Being a land of mountains, hills, rivers and lakes, North Wales has some great waterfalls to visit – here are a few suggestions…
1 – DYSERTH FALLS
Dyserth Falls are well signposted and located on the aptly named Waterfalls Road in Dyserth (near Prestatyn) next to The New Inn. A well placed free car park with toilets is to be found next to the falls and there is a small charge for visiting the waterfall itself. There is hardly any walking needed unless you want to climb some of the steps giving access to the countryside above the falls. Dyserth Falls are very impressive and fall about 70 ft/21 metres in a rocky chasm. They are formed when the River Ffyddion (which rises 4.5 miles/7.24 km to the east at Marian Mills) tumbles down a vertical drop in a noisy cascade. Dyserth Falls is a popular tourist attraction as the cascade is so easy to reach from the car park and there are often lots of people there on sunny summer’s days.
2 – ABER FALLS
Aber Falls is one of Snowdonia’s most visited waterfalls and one of the real majestic sights of the National Park overall. Known as Rhaeadr Fawr in Welsh, Aber Falls is located in the foothills of the mighty Carneddau Mountains at the end of a steep sided valley on the Coedydd Aber Nature Reserve. The falls form when the Afon Goch plunges around 120 ft/37 metres over a rocky escarpment. In winter the falls often freeze and ice climbers can be watched climbing up it. There is a car park near the village of Abergwyngregyn at the end of a lane and from here a walk of about a mile down a good track brings you to the falls. You can get quite close to the cascading water and the area is always popular. Wear walking boots and take a picnic along!
3 – LLANBERIS FALLS
Llanberis Falls are also romantically called Ceunant Mawr Waterfall and are located above Llanberis. The name Ceunant Mawr translates as ‘the waterfall of the great ravine’ and Llanberis Falls certainly lives up to its name. After rain the impressive cascade foams and froths its way down a stunning tree lined gorge falling for around 100 ft/30 metres. The falls are well seen by users of The Snowdon Mountain Railway as it rises from Llanberis towards Snowdon summit. For those wishing to visit on foot a marked way leaves the town centre of Llanberis up Church Street. A steep climb of about three quarters of a mile brings you to a viewing area after you cross the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Further along the road another path takes you to the head of the falls but the best view (and the safest) is from the main viewing station.
4 – SWALLOW FALLS
Swallow Falls is among the most visited of Snowdonia’s tourist attractions and is accessed easily for a small fee via a turnstile. It is located two miles west of Betws-y-Coed and is facing the Swallow Falls Complex where there is an inn, a youth hostel and a campsite plus parking. There is also parking in a lay-by on the side of the A5 close to the falls entrance. Swallow Falls (Rhaeadr Ewynnol in Welsh) lies on the river Llugwy and although it is in reality a series of cascades, it is still classed as the longest continuous waterfall in Wales. Steps lead steeply down to viewing platforms and there are safety rails in place. It is possible to get right below the lower end of the falls and if there is a lot of water running the noise can be deafening.
5 – CONWY FALLS
The Entrance to Conwy Falls is via a turnstile for which a small fee is charged. This is in the car park for Conwy Falls Café located on the A5 at its junction with the B4406 near Bro Garmon. The café is licensed and was designed by Sir William Clough Ellis of Portmerion fame and is open seven days of the week. Beyond the turnstile a descending path takes you down to the falls which are located in a Site of Special Scientific Interest as the River Conwy passes through a dramatic rocky gorge were salmon are seen leaping frequently. The main falls drop around 50 ft/15 metres and are best seen from a rough viewing area above them. The falls and surrounding area cover around 10 acres which has extensive and very attractive native woodland.
6 – THE GREY MARES TAIL
The Grey Mares Tail is a dramatic waterfall hidden away in a gorge amongst thick woodland near Gwydir Castle. There is a marked car park (easy to miss) through a gate at Coed Felin Blwm (the Lead Mill Wood) on the B5106 between the town of Llanrwst and the village of Trefriw. The falls Welsh title is Rhaeadr y Parc Mawr. A good steep path climbs from the car park following a stream to reach the main waterfall. There is access from the minor lane above the falls too but the parking here is very limited. The Grey Mares tail actually consists of two waterfalls split by a rock that fall into a deep plunge pool beneath them. The stream below the falls eventually flows into the River Conwy. Surprisingly The Grey Mares Tail is a little visited waterfall but well worth the effort to find.
7 – FAIRY FALLS
Approached on a marked walking route from the pleasant village of Trefriw in the Conwy Valley, Fairy Falls (Rhaeadr y Tylwyth Teg in Welsh) is approached through the wooded Fairy Glen above Trefriw Woollen Mill. The glen is very atmospheric and so are the series of waterfalls leading to the main fall in a tree-lined basin. Local children and visitors often leave small toy figures on the ground near the main falls for the fairies believed to inhabit the area. The falls are on the River Crafnant which flows from the popular Llyn Crafnant high above it. The main falls are around 25 ft/7.7 metres high and fall down an angled rock face. The Fairy Falls Inn in the village of Trefriw takes its name from Fairy falls and is a popular spot for a drink or some food after a walk to them.
8 – CEUNANT CYNFAL FALLS
The spectacular narrow wooded ravine of Ceunant Cynfal was much loved by The Victorians and a very popular day out for them. It has a series of pretty waterfalls but the main one, Rhaeadr Cynfal, is quite spectacular. To see it you’ll need to descend some slippery steps to a viewing platform. The rock above the fall is known at ‘Huw Llwyd’s Pulpit’ after an eccentric 17th Century wizard reputed to live there. The River Cynfal is not a long river but races swiftly over rocks as it gallops through a glacial gorge. This is a natural habitat for ferns and lush growth and the sound of crashing water amongst the foliage is very atmospheric. Finding the way to the gorge is not easy but there is access from a lay-by on the A470 below Ffestiniog and in Ffestiniog itself.
9 – NANTCOL FALLS
Here’s an unusual set of falls that deserve to be better known than they are. Nantcol Falls are a series of waterfalls set on the River Nantcol at the foot of Snowdonia’s most rugged and wild mountain range – The Rhinogs. The falls are set amongst privately owned farmland and the best way to see them is to camp on the award winning Nantcol Waterfalls Campsite and use one of the marked walks that the site provides for campers to explore them from. It’s a bit of an unusual way of gaining access to a falls system but well worth the effort involved in bringing along a tent. The best route for those wishing to see Nantcol Falls is the ‘Riverside Walk’ which follows the river past the falls and returns on the ‘Woodland Walk’. Nantcol Waterfalls Campsite is accessed off the A496 between Harlech and Barmouth.
10 – THE TORRENT WALK
A marked circular footpath gives access to the famous Torrent Walk from a signed parking area at the top of it near the village of Brithdir between the A494 and A470 just east of Dolgellau. It is quite a strenuous outing and the full round is a good 3 miles/4.82 km. The Torrent Walk is very popular and makes a circuit of the Afon Clywedog taking in numerous waterfalls and dramatic gorges. It descends (and re-ascends) 350ft/107 metres on good, but often rough paths. The walk was created in the late 1800’s by The Richards Family of the Caerynwch Estate and designed and engineered by Thomas Payne. It was much loved by The Victorian and Edwardians and makes a beautiful walk at anytime of the year. Some areas can be slippery so wear boots and take your time.