A moderate walk to the most famous lake in the area around Betws Y Coed, Llyn Elsi. Paths are good throughout particularly in the forest area. Distance – 5 miles Start – There are a number of car parks available in Betws Y Coed. Begin the walk at the old stone bridge carrying the B5106 over Afon Llugwy opposite the Pont Y Pair Hotel. Ref – 791 568 OS Map OL17
Cross the river and take the first road on the left immediately after the bridge. After about 50 yards there is a pay and display car park on your right, bear left opposite this onto the riverside footpath – Mynydd Y Coed All Ability Trail. The first section of the path is a raised wooden walkway followed by a surfaced path. This leads to picnic tables close to the river in about 350 yards after which the path swings right. Go ahead at this point off the surfaced path and past the picnic tables to locate a ladder stile hidden behind rocks immediately adjacent to the river. Go to the left of the rocks to reach the stile. Follow the path through fields close to the river on the left. Afon Llugwy drains the eastern mountains of north Snowdonia, including much of the Ogwen valley and Dyffryn Mymbyr. In its journey east to join the Conwy it has carved the only breach in a high plateau area and has thus been used as a major communication route for centuries. Betws Y Coed owes its existence to the use of this route as part of the London to Holyhead road during the 18th century. After the fields, enter woods again and continue ahead on the riverside path to a large wooden footbridge known as the ‘Miners Bridge.’ The name of this bridge recalls the occupation of many of the locals when lead mining was carried out on the plateau to the north during the 19th century. The original bridge provided a short cut for miners living at Pentre Du on the south side of the river, thus saving them the mile and a half walk via the old bridge at Betws Y Coed. Cross the bridge and climb the steps out of the rocky bed of the river. Take the path a head which shortly brings you to the A5. Cross the road and take the access road opposite, turning right almost immediately. A short rise bring you to a parking/ turning area behind a row of stone cottages. Turn left off the road here and follow the path beside the stream on your left. The path soon bears right just before a small waterfall and makes a rise to a tee junction with a prominent forestry road. Turn left and follow the road over the stream, passing a house on the right. Ignore the forestry road which swings right immediately before the house, instead continue ahead and about 150 yards beyond the house, look for a narrow but well used footpath on the right. This weaves through the woods to emerge in a small field with spoil heaps from disused mine workings on your right. Walk ahead through the field and cross a stile in the lower right hand corner. Turn right, then immediately left passing the ruins of mine buildings on the right, to cross a stream which issues from an old adit. These spoil heaps and deserted buildings are the remains of Hafod -Ias slate quarry, which operated during the last century. It was worked by the men of Pentre Du and the now deserted village of Rhiwddolion, situated on the plateau above the quarry. At the top of the rise bear left by the fence and in about 75 yards, turn right at a footpath Tee junction. Follow the prominent path which soon bends sharp left by a deep quarry on the right to a gate and ladder stile over a wall. Follow the path up through a small field to an old barn. Climb over the stile immediately before the barn, turn right and continue the climb along a farm track with views of the valley and the Carneddau to the right.
At the top of the rise turn sharp left onto ma path which skirts the conifer plantations to your right – this is shortly before a stone farmhouse and a gravel access road. A little further on, a stile on the right takes you into trees. Follow the obvious path to a forestry road and cross over, taking the footpath ahead to a tee junction with a good footpath. Turn left here and follow the path to the memorial stone overlooking Llyn Elsi. This elevated lake surrounded by woods, makes a fine foreground for panoramic views of Snowdonia’s highest summits, but not Snowdon itself which is hidden behind Moel Siabod, the most prominent peak in the view. To the right the the bulky Glyder ridge can be seen, with Tryfan’s serrated outline peeping over the shoulder of Gallt yr Ogof. Across the Ogwen valley, rise the the rounded and often snow covered slopes of the Carneddau.
The memorial stone was erected to commemorate the opening of a new water supply from Llyn Elsi, by Betws Y Coed UDC on June 18th 1914. To return to Betws Y Coed walk around the lake first. A good footpath leads away from the memorial along the left hand side of the lake soon joining a forest path. Bear right here and follow the track which continues to the far end of the lake. Beyond the dam the track swings right, then bends left to begin a descent into the lower woods. look for a narrow footpath here on the right. Follow this path as it rises, then bends right around the lake. Soon the water comes into view again down to the right onto an obvious footpath which drops down the bank to run close to the waters edge. immediately before the dam, turn left up wooden steps and follow the path as it curves right to cross the outflow by a wooden footbridge. Turn right here and rise back to the memorial. Now stand with the memorial to at your back and, facing the path which you have just used and take the next well worn footpath in a clockwise direction – at about 2 o clock and almost due north. At a junction of forest tracks, go ahead across the first track then bear right almost immediately along a good forest path. Follow this through the woods to cross over a second forest road about half way down the hillside. The path begins to steepen now, and there are a few glimpses of what, at one time, must have been superb views down to Betws Y Coed and up the valley to Llanrwst. Nowadays the tree cover obscures most of the view. Almost back at the A5 and within earshot of traffic, turn left at a tee junction with a forest track, and after about 30 yards, turn right onto a narrow footpath which soon brings you to the road. Turn right and back into Betws Y coed.