Exploring Mountains, Castles and Waterfalls of North Wales

By travellingwithmynikon | Nov 5, 2020
Europe > United Kingdom > Wales

If you're a nature lover, you'll love North Wales. You can do walks that are for all levels. Take a gentle stroll or challenge yourself up Wales highest mountain. Waterfalls abound amongst the bush, taking you to magical places and then there are the castle ruins for the history buffs, taking you into the past.

Mountains

Snowdon

I was planning a trip up Mt. Snowdon, but not the hard way.

I was there in mid-September and stupidly didn't think of booking ahead for the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
There are two trains running, taking you up the mountain numerous times a day, depending on popularity. One is a steam engine and one a diesel.

The train is heading up Mt. Snowdon near the track

The train is heading up Mt. Snowdon near the track

As I'd already paid for the car park, I was after a walk to do and was told about a waterfall behind the village. Unfortunately, I missed the turn and ended up heading up the road to the Llanberis track (9 miles/14.5 km return, 975m ascent) towards the Mt. Snowdon summit.

The track gets a bit rocky once you're officially on the path and off the road

The track gets a bit rocky once you're officially on the path and off the road

As I wasn't prepared for a 6-hour return walk, I made it just past the Halfway Cafe, which is halfway up from sea-level and just over halfway distance-wise. This was definitely a stop I had to make as I stupidly didn't have any water with me.

Looking back down to the Halfway House in the middle of the photo

Looking back down to the Halfway House in the middle of the photo

This is still an excellent walk to do, and very popular with hikers and people walking their dogs. I will definitely come back again more prepared and fitter, and get to the top if only to see the incredible views for miles.

Ceunant Mawr

When I was almost back in Llanberis, I found the turnoff for the waterfall and located it back up another road next to the railway line. There was a lot of bush obstructing the view of the waterfall, but it was still well worth the walk back up another hill to see it.

The Ceunant Mawr Waterfall beside the railway line and coming out of the bush

The Ceunant Mawr Waterfall beside the railway line and coming out of the bush

If you're driving, there is a large car park across the road from the railway station or another at the back of the station, but you have to pay for them both.
Check out the many YouTube videos that people have taken to give you a taste of what it's like to walk up the Llanberis Path.

Llyn Padarn

Llyn Padarn's car park next to the lake is free. It's down Ystad Ddiwydiannol Y Glynon on the right-hand side just off the A4086.

It is a busy place, and there are no facilities here, but there is in Llanberis about a 15-minute walk away.

You can walk around the lake, which is a flat and easy 6-mile (9.6km) walk. Just minutes from the car park, you will find a tree growing out of the lake, reminiscent of that Wanaka tree from Lake Wanaka, New Zealand.

The Llyn Padarn Tree is a popular place for a photo

The Llyn Padarn Tree is a popular place for a photo

This is also a great lake for kayaks and paddleboards and the top choice for families with so much to do for the kids and picnic spots to enjoy lunch.

Waterfalls

Canolfan Tryweryn

Although not a waterfall, this river is home to the National White Water Centre. I didn't see any rafts go down the river when I was there, but they were preparing, and a couple of canoes did venture down.

There is an excellent walk alongside the river where you can get otherworldly photos.

The mossy greens of this fast-flowing river

The mossy greens of this fast-flowing river

There is a large car park at the main office and cafe, with more parks further along the road where you can join the path.

Water passes close to the path with bridges helping navigate over tributaries

Water passes close to the path with bridges helping navigate over tributaries

If you do the easy, flat walk to the end, you'll find it will only be about a mile from the cafe.

Many little streams break off and rejoin the main river

Many little streams break off and rejoin the main river

Although this is just over an hours drive from Conwy, it's a beautiful place to get away from it all as there aren't all the people that visit the following waterfalls. It's a lovely walk through the woods, beside the river and streams with the occasional canoeist or rafter going past.

The gates across the river for the canoeists to negotiate

The gates across the river for the canoeists to negotiate

Rhaeadr Y Graig Lwyd (conwy Falls)

A small car park and the Conwwy Falls Cafe, are just off the main highway, where you can take a break before or after your walk to Rhaeadr Y Graig Lwyd.
There is a £1 entry fee that opens the turnstile, or you can enjoy the Cafe, entering from the car park then go out the back via the large verandah where you can enjoy your snack.

Conwy Falls is hard to photograph from the viewpoint

Conwy Falls is hard to photograph from the viewpoint

If you're able and more agile than me, you can climb down over the boulders closer to the river to get a better perspective. With all the rain in the area, the rivers are flowing with quite a lot of force most of the time.

Taking a walk through the woods up and back to the Falls. Note the green marker on the tree, directing you where to go

Taking a walk through the woods up and back to the Falls. Note the green marker on the tree, directing you where to go

There are a few tracks in the area, but the ones to the Falls are steep and rocky, so take care.

Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls is an impressive, two sets of falls just outside of the cute village of Betws-y-Coed.

There is limited parking of about 20 parks or so on a lay-by by the entrance. Once again you have to pay to go through the turnstile although this time you pay an attendant, and there is no way to by-pass it. It was £2 when I was there in September 2019.

There are two viewpoints for the falls. The first is only about 20 metres or so from the entrance. You are so close to the falls, that I couldn't get a photo that I was happy with.
The falls have a very easy path, although there are plenty of steps to negotiate down to the second viewpoint.

The waters rush past the lower viewpoint.

You could also walk from Betws y Coed along the 3.3.km walk beside the river.

This is a very short walk, hence, there is no need for a large car park. It is very popular because of its accessibility, but you still have plenty of opportunities to view the falls and take photos.

