Wild Swimming in the lakes of Snowdonia

Snowdonia has some of the most beautiful mountain lakes, that are spread over its 2100 sq km. The steep valley sides of the snowdonia valleys are steeped in charm and abundant natural resources with lakes and rivers that run through its mountains to the sea. There are many lakes all over snowdonia in the mountains in the most pristine locations, flanked with pine trees, steep valley sides and lush green pastures. Snowdonia’s lakes are an integral part of the wonderful water eco system, that supports migratory fish like salmon and sea trout and many other water foul. I am only beginning my journey in exploring the lakes of our sacred landscape, but enjoying every moment of it.

Snowdonia has many lakes that sit in its valley systems some up high and some inhabiting the low land areas. I have long since explored the lakes of the Ogwen valley, Llanberis Pass and the Nantle valley. But lately I have been exploring the region of Conwy and its high lakes. A local friend and runner on Instagram had been showing off some of her routes around the lakes in the Conwy Valley such as Crafnant, Geirionnedd and Cowlyd. I had always wanted to explore more of these regions through hiking but time, life and other sports had gotten in the way. Anyhow, whilst visiting a friend and doing some work on his home in Llandudno in June, I have been taking more time to explore the region in the evenings.

Llyn Geirionnedd is the first lake we explored last week with the intention of some cold water dipping. The drive up to the the area is rather amazing, from Llandudno junction we drove up the Conwy valley towards the new Surf Snowdonia centre at Dolgarog now called Adventure park Snowdonia (If you haven’t been you must go its amazing!). To drive the beautiful Conwy valley is something in itsself, the road runs from Conwy to Llanrwst and Betws Y Coed.

Llyn Geirionnedd with its picnic spots

The drive will take you though some of the most awe inspiring land scapes with wonderful steep valley sides as you wind your way through the country side in your car. Turning off at Dolgarog the road winds up through Trefiw and the up the steep drive towards Llanrhychwyn before winding up the final pass towards Llyn Geirionnedd. The Lake is signposted from Trefiw. When you reach the lake there are a couple of farmers gates to open to get the car through, make sure you close these behind you as sheep will be grazing on the hill side.

Driving quite high up on the sides of the Conwy valley

You can drive all the way to the bottom left side of the lake all the way down to the car park, you will see all the old zinc and copper mines from by gone years there. Some have been made for visitors, but I’m not yet sure which ones so I don’t want to send you off into the abyss, so do your homework and be careful there! Anyhow they would make a good walk around for sure so go and explore. What was so beautiful about the lake is the pine and spruce trees that flank the steep hill side, so lovely to see in wales where we don’t have many trees!

What a beautiful drive down to Llyn Geirionnedd

What we did was, park up in the car park and head for a swim first and foremost. Sun was setting and we took some time to find this place so while the last rays of light where in the valley we made use of the time and took a wild dip. The water was lovely and not too chilly in the grand scheme of things to be honest.

Post swim happiness.

After drying off and watching my friend grant tip toe into the cold waters, splitting my sides silly and drying off, we made for a small walk up the hill side to catch the last bit of sunshine and scoffed some wild bilberries (blueberry family) which littered the hillside, free wild nutritious food for your bodies.

Fresh wild bilberries in the Conwy valley

We didn’t have much more light to explore the area and do all the things we wanted to with our evening hit. Some of the things that I would like to do when there next there would include, Paddle boarding on the lake, maybe some fishing (I’ve yet to look into this – permits maybe necessary ) Running around the lake and some buscraft cooking some wild food there.. So there you have it, a brief look at Llyn Geirionnedd, there are many more lakes in the Conwy valley that I will cover as I explore them..

Grant a friend of mine “chilling out” in the lake!

Below is an excerpt all about  Llyn Geirionnedd in the Conwy valley of Snowodnia, compiled and put together by National resources wales. They put together some great guides on all the beautiful areas in north wales some of which we will post in future articles on whatson. Nation Resources Wales  can be found on twitter @NatResWales and online at www.nationalresources.wales

Disclaimer and caution : The lakes of snowodnia are cold in the summer and winter months and you should take great care when going into the any cold body of water- we don’t technically swim lengths in these lakes (although some do), we more over bathe and allow our bodies to adjust to the cold temperatures. If you are considering swimming actual lengths, join a club or group, and do all of your due diligence first. Wetsuits should be standard protocol along with pull buoys for safety. Never go alone or in foul weather, use your common sense please.

Gwydir Forest Park

Gwydir Forest Park lies in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park.

Since Victorian times, generations of visitors have walked the woodland paths and fished the clear waters of the rivers here.

Today, waymarked walking trails allow visitors to explore this landscape of lakes, forests and mountains and to learn about its mining history.

There is also a mountain bike trail (which is graded red as it is only suitable for proficient riders), a forest garden and a waymarked walk to the famous Swallow Falls.

History of Gwydir Forest

Between 1850 and 1919, lead and zinc mining dominated the area. The legacy of old engine-houses, waste tips and reservoirs are characteristic features of the forest landscape today.

Nearly all of the lakes in the forest were created to serve the mines.

Several of the most important mines have been partially restored and made safe for visitors.

Nowadays, as you explore the extensive, rolling upland of wooded knolls, lakes and pastures, you will find it difficult to imagine that this was once a derelict industrial landscape.

Visiting Gwydir Forest Park

Gwydir Forest Park covers an area of over 72 square kilometres (28 square miles) and it encircles the village of Betws-y-Coed.

Waymarked walks start from the following parts of Gwydir Forest Park:

The Marin Trail, a red graded mountain bike trail with big climbs and singletrack only descents, starts from Sawbench.

Llyn Geirionnydd

Llyn Geirionnydd lake is three quarters of a mile long lake. It was reputedly the home of the 6th century poet Taliesin.

In the 1870s, this was a derelict industrial landscape – in fact, the car park lies on a waste tip near an old lead mine entrance.

This is the only lake in the Snowdonia National Park where power boats and water skiing is permitted.

Walking trail

The Geirionydd to Crafnant Trail is a waymarked walking route to nearby Llyn Crafnant where there is a circular walk around this reservoir with great views.

One of the Trefriw Trails, a series of nine waymarked walking trails from the village of Trefriw, leads to Llyn Geirionnydd.

Geirionnydd to Crafnant Trail

2.6 miles, 4.4 kilometres

This trail takes in the two beautiful lakes of Geirionnydd and Crafnant. The route heads off around the southern edge of Llyn Geirionnydd and offers fantastic views down the lake’s full length. It then descends steeply through the shady forest to a wonderful view across Llyn Crafnant and the other side of the valley.

Opening times

The toilets are open at all times.

How to get here

Llyn Geirionnydd is four miles west of Llanwrst off the B5106.

The OS grid reference is SH 763 603.

Car parking is free of charge.


Take the B5106 from Conwy or Betws y Coed to Trefriw, then follow signs for Llyn Geirionnydd.

Public transport

The nearest train station is in Llanrwst. For details of public transport visit www.traveline.cymru

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Front cover image courtesy of : Grant Fraser and expert article by National Resources Wales

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