the trail
Section 12: Betws y Coed to Capel Curig
Distance: 9.5km, 5.9mls Ascent: 420m, 1350ft Time; 3 – 4hrs

This is a lovely section with plenty of interest. The Trail leaves Betws y Coed by a well-engineered riverside walk, passing the famous Swallow Falls before reaching the road at The Ugly House. A steep pull up a lane takes you once more into the Gwydir Forest and good woodland tracks. Once out of the woods, the stunning views of Snowdon, Moel Siabod, the Carneddau and the Glyderau open up as you drop down into Capel Curig.

Follow the accessible riverside walk on the north side of the river, making sure you look at the Cannon Rocks immediately over the bridge near the toilets. At Miners’ Bridge, branch off right uphill through the woods and turn left along the narrow lane. Soon, follow signs for Swallow Falls where a narrow but safe path clings to the cliffs above the swirling torrent. Enjoy the view of these spectacular falls before continuing alongside the river.

At The Ugly House, walk up the steep lane before turning left into the forest. Follow the marked route until you reach open moorland. Walk along the engineered path with a wonderful mountain panorama ahead. Soon you will reach Capel Curig.


TEMPORARY DIVERSION. Following storms in January, the riverside path approaching The Ugly House is closed. Follow the forest roads instead.


Along the way

Cannon Rocks

Cannon Rocks are boulders drilled with holes and carved with channels to hold gunpowder. When lit, a series of small explosions, like fireworks, resulted. This Victorian traditional way of celebrating high days and holidays was peculiar to the slate areas of Snowdonia.
These rocks lie next to the river at Pont y Pair, Betws y Coed.
Another good example can be found in Rhiwbach quarry, Cwm Penmachno.

Miners' Bridge

Miners’ Bridge
Miners’ Bridge is an interesting structure which climbs steeply over the Afon Llugwy, originally built to provide access to the many mines, slate, lead and other minerals, which existed on either side of the river.

Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls is a major tourist attraction in the area. Originally called Rhaeadr Ewynnol (Foaming Falls), it gradually became known as Rhaeadr y Wennol (Swallow Falls). The Welsh name has now reverted to the original.

Swallow Falls

Ugly House

The Ugly House, (Ty Hyll), is what is termed Ty Unnos (One-night house). 17th and 18th century tradition has it that if one could build the four walls and a chimney, and have smoke coming out of that chimney, within 24 hours, the builder would be given the house. The builder would then throw an axe as far as he could, and would then claim the land within that perimeter.

The building is now owned by the Snowdonia Society.

Capel Curig

Capel Curig takes its name from the little Saint Julitta’s Church in the ancient graveyard by the river bridge on the Llanberis road. This confusingly has been known for over 100 years as St. Julitta’s Church and has been restored by the “Friends of Saint Julitta”. Tradition claims this chapel to be the 6th century foundation of St. Curig, a Celtic bishop. Centuries later, probably when the present ancient church was built, the name appears to have been Latinised as Cyricus, which is the name of a 4th-century child martyr whose mother was Julitta. They are usually named together as Saints Quiricus and Julietta.
The names Capel Kiryg and Capel Kerig were recorded in 1536 and 1578 respectively.

the trail

Section 1: Bangor to Bethesda

Section 2: Bethesda to Llanberis

Section 3: Llanberis to Waunfawr

Section 4: Waunfawr to Nantlle

Section 5: Nantlle to Rhyd Ddu

Section 6: Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

Section 7: Beddgelert to Croesor

Section 8: Croesor to Tanygrisiau

Section 9: Tanygrisiau to Llan Ffestiniog

Section 10: Llan Ffestiniog to Penmachno

Section 11: Penmachno to Betws y Coed

Section 12: Betws y Coed to Capel Curig

Section 13: Capel Curig to Bethesda

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