERRAIN: Steep to start, then easy
woodland paths and tracks
PARKING: Ample parking near railway
REFRESHMENTS: Many inns, restaurants and cafes.
O.S. DETAILS: Start from behind church at Betws y Coed
O. S. Outdoor Leisure 17 & 18
GRID REF: 795 567