Situated on the hills to the east of Mount Snowdon, the dense and extensive Gwydir Forest, covering 7,250 ha., rises from the the Conwy Valley and enfolds the town of Betws-y-Coed. It stretches from Llyn Crafnant to Penmachno and offers truly panoramic scenery.
Spring bluebells in the Gwydir Forest
The forest derives its name from the ancient estate of the Wynne family of Gwydir Castle. Gwydir Forest offers panoramic views of the Glyderau, Carneddau and Snowdon mountain ranges. The forest is divided by the rivers Llugwy, Lledr and Machno. Planting is mainly douglas fir, larch, norway spruce, pine and tsuga. The area has been appointed a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Winter views of the Forest
Gwydir flora and fauna
Gwydir plays host to a variety of diverse habitats and is famous for its towering Douglas Fir and Norway spruce trees, some specimens are over 180 years old. Parts of the forest encompass some of Wales' most important oak woodlands.
Gwydir Forest is a popular site for wildlife watching. Buzzards, peregrines, merlins, goshawks and black grouse are among its inhabitants, along with a host of reptiles and butterflies.
The forest is home to a variety of birds, the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) has been found hibernating in a disused mine in the forest and there have been many reported sightings, although no photographic evidence of pine martens exist, DNA has been found in droppings, linking them with the area.
There are a multitude of paths and cycle tracks throughout Gwydir Forest, some following the trail of long forgotten roads to old lead mines. The Forest is full of the ruins and spoil heaps of the old lead mines.
A trail (leaflets are available from the tourist information offices) guides the visitor around some of the best-preserved sites.The Marin Trail is a highly technical cycling trail, large on rocky single track ridgelines and descents it is 28km in length with around 860 metres of climbing.
A walk in the Gwydir Forest
Distance - two and a half miles (3.8km)
Duration - 1 hour
Commencing from the main car park at Betws-y Coed walk toward the telephone box, turn right onto a paved path and across the playing field. Remain on the roadside path above the river.
At the turning for Trefriw, leave the main road, crossing the bridge, then branch left onto the riverside path and continue upstream. Cross the stile at the water's edge. The path passes through woodland and ascends a little to pass an old mine before arriving at Miner's Bridge.
Turn away from the bridge onto an ascending signposted path. At the point where the path meets a forest road turn right, keeping right when the path forks. Follow the forest road back to Pont-y-Pair and from there back to your starting point.