24th July 2020

Featured / Outdoors / The Rocks At Plas Curig

A Good Walk: Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia

4 3 mins 0

While Snowdon is definitely the most popular destination for walkers within the Snowdonia National Park, Christian Wynne, co-owner of The Rocks at Plas Curig, suggests a different one. Shorter, less high, but equally beautiful (some may argue more so), the Cwm Idwal walking trail offers some of the most dramatic views around.

Set in the heart of the Ogwen Valley in Snowdonia, Cwm Idwal -unsurprisingly- attracts a lot of hikers, families and dog walkers on weekends and school holidays. This is mainly due to it being only a short walk from the car with little ascent, but also you can find yourself stood amongst 5 of the 15 Welsh 3000s (above 3000 feet) very quickly. There isn’t really a better short walk in Snowdonia, in my opinion.

 

We woke on a chilly, but crisp and sunny March morning (prior to lockdown) and decided to make use of this window of fine weather and head to Cwm Idwal before the clouds rolled in around lunch.

The area is well known for its stunning rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life, being the most southerly place in Britain where Arctic plants can be found and also home of the Snowdon lily, which can only be found in this area in the UK.

Christian Wynne

A “Cwm”, or ‘Cirque’ is defined as a steep bowl-shaped hollow occurring at the upper end of a mountain valley. Cwm Idwal is just this, with a beautiful crystal clear lake within this hollow, called Llyn Idwal. The area is well known for its stunning rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life, being the most southerly place in Britain where Arctic plants can be found and also home of the Snowdon lily, which can only be found in this area in the UK.

 

Along with my wife Annie and our Labradoodles, Ralph and Mali, we set off a little after 9am across the tumbling waterfalls of Afon Idwal, and onwards up the stepping stones up to Llyn Idwal.

 

As you ascend, the imposing and craggy Tryfan towers to your left, with beautiful views down Nant Ffrancon, a steep-sided glacial valley dropping to Bangor, Anglesey, even the Irish Sea visible on a clear day, to your right. As you turn up towards the lake, at 937m, Y Garn stares down and welcomes you into the Cwm. When you reach the water, if you already feel small, you are made to feel even smaller when turning to the left, facing Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr, standing side by side, proud, and both at around a kilometre in height.

 

The walk around the llyn (lake) is extremely camera-friendly, whichever way round you go around. You may even stumble across a few wild ponies, who aren’t afraid to say hello.

 

Nestled in the far corner, is Devils Kitchen, which is the name given to the black crack that splits the rock between Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. The Welsh name for Devil’s Kitchen is Twll Du, meaning ‘black hole’. Twll Du is known as the Devil’s Kitchen because of the water spray that often rises from the crack resembling a chimney.

 

It should take around 45-50 minutes to walk very leisurely around the llyn, however, this inevitably takes longer as you will spend the majority of your time looking up, marvelling at the colossal peaks all around you. My tip is to hike up with a picnic and a flask of coffee, find the shale beach on the llyn, remove shoes placing feet in the water and relax. Its a view like no other. 

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Set in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park, The Rocks at Plas Curig hostel is a family-run, 5-star (Visit Wales accreditation), dog-friendly hostel, co-created by Christian and Annie Wynne. It is nestled just minutes away from Betws-y-Coed, the Ogwen Valley and the Snowdon Horseshoe. The hostel is a beautiful building which has been a bastion of exploration for the travelling and adventure community who visit Snowdonia all year round, year-on-year since the 1940s when it first became a YHA. Included in The Sunday Times top 'Poshtels' of Europe and 'The Luxury Hostels of the World' book.

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