Introduction to the walks …

Gwydyr Forest is one of the most beautiful in Britain. Its forested hillsides sweep down to clear lakes or fast flowing rivers, set against the backdrop of the dramatic mountain skyline. The northern forest, centred on Betws-y-coed and Llanrwst, is deservedly popular but, to get away from the crowds, come and explore the southern forest around Dolwyddelan and Penmachno. Here you can get ‘off the beaten track’and enjoy peaceful walks through unspoilt and historic landscape, with superb views of the Snowdonian peaks. Dolwyddelan and Penmachno grew into large communities when the nearby slate quarries were at their peak. Both villages boast ancient churches, and numerous chapels bear testament to the devout support for non-conformism amongst the quarrying and farming families in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The surrounding countryside is threaded with a network of historic paths, giving wonderful walking opportunities.

  • Imagine the legions of Roman soldiers marching along Sarn Helen, between the fort at Caerhun and their large camp at Trawsfynydd.
  • Follow in the footsteps of the drovers who walked their herds of cattle across the moors to market.
  • Trudge the paths worn by the slate quarrymen and discover the ruins of the hillside quarries.
  • Climb up to romantic Dolwyddelan castle, a stronghold of Welsh Princes in the turbulent Middle Ages.
  • Wonder at the gorges and tumbling waterfalls of the rivers Machno and Conwy that were such an attraction for Victorian tourists.
  • Learn about the scholarship of William Morgan and the legacy he left the Welsh language by visiting his birthplace at Ty Mawr.
  • Explore the ruins of medieval Tai Penamnen, built by the powerful Welsh nobleman, Maredudd ab Ieuan, as his family home.
  • Wonder at the craftsmanship of Pont Gethin, a majestic Victorian viaduct across the Lledr built by Gethin Jones, the renowned local engineer.

These files describe circular walks from each village and longer linear walks connecting both villages, Capel Curig and Betws-y-coed. Trains run regularly from Betws-y-coed to Dolwyddelan and buses run through both villages so you can leave your car behind on some walks. Pick up timetables from Betws-y-coed TIC (Tel: 01690 710426) or telephone Traveline Cymru (08706082608).

Walking Advice

Brief route directions are given but it is essential that you also take an OS 1:25000 Explorer map, as few routes are fully waymarked. Routes that cross the moorland need particular care and good map-reading skills.

Please follow the country code and make sure you keep dogs under control, particularly near livestock.

Rough distances are given in the routes directions. As a guide allow 15 kilometers per kilometer walking at an easy pace on the flat but allow an extra ascent(roughly 1 minute per 10m of ascent). Overall timings for the walk are s are generous, allowing time for stops.


Walks require walking shoes and warterproof clothing and always take food and water. Some routes through the forest and moor can be very boggy.

Please be aware that this booklet was made in early 2008 and many of the routes are in a working forest and paths may inevitably change. If you know of any changes that have taken place to these routes or would like to add any extra information regarding these routes please contact

Copies of the booklet are available to purchase from the Community Pavilion and Siop y Llan Dolwyddelan, The Eagles Penmachno, Shell Garage and Tourist Information Centre Betws-y-Coed. Please note that all funds raised are put back into footpath maintenance in Penmachno and Dolwyddelan. For more information contact

This post is also available in: Welsh