Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Best Waterfalls in Snowdonia | The Most Stunning and Spectacular Falls In North Wales

Follow these walking trails along tumbling rivers and through pockets of woodland to reach plunging gorges, cascading falls and magical hidden pools. Snowdonia has some truly incredible waterfalls

Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a holiday to Wales without a rainy day or two. And Snowdonia’s majestic mountain landscapes inevitably get their fair share of the wet stuff. But sometimes a heavy downpour can be a blessing rather than a curse, especially if you’re seeking out some of the National Park’s magnificent waterfalls. So if rain cuts short your planned hillwalking adventure, why not take advantage and instead spend a magical day exploring these wondrous waterfalls that are hidden away among the mountains and valleys of North Wales?

Aber Falls

The Afon Goch tumbles a spectacular 40 metres down the foothills of the Carneddau near Abergwyngregyn. Aber Falls, or Rhaeadr Fawr in Welsh, is undoubtedly one of the most impressive waterfalls in North Wales. As a result, it is a popular tourist draw, so it’s one that is best saved for off-season or quieter days in the park. Time your visit after a spell of heavy rain and you’ll witness a spectacular display of cascading torrents. In the depths of winter you might even be lucky enough to see the falls frozen solid. If you’re a keen photographer, this is one to stick near the top of your list, because you’re bound to get some stunning shots that are sure to rack up the Insta likes.

“Rhaeadr Fawr is undoubtedly one of the most impressive waterfalls in North Wales”

To get there, follow the signs for Aber Falls from the Aber Falls car park, just located outside the village of Abergwyngregyn off the A55. An easy track leads all the way up to the falls. The whole walk is 2¾ miles, or 4.3km, and takes about 1½ to 2 hours at moderate walking pace. There are good views of the waterfall from the path itself, but it’s well worth crossing the river via the footbridge to visit the viewpoint too.

Swallow Falls

Picturesque Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed has appeared on countless postcards and in numerous paintings. It even made an appearance in 2020’s DC-universe film Wonder Woman 1984. It’s easy to see why these falls have attracted artists, photographers and filmmakers over the years, as the Afon Llugwy flows through a narrow, craggy limestone gorge to cascade over several drops, before reaching the bottom of the gorge some 42 metres below. The name Swallow Falls is slightly misleading. It’s actually thought to be a mistranslation of the Welsh name, Rhaeadr Ewynnol, which in fact translates to ‘foaming waterfall’ – a reference to the churning, roiling, crashing water.

Although you can very easily view Swallow Falls from just off the A5, the best viewpoints are reached by walking away from the tourist hordes and along the northern bank of the Afon Llugwy. From Pont y Pair, follow the Coed Tan Dinas track through woodland out onto open farmland. Walk along the riverbank to re-enter woodland. Pick up the Pen yr Aalt Trail for a short while, pass the Miner’s Bridge and head up the steep path to the right to reach a road, which you’ll follow for about a kilometre. Then take a track off to the left, looking out for a yellow waymark to join the Swallow Falls Trail. Head down the wooden steps, which brings you to a spectacular viewpoint of the waterfall itself.


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Afon Cwm Llan

These pretty falls are often overlooked, possibly because it requires a little uphill effort to reach them. They tumble alongside the Watkin Path that climbs Snowdon, meaning you can visit the falls and climb Wales’ highest peak in one mega walk. The stream winds its way through Cwm Llan to Afon Glaslyn, tumbling down through a series of pools. With Snowdon towering above, this has to be one of the most ‘grammable spots in the whole of the Snowdonia National Park, particularly if you’re willing to take a dip in one of the crystal-clear pools.

From the Pont Bethania car park in Nant Gwynant (off the A498), follow the main road to the left from the car park over the bridge and cross the road. Take the signed Llwybr Watkin Path through the woods. Follow it through open countryside to reach the Afon Cwm Llan falls. For the energetic, continue up the Watkin Path to the summit of Snowdon, or alternatively just retrace your steps back to the car park.


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Rhaeadr Ddu

If it’s atmosphere you want, then this gem certainly delivers. The trail winds its way through an ancient Welsh ‘rainforest’, one of the last vestiges of native oak woodland that once covered the western parts of Britain. As a result, it is packed full of gnarled and twisted oak trees, adorned with rare mosses and lichens. This lush greenery hides a series of stone steps that leads to a magical pool with a tumbling waterfall, hidden in a bowl-shaped gorge.

Seasoned wild swimmers probably won’t be able to resist taking a dip. But it’s just as pleasant to enjoy this serene spot, as the water babbles across stones and the pool reflects the overhanging boughs of the surrounding trees. Once a spot known only to locals, it’s no longer such a well-kept secret, largely thanks to recent investment in a path that has created a popular circular walk. But Rhaeadr Ddu is still one of the prettiest waterfalls in Snowdonia, and well worth a visit.

“If it’s atmosphere you want, then this gem certainly delivers”

To get there, head out of Maentwrog on the Harlech Road (A496). Look for a sign for a bunkhouse on the left, near the power station. Head up this minor road and eventually you’ll reach a parking area, with an honesty box for payment. Go through the gate and turn right through a kissing gate to cross a field. Go through another gate to enter Ceunant Llennyrch National Nature Reserve. Head downhill and turn left at the fork. Cross a swaying, rickety-looking wooden footbridge and keep your eyes peeled for the waterfall as you round the corner. Head down the steps, which will bring you out at Rhaeadr Ddu. Once you’ve spent time snapping pics and paddling or enjoying a swim, you can either retrace your steps or complete a circular route back to the car park.

Dolgoch Falls

Nestled in the Tal-y-Llyn valley, Dolgoch Falls are located just a few miles inland from the popular beaches at Tywyn. The walk-in is just a mile long, through a rugged landscape carpeted with mosses and ferns. With numerous caves and tunnels along the way, this is an area that is ripe for exploration. Dolgoch Falls is actually made up of three separate waterfalls, which plunge down a wooded gorge into tranquil pools below – the perfect place to dip your toes and enjoy a paddle.

From the Dolgoch Falls Hotel, follow the signposted trail through a gate and along the river. Pass under a railway viaduct, keeping an eye out for the steam trains that run along the tracks here. This leads to a viewing platform for the lower falls, but you can continue on, taking the right-hand path at a fork. You’ll then reach some stone steps that will take you up to the middle and upper falls, where there is a picnic area, so you can enjoy a spot of lunch to the soundtrack of cascading, tumbling water.


For more from our Wales Issue 

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