Castles

When I was in Conwy, I purchased a three-day explorer pass, but you can also get them for seven-days. You can find prices and attractions to plan your trip here.

It's a great way to see all the attractions you can fit into your time here at a great price. The following are the Castles that I visited.

Caernarfon Castle

The Castle makes up the town wall boundary next to the Afon (river) Seiont

The Castle makes up the town wall boundary next to the Afon (river) Seiont

Caernarfon Castle is located within the town walls of the township of Caernarfon.

One of the Gates to the town centre

One of the Gates to the town centre

I parked just outside the walls and then walked past the shops, cafes and pubs to the Castle at the side. You can also park next to the Castle, but both are Pay and Display.

One of the colourful streets due to the umbrellas strung up along the skyline leading to the Castle

One of the colourful streets due to the umbrellas strung up along the skyline leading to the Castle

The investiture of the Prince of Wales happens at Caernarfon Castle. It was first started in 1301, when Edward I, having conquered Wales, gave the title to his heir, Prince Edward. The last Prince to be invested was Prince Charles in 1969.

The investiture dais where Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1969

The investiture dais where Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1969

You can explore this colossal Castle via its spiral staircases in about 9 of its towers. You can see a light and sound film on the history of the Castle in the North-East Tower and in the Queen's Tower is the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum.

Part of the exhibition of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Part of the exhibition of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers

This extensive exhibition covers all the actions that the Royal Welsh Fusiliers have participated in over the centuries. It covers quite an immense area, and you have spiral staircases as well as straight, modern staircases to negotiate, but this museum is well worth a look.

You could easily spend a couple of hours at the Castle alone, exploring and seeing the great views over the town and waterways from the Castle wall walkway encompassing the Castle boundary.

Beaumaris Castle

Less than half an hour away from Caernarfon is the town of Beaumaris which is on the island of Anglesey.

This historic town on the banks of the Menai Strait has the incomplete Castle of Beaumaris. Edward, I had this Castle built along with many more in North Wales as defences against rebellion by the Welsh. Unfortunately as money ran out and with trouble, in Scotland, the Castle was left unfinished, not reaching the heights it was designed for or the grandeur.

The entrance to Beaumaris Castle where you will start your journey

The entrance to Beaumaris Castle where you will start your journey

There aren't a lot of complete rooms to look at, but you can walk in the walls and up and down the spiral staircases as well as looking at the Chapel.

The narrow walkway inside the walls of the Castle

The narrow walkway inside the walls of the Castle

Yet more spiral staircases to negotiate. The rope in the middle is the "handrail"

The Chapel you can see when you explore the inner walls

The Chapel you can see when you explore the inner walls

On top of the wall walkway, you can enjoy views over the countryside and Menai Strait across to mainland Wales.

The views across the Castle and Menai Strait

The views across the Castle and Menai Strait

A film runs on the history of the Castle and is triggered when you step into the structure that holds it. This is a very interesting and entertaining film that is a must-see, especially if it's raining as it's the only completely dry place to sit out the weather.

The moat surrounds the Castle walls and at high tide boats used to moor to unload supplies

The moat surrounds the Castle walls and at high tide boats used to moor to unload supplies

Once again you have an extensive car park, at the Beaumaris Green Car Park, although this one has one set price for the day.

The Courthouse

Across the road from Beaumaris Castle is the Courthouse, where you can learn all about its history as one of the oldest Courthouses in Britain dating from 1614.

The courtroom as seen from the Jury's box

The courtroom as seen from the Jury's box

An audioguide is included in the price. You can hear about past cases, the history of the court and town as well as learn how justice was seen to be served through the centuries as you walk through the rooms.

The exhibition room which shows justice is all its forms through the ages

The exhibition room which shows justice is all its forms through the ages

This is a small but informative museum and well worth the visit as is the village and this is a great day out. I didn't go back into the village, but the Old Victorian Gaol is also well worth a visit.

Rhuddlan Castle

Lying east of Conwy are the last two castles I visited in North Wales, Rhuddlan Castle and Denbigh Castle.

The entrance to Rhuddlan Castle

The entrance to Rhuddlan Castle

Once again we have Edward the first to thank for Rhuddlan Castle in his northern defences.

New spiral staircases have been put in to take you to top for the views

New spiral staircases have been put in to take you to top for the views

This isn't a big area to explore, but since I had the pass, and I was in the neighbourhood, it didn't cost me anything to enter. You still have great views over the countryside as this is out of the main centres.

You can walk around the outside of the castle to where the moat is

You can walk around the outside of the castle to where the moat is

Denbigh Castle

Sitting high up on the hill above the township of Denbigh, Denbigh Castle although in ruins, is still a good place for exploring.

The entrance to the castle ruins

The entrance to the castle ruins

Although in ruins, there are still plenty of places to explore. The views, which go on forever, can be seen from the top walkways of the castle.

The views stretch on forever from the top of the castle

The views stretch on forever from the top of the castle

The walkways are great spots for looking over the town and countryside.

North Wales is a beautiful place to visit as is all of Wales. It's a nature and history lovers dream, and if you're into photography, you won't know where to look. Hopefully, this has given you an idea of what there is to see and do in the area, and you will get to visit it one day.

If you need more information, you can read about what there is to do in Conwy here or in South Wales you can visit Cardiff, the Brecon Beacons or Skomer Island blogs for more information.

Waterfalls Nature Mountain Castle

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Written by travellingwithmynikon
Hi. My name is Kim and I love to travel especially getting about in nature. I have only really started this seriously at the end of 2018 but I'm loving the lifestyle and community.

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