North Wales is the destination of choice for many who want to reconnect with nature, see beautiful views and be immersed in a mythical, enchanting environment. One aspect of the landscape our guests find irresistible are the many lakes that thread through the bedrock of Snowdonia.
The lakes of Snowdonia are unmissable if you’re staying with us and, best of all, many are within easy reach of the hotel. Several local legends were either inspired by or were said to have occurred in and around these lakes so there’s an enchanting tale to hear if you want to discover something new too.
Each harbours its own story – some heroic, some frightening – and all offer a great day out complete with beautiful views or the challenge of a new walk. History, discovery or activity; the lakes of Snowdonia have it all.
Best for… families
Llyn Geirionydd promises a quintessential family day out. Hidden in Gwydir Forest just outside Llanrwst, it will take your breath away when you first catch sight of it.
You may have heard of the legendary Welsh bard, Taliesin. He lived on the shores of the lake… when he wasn’t busy entertaining at least three different Welsh kings with his unmatched singing voice that is!
Geirionydd has ample picnic space but parking can be a struggle because of its popularity with families, walkers and watersports enthusiasts. There is plenty of room to paddle, to lay out your picnic blanket, hamper and sun loungers. The water is chilly, but you’ll soon get used to it! Kids love exploring this fairytale of a place, and a walk around the lake after lunch will ensure they’ll be ready for a snooze as soon as you return to us!
Best for… accessibility
Suggesting Llyn Cwellyn might be cheating, as it is a man-made reservoir that supplies drinking water to parts of Gwynedd and Anglesey rather than a lake. You’ll find it on the Gwyrfai River in Nant-Y-Betws, and for accessible lakeside strolls, Llyn Cwellyn is unbeatable.
The Janus Path takes you through the woodland alongside the very edge of Llyn Cwellyn and will show off outstanding views of Llyn Cwellyn and Mynydd Mawr to one direction, and the imposing Mount Snowdon to the other. Wheelchairs and prams will have no trouble here, as there is a boardwalk that’s fully suitable for you to use.
Best for… views
Since Victorian times, generations of visitors have visited the Gwydir Forest to walk the woodland paths and fish in the crystal clear waters of the nearby rivers.Llyn Crafnant lake is almost a mile long and can be found in a beautiful valley where Gwydir Forest kisses the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains. Like Llyn Cwellyn, Crafnant is a reservoir, too. This one once supplied water to nearby Llanwrst.
At the head of Llyn Crafnant is one of the finest views in north Wales, across the lake to the mountains above. Beautiful in every season, you must ensure you have a camera – your friends won’t believe you’ve been somewhere so pretty!
Best for… natural history lovers
In 1954, Cwm Idwal became the first National Nature Reserve in Wales and its popularity has endured with those who enjoy nature walking, climbing, fishing and geology.
Llyn Idwal is a deep hollow filled with crystal clear waters that was sculpted by ice through the process of glaciation. The area is internationally renowned for its rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life. If you visit, we encourage you to have a look at the landscape and think about how it was formed. Follow the folds and faults and marvel at the tumultuous forces which pushed up these mountains 450 million years ago. More recently, the last Ice Age gouged out Cwm Idwal’s massive natural amphitheatre.
The polished boulders, the moraine and the enormous scree slopes all contribute to the drama of the lake, but the wildlife is fascinating too, and just as old! Beyond the reach of the local goats, there’s an abundance of rare Arctic alpine plants, including the moss campion, Snowdon lily, alpine lady’s mantle and purple saxifrage.
We love Llyn Idwal, but please bear in mind that all routes are uneven underfoot and the terrain can be difficult even in good conditions, so make sure you’re game for a challenge and wearing suitable footwear.
Best for… walking
Beyond the good-natured bustle of Betws-Y-Coed, this idyllic mountain lake of Llyn Elsi is hidden amidst the mixed fir and broadleaf woodlands high above the village. As you ascend towards the lake, please don’t curse us! The route is steep to begin with and then levels out, don’t worry. As you reach the water, turn right towards the Ancaster Memorial to be rewarded with wide ranging mountain views of Snowdonia. The work in total is 4 miles and taking the terrain into account, it should take a couple of hours to complete.
The lake is only a small one, but that’s part of its charm. It feels like you’ve discovered a great secret. The path closely follows the lake with views of the island that supports nesting seagulls and geese. On the more elevated spots, you can see for miles! One of the reasons we think that Llyn Elsi is such a good walk is because there are plenty of pubs to reward yourself with a refreshing pint or crisp glass of wine after a good leg stretching in wonderful surroundings!